SO, YOU WANT A BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG?
Although initially Berners may seem to be the ideal pet, there are some DISADVANTAGES! Listed below are the many areas that need thought and consideration before you bring one into your home:
SIZE...Berners are large dogs. Males range from 24-28 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 85-120 pounds. Females stand 23-26 inches and weigh 65-100 pounds. They normally possess extremely active tails, making a clean sweep of a coffee table.
EXERCISE...While Berners are not a hyper breed they do require daily exercise to keep fit and adjust to the role of a calm house pet most people desire.
SHEDDING...They are a long-coated breed and shed a minimum of twice a year. This “blowing of coat” will result in more than the occasional dog hair in the butter, on the furniture, hair bunnies in the kitchen, and making the mother-in-law’s new white dress somewhat hairy. If you are fastidious in the home DO NOT GET A BERNESE! A good thorough brushing everyday during this molt is beneficial. THIS IS NOT AN IDEAL BREED FOR ALLERGY PRONE INDIVIDUALS.
HEALTH & CARE... As in any large breed, hip and elbow dysplasia are a concern to all Berner owners. Purchasing a puppy whose parents have been certified to be free from dysplasia will better your chances of having a strong and capable pup. Cancer is also a serious concern in the breed. There are several eye conditions that are known to occur in bernese, including cataracts and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). Other health problems that Bernese owner may have to deal with include: allergies, bloat, thyroid, epilepsy, and heart conditions. Most breeds of dog have some of the above noted conditions, and some Berners will never have any of these problems, but we feel that it is best for you to know the worst. If you wish more information on any of these conditions, there is a list of links to websites on these and other medical issues on BMD Health Information Links and the Health Issues page on this website.
MAINTENANCE COSTS... Feeding one dog for a year will run approximately $300 - $600 depending on the type of food you choose. Veterinary expenses for the first year (puppy) run between $100 -$200 depending on the veterinarian and the locale. Though many of these expenses get hidden in the grocery bill (food, dishes, collars, leashes, brushes, shampoos, toys, etc) THEY ARE THERE! (Please note: The Veterinary costs quoted are for a healthy puppy. One that needs surgery to correct hip dysplasia or another serious conditions can run up thousands of dollars. For this reason, it is a good idea to take out a Pet Health Care Insurance policy on your puppy, for at least the first two years of its life, to offset any large medical expenses).
TRAINING...Many wish to make their Berners into good canine citizens. A good beginner’s course costs approximately $100. Berners tend to be sensitive or soft in many training situations and must be handled carefully, with a loving, firm but nonetheless GENTLE hand. Bernese respond well to positive training techniques using food, toys, and praise. Training for a dog this size is a must. GUARD DOG...Though they may bark and possibly growl defensively, when it comes down to brass tacks they’d as soon kiss the intruder and show him the silver as opposed to saving the family’s wealth, but they can be protective towards family members especially children. If you are looking for a vicious guard dog - look for another breed.
ADDICTIVE...Much like potato chips, you can’t have just one! Very few people own just one Berner. We simply find them habit forming. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not cheaper by the dozen and two Berners cannot live as cheaply as one. If you have two Berners, it will cost you twice as much to feed and so on and so on... If you are still interested, and we hope you still are.....
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG ADMIRERS !!
Where to Purchase Your Bernese
Assuming that you have researched the Bernese Mountain Dog and have come to the conclusion that this is the only breed for you, where do you buy one? The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Canada, Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ontario, Bernese Mountain Dog of South Western Ontario and Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Quebec all have a current list of breeders. However, the clubs in no way endorse or make any recommendation of any name on the list. It is the responsibility of the buyer to research and determine the breeder’s reliability. As a member the Canadian Kennel Club we do not sanction the breeding/purchasing of unregistered and/or crossbred Berners. Club members are asked to sell all puppies on CKC Non-breeding contracts. This prevents indiscriminate breeding of dogs. When a person breeds a dog it should only be to improve this wonderful breed!
DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU BUY. RESEARCH THE BREEDER'S REPUTATION AND AFTER SALES SUPPORT. BE AWARE THAT FLASHY ADDS AND WEBSITES DO NOT ALWAYS EQUATE TO QUALITY PUPPIES OR GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICES.
What you should expect from a reputable breeder:
* A healthy, happy, and carefully bred puppy. You should be able to see the mother of the puppies as well as the entire litter. Commonly the sire of the litter is not available for viewing as quite often the bitch is sent away to be bred. If you are purchasing a puppy sight unseen, due to distance factors, most kennels will give you the names if people, who have purchased puppies previously, as references.
* Complete health record of the puppy. This will include the microchip or tattoo number that the puppy was identified with.
* Certificate of vaccination indicating what type of vaccination was administered and by whom.
* A four generation pedigree.
* Written sales agreement. A reputable kennel will provide you with a contract and/or guarantee (terms vary depending on the individual breeder) when you purchase a puppy. Make sure you fully understand your obligations under the agreement, as well as what the breeder is willing to do for you.
* The puppy's CKC registration should be provided to the owner within 6 months. The breeder should have it stated in the sales contract that the puppy will be individually registered with the CKC.
* According to the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada if you are purchasing an animal deemed as purebred you are entitled to the registration papers within 6 months from the time of sale.
* Photocopies of all health certifications for both parents of the puppy. These clearance should include hips, elbows, eyes (as a minimum). Other screening may have been completed for heart, thyroid, vWD (a blood clotting disorder), or shoulders abnormalities.
* A bill of sale, outlining the purchase price and any conditional sales clauses. This may be included as part of the sales contract.
* Feeding instructions for the first year of life.
* General training outline for basic obedience and housetraining.
* Communication and support for any problems that may occur throughout the dog’s life.
* A life long take back policy for any unwanted puppy they sell. If the breeder is unable or unwilling to supply most or all of the above perhaps you should look further before buying. Above all you should feel completely comfortable with the breeder, as they should feel completely comfortable with you before considering selling you a puppy. Most breeders will ask a huge number of questions to determine if you would provide the kind of home they want for their puppies. You too should ask many questions.
What a breeder should expect from you.
Any breeder has the right to expect you to:
* Provide proper housing and care for your dog - this means a properly fenced yard or dog run - NOT left tied out on a chain/rope or allowed to run free unsupervised.
* Provide regular veterinary checks, care, and vaccinations.
* Provide regular exercise and grooming to keep in top condition.
* Obedience train your dog, even if only to a basic level.
* Properly socialize your dog with people and other animals.
* Adhere to any additional sales clauses agreed to at the time of sale.
* Notify your breeder should you wish to give up your dog, for any reason and give the breeder the first opportunity to take the dog back.
* Give regular updates on the puppies progress and possibly provide some nice photos.