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Frequently Asked Questions about Bernese

Frequently Asked Questions and Realistic Expectations

  • Is a Bernese Mountain Dog the right dog for me?
    Berners are large, loving, family-oriented dogs. They are sensitive dogs that are eager to please their owners. They need firm but gentle training to become well-mannered members of your family. They crave companionship and do not do well when left on their own for long periods of the day. They can be shy with strangers, and they will benefit from early socialization. Like all dogs, Berners need daily exercise. Can you take them on daily walks? Do you have a fenced yard or access to a nearby park? They shed. They are a double-coated breed and they "blow" their coat twice a year, in the spring and late summer/early fall. Regular brushing can reduce the impact on your home. Hot, humid conditions can be dangerous for them, and they will need cool, shaded refuge from hot, summer weather.
  • How do I find a puppy from a good breeder?
    The breeders listed on this information page are members in good standing of the BMDCA, who choose to share their contact information on this site. This is a starting point. Prospective puppy owners will need to do their own investigations and make their own judgments. Breed Ambassadors are happy to answer your questions and they can often provide guidance in locating good breeders. Attending dog shows is another way to meet breeders and learn more about the breed.
  • How can I identify a reputable breeder?
    Good breeders are careful to place puppies in homes that are as concerned as they are about the pup's welfare. They do not breed frequently, and they may have a waiting list for their puppies. Patience is often necessary. They will encourage you to visit their kennel and to meet the pup's parents. They will ask about your family, your lifestyle, and your experience raising and training a puppy. They will want to know if you are looking for a show dog or a pet. Breeders should provide a four-generation pedigree and documentation of the health clearances done on the pup's parents. They should be willing to frankly discuss health challenges they have experienced with their dogs and the steps they are taking to reduce them. You should get a signed contract that explains the breeder's conditions of ownership of their dogs and their willingness to take back a dog, should you be unable to care for it.
  • How much do Berner puppies cost?
    About $3,000 to $5,000. The purchase price is a fraction of the life-time costs of dog ownership that includes veterinary care and as needed, training, grooming, and boarding. Pet health insurance might be useful to assist with some medical expenses, depending on your individual circumstances. Buying your puppy from a breeder who works to produce healthy dogs can minimize health problems down the road, with a corresponding reduction in health care costs. Price is not an indication of quality of the puppy or the breeder. Please keep in mind the purchase price is only a percentage of the cost of owning a Berner.
  • Can I get a Berner puppy right away?
    The puppy you purchase will be your companion for years to come. It is to your benefit to take the time to locate a breeder who will be able to offer you a Berner puppy that has the best chance to grow into a dog that will meet your expectations.
  • How long do Berners live?
    Their average life span is 8.4-10 years. Reputable breeders prioritize the health and longevity of the dogs they breed, and many Berners now reach 12 years of age. All breeds of dogs have potential health concerns. Check the Health Section of this page for the health challenges that have been seen in Bernese Mountain Dogs. Berner-Garde is a resource that contains pedigree and health records for Bernese Mountain Dogs. The open database is a tool for breeders, as well as for owners and puppy buyers, to access health records for dogs used in breeding programs worldwide.
  • Be prepared to spend some time talking with the breeders you contact.
    Reputable breeders welcome puppy buyers who can provide responsible care and a positive, nurturing environment for their pups. Plan to talk with breeders about your goals and reasons for wanting to bring a Berner into your life. Breeders you contact will want to find out about your experiences with dogs, about your other pets (if you have them), where the puppy you plan to purchase will live, how the pup will spend its time, and about how your family plans to train and manage the pup responsibly for the entire life of the dog.
  • Gain insights into reputable breeder management and puppy placements
    A reputable breeder spends a great deal of time trying to make an accurate assessment of each puppy's potential. Temperament, inborn aptitudes and physical characteristics vary. Making a good match between an owner and a puppy is not a one size fits all proposition. A responsible breeder makes every attempt to place pups that have the potential to become the kind of companion the owner hoped for (companion dog, working dog, show dog, breeding dog).
  • Expect questions and be honest
    Every breeder has different criteria for evaluating suitabilty of puppy homes. Be honest with your answers to their questions. Don't answer with what you think the breeder may want to hear - what the breeder will want to know is the truth. The breeder is trying to ensure that puppies go to the best possible home, and to make sure that a Bernese Mountain Dog is right for you.
  • Plan to contact more than one breeder
    Every breeder has a unique approach to managing their own dogs. Each breeder has a particular focus and goal that influences their breeding decisions. And breeder's placement policies and support practices differ. After having several conversations you will have a good sense of which breeder(s) are most likely to provide you with a puppy that will match up with your idea of an "ideal companion dog". Choosing a breeder who offers ongoing support, is willing to provide advice if questions about feeding, training or other management concerns arise when raising a Berner puppy can save owners time and money.
  • Pedigrees — an important connection
    The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is affected by a number of health problems and hereditary conditions that can significantly impact quality and length of life. See our Health Section for an overview of health issues which are known to exist in the breed as a whole. Reputable breeders know the puppies they produce inherit health, temperament, physical soundness and length of life from their ancestors. IMPORTANT: If your hope is to bring a dog into your life that is not affected with an inherited health problem or orthopedic condition, your best choice is to work with a breeder who pays attention to these things and is doing everything possible to choose breeding stock that are not likely to pass on undesirable traits. Breeders who have spent time carefully researching the family history of dogs they use for breeding have a better grasp of the characteristics puppies they produce are likely to possess. Better breeders do genetic testing and take into account the results obtained when choosing breeding pairs. Careful breeding practices tend to minimize the incidence of inherited health problems and orthopedic conditions. The Berner-Garde Foundation Open Database contains pedigree and health records for Bernese Mountain Dogs. The database is a tool for breeders as well as owners and puppy buyers to access health records for dogs used in breeding programs world wide. Tools to research pedigrees - BG - see: Learning about Berner-Garde.
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