Breeder Referral

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Finding Good Breeders

Forget about puppies for just a minute:  Start by focusing on good breeders in general.   Good breeders are small scale so they usually won't have dogs available right away. Avoid breeders who usually have pups. Gather a list of six or more breeders you're comfortable with. Work with everyone on your list and see who has a well bred liter first.

Contact breeder referral:  Phil Shaffer, 303-832-3417,

Go to dog events:  Puppy mills and backyard breeders rarely do anything with their dogs except breed.  Good breeders do many things with their dogs. By finding a breeder at a dog event you avoid a lot of puppy mills and backyard breeders.

Be wary of the internet:  Everyone shops online these days but understand that most puppy mills and back yard breeders use web sites and on line classifieds to sell their dogs.

Father's Registration Number        ex. WS12345678
Mother's Registration Number
Approximate Whelp Date
Your Email Address

Evaluating Breeders and Litters - How to Tell Good from Bad

Start by getting the AKC information:  All breeding dogs should have an AKC registration number and name.  Do not accept the American Pet Registry, Continental Kennel Club, or United All Breed..  This information does not guarantee quality but does allow you to look up what you need to know.  All good breeders will supply this information readily.  Good breeder web sites have this information prominently posted.  Don't deal with anyone who won't provide this information right away.

Look up the dog's health certifications:  There are six necessary health checks for all breeding Berners.  Good breeders do them all.  Look up the results for the parents and grandparents of any pup you might buy.  (its easy - see below)   The tests are:

  1. Hips (OFA) -- should be clear for both parents and grandparents
  2. Elbows (OFA) -- should be clear for both parents and grandparents
  3. Eyes (CERF) -- should be clear for both parents
  4. Cardiac  -- should be clear for both parents
  5. Degenerative Myelopathy, (DM), SOD1-A - at least one parent should be clear for both SOD1-A and SOD1-B
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy, (DM), SOD1-B - at least one parent should be clear for both SOD1-A and SOD1-B
There are three elective test options and at leat one of these should be completed
  1. von Willebrands - at least one parent should be clear
  2. Autoimmune Thyroiditis - This is a blood test that looks for hypothyroidism
  3. Histiocytic Sarcoma (HS) - Histiocytic sarcoma in dogs is an aggressive form of cancer, common in Bernese, that’s generally fatal. There is a DNA test that breeders can use to help plan litters which will have a lower incidence of this cancer. Both parents must be tested and the results analyzed using a tool developed by the test manufacturer.

Use the Bernergarde Database:  All good breeders enter their dogs and litters into the Bernergarde database (  You can access this database for free to see if all the tests have been done.  All you need is the registration information.

Use the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Database:  The OFA evaluates hips and elbows but their free database also stores all the other important test results (  All you need is the registration information.

Having trouble? - Call Breeder Referral and we'll do the search for you :  Phil Shaffer, 303-832-3417, or use the evaluation tool above.

Don't buy from a breeder that just breeds.  To know a breed you must work with that breed. Make sure your breeder does a couple of the following:

Draft work
Conformation showing
Obedience competition
Rally competition
Agility competition

Also look for

Local Berner club membership
National Berner club membership
Kennel club membership 

Philip Shaffer,