For 'Frequently Asked Questions' information sheet on Bernese Mountain Dogs
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1. FACT SHEET 2. LINKS 3. CODE of ETHICS/PRACTICE 4. BMD BREED STANDARD 5. UNDERSTANDING HD 6. PennHIP
1. FACT SHEET - BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOGS
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working dog that had their origins in the farm areas of Switzerland, principally the Canton of Bern where most examples of the breed were concentrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are four breeds of Sennenhunde (mountain dog), the Appenzell, the Entlebuch, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog and the Bernese Mountain Dog, all sharing similar markings, the Bernese having a somewhat longer coat. They are a strong and sturdy farm dog that in their native country were used extensively for herding and also for draft work when carting milk to the local cheese factories or produce to the local markets. They were also watchdogs around the farm and of the herds and this required a calm natured, self-confident dog, devoted to his home and his people.
Usually noted as 8-10 years but some studies indicate 10 yrs. These are mathematical averages. Some Bernese achieve 12 years and occasionally we hear of 15yrs.
AVERAGE HEIGHT AND WEIGHT - THE ENGLISH BREED STANDARD
Height: Dogs 64-70cms (25-27.5inches)
Bitches 58 –66cm (23-26 inches)
Weight: Dogs 88-99 lbs (40-45Kg) usually more like 50-55 kg's and often see them around 60 -65 kg.
Bitches 66-77lbs (30-35kg) usually more like 40-50 kg's
As with all large breed dogs, Hip Dysplasia and OCD of the elbow can present as a problem. It is important therefore, to screen and select suitable stock for breeding Breeders test for suitability with accredited AVA/ANKC hip and elbow evaluations given after X-Ray examination of potential breeding stock..
Ectropian, Entropian, Elongated Soft Palette, and Histiocytosis (a form of early onset cancer that can affect animals between the ages of principally 4 and 8 years) are conditions that breeders are aware of and endeavor to reduce the incidence of .
Bloat - is a serious condition that generally speaking affects all 'deep chested breeds'. Its onset is quick, extremely painful for the dog and is life threatening if not dealt with immediately. Full gastric torsion - twist of the stomach- can occur. Veterinarians can surgically reposition the stomach and stitch to prevent another event of torsion. This is only successful where patients can be attended to before circulation is cut to various critical pathways. This does not prevent another event of bloat. If your dog appears uncomfortable (they have a hunched appearance dealing with the stomach pain), you must take your dog to a Vet immediately for examination and treatment options. From my only experience with bloat, my girl was restless, clearly in pain and discomfort, had a hunched look about her and on running my hands down both sides of her body, one side was markedly more swollen and uncomfortable for me to examine. Dealt with quickly and given timely Veterinary care and options there can be a full uncompromised recovery. The exact cause of bloat is unknown. There seems to be a correlation between overexcitement/stress/food intake/exercise. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and know your emergency contact numbers for Veterinary assistance around the clock. It may never happen but you need to ready if it does.
BREED PERSONALITY / CHARACTERISTICS / TEMPERAMENT
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, sturdy working dog with striking black, tan and white distinctive markings and the long double coat. They are a gentle and placid dog devoted to their family. They thrive in the family/home environment and consider themselves another member of the family. Puppies and young dogs are often quite boisterous during their adolescent stage. Some patience and reward oriented training is recommended. Bitches are distinctly more feminine in appearance with a less commanding demeanor. Dogs have a distinctly more masculine appearance with their more imposing size, bulkier body, broader head and especially coat development over the chest area. They are a slow maturing breed. They are not an aggressive dog but are considered very good watchdogs as they usually bark to announce visitors arriving. Their favorite activity is being with you.
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER FAMILY PETS
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a wonderful reputation in this regard and can be bonded to pet rabbits and so on, and cats in the household are usually the boss!
Grooming requirements are moderate. A regular brush of the coat is ideal and simple to do. When they molt more grooming may be required paying attention to the area behind the ears and the back of the legs in particular. Their coats are naturally quite resistant to wet conditions and the cold wet weather is not normally an issue for them. However, be mindful of their environment in the summer and always provide a cool shady place to rest inside or out and plenty of water during the hot summer days. Bernese usually adjust their exercise to a minimum and rest in a cool relaxing place through the heat of the day.
