Bernese News 12th October 2015
The Bernese entry for Midland Counties Championship Show 2015 has been announced as
81 exhibits giving 89 entries for breed specialist Sonja Gorbould (Glanzberg).
For comparison the entry at the 2014 show was 73 entries with 19 absentees for all-rounder
judge Irene McManus.
At South Wales Championship Show all-rounder Espen Engh from Norway drew an entry of
68 with 23 absentees across 16 classes. Meadowpark had quite a memorable day picking up
four of the top five awards.
Ch Vertigo claimed his 17th CC and also took Best of Breed, his son High Class won Best Puppy
and also the Reserve Dog CC and the newly crowned Ch Just A Dream won her 4th CC.
Vertigo went on to be placed Group 3 under Tegwyn Jones and High Class placed Puppy Group
4 under Terence Balfour-Burgess.
The Reserve Bitch CC was won by Jackie Weston's homebred Bernfawr In Vogue.
Elsewhere at the show Diana and Paige Spencer's Waldershelf Ethel's Way At Padiky won 3rd in
the YKC Members Stakes judged by Anne McDonald and Paige was placed 1st in the 12 - 16
years Junior Handling ans Sue Smith's granddaughter Bryony won 2nd in the 6 - 11 years
category handling Esslinbern Bulgariastrale At Camlais, both classes judged by Alex Paisley.
Chris Wood's Tamarbern Dusky Maiden was placed VHC in the Sewpcial Beginners Stakes
judged by Peter Green and also 2nd in the Good Citizen Stakes judged by Anne McDonald.
After the show Chris Wood emailed;
"Had an amazing week with Layla. On Saturday 3rd October. Layla was Best of Breed at
South West Working & Pastoral Breeds Open Show and at South Wales Championship Show
she was placed well in both her Stakes classes then won Limit Bitch and Good Citizen Bitch
classes in her breed. Still on cloud nine."
The 1st International Bernese Mountain Dog Judges’ Meeting was held in Helsinki on
28th August 2015 with delegates attending from Australia (1), Austria (1), Denmark (3),
Estonia (1), Finland (21), France (1), Germany (3), Hungary (2), Norway (2), Portugal (2),
Sweden (1), Switzerland (2) and also Helen Davenport-Willis and Steve & Jeannette Green
Satu Yla Mononen has made the Minutes of the meeting available and here they are (below).
Rali Suits (student)
Andrea Maret (student)
Anikó Istvánne Juhász
Nikolett Szekeres (student)
Maria Amélia Taborda
Benjamin Donald Roland Taylor
"1. BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE OF THE MEETING
Suomen Sveitsinpaimenkoirat – Finlands Sennenhundarry (Swiss Mountain & Cattle Dog
Club of Finland) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, and to mark the occasion the club
decided to arrange a specialty show, an international health symposium and a meeting of the
IWG in Helsinki. In connection with these events also an international meeting of Bernese
Mountain Dog judges was proposed. This meeting was the first of its kind, and the proposal
met with overwhelming support from judges who saw it as very necessary. The breed has
changed over the years and so have the problems that judges keep seeing when at dog shows.
In addition, there is much variation in the judging criteria: in the space of just a few months the
same dog may be disqualified at one show and get a reserve CC at another; and at some
shows all of the dogs shown have been deemed ”excellent” in quality. This is bound to cause
confusion among dog owners and exhibitors.
The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the current problems in Bernese Mountain Dog
conformation and the principles of conformation judging, with special attention to the issues
mentioned above. An invitation to the meeting was sent to all the Bernese Mountain Dog
breed associations and the event was advertised on Facebook, using the international judges'
FB group and the FB page created specifically for the occasion. Participation was limited to
Prior to the meeting, a questionnaire was published on the judges' Facebook page asking
everyone to list which five problems they felt were the most pressing in the breed at the moment.
More than 30 judges responded, their input was analysed and five main issues were selected
for closer discussion: proportions, head & mouth, fronts, tails, and coats. In addition to the top
five, other problems mentioned included rear angulations, movements, temperament, size and
colour & markings. All of these were discussed in the meeting with reference to the English
language version of the breed standard. The latest version of the breed standard was published
in 2003 and its contents are the responsibility of Switzerland, the country of origin of the breed.
Of the 55 judges originally enrolled in the meeting, altogether 43 judged from 13 different
countries eventually attended it, most of them also breeders. The meeting was chaired by Satu
Ylä-Mononen and Matti Tuominen, with Anna Makinen from Finland as the secretary. The
discussion was lively and active, all of the chosen problem areas were extensively dealt with and
an attempt was made to find a common approach in judging. In these minutes, the sections in
italics are direct quotes from the English language breed standard (=BS) of the FCI.
