FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
All breeds of dog have an official Breed Standard or Breed Profile which lists the points required in the breed but despite that there can still be BIG variations in the physical aspects as well as the temperament, activity level and health aspects of each breed and Bernese Mountain Dogs are no exception. Anyone considering adding a Bernese Mountain Dog to their family should try to buy their pup from an experienced, knowledgeable, specialist breeder of good repute who will likely have in-depth knowledge of the attributes and faults within the family of dogs they are breeding from.
ARE THEY GOOD FAMILY DOGS?
Bernese are generally sociable and crave human company so they should make good family dogs. Most Bernese want to be involved in all family activities but their success in that role depends on a number of factors, the most important being that potential owners should;
a) ensure they choose a well-bred, well reared Bernese from a knowledgeable breeder who is breeding from bernese known tobe biddable,manageable and even tempered, and
b) ensure that their Bernese is well reared, well socialised and well trained.
ARE THEY GOOD WITH CHILDREN?
Bernese should be good with children so long as they are trained well and both the children and the dog are taught to respect each other.
ARE THEY A 'ONE PERSON' DOG?
Yes and No. Bernese do form a very strong bond with their owners - sometimes described as putting their owners on a pedestal but they should still be friendly and sociable enjoying the company of other people too.
ARE THEY GOOD GUARD DOGS?
Bernese are not generally regarded as guard dogs of the same calibre as some other breeds but some Bernese can certainly fill the role of watchdog, alerting their owners to the arrival of strangers and visitors etc.
DO THEY NEED TO BE KEPT OUTSIDE IN A KENNEL?
Bernese crave human company so they thrive best when they are living in the home as a member of the family. Bernese made to live in kennels or outbuildings are being deprived of what they crave most.
DO THEY NEED A LARGE GARDEN?
Bernese like to spend time in the garden but a modest sized garden is sufficient for toilet purposes and general recreation so long as the dog receives regular exercise and excursions off the premises too.
HOW BIG ARE THEY?
An adult Bernese male will ideally measure between 64 and 70 cms (25 – 27 ½ inches) at the shoulder and could weigh anything within the range of 36 to 55 kilos (approx. 80 - 120 lbs).
An adult Bernese bitch will ideally measure between 58 and 66 cms (23 – 26 inches) at the shoulder and could weigh anything within the range of 34 to 46 kilos (approx. 75 – 100 lbs).
(For comparison, a German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) male should be 64 cms (25 inches) at the shoulder, and German Shepherd Dog bitches should be 58 cms (23 inches) at the shoulder with a weight range of 35 – 40 kilos or 77 – 85 lbs.)
DOG OR BITCH?
The choice of which gender of Bernese may depend on a number of factors;
a) is the difference is size and stature a factor on how the Bernese will fit into your home and lifestyle?
b) the gender and age of any current dogs you already own or those dogs belonging to neighbours or friends your new Bernese will meet regularly may determine which gender would better interact with those.
c) your 'gut feeling' of which gender you might prefer or feel more comfortable with.
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST TO BUY?
The UK price in 2014 for a carefully planned, well bred Bernese puppy from a specialist, established, reputable Bernese breeder is approx £1200 - £1500 inclusive of Kennel Club Registration Certificate and pedigree plus a few weeks initial insurance cover which is arranged and provided by the breeder.
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST TO FEED?
During the first year when puppies are growing very fast a Bernese will consume more food each day than when fully grown. The cost and type of different foodstuffs varies tremendously but if opting for a moderately priced dog food it would be wise to budget for approx £10 - £15 per week to feed a Bernese not including treats etc.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO THEY NEED?
Bernese need enough exercise to maintain good physical condition and provide
mental stimulation and enjoyable recreation. During the first year when growing fast Bernese puppies need sensible but limited amounts of exercise to prevent too much stress occurring to immature bones and also to prevent injury from over exertion.
HOW MUCH GROOMING DO THEY NEED?
Mature Bernese have a thick, double coat comprising of a dense, fine, short undercoat overlaid by longer, silky guard-hairs. Many owners of Bernese find that a thorough grooming once a week with a less thorough brushing every couple of days will keep a Bernese coat in order. Bernese moult heavily for a few weeks at a time once or twice a year and during those times daily grooming will be required.
