The Bernese Mountain Dog was used as a herding and draught dog in the Swiss mountains and is able to cope with severe cold weather. He is a large dog with a thick, silky coat which will easily become matted if it is not groomed frequently. He is usually a well mannered dog who can be fairly easy to train. Ideally he should live in a large house with a garden and have plenty of exercise daily.
Inbreeding coefficient – COI
(should be as low as possible)
The breed average COI is 4.8%
Health and welfare problems due to conformation
(body shape and physical characteristics)
- The Bernese Mountain Dog’s thick coat will cause him problems unless it is kept regularly groomed. He will not be happy in very warm weather and care should be taken to avoid him becoming uncomfortably hot.
- The average lifespan for this breed is under 10 years.
- Torsion/Bloat (twisting of stomach and intestine due to accumulation of air – needs urgent vet treatment) Fairly common in large breeds with deep chests
BVA/KC Health Schemes http://www.bva.co.uk/chs
- Hip dysplasia: (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and lameness) breed mean score 12 (parents should be lower)
- Elbow dysplasia (osteo chondrosis dessicans – OCD)(abnormal development of the elbow joint, including fragmented coronoid process, causing chronic arthritis and lifelong pain and discomfort – very common in this breed): score should ideally be O:O
- Eye disease: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (causes progressive sight loss)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia
DNA tests available
- von Willebrands disease type 1 (bleeding disease)
Unofficial (breed club) schemes
- Bitches not to produce a litter under two years of age
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents (or check the results with the KC’s health test results finder). If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
(for which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Entropion (turning inward of the eyelid)
- Cancer: Malignant histiocytosis (tissue tumors in multiple sites, rapid progression and high incidence)
- Factor 1 (fibrinogen) deficiency (blood/immune disease – severe in this breed)
- Idiopathic epilepsy
- Kidney disease: Familial nephropathy
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Steroid responsive meningitis arteritis
- Disc associated cervical spondylomyelopathy (Wobblers syndrome)
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
- Hypomyelinogenisis (Tremblers) neurological disease (according to the breed club has been successfully eliminated from the breed)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Advisory Council’s Standard for Breeders: http://www.dogbreedhealth.com/dac-breeding-standard/