What sound is synonymous with Bernese Mountain Dogs?
Is it the idyllic sound of clanging Swiss bells?
Or maybe you think it is the distinctive tone of an alphorn?
Well, it is true that those sounds are associated with Bernese but there is another sound which has reverberated through the ranks to grab the attention of numerous Bernese owners plus others who had no interest in the breed until that noise drew them towards the breed.
The sound is something which all of us have heard many times during out lives – a background sound which we will hear every week as we go about our daily routines. A few people don’t hear the sound at all. To most of us it is a noise that we disregard and choose to ignore. Some people are especially sensitive and listen out for the sound, and when they hear it they find it irresistible and compelling.
The sound is Kerching!
It is the unmistakable ringing of the cash register; a sound which is music to the ears of those who have recognised how lucrative breeding or selling Bernese (or Bernese cross-breeds) can be.
Of course, if no one bred Bernese the breed would die out and none of us would be able to have Bernese.
Of course, breeders usually sell their puppies and not just give them away.
Of course, some breeders will place a higher value on their dogs than some other breeders may choose to do. We know all of these things – of course we do.
But, Kerching! is much more than just a common, background sound. When Kerching! is closely associated with the production and sale of dogs it takes on an entirely different relevance. Kerching! inevitably grows louder and louder like a crescendo attracting people from far and wide who had no interest in Bernese prior to hearing the sound emanating from within the breed. When that happens, Kerching! becomes a dangerous and destructive factor to a breed; it spreads fast, like a crippling disease, it’s ever- multiplying nature systematically engulfing and destroying the integrity of a breed whilst simultaneously causing a devastating reduction in the quality of a high percentage of the Bernese being bred.
And that is what is happening to Bernese in the UK now.
For those who state that breeding dogs is an expensive business (and we all know that it is!) I wonder why anyone should expect any Bernese Mountain Dog to be at the very least self-funding or at worst generate sufficient income to pay for a whole list of ‘expenses’, whether those ‘expenses’ are real or otherwise?
It wasn’t very long ago that the first UK Bernese breeder strode forward, ahead of the rest, and placed a price tag of £1000 on a Bernese puppy. Then someone desperate to acquire a Bernese puppy was willing to pay that price. What a result! K E R C H I N G ! ! ! ! ! !
Many Bernese enthusiasts were shocked and dismayed that a 4 figure sum had been reached; now other breeders have eagerly copied that action and that same price tag is placed on a great many Bernese puppies and that price has all-too-quickly become commonplace. The breeder who chooses to set a precedent for increasing the price asked for their puppies has a reason for doing so – and there can be a great many reasons! The quality of Bernese is very varied; the skills and successes of breeders is very varied. Unfortunately there appears to be little correlation between the quality of Bernese and the prices tag they carry. No doubt breeders will justify why they set any specific price tag on their puppies. The public demand a supply of Bernese puppies and that is a major factor – it is (mostly) a seller’s market and demand usually prompts and encourages price increases.
Some Bernese breeders and enthusiasts offer what they believe to be legitimate reasons for placing a high premium on their puppies. They may even be justified in doing so but high-pricing policies also cast a large, very dark shadow on the breed as the price-hikes have been witnessed and enthusiastically copied by many opportunists who were listening out for and drawn towards Kerching!
The pioneers of Bernese invested HUGELY and selflessly to help establish the breed in the UK; they didn’t inflate prices for ‘rare’ Bernese puppies bred from the early imports or winners; they didn’t expect their dogs to finance the blood, sweat and tears they gave to the breed nor the expenses associated with showing or promoting the breed at a time when things were much more difficult for Bernese enthusiasts than they are now. Those breeders and owners didn’t expect their dogs to generate income even though those pioneers faced enormous expenses and challenges. They did what they did because they wanted to and for the love of their dogs and the breed in general – not because they wanted to benefit from Kerching!
The seductive power of Kerching! should not be underestimated. Too many people who have embarked upon breeding Bernese have no interest in Bernese other than using dogs to serve as a means to a lucrative, financial end. Purebred Bernese, both Kennel Club Registered and without KC Registration are now being bred by an increasing number of ‘breeders’ who have little or no interest or knowledge of the background of their breeding stock nor any long-term commitment to the pups they breed or the Bernese breed in general. Cross-bred Bernese are commonplace now and they too command very high prices. Kerching! is the motivation and Kerching! is the goal of opportunist exploiters.
Potential puppy buyers have recently reported (during 2011) that they have been quoted anything between £950 to £2500 for a UK bred, Kennel Club registered Bernese puppy. Of course, quoting a price and achieving it is not necessarily the same thing and enquirers not happy with the prices they are quoted can always walk away. BUT – the reality is that escalating prices are bad news for Bernese.
The sound of Kerching! has now become an unwanted, intrusive, almost deafening noise to those who recognise what a devastating impact that sound has had and is now having on UK bred Bernese.
There is a well know saying that "money is the root of all evil" – but money is a necessity for everyone. Money will always change hands between dog breeders and dog buyers. Of course we all know that. Money can do a great deal of good but it can also be responsible for causing and escalating problems. Using dogs to generate income is, to many of us, a particularly distasteful activity; observing Bernese being used by exploiters to satisfy greed is excruciatingly painful to those of us who see and recognise the downward spiral occurring within Bernese circles.
Bernese breeders come in many guises ranging from enthusiast to exploiter. Everyone will decide for themselves how they categorise those who seem to be driven by and benefit from Kerching!
Will Kerching! be a sound synonymous with you?
Jude Simonds ©2009