DO THEY COME IN OTHER COLOURS?
No. Bernese should be glossy, shiny black with bright white and rich,deep tan markings on the head, chest, legs and tail.
DO THEY DROOL AND SLOBBER?
Bernese should have well-fitting lips (flews) and be dry mouthed. Some Bernese will drool if you are eating a bacon sandwich in front of them (!) but they should not produce copious amounts of slobber like St Bernards or Newfoundlands - although a few Bernese do.
ARE THEY DESTRUCTIVE?
Bernese tend not to be inherently destructive but some dogs who have a greater need to be occupied and so may engage in chewing or shredding things if the opportunity arises.
ARE THEY INTELLIGENT?
Many Bernese are but some are less so! A Bernese was originally bred as a multi-purpose farm dog who is strong enough and intelligent enough to work alongside his master and be useful in a number of tasks around the farm.
ARE THEY EASY TO TRAIN?
Yes - so long as the owner starts training a newly acquired pup immediately and the training method chosen is kind, clearly understood by both owner and dog (!) and applied consistently.
DO BERNESE GET ALONG WITH OTHER DOGS AND OTHER ANIMALS?
There is no reason why and Bernese cannot get along amicably with other animals so long as they are introduced correctly and sensibly and all subsequent interaction between them is overseen in a controlled and sensible manner.
DO THEY HAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS?
All breeds and crossbreeds of dogs may be affected by both inherited and acquired health issues. Some specific health issues occur more commonly in some breeds of dogs more than others. Bernese can be affected by some health issues.
DO THEY NEED TO HAVE A PEDIGREE & KENNEL CLUB REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE?
Yes. Dedicated Bernese enthusiasts will only breed from dogs who are Kennel Club Registered. The pedigree certificate is usually provided by and should always be signed by the breeder of the puppy or dog as it confirms the heritage of the dog. The Kennel Club can also supply a their official Pedigree certificates for registered dogs. The Kennel Club Registration Certificate confirms the dog appears in the Kennel Club database. Only Kennel Club Registered dogs can compete in Limited, Open or Championship Shows and only the progeny from Kennel Club registered dogs can themselves be eligible for Kennel Club registration. Bernese sold without pedigrees or Kennel Club Registration Certificates should be priced much lower than those sold with those documents.
WHY DON'T THEY LIVE VERY LONG?
Bernese are as varied in lifespan as some other dog breeds of similar size and stature. Large breeds of dogs tend to have a shorter expected lifespan than medium and smaller sized breeds of dogs. It is true that some Bernese are considered 'old' at 7 years of age and some die before reaching that age but there are also a lot of Bernese who reach an age well into double figures. Some health initiatives have compiled data from reported Bernese deaths but only a tiny percentage of Bernese owners report the age at death of their Bernese (and those who have experienced what they considered to be a premature loss are more likely to report a loss) so any data may provide indications but any conclusion reached at this time is not a factual representation of the whole Bernese population.
WHAT DO HIP SCORES & ELBOW GRADES MEAN?
Dogs aged over 1 year old may undergo x-rays of their hips and elbows and the radiographs will then be sent to the British Veterinary Association (BV) where an official scrutineer will award an official Hip Score or Elbow Grade dependant on how much deformity (Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia) is present in the hip or elbow joints. The more 'points' awarded, the higher the degree of deformity present.
Hip Scores may range from 0 - 53 for each hip - combining for a total score of between 0 - 106. A hip score of 4 on each hip (4+4) totalling 8 out of 106 confirms a lesser degree of Hip Dysplasia than a score of 10 + 10 = 20 out of a maximum 106.
The Mean HD Score for UK Bernese in 2010 is 15 (total score adding together the score for both hips.)
WHERE CAN I SEE SOME BERNESE AT SHOWS AND EVENTS?
A comprehensive and regularly updated list of all the major UK Bernese Events which includes shows and Bernese Club(s) gatherings can be found on the left hand Menu