Top 10 Questions
Q. Do they shed?
A. Everyday! This is a double coated breed, so not only is there the daily shedding of the longer guard hairs from the top coat, but also a seasonal shedding of the undercoat (what is know to Berner Fanciers as “blowing coat” … as it does tend to pile up like a snowdrift in your house!) Can you handle finding Berner fur covering your toddler’s blanket? Can you explain to your dinner guest in good humor how the Berner hair got into the ice cubes?
Q. How big do they get?
A. Males 90 - 115 lbs., females 70-95 lbs. on average, so some may be smaller…some BIGGER! Look to the parents and grandparents to get an idea of how large a puppy might become, and then be willing to accept whatever your puppy may grow into.
Q. How much do they eat?
A. Not as much as you think. Figure approximately 3 to 4 cups per day for an adult dog - more for puppies. Proper weight maintenance is crucial to ensuring the health of this breed, and bigger may really only be fatter! A good quality diet is necessary, and each dog will have their own needs based on their exercise level and metabolism.
Q. How long do they live?
A. Not as long as you’d like. Surveys show the average life span is 7 to 8 years. That’s an average, meaning it takes into consideration a number of dogs that die at 4 or 5 years old, and the same number that live to 10 or 11. Learn about the particular health issues that affect Bernese Mountain Dogs, and how they can affect the overall life span of these dogs.
Q. Are they good with kids?
A. With the proper training - for both the dog AND the kids. Socializing your Berner from a very early age is critical to their becoming a good family and community member. These are big dogs, and can easily knock a child over without meaning to, so supervising play is important.
Q. Are they easy to train?
A. With love and consistency. Bernese do best with humane, positive training methods. They are fast learners, but that means they pick up both the good and the bad easily! Training needs to start the day your puppy comes home with you, and should continue throughout it’s life.
Q. Do they tolerate the heat?
A. Not as well as you do. With a black, double coat, these dogs are susceptible to heat stroke in warmer weather. If kept in a warm climate, they need easy access to shade, water and preferably interior conditioned spaces to escape the heat.
Q. Do they need a lot of exercise?
A. More than some breeds, less than others. Bernese benefit from regular exercise that includes off-leash free play. As a working dog, they should be exercised at a moderate pace several times a day. If you’re looking for a jogging partner, this is not the breed for you.
Q. How much do they cost?
A It’s a lifetime investment! Puppies can vary in price based on the breeder, the breeding, and the actual expenses involved. But the cost to bring your puppy home is only the tip of the iceberg. Food, training, toys, treats, bedding, grooming tools, screening tests and veterinary costs will add up to many times the initial purchase price over the life span of the dog. And a serious medical problem can cost thousands of dollars at once. It’s a good idea to have a “four-legger” line item in your family budget before bringing a new puppy into your life.
Q. So, how do I find a puppy?
A. Do your homework! Contact national and regional breed clubs for the Breeder Referral contact person. Meet as many dogs and breeders as you can before choosing a puppy by attending breed club social events, and going to dog shows to talk to both breeders and dog owners about their dogs. Be careful of multi-breed “Find A Breeder” internet listings - though many on the lists are reputable breeders, some may not be practicing responsible breeding methods. Ask questions!
www.bmd.org Through this website you can access the Berner-Garde Foundation (the health data bank for Bernese Mountain Dogs) and the BMDCA, the national breed club. You can also find helpful information in the “Buyer’s Guide” to keep in mind when looking for a Bernese to add to your family.
www.akc.org includes the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Standard. You should read this thoroughly and understand the terms and references used to describe the ideal Bernese Mountain Dog before continuing your search. Though there is no “ideal” dog in any breed, the standard is what breeder’s are hoping to attain through the breeding choices they make.
www.thedogsbestfriend.com includes a wealth of information for the new and seasoned dog owner
The Beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs : A... by Diane Russ and Shirle Rogers, Alpine Publications.
Your Purebred Puppy : A Buyer's Guide , by Michele Welton, Owl Books.
How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With , by Clarice Rutherford & David H. Neil, Alpine Publications.
Information and Resource Guide on this page provided courtesy of the Nashoba Valley Bernese Mountain Dog Club