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What health testing should I do on my Bernese Mountain Dog

Recommended Testing

Berner Recommended Testing

The BMDCA minimum recommended health testing for genetic diseases are as follows: Hips, Elbows, Eyes, Heart, and Degenerative Myelopathy plus one optional test: von Willebrand Disease, Thyroid, or Histiocytic Sarcoma Risk Test. While there are other health tests available, and some may be warranted based on individual circumstances, these minimum recommended tests should be completed. It is recommended that dogs that may be bred adhere to the CHIC requirements for these tests. (see chart below)


The BMDCA has always been a proponent of health testing and the open sharing of all results – not only of breeding dogs, but also of their close relatives. This is often referred to as “full litter screening” and is the basis for providing a useful vertical pedigree (see below). The only way to try and combat the various diseases that affect BMDs is to utilize the information provided via health testing of breeding dogs, plus openly shared testing of their offspring and siblings. Information regarding death date and cause is also extremely valuable. Whole litter information is vital to the future of this breed and we must all do our part to ensure entire litters of puppies can be evaluated when making decisions.


"The value of vertical pedigrees can be most fully appreciated through understanding an essential genetic principle that should correctly be the foundation of most complex breeding decisions. This principle is that full siblings are, on average, equally genetically similar to each other as they are to each of their parents. All of the littermates taken as a group represent various combinations of their parents’ genes, and are good indicators of the range of possibilities that are likely to be passed on from any one of them. … Consistent, predictable qualities are typically produced only when vertical pedigrees demonstrate those qualities consistently” (For Rhonda Hovan’s article, see:

The BMDCA has two programs that encourage health testing and reporting of ALL results: CHIC - Canine Health Information Center, implemented by the OFA, and BRT - Berner Recommended Testing, implemented by the BMDCA via Berner-Garde.  NEITHER require the results to be free from the disease - only that the tests be completed and the results be shared so that informed breeding and buying decisions can be made. It is important to emphasize that a concept shared by both CHIC and BRT, is the value of open sharing of ALL testing, including abnormal results.

The BMDCA implemented BRT not as a replacement for CHIC but as a means of encouraging as many owners as possible to complete all of the tests and to provide information without the costs of submitting results to another recording entity (OFA). The requirements are more inclusive and less stringent for that reason alone.  One should never assume that a dog that qualifies for CHIC and/or BRT, has “cleared” all of the required testing, only that the testing has been completed and shared publicly.

*BRT Requirements for tests completed by 12/20/2017 were the CHIC requirements at that time: AKC DNA Profile, Hips, Elbows, Eyes, Cardiac, and DNA-based vWD.  DM testing was not required prior to 12/21/2017.
**See OFA website for requirements of results by parentage


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