The Imier Kennel cares for adult Bernese Mountain since 1992 and since 1999 our Bernese females gave birth to litters from A to R. Luckily, we always had very strong and very healthy puppies with the help of good mothers. All these experiences provided the opportunity to understand what are the needs and questions of a future owner of a dog; what kind of answers they are looking for, and what answers we can provide based on that experience. Here are in this page, a selection of questions asked most often by clients before buying and also questions clients should ask themselves before buying specifically a Bernese Mountain Dog.

1. What questions to ask before buying?

Does your regular schedule allow you to care for a dog? to feed him? to walk twice a day and to exercise more intensively two to three times a week?
Do you love the outdoors enough to go outside in all weathers?
Do you have the patience and willingness to work hard in educating a puppy to become a loyal and well trained companion?
Does your budget allows you to see to their well-being and care and future needs?
Will you tolerate a bit of dog hair year round in the house and support a major moult once a year?

2. What are the skills of the Bernese Mountain Dog?

Originally, the Bernese was a farm dog, so he doesn’t bring back objects. It is needless to throw the ball in the hope that you will get it back unless you teach him with patience since he has no natural talent for it. It is rather a dog who likes to gather its people around him, a kind of supervisor who likes to have everybody at the eye without showing truly the job he is taking. Because of its shape, the Bernese Mountain Dog is not a natural distance runner, he is massive and heavy. He has the ability to walk and run, but to take a bike or do jogging on long distance is not his cup of tea. If you jog on important distances you should be choosing a type of athletic Bernese. To keep you company in this kind of activity, you should even choose a breed physically more appropriate than the Bernese. The Bernese doesn't and can't stand the heat. During the hot days of summer he prefers by far your ceramic tile to any walk in the sun. It is better to wait until the evening or morning early to have its summer walks. Heat stroke can be fatal. The other three seasons are far more favourable for him, as his owner will also enjoy the arrival of autumn and the absence of biting insects. The Bernese
is happy where you are, and he will be seeking your presence all the time. If you have a well trained dog, you'll be proud to take him wherever possible and he will enjoy so much going with you. A Bernese Mountain who has trust in his owner will follow him to hell. You understand that I used that expression to prove that this dog has loyalty beyond the ordinary and any kind of betrayal will disturb him profoundly.
The Bernese Mountain dog became a very good family dog - thanks to the breeders in Switzerland, the country of its origin. The breeders did a splendid selection favouring the loving temperament of the breed, its ability to have multiple owners and its capacity to behave with wisdom. Each dog has its individuality and to be fully realistic, there are only few who combine together all the qualities but no need for the dog to possess them all to have a good balanced dog.
The Imier Kennel guarantees the temperament of the puppies which should match the typical race. (You can find details of the adoption contract and warranty in "Resources/Adoption Procedures")

3. Is the bernese moutain shed regularly?

Yes, a Bernese Mountain always shed a little but more significantly once a year. Some years, you may see another shed, but never as important as the first one. In the winter, if your dog spends more than two hours in a row outside, his coat and undercoat will remain on the dog to keep warm instead of falling regularly. The advantage of the hair of medium length of the Bernese Mountain Dog is that it remains on the surface of furniture and clothing, it is easier to pick up than a short hair which stick itself in the different fabrics. Heavier than short hair, it falls to the ground and don’t remain suspended in the air getting everywhere there is a crack or a flat surface. (You will find in "Accessories" equipment needed to care for coat.)
Why not shave?
Please, never shave the Bernese Mountain. The fur is a protection against the elements, cold temperatures, wind and rain, etc… It is a good protection against insect bites, at least on the body, which is better than no protection. Also, shaving too close can cause sunburn and give the dog a feeling of being naked, living in an unusual body which might affect its behaviour. Moreover, it was found by groomers that once the Bernese is shaved, the regrowth of the fur comes back with some uneven spots as which unfortunately is definitely shorter giving a strange coat.

4. The choice of the gender

It's all about personal choice and feeling. Each puppy has its own personality and that personality should weigh more in the balance of choices than the only criteria of gender. My only recommendation would be to choose a female for a family with very young children who are just beginning to walk because most females are quite more delicate in their movements.
Of course, males are generally larger and stronger than females.
In my line, females are generally more vigorous and clever while affectionate than my males, although males have an unconditional commitment to their owner. But every nuance of temperament can be found in both gender.

5. Growth and performance

Yes, growth is rapid Bernese Mountain Dog. It is necessary to take some precautions. Slippery surfaces are the enemy of the joints, as well as a polished floors and ice sheets in the winter. Also, going up and down the stairs repeatedly is something to avoid. However, the puppy needs to know how to behave in the stairs, he must learn to walk and not run inside the house and on slippery surfaces if any, you must therefore necessarily be doubly careful with the slippery stairs! If your companion’s growth is quick, be very careful. When growth seems to happen slower or normally, you can allow a little more exercise. If you have any doubt what to do or not do, you should check with your vet or your breeder. It is important that your growing puppy develop its muscles all over its body and a good cardio-vascular system so he can grow as a very healthy and strong dog. If you intend to participate in activities such as jumping, agility or pull a cart with your dog, it should be started gradually.

