AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - July 2003


Here is some advice for prospective puppy owners.

If you are wondering if a Berner is right for you, visit the BMDCA's web site at www.bmdca.org and click on the "puppy connection" link, which will help you contact breeders.

Remember to let your head rule, not your heart. Prepare in advance a checklist of expectations that will provide information about the puppy under consideration. Expect breeders to ask you a variety of questions. For ease in comparison and referencing, set up a table for documenting your research. This will lessen the chance of overlooking items of concern. One category to include is the registered name and AKC titles of the parents. This is needed to access the dogs on the web site www.bemergarde.org, an outstanding source of pedigrees, or to verify hip and elbow information through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals data bank at www.offa.org.

The checklist for basic clearances for each parent should be as follows: hip and elbow evaluation by OFA or Genetic Disease Control (GDC); eyes through a current Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) report; and DNA or genetic clearance for von Willebrand's disease (a hereditary bleeding disorder). Cardiac and thyroid registries with OFA are additional clearances that a puppy-buyer may reference. Knowledge of hip and elbow status for grandparents and great-grandparents is significantly important too.

Include sections in your table for the breeder's representation of the temperament of the parents, a description of markings of specific puppies, contractual commitments, and guarantees; full or limited AKC registration; spay or neuter requirements; and any special areas that concern you.

Be able to note the source through which the breeder was located to evaluate reliability, if he is a member of the BMDCA and a regional BMD club, and participates in dog shows. Breeders who attend shows and exhibit can assess the quality of their breeding stock through observation and judges' opinion. To ignore these avenues of learning leads quickly to the deterioration of a breed through indiscriminate breeding choices, thereby diminishing the likelihood of your puppy fulfilling your expectations of the wonderful qualities that attracted you to the breed.

Once you have prepared your information table, develop questions that will help you to complete it without questioning the breeder. Initiate your inquiry with a thumbnail sketch of why you are interested in the breed and what type of home situation you have to offer. Before beginning your questions, give the breeder an opportunity to tell you about the puppy being offered. As you listen, fill in your table. Allowing the breeder to present a profile of data on the litter and the parentage will provide valuable insight as to their priorities in breeding choices.

Don't compromise your expectations simply for the sake of getting a puppy in a hurry. Good things are worth the wait.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875,- breed Web site: www.akc.org