UK Bernese Mountain Dog Death Survey

Relaunched December 2016 – Update Spring 2018

The story so far

The current Death Survey was launched in December 2016 to provide information about the breed both in summary and detailed form. The intention was to publish an ongoing information on this web site giving a variety of data about deaths in our breed. There is basic summary information about the dogs contributing to the survey plus with it’s obvious story to tell of the general state of the breed with summarised causes of death.There is a massive amount of information that can be gleaned from such a survey, not only causes of death but average ages and trends can be identified and give a solid substantiated scientific basis for further action or investigation. Seeking information and accumulating and recording data is the ONLY way to establish facts about our breed. Without surveys everything we know, or think we know,  is just anecdotal or gossip and cannot be acted upon. It gives us evidence to take to experts, demonstrates that we are taking some responsibility for our breed by addressing breed health within the breed. Information from a Death Survey is so important to a breed as it can initiate all kinds of follow up actions, many would say that a Death Survey is an essential starting point for all health initiatives. Indeed there are countries where they realise the importance of this data and completion of Death records for every dog you lose is compulsory to stay in the club and you need to be in a club to function in the breed in such countries.

A summary of the submissions so far, (April 2018), can be seen from this link.

There was also to be another list with all the details of each dog given by the owners of breeders. This list was to act as information for people looking at the breed for various reasons whether as breeders, researchers,  puppy buyers. Due to the personal information volunteered by people it was always intended to delay this list until it had reached a certain size to reduce any emphasis on individuals and a figure of 200 deaths was envisaged as a minimum. It was supposed at concept that this figure would be reached within maybe 6 months or so. As I write 16 months on from the launch this figure has still not been reached which is somewhat disappointing, especially as historic information was also asked for to give a reference picture of how things were changing. In fact less than 20% of the submissions have been current deaths with the rest being historic ones that people have submitted. The introduction of GDPR in summer 2018 has also made us think further about the publication of this list and the wording of the data collection. It has been decided to suspend the publication of this list pending further advice.


Already Contributed?

A massive thank you if you have already contributed details of your dog (or dogs) to this list. Even with such a simple low level of detail being requested it is not always easy to be completely frank and honest and filling in the form could bring back painful memories so we really do appreciate every submission.

I especially thank and appreciate those who have been very open about their dogs and especially those who have contributed more than the minimum details. Some people feel any negative news about their dogs very personally and it can take courage to be honest with bad news so please applaud and acknowledge these people rather than just criticising their dogs as some tend to do. I also thank those who have really embraced the initiative and researched all their owned and bred dogs that they can by checking with vets and puppy owners to obtain historic details. There is a lot of historic information out there if only a few more people would take the trouble to find it out.

How to Contribute

Please complete a form for each Bernese you have lost, whether recently or back in time. You may have records of your own but feedback has been that vets are happy to give you details of your historic dogs, it is only a moments work for the receptionist to look at your records on the computer system and give you dates of birth and death as well as the cause of death recorded at your vets. The information you can gain from a quick phone call to your vet can be of great assistance to this survey so please make the effort to do this and then complete the form either in hard copy or on line, both can be simply done via the links on this page. If you do not know the full details of your dog’s name or other information then partial details can be of value as we have access to full records and can often look up the bits we need from the incomplete data we receive.

Please Help

Please take a few minutes to understand the potential importance for the breed of this survey and if you do that you will realise just how important it is to send in all your departed dog’s details.

Not just the ‘good news’ long living ones or just the ‘bad news’ not so long living ones but all the ‘average ones’ you can provide whether current or historical. They don’t have to have a dramatic emotional story to be of value to the survey. If trends are identified, for example certain cancer deaths, all the non cancer deaths are just as important to give correct context to these deaths. If people only reported their cancer deaths then 100% of Bernese would be shown as dying of cancer. Context is all important here so we need ALL deaths to be reported.

Whatever the cause of death, whether illness or accident, euthanised or died naturally, young or old, dramatic or quietly passing away, upsetting or a reason to celebrate, last week, last year, a decade ago or even from the last century if you can get them, the details of ALL OF YOUR Bernese’s deaths are important to this survey.

Whether your dog originated from big winning show background, a working background or was bred by a well known breeder or an unknown one off breeder, whether it lived quietly at home with it’s family or was well known at shows or attended other club events we want to know about it.

Even if you do not know a certain cause of death but just have the dates of birth and death, or if you are ‘happy’ your dog simply died of ‘old age’  your dog’s details will still add value to the survey. If you are not certain or have no proof of a cause of death but have your own idea this too is of value to the survey. In the UK hardly anyone has a post mortem on their dog so, strictly speaking, the cause of death is often only an opinion, whether yours or your vets, but added together these opinions are of great value for the breed but they can only be of value when they are contributed to a survey like this.

As long as it is a Bernese that lived in the UK there is no fact that can make YOUR Bernese of today or yesterday not of interest to this survey SO PLEASE make sure YOUR Bernese is a part of this list.

By just ticking a box you can even opt out of having all your dog’s details made public in the list and just allow them to contribute to the overall summary picture. Your details, name and contact information will never be given out.

Only owners or breeders of dogs can contribute the dog’s details.

The form is very simple and will only take a few moments to complete for each dog and can be done on line via the link on this page. PLEASE  DO NOT casually assume this request is for someone else’s Bernese and doesn’t apply to yours, because the survey absolutely does ask for all UK Bernese details, there are no restrictions that rule out any UK Bernese. Some people have gone back in time and contributed the details of every Bernese they have owned over many years. I cannot thank these people enough for their support of this survey.

I know I am repeating the point over and over but, especially in view of the poor response so far, it simply cannot be said too many times that EVERY SINGLE BERNESE DEATH IS IMPORTANT to this survey so please send in as many of YOUR dogs’ details as you can, whether ‘recent’ or from the past.

If you have any queries about any of this please feel free to get in touch with me.

Thank you.

Steve Green
BMD Breed Health CoOrdinator

Context Matters

Details of ALL Bernese are required as context is important. If we were only told about dogs like the sickly dog on the left we would have a completely wrong impression. Of course we really need to know about the one on the left but we also really need to know about the others to keep the one on the left in context.

It’s not rocket science to understand that the more Bernese we hear about the more realistic the results we get, so please send in information about your dogs when you can.

Thank You