UK Breed Clubs
Some years ago the Kennel Club asked that, if possible, each breed had one main online reference area for health and one contact within each breed, namely the Breed Health CoOrdinator. At Bernese Breed Council the UK clubs agreed that this health section of the GB club web site should be the place the breed clubs used. So, a big welcome if you have arrived here by clicking a link from another club’s web site. The Breed Council has now ceased to be but this section is still supported by the Southern Bernese Mountain Dog Club, The Northern Bernese Mountain Dog Club, The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Scotland and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Wales, so it is a UK Breed Health section for Bernese. To return to their sites, where they have one, you can use the links here or the ‘back arrow’ in your browser or, if you are a regular you will have a bookmark to their site.
However, it must be pointed out that the health recommendations to be found on this site may not all be specifically supported by all the above clubs and if this is important to you then you will need to ascertain their positions and rationale individually with them. References on this site to ‘the club’ will almost invariably refer to the BMDC of GB and not any other club although some the position of some clubs may coincide with that of the BMDC of GB.
For Owners, Breeders and Enquirers
Bernese health is a massive subject with many areas to discuss, each with numerous aspects to them but breeders and owners who purport to be serious about the breed should have some interest in all these areas. This obviously applies to owners but it is vital that breeders should be looking to improve the health of Bernese with breeding choices being significantly, but of course not totally, influenced by health issues. Therefore people considering buying the breed (or any breed) should have some awareness of the topics so they know a] what they should be asking potential breeders about and b] know how to assess the replies. The club is often approached by owners with problems who wish they had learnt more before purchase, so if you are making enquiries about the breed, please do not just presume a dog is just a dog. This approach could end up costing you alot of money at the vets but more importantly mean you have to watch your beloved family member suffering when the chances of this could be avoided or at least reduced.
Of course whatever breeders do there can never be any complete guarantees about the health of any individual puppy (in any breed) but there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of some problems and even eliminate certain others during the lifetime of any Bernese. These things start with the massively important choice of bitch and dog to produce offspring and continue right through the dog’s life from rearing of the puppies and then management and husbandry through the dog’s life.
There are more tools and information around to help breeders make choices than ever before but none of these are of benefit to the breed if they are not used and, just as importantly, the information they give should be understood properly, assessed honestly and acted on appropriately. Breeding cannot improve every aspect of a dog in one generation and every breeding decision should is a balanced risk assessment of priorities and no two judgements are the same.
This purpose of this section of our web site is to give information on the health issues most pertinent to our breed and, in places recommendations, to those wishing to own or breed Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is important to stress that reporting, investigating and discussing health is not being morbid or negative about the breed, on the contrary it is about trying positively to improve the breed and making a better and healthier Bernese for the owners of the future. All breeds have issues and there are no genetically perfect dogs so it is incumbent on owners and breeders to recognise and accept this and look to improve matters in a realistic and reasonable fashion. Breeders need to stay pragmatic and objective about these decisions and not take matters personally. Read or listen completely and properly to what is being said and do not make assumptions about the whole message. There is often context and qualifications to advice that is often ignored and forgotten so it is frustrating when people are reported or can be heard arguing against something that has not actually been said.
The information in this section is from many sources. Some of the specific breed knowledge is from information gathered in this country and some is from Bernese clubs and interested parties in other countries. Some is from seminars both breed specific and other breeds, some is from the KC. The club asks all breeders and owners to co-operate with any requests for breed health related information so that breed data given can relate as accurately as possible to the breed in the UK. Some information is already in the public domain and available to all, such as KC/BVA hip and elbow results, but information for other initiatives such as the Death Survey, DM testing, SH testing and occasional health surveys has to be actively volunteered by owners and breeders. So, please if you are a Bernese lover and claim to support the breed please support any health initiative such as the Death Survey and if you are a breeder please take part in health testing and make this a part of your breeding decisions. We can make the breed better for future generations but this will not just happen we ALL have to actively make the effort to make it happen.
If you are a breeder or a serious owner with your own web site please feel free to link to this section and if you have any queries about anything on it, or not on it, please contact the Breed Health CoOrdinator via firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you are an owner, a breeder or an enquirer about the breed thank you for your interest so far and please click on the titles below for more information about each subject.