The Bernese Mountain Dog needs a consistent, firm but kind hand in training. Encouragement and reward always ensures the best results because their most endearing quality is their willingness to please. They need to be with you and thrive in this environment. Left alone with a solitary life and no personal attention would be stressful and he would likely become miserable, less sociable and create problems. Despite their size and energy and enthusiasm for their walks, they generally don’t require a lot of exercise . Early socialization is important as is patience with training as they are a slow breed to mature.
SELECTING YOUR PUPPY
If you decide that a BMD is suitable for you, to avoid disappointment, it is recommended that you select and choose from screened, registered breeding stock with accredited AVA/ANKC hip and elbow X-Ray evaluation reports.
Ideally, both the sire and the dam of the puppies should have scores of 0:0 on the elbows and the hips scores should not exceed the breed average, which changes from time to time, but is approx a total of 12 on the hips.
If possible, meet the sire and the dam of the puppies to be comfortable about the temperament ensuring they have a friendly and warm nature.
Be prepared to train and socialize your Bernese for a most rewarding relationship. Owners of Bernese generally comment that once “they have been owned by a Bernese”, they can never be without one !!
It is a very special experience.
Originally written for the Victorian Canine Association “Breed Flyer”
3. CODE OF ETHICS - VICTORIA - (CURRENT VERSION in REVISION refer to BMDCV 2015 )
This Code of Ethics , with regard to enjoyment and interest in , the keeping of, and the breeding of the Bernese Mountain Dog, addresses the following :-
1. Conduct of Members
2. Health/Wellbeing and the Keeping of BMD’s
3. Breeding Bernese Mountain Dogs and related matters
1.CONDUCT OF MEMBERS and MEMBERS RELATIONS
(a) Essentially members are encouraged to participate in the club for the enhancement and enjoyment of the breed through education and sharing of information and participation in club activities. The club therefore advocates a code of conduct for it’s members that is befitting and based on principles of honesty, integrity and pride and encourages relations between members and any interested parties accordingly.
(b) Members should always conduct themselves in an honorable and professional manner at organized shows and club events or promotions and should exhibit good sportsmanship at all times.
(c) Members shall not denigrate any other member or members kennel/and or their dogs
(d) To assist in a positive reflection on our breed, members are encouraged in a constructive and positive manner, to (a) share expertise, (b)encourage and support newcomers to the breed, (c)seek out and strive to keep abreast of the latest information not only in relation to health and care aspects of the breed but also organizational changes and amendments to rules and guidelines of relevant bodies.
2. HEALTH AND WELL BEING AND CARE OF BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOGS
(a) Members shall not use cruel or abusive punishment to control or manage their dog(s) and should be willing to take council/advice and become educated on more appropriate handling techniques
(b) Encourage training activities puppy socialization classes, obedience training , show training or carting or any other suitable work and socialization appropriate for the development and mindset and wellbeing of the breed.
(c) Members should commit to providing good and proper nutrition, regular and preventative health care and to supplying adequate housing indoors and outdoors and maintain a positive, caring environment on a daily and ongoing basis
(d) Members should be restricted to having no more dogs than may be properly cared for in terms of nutrition, health care, socialization and facilities (eg fenced yards and housing etc) and in accordance with local Government Regulations regarding the keeping of dogs.
(e) Members should at all times have control of their dog(s) . No member should place any other person or animal at risk or place their dog(s) in potentially dangerous situations, which might result in serious trauma.
(f) Members , having due regard for their dog(s) and for the general public, shall make every effort to prevent dogs from roaming unsupervised, causing a nuisance or to be picked up and placed in an animal shelter situation.
3. BREEDING BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOGS AND RELATED MATTERS
Breeders shall breed for the specific purpose of improving the breed whilst maintaining their unique beauty and character and do so in accordance with the official standard set forth by the ANKC and in this regard shall:-
(a) Ensure that appropriate health checks/measures have been taken prior to a mating
(b) Ensure that all breeding stock be x-rayed for evidence of hip dysplasia (min 12 months of age) and that the x-rays plates be submitted for scoring under an approved Australian Canine Hip Dysplasia scoring scheme.
