BMD.ORG Health Certifications
All Bernese deserve a chance for a long,
healthy life. Responsible breeders use several health tests to screen
potential breeding dogs for genetic health problems. Wise buyers will
confirm the screening certifications prior to purchasing a pup. The major
tests are described below.
Information Center (CHIC) - CHIC and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club
of America have specified five necessary health tests for breeding Bernese
Mountain Dogs: CHIC works with parent breed clubs to identify health
screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds,
- Hips: Hip X-rays are taken when
the dog is two yrs old and sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
for evaluation. Dogs that pass are issued a hip number.
- Elbows: Elbow X-rays are taken
when the dog is two yrs old and sent to the OFA for evaluation. Dogs that
pass are issued an elbow number.
Both parents and all four grandparents of any litter should have both hip
and elbow numbers. --
Eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologists look for heritable
eye problems Results should be sent to the OFA's Companion Animal
Eye Registry (CAER)
This exam should be repeated yearly
Breeding recommendations for dogs with eye diseases vary depending on the
- von Willebrand (vWD): The vWD
test is a DNA test from
that looks for a blood clotting disorder. 16% of Berners are carriers
of the gene for this disease; 1% are affected..
Ideally, breeding dogs should be completely free of the VWD gene, however
a carrier may be bred to a non carrier and no affected puppies will be born.
- Heart: Cardiac examinations
look primarily for subaortic stenosis (SAS). SAS is a known problem in
Berners but more data is needed to establish how significant.
Berners with SAS should not be bred --
Additional Health Screenings
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): DM may be a growing problem in Bernese. Therefore, the better breeders choose to screen for
it using the DNA test developed by the University of Missouri Vet School and
available through the OFA.
-- more ..
- Shoulder Osteochondrosis (OCD):
OCD of the shoulder is more prevalent in large breeds and is thought to be
inherited but it not unique to Berners, . The OFA evaluates X-rays for
this condition and some Bernese breeders include this in their screenings.
PennHip Hip Screening
PennHip is an alternative way of evaluating
dogs for hip dysplasia. Instead of a certification PennHip
reports a distraction Index (DI) for each hip. The DI indicates how
tight the ball of the upper leg bone is held into the hip socket.
Tight hips (low DI) are better than loose ones (high DI) and PennHip also
reports where the tested dog ranks compared to other dogs of the same breed.
Breeding dogs should have DI values that
are tighter (lower) than the 60th percentile, For Bernese both DIs should be less
than 0.50 --
Health Certification Databases The
databases below are available for free to anyone. They are used by
breeders and puppy buyers to evaluate breeding quality. To look up a dog you
will generally need their AKC registration number or registered name.
The Bernergarde is a Bernese specific database of health reports and other
valuable date including some of the health screening results listed above.
Orthopedic Foundation for
Animals (OFA): The OFA is allied with CHIC and the AKC in
providing a broad database of health screening results for all breeds.
Copyright 2011 Philip Shaffer