Questions & Answers
Do you have questions about Bernese Mountain Dogs? Maybe we can help!
Do Berners Shed?
Answer: I try not to giggle when I am asked this question, and I feel bad, because the question isn't silly, its just because the answer is a big, resounding YES! To be fair, many dogs shed, and Berners aren't much different. Berners are a double-coated breed, giving them that awesome, snuggly, "its SO fluffy" coat we all love. This means they have a longer layer of fur on top that sheds a normal amount through the year, plus a shorter undercoat that they shed twice a year. That twice a year shedding is refered to as "Blowing their coat", and THAT is where berners show their shedding skill. It lasts about a week or so, and its a lot of hair at once. Brushing them with a "rake" brush helps remove the undercoat, and cuts down on this shedding. So, the answer is yes, they do shed, and twice a year, they blow their coats.
Are Berners good with kids?
Answer: As you can probably tell from our pictures, our Berners are awesome with our kids. We are very particular about temperament, and a kid-friendly personality is vital for us. As a breed, Berners are very bonded and attached to their family, so that really works well for us. However, it has the possibility to be a negative also - if you do not have children in your home, you will need to regularly socialize your dog with children, or your dog may be uncomfortable or shy around children. Our puppies are gently handled and snuggled by our children from day one, and as they grow, we expand that socialization to other kids, friends, family, and strangers. This helps our puppies go home with a great start, but in the next year of their life, they need to be socialized and continue to be trained around children. One thing we have done with our dogs is formal training classes, with one of our children being the dog's handler. This teaches our dog to respect the child, but equally important is that it teaches our children how to properly handle dogs. Berners can be great around children, but our children also need to learn to be great around dogs! Another thing to recognize is that this is a large breed dog. They can be the sweetest dog, and very gentle, but their tails are strong waggers! They also love to lean against your legs, and flop on your feet ... which can be dangerous if they haven't learned to not do this to a small child. All dogs should always be supervised around children! If we can teach our dogs and children a healthy respect for each other, they can grow up being the best of friends - and every child should have a furry best friend in their life!
How much exercise do Berners need?
Answer: The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working breed. They were bred to be strong, sturdy, and dependable. They need regular walks and time to run and play, and they love to go on hikes. They are NOT a jogging partner, and having them run or jog with you can CAUSE hip and elbow problems, regardless of genetic health, especially on the growing bones of a puppy. Count on daily walks. Exercise is important to have a healthy, balanced dog.
One aspect of exercise that often gets overlooked is MENTAL exercise. These dogs need to solve problems, to have a job. Without mental stimulation, they can get anxious and act out. If they are not given a "job", they will invent their own "job", even if that job is "tear up all the newspaper" or "bark at all movement outside" or "Protect mom from everyone else". Mental exercise is been vital in the health of all dogs, especially berners. When Karma was a puppy, she would go on walks, come home and still be wild. Her trainer suggested treadmill time, at a very slow speed (1-1.5 miles an hour!). It forced her to concentrate on the task at hand, she had to go slow enough and think about it. It was amazing - she would go for 10-15 minutes total, and be a completely different dog. This did NOT replace regular walks, but it was a wonderful mental exercise for her, and helped her body and mind feel balanced. After the first couple of times, she would go sit on the treadmill and whine for me to turn it on. She loved that mental challenge!
Some great ways to give your dog that mental exercise include:
- slow, concentrated treadmill time (work with your dog trainer for this one)
- a stuffed & frozen Kong
- eating their daily kibble from a Wobbler
- treat "puzzles"
- 15 minutes working on basic training exercises
- "Sit on the Leash" exercise (Link HERE)
- Teach them a new trick or skill (drafting/carting is often a Berner favorite!)
Will they eat me out of house & home?
Answer: No, not really. Our dogs each eat about 3 cups of high quality dog food per day. Some Berner families choose to use a raw diet for their dogs. I have researched quite a bit, and decided it is not right for our family, but I don't discourage others from researching it for themselves.
Watch their treat intake during training. When I was new to the breed and training our first pup, I thought "bigger dog needs a bigger treat". Nope. Find a high quality treat that your dog loves, and they will only need a very small amount to stay motivated. Not all berners are treat motivated though - our Koda was very praise motivated, and often prefered a scratch behind the ears over a treat.
Are they easy to train?
Answer: Berners are sweet and can be very stubborn. They also have a puppy-like mentality for longer than many dogs, which also effects training. This breed does well with POSITIVE formal training and socialization, including puppy class. Expect to use lots of patience and love as your Berner learns what is expected, ponders what is expected, thinks about what he wants to do in the situation, then learns to obey regardless! They are very sensitive to harsh training techniques, I reccomend firm, possitive-based training with proffessional trainers. Training a Berner is a life-long activity, don't plan to stop after puppy class!
Why are health clearnaces important?
The short answer: When you are paying $$$$ for your dream dog, you want a future of happiness and health, not worry and vet bills!
The long answer:
A dog's health clearances can give you very important informtion about the dog's health, the dog's genetics, as well as the commitment that a breeder has to bettering the breed. As a buyer, this should be one of your TOP priorities in looking for a Bernese Mountain Dog who will join your family.
Currently, Bernese Mountain Dogs, as a breed, have shorter life spans and many health problems. Due to the popularity of this breed, and limited dogs, some people bred dogs with health troubles, passing on negative genetic troubles down through their lines. Sadly, this still continues with puppy mills and backyard breeders. People who use their dogs simply as income don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on these clearances for each dog they have. Some people don't realize the importance of these clearances, and breed their dog without understanding the impact they can have on our precious breed.
The only way to change this is to ask your breeder about any breed-related health clearances, and make sure to find a puppy from healthy dogs. Don't assume that an "experienced" breeder is a good breeder, or that someone who doesn't mass-produce puppies is a "backyard breeder". Ask questions, get to know them and their breeding practices. If buyers demand dogs who have good results from health testing, then breeders will need to be responsible in order to be successful.
Healthy dogs produce the best chances for healthy puppies. There is never a 100% guarantee, but good genetics makes a healthy future much more probable. A healthy dog will be part of your family for longer, cost less in veterinarian care, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Whether you buy one of our Happy Berner puppies, or a puppy from someone else, please learn about the recommended health clearances for your dog's breed to find the best puppy for your family.
Why do you sell with "limited" AKC registration?
Answer: First, regardless of "Full" or "Limited" registration, our puppies have the same high quality. We choose to limit AKC registration in an attempt to help better the breed. We are willing to work with people who want full registration, but we have very specific goals in raising Bernese Mountain Dogs, and want to work with people whose goals are similar to ours. Most people want a beautiful pet companion, and limited registration is perfect for them! A puppy with limited registration can still complete in many events at the dog shows, and be an excellent example of the breed. We expect a lot out of the families that want full registration, and want them to be very commited to working with us towards our goals of bettering the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed in every litter we produce. Our full-registration pups do require an additional fee on top of the regular cost of a pup. For more information, to see our full-registration contract, or find out about the cost of full registration, please contact us!
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