Can anyone give me any information of a Bernese Mountain Dog?
We have been looking at getting a big family dog for a while and I have researched different breeds - Old English sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers etc but I think I have decided on a Bernese Mountain dog from all the information I have read about them.
Can anyone tell me from their experience about them like their temperament, exercise needed, best food to feed them, how easy to train etc.
Are they good as an inside dog and with children and our small dogs and cats?
Also where to find quality breeders, must be hip and elbow scored.
A lot of questions but we want to make the right choice before we decide on our new family addition
Your best bet is to start off with the ikc website, or to email them directly for breeder details/list.
If your new dog is going to be just a family pet and now a show dog there is no need to have the parents hip scored.. All good breeders will have their pets fully up to date on injections and they will give you any and all the information you need to know about the health history of their dogs.
Some breeders who sell their dogs are not using their own dogs as show dogs so they will not have their own hip/elbow scored..
Thanks for your reply, just to add the reason we want the dog hip and elbow scored (after a lot of research) is to hopefully prevent the dog suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia when she grows up. I thought if you purchased a dog with good scores then their offspring have a better chance of not suffering from this condition.
I did contact the IKC and the KC, I e-mailed a few breeders asking questions about the breed but no-one replied
I wouldn't agree with this at all! Definitely make sure the parents are hip scored to minimise the chances of the pup having hip dyplsacia? No responsible breeder would breed from dogs that are not health checked - regardless of them being 'show' dogs or not. Having a pup that can't be exercised because they'll be in pain afterwards and then needs surgery and weeks of crate rest is no fun.
If you are getting a Bernese please for your own sake do go for a dog from hip and elbow scored parent.(and double check that these scores are low compared to breed average)Pets can get Hip Dysplasia and suffer just as much as a "show dog".Though apologies if i am on my soapbox preaching to the converted.
Its just that heard lately that my friends much loved gorgeous 5month old Bernese pup had to be put to sleep lately due to the severity of the poor creatures joint problems They were unable to save the pup as it was an issue with both hips and elbows meaning that surgery was not an option.
He was not a puppy farmed puppy and as far as I am aware the breeder has been informed. There are serious issues in the breed with joint problems though so everything you can to combat it seems like a good investment.
If you can get numbers for people this may be more successful than emailing.
Also Giant dogs that they are insurance would be a good idea...they are more prone to heart issues due to their size,most giant breeds have heart issues.
On the brighter note every Bernese I have met so far have been happy friendly dogs.Quite exuberant in some cases,which can make them not so good for smaller kids. But overall,perhaps due to their size, they tend to be well trained and nice bidable dogs
They are a lovely dog, but grow big and very strong! We had one into us in work today and it's 30kg at 9 months old, so just make sure that you are prepared for this, depending on how old your kids are, it may not be suitable.
They are a working dog, so will need plenty of exercise. Also do make sure the parents are hip scored. Hip dysplasia is very common in this breed. Insurance is a must, treatment for any orthopaedic problems is very very expensive. Diagnosis alone can cost you a couple of hundred in terms of xrays and any operation regarding the hips/elbows may require physiotherapy for the dog afterwards.
I would advise checking with insurers before you get the dog as to how much your premium will be and what the excess on your policy. Some insurers will also pay out faster than others. Check with your vet to see who they would advise in terms of customer service. Also worth checking with them that the dog will be covered if you do have hip/elbow problems down the line as some insurers may have an exclusion for certain breeds.
They are a beautiful and clever dog though, and most of the ones I've met have really nice personalities!
As someone who dogsits four bernese ranging from 4 months to 4 years for a friend, I hope I can give some insight.
The bernese is a breed ranging from large to giant, as a poster above said they had a 30kg 9 month old in, but one of the dogs I sit for is 4 months and already 23kgs. The males tend to be on the larger side. They are very prone to hip/elbow problems, cruciate damage and cancers. So insurance is a must, along with a good food and ensuring the dog comes from a good breeder. Be very careful about the breeder, and I cannot stress this enough as there are a lot of bybs now dealing in the bernese with their growing popularity.
They are prone to being shy if not properly socialised, so socialisation is another definate must. They are generally excellent with cats, small dogs and other small animals, but again early introductions are a must. Like most big breeds, they know how to fit themselves into a small space so dont take up too much room indoors. They shed very heavily twice a year as well and need a good brushing to remove the dead undercoat. They can also mat quite badly behind the ears and underneath so need someone who is happy enough to spend time grooming them. The average lifespan is 8-9 years though some can live as long as 12-14, then again, others have passed on as early as five
They may indeed be a working dog, but I would debate them needing a lot of exercise. Five minutes per month of life is the best way with bigger breeds and I wouldn't walk them for more than an hour a day. As adults they are happy to lie around and snooze for most of the day but as pups they can be quite high energy. In saying that, do not overexercise the puppy. The exercise they get from running around in a garden, stopping and starting as they like is nothing like a steady walk and walking too much will cause orthopedic problems.
Make sure the breeder you go to has had the parents hip and elbow scored, that the parents are both IKC registered and if they're a member of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ireland all the better. The club is probably your best bet for getting started, they can reccommend a good breeder. Keep in mind, you may need to wait for a pup as most breeders will have waiting lists.
Best food depends on how much you want to spend on dog food but I would definitely reccommend that you find one with no preservatives/chemicals if you can. As I said, cancers are prevalent in this breed and they are the number one killer of Bernese Mountain dogs so a good high quality food will suit him best.