6. The teeth and bones

The puppy’s teeth start to show when he is about three weeks old. These are tiny teeth and they have for purpose to send a message to the mother, telling that the puppy can start eating solid food. The baby teeth will fall to be replaced by adult teeth around age 4 to 6 months. Now, how to maintain and care for the dog’s teeth will be a personal choice. You may use regular brushing, buying treats that clean teeth (some are very expensive on the long run) or may train your dog to eat raw bones found at your local butcher. The beef’s ribs with a bit of flesh around it,is a good way to clean dog’s teeth. By doing this, it contributes to help the dog relax and reduce any anxiety your companion may have at times, by the natural need to chew and gnaw. Just be careful with the bearing bones such as leg bones if you intent to give some to your dog. These type of bones are very hard and it shouldn’t be given too regularly and by long shots at once, they can cause premature wear of the teeth.

7. The big question about food

Oh well! This is a topic on which we can extend the discussion to a never ending story. As it happens with human beings, there are theories, methods, beliefs and these will more likely change in ten years. You should plan in your budget a mid-range to high end of dry food. Avoid low-end categories! Dry food doesn’t require preparation time and it is considered well balanced food. It is easy to find, easy to use and store. Now, this said, remember that each company has its way to promote the quality of their dry food but you must remain realistic, appetizing pictures of ingredients on the package are not necessarily a proof of the content. A search on "BARF" will give you lots of information about raw food if you have interest in it. Puppies who leave Imier kennel have been trained to dry food and raw meat. Their stomachs are used to digest the two kinds of food, so you can adopt the method you prefer.

8. The inevitable about the house breaking training

When you adopt a puppy, it won’t be house-broken and it is your duty to train the puppy to get there. The puppies of our kennel live in a cozy environment, in a maternity with comfort blankets and sheets where the mother is mostly present. Around the age of four weeks, we divide the maternity in two separate spaces with a larger area for rest and games between brothers and sisters and a smaller one filled with soft wood shavings used specifically for litters. At this point, their mother comes less often and the natural withdrawal starts. The puppies become a little more mature, moving gradually to the litter on their own when they need and get used to the cleanliness of the resting spot. However, this is a first step and it will be up to you to complete the training with patience. There is no miracle method, whatever you try, don’t forget that it requires time and patience. The question about “when the puppy should be housebroken” will depend on the time you can devote, the number of hours you are away from home, the configuration of your home, access to a backyard or not, the possibility of having assistance, etc.. It's a topic you can discuss with your breeder, he will guide you based on information that you give.

9. The question of spaying and neutering

All puppies from the Imier Kennel are to be sold with an agreement not to reproduce. Puppies are sold as a pet and it is important to include in your budget the cost of castration for the male and female sterilization. Life will be greatly simplified for you and your companion. The male will not try to run away to find females’ odour so attractive to him. He won’t lift his leg to urinate over your flowerbeds. Dog’s urine is strong and burns easily your precious plants and shrubs. As he gets older he even might take the habit to lift the leg on a corner wall in your home which will certainly provoke your anger. Sterilized, the female will not have its heat, which usually extend over a three weeks period, twice a year, with loss of blood at times heavy. A dog spayed or neutered is a happy dog in the home, he is not concerned about his breeding and he has no mood due to hormonal changes. The timing of sterilization is better after 6 months old and no later than 8 months old. After these delays you take the risk to see your female having her first heat or your male lift his leg to urinate as a permanent habit.

10. Reproduction

The Imier Kennel sells puppies for breeding on very rare occasions and with very strict conditions. Intending to use your dog for reproduction with a clause attached to a non-reproductive contract is totally illegal. Reproduction requires from the owner to be highly available, and the process should begin by reading several books on the subject in order to acquire basic knowledge about dogs and race. The owner must be prepared to plan a budget to meet the expenses of X-rays and the multiple certifications required. Also, breeding means to think about the cost of food and the veterinary for the mother and puppies, the expenses related to coupling, to registration and administration of records and vaccinations. All these aspects of needs have to be covered before the sale of the first puppy. If your enthusiasm still intact, the only thing left to oversee is if you're willing to spend some sleepless nights if the mother is struggling to give birth or hasn’t enough milk for all her puppies. Truly, all this is on paper and doesn’t reflect the struggles and joys related to the experience. Each breeder collects his stories and some are funny, others very sad, to a point where you must expect to have a broken heart at times, in my view, there is no point to hide about the ups and downs of breeding.

11. Life expectancy

We can expect from a Bernese Mountain Dog to live about or a little more than ten years. Large dogs don’t live as long as small dogs. The serious breeders are doing everything in their power to ensure that your dog has a long life and a good health, intending to keep the dog far from the veterinary. Sometimes, life occasionally decides otherwise and we have to do our best with it. A dog is not a car so we just can’t replace a part of it when things aren’t working the way we expect. Sometimes diseases, illnesses come too fast and then come with these, hard choices to make. We always hope they will remain our companion as long as possible but we must understand that things are not always going the way we want, and life is there to remind us this very important lesson. A dog with an impeccable pedigree will not provide the guarantee of having a impeccable dog without any chances of bad health or illnesses, it will only provide better chances, but not exempt of unpredictable life circumstances. It is known that many Bernese Mountain dog breeders have seen, some of their dogs live beyond life expectancy and celebrated with joy their 12th, 13th and sometimes 14th year of life!
You can find more information on the health tests in the pages "Resources". For cases related to a hereditary or congenital causes confirmed by scientific knowledge, Kennel Imier guarantees a refund of the full value of the purchase until the dog reaches the age of 24 months. (You can find details of the adoption contract and warranty in "Resources / Procedures for adoption".
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