The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain is the largest and the oldest of the 5 Kennel Club affiliated Bernese Mountain Dog Clubs in Britain, having over 1,000 members at over 900 addresses and first being formed in 1971 as the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of England, (the name change coming a few years later).
Management of the club is undertaken by an elected committee and officers who are responsible to the members via the Annual General Meeting. The AGM agrees, and from time to time amends, the content of the Club Constitution and Code of Ethics which govern, or guide, the actions of the club and its members.
All paid up members are able to place items on the agenda and attend the AGM, subject to following due process laid out in the constitution and question and comment on the reports of the Officers and major post holders.
Our club magazine, which is a much praised quality publication of its type, is mailed to all members twice a year and contains details and reports of club events as well as general articles to help with all aspects of dog ownership generally and Bernese ownership in particular. Many members join and remain in the club solely for the quality of our publications, never being able to visit an event with their Bernese.
All club members also annually receive a club handbook which, as well as advertisement pages from many of the leading Bernese breeders has an editorial section with inputs from leading breed figures both here and overseas. Many club members contribute to this publication too, sharing photos and comments about their own lovely Bernese. The handbook is also an ongoing record of each club year with reports of our shows and activities of the previous year and updates on health schemes so, over the years the handbook forms a good history of the breed’s progress.
The club holds several regular annual events, some details of which follow, and also other periodic events such as judging teach-ins and health and other seminars dealing with topics relevant to our lovely breed where members have the chance to meet, listen to, and question, knowledgable experts.
There are 3 club shows each year, one Championship Show and 2 Open Shows. The Championship Show is usually held in the Midlands (recently at Stoneleigh Park) near the end of September and attracts an entry of around 200 Bernese. A Limited Obedience show is also included at this event. The 2 Open Shows are split North and South. The Northern Show is held around April time in the Yorkshire area, (currently Grenoside nr Sheffield), the Southern, often referred to as the Christmas Show, is held in early December in the South of England, (currently at Grove nr Wantage). Club shows are great opportunities to see other Bernese dogs, mix with and question owners and visit the club shop.
These are immensely popular events with our largest attendances of the year and are very much a day for all the family and ‘pet’ Bernese owners. Basically they are a large funday with games for dogs and handlers, fancy dress, decorated carts, parades, refreshments, a chance to receive tuition in carting or agility, and is generally an all round friendly family day out. Members are encouraged to bring their Bernese to have a go for the first time or compete a little more seriously in Carting, Agility or Obedience at all levels. There is also a Bernese Character assessment undertaken throughout the day where the temperament of our breed is assessed by an expert and an opportunity to complete various levels of KC Good citizens. An interesting and enjoyable day for anyone interested in seeing Bernese at work. These are normally held around early May and early September (and currently at Priors Marston between Daventry and Warwick).
In recent years both of these events have expanded and become about much more than the day itself with activities over both week-end days and a party on Saturday evening as well. Many members choose to camp on site for 3 or 4 days to make the most of this great opportunity to meet and mix with other Bernese families and their dogs.
Whatever problem you may encounter with your Bernese chances are that someone in the club will have encountered it previously and will be able to help with advice. There is a wealth of experience of Bernese ownership within the club and most owners are happy to share their knowledge to help others. The club has a Code of Ethics which it recommends to its members, this relates largely to the conduct of members in their treatment of their Bernese and also covers some breeding practises, whilst members are free to pursue their own ideas, serious breaches of the Code may ultimately result in expulsion from the club via the procedures laid down in the rules.
Membership of the club is open to anyone interested in Bernese, (you don’t even need to have a dog). Annual membership runs from January through to December and as soon as your membership is processed you will begin to receive club publications, information and details of events.
Like most breed clubs our club has a Rescue section headed by the Rescue CoOrdinator dedicated to helping those Bernese that need a hand in life when their owners can no longer look after them. This can be for many reasons and we do not judge, our sole concern will always be the welfare of the Bernese. Some of this costs money of course and the club has a dedicated Rescue account where anything donated is ring fenced for Rescue purposes. Many members are very generous with annual donations or help and support with fundraising activities.
The club also runs a health section, headed by the Breed Health CoOrdinator which is a Kennel Club recognised position. In 2020 this was expanded a little to become the Bernese Health Initiative, with a small group now managing the club’s health interests. The health fund is another dedicated account with the monies ring fenced for Bernese health purposes and again people are very generous with contributions to this cause. This means we are able to hold occasional health events such as seminars or blood testing sessions and underwrite them to keep costs lower for owners in this vitally important area for the breed. We are also able to make donations to relevant research projects both UK and International.
There are also information gathering ongoing or limited time frame Health Surveys which we ask all Bernese owners to contribute too where’ve they can. These include the Ongoing Bernese Bernese Death Survey and Veterans List and well as the Cruciate Survey which ends in January 2022.
The club has always been keen to provide for, and be a friendly club to all its members, not just “show people”, and the committee are always open to any constructive ideas from the members. There is also the chance to buy Bernese memorabilia, books and fancy goods from the club’s Bernershop which, as well as being present at all major club events and Crufts Dog Show, has a mail order service. The policy of the shop has always been partly to raise funds but mostly to provide a service to the members, consequently prices are kept very low.
If you are interested in Bernese we hope you will agree that our club has something to offer you and, if so, look forward to receiving your completed membership form. In the meantime if we can be of any further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us either by post to the secretary, by telephone to any committee person (see contact details page) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or the other contact details given on the contacts page
In line with KC requirements, the club produces a full set of Judges Lists which are available from the Secretary or can be viewed via this link.
This process is currently in a transitional stage between an old (JDP) and a new system, Judges Educational Programme, at the KC so things are still a little bit confusing at the moment (early 2022) as the process has stalled during the COVID restrictions and is just getting going again. The KC requires a Breed Education CoOrdinator to manage all the Judge’s educational events and the way the breed clubs deal with lists and judge’s approval. If you wish to liaise with the club about our judge’s processes or lists please email the Club Secretary or if you have a general query about the process for the breed you should contact the Breed Education CoOrdinator. If, like most, you are unfamiliar with the JEP system though, you should perhaps read the Kennel Club’s explanatory section first.
The club is fully compliant with the requirements of GDPR, to read our statement or download a copy, please go to our GDPR page