WindSong Fields
                    {Linsca} Bernese Mountain Dogs & Flat Coated Retrievers

Berner Information:  What you should know before you buy

 

  • Do not buy from puppy mills or pet shops
  • You should always be allowed to see where the puppies are kept and the mother.
  • Ideally meet the father too
  • Puppies should be sold with health guarantees
  • All puppies should have received their first vaccines, deworming and a veterinarian exam
  • All health information should be disclosed to you on both the parents
  • You should have access to at least a 4 generation pedigree

 

 



Origins

Bernese Mountain Dogs ("Berners") are one of the 150 breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are working dogs with origins in the farm areas of Switzerland and named for the Canton of Bern. Historically, Berners were used as general purpose farm dogs for their large, hardy frames and their calm-natured, people-oriented temperaments made them ideal for driving cattle, pulling carts to market, watching the farm and being farmers' companions. While Bernese Mountain Dogs are wonderful creatures with a long list of attributes, not all dogs exemplify the best the breed has to offer. This is not a breed for everyone and every dog possesses individual strengths and weaknesses. Before you decide to make a Berner part of your family please take the time to read through our website and some of the links in an effort to learn more about this breed. 




Temperament

By nature, Berners are alert and affectionate dogs. With appropriate training that is essential for ownership of a large working breed, Berners are generally gentle, easygoing and tolerant. They are also usually excellent with children. They are not prone to excessive barking unless left unattended for too long. Large dogs, even a Berner, should not be left alone unsupervised with small children or children unknown to the dog. They do not do well when isolated from people or activity.

Behavior problems are likely to develop when a Berner is deprived of considerable interaction with people. The breed is protective but should not be aggressive unless provoked or threatened and may be aloof to strangers. While Berners should not be shy, this tendency can be found in some lines of the breed or in dogs that were not properly socialized as pups. Due to temperament concerns, it is very important to expose Berners to a wide variety of people, places and other animals, especially in their first year of life.


Living Environment

Berners need to live where you are and should be inside with the family. They do not do well as kennel dogs and should never be tied outside and left. Berners are farm dogs by heritage and as such need exercise to stay fit mentally and physically. Small fenced yards should be viewed as a place of convenience and safety but not as a place for adequate exercise for this moderately active breed. A minimum of 30 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise daily plus several trips outside daily are adequate for some Berners. To remain fit and pleasant to live with others require three times that amount of exercise.

As you would expect with their heavy coat and rugged appearance, Bernese love the cold and snow. But both their size and heavy black coats make these dogs susceptible to heat stroke. Berners do best in a climate-controlled environment during hot weather especially if not acclimated to warm temperatures. Activities during the hotter months should be confined to the coolest times of day.  Berners are not generally jumpers or climbers, but do require a sturdy four or five foot fence to keep them safely on your premises.  And yes, some Berners do like to dig!


Versatility

Berners are a highly versatile breed. Dogs and their human companions enjoy competing in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, herding and carting. Berners also make wonderful therapy dogs bringing cheer to others. Individual dogs will be serviceable for these various activities depending on their aptitude, structure, character and temperament. Not every Berner will perform well in every event.


Grooming

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a double-coated breed. Shedding is considerable. Berners cast off their coats seasonally with the exception of intact females that cast coat in conjunction with heat cycles. If hair in the home is a problem this breed is not for you. A Berner's coat is relatively easy to maintain. We recommend you have your Berner professionally groomed in the spring and fall.  This will greatly reduce shedding and the mess from their coat.  We find that our Berner is actually the cleanest of all our dogs.


Training

Basic training is a necessity for all dogs and especially large breeds such as the Bernese. It is recommended that children attend a puppy kindergarten/socialization class between four and six months of age. This should be followed by a first level obedience program before the dog reaches one. All training should utilize positive techniques. A well-mannered dog is a pleasure and the owner's responsibility.


Health Issues & Life Span

Every breed has its health issues and Berners are no different. Unfortunately the average life of a Berner is slightly more than seven years although some individuals are still going strong at ten and beyond. We as Bernese breeders are working hard to improve the health and longevity of the breed, but we feel it is important for new families to be aware of the potential problems.  Many of the health issues we work to guard against can have significant emotional and financial obligations should your pet develop these conditions. Some of the most common health issues impacting the breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, cancer, bloat, sub-aortic stenosis, autoimmune diseases, skin and coat problems, thyroid disorders and eye disorders (progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, ectropian and entropion).   We have taken as many of the neccessary precautions to test our dog(s) for these problems and in turn breed only the healthiest dogs.  This is never a 100% guarantee for any puppy's overall health throughout it's life.


Cost

Aside from the initial purchase price of your Berner, there are many other expenses to consider.  Ongoing costs include vaccines, heartworm testing and prevention, flea prevention, dental care, food, training, housing, toys, grooming tools and supplies and more.  If your pet becomes sick or requires surgery, expenses for treatment and hospitalization can be substantial.  We strongly recommend that you plan for these unknown expenses by putting money away for your pet's care. Pet health insurance is also available and should be considered.  As with most insurance, it is important to obtain these policies before your dog gets sick.