(c) Give priority to those animals assessed for breeding that have obtained hip evaluation that does not exceed the breed average and preferably is lower than it.
(d) Ensure that all breeding stock be elbow x-rayed for evidence of osteochondrosis of the elbow (min 12 months of age) and that the x-ray plates be submitted for scoring under an approved Australian Canine Elbow Scoring scheme.
(e) Give priority to those animals assessed for breeding that have obtained an elbow grade of 0: 0
Understand that a grade of 1:1 represents a greater risk. It is recommended to give priority to 0:0 grade
elbows for breeding as any other score represents a greater risk of producing a problem with the risk
increasing generally as the score increases.
(f) Breeders shall identify and use physically and temperamentally sound stock and will refuse to breed from dogs or bitches that are (a) of a different breed, (b) are unregistered (c) are known to have obvious hereditary/genetic defects.
(g) Breeding shall be carefully planned and must be carried out selectively in an attempt to reduce as much as possible hereditary defects such as hip dysplasia, oesteochondrosis of the shoulder and elbow, entropian, ectropian, trembler (hypomyelinogenis), elongated soft palette and elongated undershot jaw. This list is not exhaustive.
(h) Breeders shall understand the strengths and weaknesses of their stock and never double up on a known or visible fault breeding towards the elimination of faults and the maintenance of strengths.
(i) Breeders should aim to preserve the breed temperamentally and as a working dog, breeding for soundness, durability and ease of movement.
(j) Breeders should co-operate with the collection of data on hip and elbow status and health status of breeding stock to assist in the establishment of a national pedigree/health data base and be pro-active in introducing accredited recommended measures to assist in breeding programs ie: DNA testing and data collection, eye testing ie PRA, temperament testing etc.
(k) Breeders should ensure that nervous or aggressive Bernese shall not be bred from Refer to Breed Standard requirements
(l) Breeders should not mate a bitch prior to 20 months of age, or before her second season and ensure that the last litter shall be whelped before the bitches 7th birthday.
These all, except under exceptional circumstances with veterinary approval.
Ensure that no bitch shall be bred from in any way that is deleterious to the bitch or the breed.
(m) It is not recommended to breed from the same bitch in consecutive seasons. Should a mating of this nature take place it should be only in the most exceptional of circumstances and be accompanied by a letter of approval from a vet and be submitted to the club on request. A period of 12 months ( from the date of birth of the puppies resulting from the most recent mating) must have elapsed before the bitch can be mated again.
(n) We recommend that all dogs at the time of X-ray submit both their full kennel name and Micro chip number for identification on the X-ray plates.
(a) A breeder should sell stock with true representation of information and must not engage in misleading or untruthful statements in selling or advertising.
(b) No breeder should sell puppies or adult dogs to any known retail or wholesale outlet
(c) Breeders must be discriminating in the sale of puppies or dogs and be concerned with the type of home/environment in which the animal is to be placed.
(d) No puppy should go to it’s new home before 8 weeks of age, thus allowing for vaccinations to be given at 6 weeks of age.
(e) A buyer should be supplied with a Certificate of Registration showing at least a 3 generation pedigree with information on inoculations certified by a veterinarian surgeon . This should also include information on any other veterinary care that the dog may have received and instructions on the care feeding and exercise and training of Bernese.
(f) No member shall knowingly export or assist in the export of a dog or dogs to any country which does not have legislation for the protection of animals
(g) Breeders should try to keep in touch with the progress of the dog(s) of his or her breeding
(h) Breeders should be prepared to take back any dog(s) of his or her breeding or be instrumental in the re-homing of the dog at any time throughout the dog(s) life.
(i) A breeder will guarantee the health of his stock subject to a vet examination within 48 hours of the sale.
