AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - April 1997

Taking the Specialty to New Heights

On May 15 to 18, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America national will be held at Estes Park Center YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colo., hosted by the BMDC of the Rockies. With the site at 7,500 feet, the logo is so appropriate: a happy Berner going aloft in the gondola of a hot-air balloon, with a chalet and mountains in the background and the caption TAKING THE SPECIALTY TO NEW HEIGHTS.

Our impressive panel of judges includes Marion Hodesson (conformation), Rex Wolf and Pat Maynard (obedience), Marjorie Reho (puppy and veteran sweeps), Sharon C. Smith (futurity), Carole-Joy Evert and J.P. Craig Green (tracking), and Fay Benson and Kathy Heun (drafting). We'll also have agility (pending) and a parade of veterans, titleholders and rescue dogs.

There's a welcome ceremony Wednesday night. On Friday, Dr. Jean Dodds will discuss immune-related disorders, and the annual meeting and banquet are set for Saturday. On Sunday evening, our judges will share their observations of the Berners presented to them. Their remarks give welcomed insight on our progress in conformation and working ability. The national is the largest assembly of Berners and Berner folk and the best place to learn about the breed. For more information, call specialty chair Cindy Still (719-590-1358) or visit a Web site for the national at http://members.aol.com/berners97.(Note: website address is longer functional.)

On April 13, 1937, the AKC approved our standard and Bernese became the 102nd breed recognized by the AKC. The first registered Berner was Glen L. Shadow's Swiss import Quell v Tiergarten. Through 1996, there have been a total of 19,900 Berners in the AKC books.

The standard was revised in 1980 and again in 1990. The size range (dogs 23 to 27½ inches, bitches 21 to 26) was narrowed to 24½ to 27½ and 22½ to 25½ inches, respectively, in 1980, and then to 25 to 27½ and 23 to 26 inches, respectively, in 1990. While maintaining a maximum height for dogs of 27½ inches, we gradually reduced the overall height range from 26½ to 24½ inches through conscientious selection and judicious breeding.

I hope you've seen the AKC Berner video. It's an excellent visual representation of our standard.

Permanent Identification

It's always been wise to identify your dog in some way, but since July 31, 1996, it's been mandatory if your dog's OFA or CERF certification is to be included in the AKC database. A tattoo, microchip or DNA profile done when the dog is evaluated are all acceptable. To protect your dog in case it's lost or stolen, use both a tattoo and microchip. Considering the AKC requirement and how many dogs are affected, local clubs should sponsor tattoo or chip clinics. As an added service to the community, they can open the clinic to the public to improve the chances of reuniting lost pets with their owners.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875