Is a Bernese Mountain Dog the Breed for you?
Ensure you have looked into the size, exercise requirements, yard space, health issues, need for companionship, temperament and costs associated with owning this breed. A responsible breeder will go out of their way to give you information to assist you in deciding whether this breed is suitable for you.
Did you know that the 2005 BMDCA health survey reported that the average Berner lived for 7.9 years? Just as diseases run in human families so we have found that some allergies, temperament issues and cancer run in dog families. Responsible breeders research and test for canine health problems and breed to minimize and eliminate them from their breeding program. The level of commitment to research and knowledge is directly related to the quality of the dogs they produce. They should willingly and honestly share their knowledge.
Do your homework
Be sure to research the breed and visit a number of breeders before you select your puppy. Your new companion will be with you for many years so it is important to spend some time doing research now. You will find a number of breeders in Western Australia and many more across Australia. Price should not be the only indicator of quality and you need to talk with the breeder and see how you feel about them and their dogs before deciding upon a pup. Remember that instant gratification should not be the reason for purchasing your puppy and it is more important to purchase the pup that will be right for you. Bernese will range in price from about $2800 to $3200 and at times even more for a puppy from imported parents. You should discuss any queries you have with the breeder.
They look the same but are they really?
Like people, dogs are individuals and even the pups within a litter are not going to be the same. The gentle and good nature of the Bernese should not be taken for granted. There are aggressive and also shy Bernese. These dogs become very difficult in a family situation so it is important to check the parents’ temperaments for any issues. Responsible breeders will strive to breed only the best-tempered dogs. They will invite you to meet their dogs and tell you the family temperament history.
It is well known that larger breeds can have orthopaedic problems and this should be discussed with the breeder. Not all of these issues are genetic and you need to be aware of what you can do to minimize any problems. This should be discussed with the breeder, as should any orthopaedic problems from previous litters. Also check that the breeder is being responsible by testing his breeding stock in order to minimize the chances of producing this problem.
How the Internet can help you
The Internet is a valuable tool to assist in finding information as you research the breed. You will be able to find the answers to many of your questions and also find many cute photos. Don’t allow these to influence you as you search for the right dog for you. Remember your long-term goal is to find a happy and healthy family member. This will take time but in the long run it will be worth the effort. If you find a breeder interstate ask lots of questions, contact the breed club if there is one and only if you are totally satisfied continue with the purchase. Even in Australia there are irresponsible breeders who do not have the best interest of the breed at heart. The best approach is still to find a local breeder and visit in person.
How to find a responsible breeder
When you visit a breeder they will ask you many questions or they may even get you to fill in a questionnaire. You also need to have a list of questions to ask in order to evaluate their business practices, commitment to the breed and to the individual dogs they own, breed and sell. If you feel uncomfortable go with this and find another breeder. You need to feel comfortable calling your breeder any time in the future to assist you with concerns you may have about your puppy. When it comes time to discuss a puppy the breeder will talk to you about their contract. You should discuss this thoroughly with them and be sure you understand what it entails. If you are not happy with it you need to clear this up before you purchase a puppy from that breeder.
Responsible breeders breed with a goal of attaining the ideal in breed type, health and temperament. They aim to improve each generation and know that markings alone will not make a good Berner. They invest substantial time, effort and resources in learning about and understanding the breed. They often spend substantial amounts of money importing new lines into the country in order to improve their lines and their breeding stock. If, when questioned, the breeder doesn’t seem to have sufficient knowledge of the breed, you may need to look elsewhere for a puppy. Conscientious breeders take the time to be certain this is the breed for you and encourage you to stay in touch so they can evaluate their breeding program.
There is a lot to consider when buying a puppy. Firstly; is this the breed for you, secondly is this a responsible breeder who will work with you and for you in finding the right pup, and thirdly, are you willing to do what is required to give the puppy a good home.
Contact our Club Information Officer if you would like to discuss further