Cant think of anything else at the moment, but ask away if there's anything else you want info on.
OK in reply to they few who disagreed with me here is a clarification on what I was saying...
If there is a breeder out there who is breeding for years without ever having hip or elbow problems with their dogs or pups then why should they start? Thats the point i'm making. Some people have no need to get their dogs scored and only do so if they are selling their pups as show puppies..Just because your buying from a reputable breeder does not mean they will have their dogs hip/elbow scored either...
Wizard, You will find that not all breeders will reply immediately, some will take time as they are not always online. You are also correct in saying that with good hip and elbow scores there is a lower chance of your puppy having any problems!!
From the Bernese Mountain Dog Club:
Hip Dysplasia (usually simply referred to as “HD”
This is a condition which is widespread in virtually all breeds of dog. A leaflet published by the Bernese Breed Council is available explaining the key points of H.D. and Bernese but essentially the condition is accepted as being hereditary. You should therefore ask breeders about the hip scores of the puppy's parents and even their parents and other relatives. It is now usual to have Bernese elbow scored at the same time as the hips are done.
Have breed for years is one thing,experience is of course a good thing,but in modern breeding having no hip scores and elbow scores is not what I consider a reputable breeder,they are not looking to improve the breed if they are not trying to prevent these health issues.
If they are not looking to improve the breed and produce healthy pups why are they breeding?
In the past ignorance of these sort of conditions ment it was not a common thing to have dogs scored.But these days if you are breeding these dogs you should be trying to prevent these sort of hereditary conditions!
Bernese mountain dogs are known for having hip and elbow issues within the breed.Breeding to dogs and waiting to see will their pups have issues is not a very responsible way to do things imo.
Hip Scoring is not that difficult to have done,i know as a fact UCD does both elbow and hip scoring,and its a money that could help you to find out if your dog has serious issues before you pass the problem on to the pups.You cannot see just from looking at a dog and how they walk if the hip joint is ok or not.Terrible hip scored dogs can do quite well even in the showring and have great movement but these dogs should not be bred from as there pups may not be so lucky.
These are large dogs and that sort of weight means that they need good bone structure.Faults like this being bred continually are just shortening the lives of the breed as a whole and leading to unhealthy dogs.
Hip and elbow scoring is just being responsible,producing pupies who have a lesser chance of having these issues and will hopefully lead to an improvement in the breed overall.
By not checking for these sort of issues how will the breed ever improve and get a lower chances of these issues?
Thanks for all your help everyone
We are not going to rush into it, which is why I have done so much research on different large breeds. I e-mailed some of the breeders on Champdogs also to ask for advice on the breed and have no problem waiting for the right wee puppy. But got no replies from anyone.
Just to ask, where do you get your dog hip and elbow scored, does your own vet do it? How expensive is it?
We currently feed our own wee dogs Fish4Dogs, we were feeding Whites but it wasn't great for my wee Maltese's coat so we changed about a month ago. (she still has a dry coat though) but my wee yorkies look great on it!!
If we do get our new puppy I will be asking for loads of advice so I hope you's don't mind
To get your dog hip scored, i recommend going to UCD to get it done. The results are sent to the BVA in the UK, the only place that grades the x-rays as they cant be done in Ireland.
Also, the x-rays can only be submitted once, so be very careful who you get to X-ray your dog, because if they x-rays arent done correctly or done well, you risk sending in bad quality x-rays to be graded and once the x-rays have been graded they cant be done again so thats why you need to ensure the x-rays are done by someone who really knows what they are doing and are experienced in taking x-rays for this procedure.
You just need a referral letter from your vet to get an appt in the vet college in UCD.
Hope this helps
The small dogs will be the boss of the puppy - even thou they'll be the size of it's head!
OP, I have found that you get the best response from breeders and breed clubs if you drop them a detailed e-mail, then follow it up with a phone call a few days to a week later. I think this gives the impression that you are actually making a serious inquiry, some of these people get a massive amount of e-mails and some of them are from people who are not entirely serious about getting a pup of that particular breed, there is no way they could have time to give an in-depth reply to them all, and it is much easier for them to talk to you over the phone. I'm on a waiting list at the minute for a pup and the breeder has lists of people who have contacted they by e-mail and by phone, lists of people who have done both and a list of people who have kept in contact with them since their initial inquiry. This is what you are up against I'm afraid, but you have to keep at them and do so respectfully so they know that you have a genuine interest in their dogs.
I have just read the posts regarding the Bernese Mountain Dog and am delighted to see the educated and responsible replies. I am Secretary of The Bernese Mountain Dog of Ireland and I am happy to answer any queries regarding the breed. Shanoa and Aruv have both given accurate replies especially regarding the problems of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia within the breed. Hip and Elbow scoring is now commonplace and since its introduction we have seen a marked reduction in the instance of Dysplasia in the breed. Contrary to some posts, having your bernese hip and elbow scored has nothing to do with whether you decide to exhibit or not and has everything to do with a healthy dog.
We generally bring our dogs (and bitches) in to be x-rayed when they are approximately 15 months old. As previously stated, these x-rays are sent off to the British Veterinary Association where a panel of vets scores them. The average mean score for a BMD is 15 for hips and it recommended you do not breed from a dog with a higher hip score.
Elbows are scored from 0 to 3 with the higher the score the greater the degree of dysplasia.
There are a number of vets around the country who are very experienced in Hip and Elbow x-rays so if you specify your location I might be able to recommend someone in your area. I hope this helps.