Wingfield-Keeper

WE BELIEVE A DOG IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT

Buyers spend a great deal of time researching a car before buying one; buyers want a car that will meet their needs, be safe, reliable, and last a long time. Most people won't have their car for as many years as they have their dog, but they don't spend nearly as much time doing the research. Will the Berner you purchase match up with your reasons for keeping a companion dog? Take the time to learn if the Bernese Mountain Dog really is the breed best suited to your family and lifestyle. Check out Berner Basics available in the BMDCA's INFO SERIES. Please recognize Berners need quality veterinary care, high-quality and nutritionally balanced diets, routine grooming, adequate housing, and as much love and attention as you can give! The things that will be most important to you should you decide a Bernese Mountain Dog is a good 'match' are: that the puppy you choose will grow to be safe with family members and friends, reliable and not costly in terms of surgery to repair health problems, and especially will last a long time.

TIP - SHOP FOR A BREEDER

You may wish to visit dog shows in the area where you will be able to talk with BMD breeders and owners. Contact breeders found on our "Breeder list" to find out if they will be exhibiting at any local dog show. Go to our "Events" tab to find links for dates of local AKC dog shows. You can also check our events calendar and join our members at one of our club events. Club events offer a comfortable atmosphere in which you can meet our dogs and talk to their owners. Do not be in a hurry. It takes time to find the right breeder and the right dog. Instant gratification should not be the first order of business when choosing your family's companion animal or a breeder.
IMPORTANT - Don't Buy the Puppy from a Pet Shop

CHOOSING A BREEDER

Katie-Durkin

ONLY WANT A PET? Temperament counts and is a big reason why you decided to get a Berner. Choose a conscientious breeder - one who thinks it is important to select a dam and a sire that are most likely to produce a litter of quality pups. Choose a breeder who understands their puppy buyers want a dog that will be a joy to live with, not one that will cower or come unglued with each new experience, or bite strangers out of fear, or be so aggressive that the dog can't be trained by a typical 'pet' owner or one that is unreliable when in public places. Good advise - meet the mother and father of the puppy you are considering buying. Parents with good temperaments are more likely to produce puppies with good temperaments.

MORE ABOUT BREEDERS

1. A conscientious breeder will show their dogs in AKC conformation in order to obtain objective opinions from knowledgeable breed 'experts' about how well the dogs meet the breed standard. HOW DOES SHOWING HELP BREEDERS? Showing gives the breeder an 'expert judge's' evaluation whether the dog they are showing has the physical qualities (that will allow the dog to function well when walking, trotting, running, navigating stairs or even getting into a car) and strength of character and steady temperament that should be present in a dog used as breeding stock.

2. The conscientious breeder will have breeding stock tested for many of the genetic diseases in the breed. If the dam and sire are free of these defects, (Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, some cancers, etc...) the puppies have a lower risk of having them as well. And if the breeder has done this for many generations, the pedigree of the litter will reflect generations of dogs that have sound orthopedics, and are free of other genetic diseases. Remember - trust, but verify! If a dog has been tested, there should be a record of it in Berner-Garde (www.bernergarde.org), or OFA (www.offa.org), or the breeder should provide you with a physical copy of the health certificates. Find out more about how to verify by going to www.bmdinfo.org.

3. A conscientious breeder collects health and temperament information on all of the dogs in the pedigree, as well as for all of the puppies produced in the breeding program. They should be able to talk with buyers about all of the dogs in the pedigree. If the breeder you are talking with doesn't share much information, find another breeder!

4. A conscientious breeder will want to make sure that the puppies go to good homes, and won't wind up in a puppy mill or in a backyard being bred by a breeder who is only interested in cashing in on the sale of litters every six months. There should always be a reasonable contract, one that will protect the future of the puppy and the rights of both breeder and owner. If the breeder wants to sell you the puppy with a litter back requirement, and you have no interest in becoming a responsible breeder, find another breeder! Consider if you want to risk the well being of your Berner girl by having her go through a pregnancy that could end up killing her. It happens. A price break on a puppy with a litter back contract could wind up costing you thousands of extra dollars in stud fees, veterinary care for c-sections, or vet care for sick puppies. A litter back arrangement could mean the 'breeder' takes your dog away from you to get her bred, to whelp the litter and to raise the puppies. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND, UP FRONT, EXACTLY WHAT THE "LITTER BACK DEAL" MEANS FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR DOG!

4. Don't fall for some of the sales jobs breeders will give you.

— "I don't have to x-ray my dogs, I've never had any problems." Sure, but have any of the puppies the breeder has produced had problems? Did the breeder follow up with their puppy owners to find out if the dogs they placed were doing well? Or did the breeder cash the checks for the puppies and breed the next litter?
— "My dogs are from the much healthier Eastern European lines." The Bernese community has compiled years of data on health in Berners collected from Berner owners and breeders in the United States, and other countries. The BMDCA's Health surveys have indicated the same health problems exist in many different family lines. The gene pool for Bernese Mountain Dogs is not all that different from country to country.
— "My dogs are all raised in my home." OK. But how exactly is the breeder socializing the pups - does the breeder you are talking with tell you about how their pups are handled? Without visiting the breeder and seeing how all their dogs live, would you know whether there were stacks of crates in the garage or barn?
— Internet shopping is tough. Any buyer can find a slew of slick websites with lots of terrific pictures of cute Berner puppies. BUT - Are the websites really an accurate representation? Are the photos on the site photos that the breeder took of their own dogs, or did they take the photos from other websites? Berner pups are cute. Keep in mind - puppies grow up. What the puppy looks like in a photo taken at 7 weeks of age is hardly a good representation of how that pup will look at a year of age or whether that pup will grow up to have 'the right stuff'.
— Some dog breeders can be little more than fast talking salesmen. Every smart shopper realizes a good salesman can sell an unwitting buyer a bill of goods.

To read more about how to select the best breeder for the puppy you want to add to your family, see:
www.bmdinfo.org