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Breeder Referral



Breed Summary


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.

Canine Health 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, 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  --  more ..
  3. Eyes:  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 problem
  4. von Willebrand (vWD):  The vWD test is a DNA test from VetGen 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.  --  more ..
  5. 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  --  more ..

Additional Health 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   --  more ..

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.

Copyright 2011 Philip Shaffer