(j) Members of the club will ensure that neither directly or indirectly shall any dog to be given as a prize or donation in any contest of any kind
(k) Breeders should provide the purchaser of a puppy with a “Contract of Sale” which clearly defines the differences between the Open and Limited Register of dogs and in accordance with the appropriate Canine Controlling body’s Regulations. The contract will also state on which register the puppy has been placed and any other obligation that the purchaser is required to fulfill regarding ownership of the puppy.
(l) Breeders who engage a purchaser in a contractual agreement over the sale of an animal are required to
honour the contracts they engage themselves in, being sure that both parties understand all
requirements and all clauses prior to signing.
(m) Breeders should keep accurate records of breeding and or stud service and should register all puppies with the VCA or other appropriate State Controlling body
CODE OF PRACTICE DOGS VICTORIA
Please refer to http://www.vca.org.au ;
Select "About Dogs Victoria"
Select "Constitution, Rules and Codes"
Select "Code of Practice"
"Code of Ethics"
4. Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Standard
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG'
Kennel Club, London 1994
GENERAL APPEARANCE - Strong, sturdy working dog, active, alert, well boned, of striking colour.
CHARACTERISTICS - A multi purpose farm dog capable of draught work. A kind and devoted family dog. Slow to mature.
TEMPERAMENT - Self-confident, good natured, friendly and fearless. Aggressiveness not to be tolerated.
HEAD AND SKULL - Strong with flat skull, very slight furrow, well defined stop; strong straight muzzle. Lips slightly developed.
EYES - Dark brown, almond shaped, well fitting eyelids.
EARS - Medium sized; set high, triangular shaped, lying flat in repose, when alert brought slightly forward and raised at base.
MOUTH - Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
NECK - Strong, muscular and medium length.
FOREQUARTERS - Shoulders long, strong and sloping, with upper arm forming a distinct angle, flat lying, well muscled. Forelegs straight from all sides. Pasterns flexing slightly.
BODY - Compact rather than long. Height to length 9:10. Broad chest, good depth of brisket reaching at least to elbow. Well ribbed; strong loins. Firm, straight back.
HINDQUARTERS - Broad, strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hock strong, well let down and turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws to be removed.
FEET - Short, round and compact.
TAIL - Bushy, reaching just below hock. Raised when alert or moving but never curled or carried over back.
GAIT/MOVEMENT - Stride reaching out well in front, following well through behind, balanced stride in all gaits.
COAT - Soft, silky with bright natural sheen, long, slightly wavy but should not curl when mature.
COLOUR - Jet black, with rich reddish brown on cheeks, over eyes, on all four legs and on chest. Slight to medium sized symmetrical white head marking (blaze) and white chest marking (cross) are essential. Preferred but not essential, white paws, white not reaching higher than pastern, white tip to tail. A few white hairs at nape of neck, and white anal patch undesirable but tolerated.
SIZE - Height: Dogs 64-70 cms (25-27'/2 ins) Bitches 58-66 cms (23-26 ins)
FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
5. Understanding Hip Dysplasia -Seminar November 2004
6."Australian Veterinary Association Canine Hip Dysplasia elimination schemes and PennHIP".
In 2007 a committee from the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists examined Hip Dysplasia screening schemes in Australia.
The committee found that:
*There is an apparent failure of the current AVA scheme (using the extended hip view) to reduce the incidence of Canine Hip Dysplasia in Australia.
*There are potential advantages using the PennHIP system to eliminate CHD.
Breeders and owners are advised:
* That the PennHIP scheme will provide them with much more usable information about the hip status of their dogs than the current scheme.
* That PennHIP will allow them to reduce the incidence of Hip Dysplasia in their lines much more rapidly than they can using the current scheme.
*While Veterinarians will continue to take the extended hip view and submit them for reading to who ever the client requests, they do so recognizing that this is not the best assessment to be using.
The Current AVA scheme will continue to exist, and it will be administered by the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association.
Breed clubs and controlling bodies are to be encouraged to register either a PennHIP assessment or an AVA assessment for any given dog.
Breeders should not be forced to have an extended hip view score as well as a PennHIP assessment by their breed clubs or any other controlling body.
Breeders wishing more information about PennHIP should consult with a PennHIP trained veterinarian or visit www.pennhip.org"