Finding a Breeder

Finding the right puppy really means finding the right breeder, and this can be a daunting task. Many people new to the breed wonder if they have walked into a new land, complete with a foreign language and culture! We have a friend who showed up at the Bernese Mountain Dog National Specialty (a really big show just for berners) with a crate, expecting to be able to buy a puppy on the spot and bring it home! He learned quickly that things are done a little differently in our breed and while he went home with an empty crate, he soon found a wonderful puppy from a great breeder. 

The reason to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder of Bernese Mountain Dogs is because it maximizes the chances that you will get a puppy that will grow up into a sound and healthy dog. It takes knowledge and patience to sort through the various sources of berner puppies and find one that represents quality, but the results will be well worth it The following are some ideas you can use to decide if you are dealing with a reputable breeder or a slick, smooth talking puppy producer. 
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) requires its members to sign a Code of Conduct, which provides direction for reputable breeders. Although membership in the BMDCA is not a guarantee of quality, it is an important way that a person looking for a puppy can screen breeders. Membership in the BMDCA suggests that a breeder is connected to the breed community, is concerned about the welfare of the breed, and seeks avenues for increasing knowledge about the breed; we suggest that you only purchase a berner puppy from a breeder who is a member of the BMDCA. We are aware of at least one breeder who has claimed to be a BMDCA member when, in fact, she is not so take the time to verify membership by using the “Contact Us” link at the BMDCA website.
The BMDCA website has an online Breeder Referral program – this is an excellent tool in your search for a quality breeder. Also, the BMDCA website can help you locate the regional club that serves your area. Regional clubs are a great way to get involved with the breed and also to find breeders in your area. Some regional clubs have a Breeder Referral program that can assist you in your search. If you talk with breeders who do not have any upcoming litters, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for referrals to other breeders. 
Although you may be looking for a family pet and not a show dog, your family deserves a healthy and sound puppy. A healthy and sound puppy comes from a healthy and sound dog family, and quality breeders know this. Look for a breeder who offers verification of health clearances on his/her dogs - reputable breeders are open with their dogs’ health clearances. Always verify health clearances!!
An ethical breeder is honest and aware of the problems in his/her line of dogs. If someone claims not to have any problems in his or her “line” we suggest you politely end communication because you have just been lied to – there are no “lines” of dogs that are problem-free. Instead look for the breeder who is up front about the issues in the pedigrees, and is actively working to improve on those things. 
Reputable breeders are concerned about breed welfare, and therefore use spay/neuter contracts and limited registration as part of their efforts to be guardians of the breed. It is one sign of a quality breeder when the new puppy owner is asked to agree to spay/neuter a pet puppy. If you have an interest in breeding, be honest about that and find a breeder who will work with you to achieve your goals. However, if what you want is a family pet and/or performance dog, an agreement to spay/neuter is standard for reputable breeders. If someone offers to sell you a berner puppy with no strings attached you have just received a very big red flag that the breeder is not reputable.
Hopefully it is clear that the way to find a reputable breeder is to become knowledgeable about what constitutes a reputable breeder, and then patiently search for the person you believe is best able to provide you with the puppy you deserve. A slick website with adorable puppy pictures and a friendly voice on the phone are not indicators of a quality breeder of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Instead, educate yourself and let your head do the thinking – your heart will thank you in the long run.
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