FAQs and Common Questions



The distant origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog are not well documented. The breed apparently had its origins in the mastiff type dogs brought by the Romans when they came into Switzerland around two thousand years ago. The Roman dogs were used to guard and drive herds brought with the invaders. Over the centuries, since Roman times, these dogs remained as general-purpose farmers’ dogs, but little attention was paid to preserving the type of developing the breed. Indeed, near the end of the 19th century, the breed was nearly extinct.

Fortunately, around the turn of the century, several Swiss dog fanciers realized that ignoring the many good qualities of the old native breeds would be a mistake. These pioneers brought Bernese from various isolated valleys in their home canton of Bern, and promoted the general interest in these dogs. The breed was originally called the Schweizerische Dürrbach-Klub; after the name of the hamlet and of the inn of Dürrbach, Switzerland where the dog was first developed.

In 1902, 1904 and 1907 subjects of this breed were exhibited at dog shows. In 1907 a few breeders of the region of Burgdorf decided to promote the pure breeding of this native dog by founding the “Schweizerische Durrbach-Klub” and fixing the characteristic traits of the breed in a first standard. The Dürrbächler (eventually called “Berner Sennenhund” to follow the naming convention of other native swiss breeds) progressed steadily in Switzerland, and eventually found admirers in other countries as well.

Current records indicate that the first reported American imports were a pair brought to the United States 1926 by Isaac Scheiss, a Kansas farmer. Mr. Scheiss failed in his attempt to register the pair with the American Kennel Club. Ten years later, Glen Shadow of Louisiana, imported another pair, Fridy v. Haslenbach and Quell v. Tiergarten. Through the efforts of Mr. Shadow and other fanciers, the AKC officially recognized the breed in 1937, with Fridy and Quell the first Bernese registered in the U.S.

The breed increased only slightly in numbers in the United States before 1941, when World War II interrupted further importation. After 1945 importation and registration continued. In 1968, a few breeders and owners joined together to form the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America.



Consensus reports on pelvic radiographs from the OFA contain information for serious breeders and concerned owners. The consensus is the result of independent review by three veterinary radiologists and is reported as one of the following categories. The first three are considered within normal radiographic limits for age and breed and are eligible for assignment of an OFA breed number if the dog was 24 months of age or older at the time of radiography.

1. Excellent Hip Joint Conformation

Superior hip joint conformation as compared with other individuals of the same breed and age.

2. Good Hip Joint Conformation

Well formed hip joint conformation as compared with other individuals of the same breed and age.

3. Fair Hip Joint Conformation

Minor irregularities of hip joint conformation as compared with other individuals of the same breed and age.


The following categories are not eligible for an OFA breed number:

4. Borderline Hip Joint Conformation

Marginal hip joint conformation of indeterminate status with respect to hip dysplasia at this time. A repeat study is recommended in 6-8 months.

5. Mild Hip Dysplasia

Radiographic evidence of minor dysplastic change of the hip joints.

6. Moderate Hip Dysplasia

Well defined radiographic evidence of dysplastic changes of the hip joints.

7. Severe Hip Dysplasia

Radiographic evidence of marked dysplastic changes of the hip joints.

Hip joint conformation (phenotype) is the radiographic appearance of the hip joints and is the outcome of interaction between a dog’s hereditary makeup (genotype) and its environment. Hip joint conformation can be represented as a range from excellent to very dysplastic and shades in between these two ends of the spectrum. Traits such as this are referred to as quantitative characters and are thought to depend upon the interaction of many genes (polygenic).

Modern breeds of dogs vary widely in body size and shape and in pelvic conformation. Because of these differences, OFA classifications are based on comparisons among other individuals of the same breed and age. Knowledge of a dog’s pelvic phenotype can be a valuable guide for the breeder in selection against hip dysplasia and understanding a dog’s pelvic phenotype can be a useful means of estimating an individual dog’s potential for an active working life.



Is it necessary?


Is insurance the answer? When people ask me that question my answer is always the same: It depends. Buying pet insurance is both an economic and an emotional decision that needs to be based on your personal financial situation and what you’re willing to pay for peace of mind.

If you get the right policy, it can be an asset to the health care of that pet and have a significant impact on the bill that results from a visit in an emergency situation.

Some people can’t afford the treatment so they end up having to euthanize their pet. It’s absolutely horrible. If insurance can be acquired BEFORE an emergency occurs, the situation may end with a much better outcome. Pet insurance is not a “Savings Account” , it’s a way to manage “Risk”.  If you love your pet and you don’t have the money to cover an emergency medical situation that could cost thousands of dollars, please consider Pet Insurance. You’ll get the lowest price if you buy when the animal is young.


Here are some examples of possible injuries/health issues in a dogs lifetime

Condition: Possible Payout per claim


1. Torn Knee Ligament/Cartilage: $1,578

2. Intestinal – Foreign Object: $1,967

3. Stomach – Foreign Object: $1,502

4. Intervertebral Disc Disease: $3,282

5. Stomach Torsion/Bloat: $2,509

6. Broken Leg (Plate): $1,586

7. Laryngeal Paralysis: $2,042

8. Tumor of the Throat: $1,677

9. Ear Canal Surgery: $1,285

10. Ruptured Bile Duct: $2,245


If you decide to buy, shop around


You need to know:


  • Is there a physical exam required to get coverage?
  • Is there a waiting period?
  • What percentage of the bill do they pay — after the deductible?
  • Are payments capped in any way?
  • Are there co-pays?
  • Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?
  • What about chronic or recurring medical problems?
  • Can you choose any vet or animal hospital?
  • Are prescription drugs covered?
  • Are you covered if you travel with your pet?
  • Does the policy pay if your pet is being treated and dies?


Most policies do not cover congenital or hereditary conditions. Trupanion covers both (with some limitations). That’s a big plus.