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
Health Issues page on
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
Where to Purchase Your
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
Mountain Dog Club of Canada,
Mountain Dog Club of 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
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.
With the popular demand for Bernese Mountain Dogs increasing, a number of puppy mills, pet stores and
poor quality breeders are now selling Bernese puppies.
Many of these puppies are of ill-health, have serious genetic defects, and poor
temperaments. After sales support is very limited or non-existent. Please do some research before you buy.
Warning Signs of a Questionable Breeder
Be wary of a breeder who:
Asks for a large non-refundable deposit to reserve a puppy for
Sells unregistered puppies or charges additional money for
Routinely advertises puppies for sale in the newspaper and on
Does not provide pedigree information or know the family history
of the parents.
Cannot provide proof of health screening on both
States that there are no genetic problems in the lines of their
Does not allow you to see the mother of the puppies.
Does not conduct a thorough interview before agreeing to sell you a
Finding a Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy from a conscientious,
reputable breeder may not be easy. Be prepared to wait some time to get a
puppy. Most good breeders have a waiting list for their puppies, but
remember "good things come to those who wait"
What you should expect from a reputable
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
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
A bill of sale, outlining the purchase price and any
conditional sales clauses. This may be included as part of the sales
Feeding instructions for the first year of life.
General training outline for basic obedience and
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
Provide regular exercise and grooming to keep in top
Obedience train your dog, even if only to a basic level.
Properly socialize your dog with people and other
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
Give regular updates on the puppies progress and
possibly provide some nice photos.
Questions about Bernese:
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs get along with children?
This depends on the individuals involved – the child, the dog, and perhaps
most importantly, the parents. The Bernese is NOT a always the best choice
of breed for a family with small children. Many Berner puppies go through
a “mouthy” stage that can be unwittingly encouraged by young children.
Many Berners’ bodies grow faster than their “brains” which can be a
challenge to the inexperienced dog owner.
Do Berners get along with dogs or other animals?
Most Bernese puppies will be able to adjust to the other members of their
new families – human, canine, feline and other pets. The greater the size
difference, the more supervision and training may be required. Also, much
depends on the individuals involved. Some Berners are more nurturing,
while others may have a stronger prey drive. The majority are somewhere in
the middle and will respond to guidance in regard to their interactions
with other family members.
Do Berners have a tendency to wander?
Berners prefer to stay close to the family and do not tend to wander.
However, any breed if left alone for extended periods will get bored and
go looking for something to do. If the puppy cannot be watched he should
be safely secured in a fenced yard or dog run. Better yet, in the house
with the family.
What is their temperament like?
With the training essential for ownership of a large working breed, adult
Berners are generally gentle, easygoing and tolerant. They do not do well
when isolated from people or activity. This breed can be slow to mature,
and young dogs can be very active compared to the trained, often mellow
adult. While Berners should not be shy, this tendency does run in the
breed. Due to temperament concerns it is very important to expose Bernese
to a wide variety of people, places and other animals, especially in their
first year of life. However, caution should be taken not to over-face a
Are Bernese easy to train?
Bernese generally like to please their people, but you must earn their
respect. Some dogs can be challenging and take more work. Bernese are also
smart enough to manipulate their owners. Generally, most Bernese are
sensitive, impressionable dogs. Some may be “soft”. Bad or scary
experiences are hard to overcome and are best anticipated and avoided.
Only positive training techniques should be used. These dogs have lots of
heart and their owners need to understand their dogs’ unique,
psychological make-up. Your breeder should be able to assist you with
training advice and methods.
How much should I expect to pay for a Bernese Puppy?
Prices of puppies will depend on a variety of factors. Locality,
availability, quality. The prices now average around $1500.00 in Canada.
Higher cost does not necessarily equate to higher quality. Be sure to
that you fully understand the terms to which you are agreeing when
purchasing a puppy, particularly if you are asked to provide a large
deposit up front--you may find it is non-refundable.
How much exercise does a Bernese require?
Berners require a moderate amount of exercise to maintain good health and
condition. Some individuals are natural athletes while others have couch
potato tendencies. To keep them fit they should go for at least two brisk
Where do I go to see a Bernese?
Dog shows are a good place to start when you are determining what type of
dog your family prefers. Once you have narrowed down the selection to a
couple of breeds, contact breeders and owners in your area. You can get a
listing of breeders in the Dogs Annual magazine or through the breed
clubs. See as many dogs as you possibly can. Even if the breeders are not
planning a litter... go and see their dogs anyway. The more information
and experience that you can gather on the breed the better informed you
will be when you do get a chance at purchasing a family companion.
How long should I expect to wait for a puppy?
Up to a years wait is not unusual. It will depend mostly on the type of
home you can provide and what interests you have in the breed. Expect to
wait longer for show/breeding potential pups since they are fewer in
numbers than pet quality. Likewise if you wish to purchase from a
particular breeder. Most breeders will want to meet you if possible and
then put you on a waiting list if you are both in agreement of you getting
a puppy from that particular breeder. It is considered quite common to
ship a puppy from one part of the country to another part or even to
another country... do not be afraid to contact breeders outside of your
area. However there are a few drawbacks... you will not likely be able to
see both parents of the litter of meet the breeder in person. You can
request a list of references of previous puppy buyers and a video tape or
pictures of the parents of the litter and possibly littermates as well.
You should expect to pay for any shipping fees and the cost of a shipping
crate. Although buying a puppy sight unseen can be a bit more risky, it is
done successfully time after time. As long as you are dealing with a
reputable breeder, you will likely be very happy. It is common courtesy to
advise all the people with whom you have left your name that you have
found your companion.