Philosophy & Goals


Our goal in breeding is deceptively simple – to create the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog. We recognize that there are no perfect dogs but we believe that defining and setting high standards is the only way to approximate our goal.

What constitutes a “perfect” Bernese Mountain Dog is certainly open for interpretation, but we have specific criteria that reflect our definition of perfection in a Bernese Mountain Dog. In addition, we have considered how we can measure each of the criterion that make up our “perfect” dog. Although we recognize that all breeding choices reflect compromise, we are unable to assign a ranking to our objectives and so they are discussed in no particular order.
 
The perfect Bernese Mountain Dog reflects correct breed type. In other words, the dog has the physical characteristics that make it obvious that s/he is a Bernese Mountain Dog and not a Labrador, for example.
 
We assess breed type in several ways. First, we formulate an opinion based on our experiences and understanding of the breed standard. Second, we obtain input from trusted individuals experienced in the breed. Finally, we regularly compete in AKC conformation shows, which allows us to not only gain judges’ opinions but also allows us to compare our dogs to others being shown.
 
In order to meet our definition of the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog, the dog must have strong working ability. Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred to perform a variety of tasks on Swiss farms; we believe this working heritage is important. As we define it, working ability is the willingness and aptitude of a dog to learn and engage in activities with his/her owner.
 
Most berners no longer live and work on Swiss farms, and so working ability is evidenced in other ways. We assess working ability in at least two ways. First, working titles suggest working ability. Some dogs are able to excel at one event, but lack the temperament to have success at multiple events; we believe dogs that have success in multiple venues demonstrate the best working ability. Second, we assess working ability based on our own experience training and showing working dogs.
 
In addition to type and working ability, the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog is healthy.  A healthy dog is one that is able to live and function in a way that is not compromised by “dis-ease”. Further, a healthy dog is one that lives a lifespan that is greater than average for the breed. Finally, the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog dies of old age and not of one of the genetic cancers that plague our breed.
 
Closely related to health, the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog is sound. We rely on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for assessment of the joints that are known to be most problematic in our breed: hips and elbows. The perfect Bernese Mountain Dog is certified clear of hip and elbow dysplasia by an established organization such as the (OFA).
 
The perfect Bernese Mountain Dog has a temperament that meets the standard established for the breed, which states, “The temperament is self-confident, alert and good natured, never sharp or shy. The Bernese Mountain Dog should stand steady, though may remain aloof to the attentions of strangers” (BMDCA).

Temperament can be assessed through observation of a dog in different settings, including shows. Working titles are another way to assess temperament, especially when a dog has success across multiple venues.
 
The goal of our breeding program is to produce the perfect Bernese Mountain Dog, and we believe the components of perfection in a Bernese Mountain Dog include type, working ability, health and soundness, and temperament. In addition to these qualities in an individual dog, the elusive “perfect” Bernese Mountain Dog has a family that also represents these very things. Therefore, the “perfect” Bernese Mountain Dog has a “perfect” family.
 
We recognize that there are no perfect dogs or dog families, but we believe that articulating what constitutes perfection provides important direction for one’s breeding program.
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