2. Opening and Short Introduction
Satu Ylä-Mononen from Finland opened the meeting, described the purpose and goals of the
event, and extended a warm welcome to all of the numerous attendees. All participants
were also briefly introduced.
3. Judges’ Education in Finland - Greetings from the Finnish Kennel Club
FCI Judge and Member of Finnish Kennel Club’s Committee for Dog Shows and Show
Judges, Dr. Elena Ruskovaara, Finland, greeted the meeting on behalf of the Finnish Kennel
Club and gave a short introduction to the education system that all Finnish judges go through
before earning the right to judge at shows. In Finland all dog show results are published in the
”Koiranet” database, often in real time or with a minimum delay after eachshow. The database is
open to all Internet users and offers various ways to search data, listing all official results of
individual dogs as well as all grades awarded by individual judges.
4. Swiss Mountain Dogs - the ”Ancient History“
Uschi Eisner from Austria gave a presentation on the history of the Swiss Mountain Dogs:
the Appenzell and Entlebuch Cattle Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and Bernese Mountain
Dog. In order to understand the breeds we need to know the environment and conditions the
different breeds come from, and what they looked like at the turn of the last century.
5. Some Early History of the Bernese Mountain Dog
Jens Utke Ramsing from Denmark subsequently illustrated the history of the Bernese since
1902 with a comprehensive collection of photos. Throughout its existence the breed has been
plagued by the use of stud matadors, and these matadors have also left some negative
traits in the bloodlines. Such problems as curled tails, epilepsy and poor temperament existed
already a hundred years ago; in other words, the problems we are facing today have their roots
many generations back. Modern breeders and judges must be able to identify these problems
and continue to fight against them so that they cannot gain more ground once more. But also
good things have happened; the overall construction is better, and the breed is not too far
removed from its original conformation and function.
6. FCI BREED STANDARD – THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS WITH BERNESE MOUNTAIN
DOG CONFORMATION IN 2015
Prior to the meeting, judges were asked to give their list of the 5 topmost problems with today's
Bernese. More than 30 judges responded, their lists were analysed and five main issues were
chosen for closer inspection.
The top five were: proportions, heads & mouths, fronts, tails and coats. In addition to these,
also rear angulations, movement, temperament, size and colours were discussed. Identifying
problems is important so that corrective action can be taken in time to prevent them from getting
more widespread in the breed, and also to prevent undesirable changes in breed type. The
Bernese is a true farm dog, a guard and draught dog, and that is how we also want to keep it.
1.1. GENERAL APPEARANCE
BS: “Longhaired, tricoloured, strong and agile working dog, of above medium size with sturdily
built limbs; harmonious and well balanced.”
We want to preserve the breed true to its original function: it is a working farm dog, a guard
guard and draught animal. This is what is was developed for, and it must always possess
the capability to do its original work!
BS: “Height at withers: length of body (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the
buttock) = 9: 10, rather compact than elongated. Ideal relation of height at withers: depth of chest
= 2: 1.”
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: -
PROBLEMS IN PROPORTIONS:
Many dogs have incorrect proportions.
The biggest problem is the height-length ratio: the dogs are too long in body (long loin) and/or
too low to ground.
The correct Bernese breed type begins with the correct proportions. Judges must not only rely on
their eyes, hands are needed to make sure that the depth of the chest is correct, etc. Bitches can
be somewhat longer in body than dogs.
Special attention must be given to correct proportions. Proportions must always be mentioned
in the critique, and breeders need to be informed if a dog is incorrectly proportioned. The
quality grade must be lowered if the proportions are not correct.
BS: “Strong. In size balanced to general appearance, not too massive.
Skull: Viewed from the front and in profile little rounded. Frontal furrow hardly marked.
Stop: Well defined, but without being too pronounced.
Muzzle: Strong, of medium length; nasal bridge straight.
Lips: Close fitting, black.
Eyes: Dark brown, almond-shaped, with close fitting eyelids. Neither too deep-set nor prominent.
Loose eyelids are faulty.
Ears: Medium-sized, set high, triangular in shape, slightly rounded at the tips, in repose hanging
flat and close to the head. When alert, the rear part of the set-on is raised while the front edge
of the ear remains close to the head.
One or two blue eyes (wall eye). Entropion, ectropion”
MAIN PROBLEMS IN HEADS:
Nowadays it is very hard to find dogs with a good head and expression. We need training
material that shows examples of good, typical heads, and both judges and breeders must be
educated to correctly identify the various shortcomings in the head. Breeders must concentrate
on breeding dogs with good, typical heads and expressions. A typical head has the correct
proportions of skull and foreface, correctly placed eyes with the correct shape and colour,
well-placed ears, and the typical stop.
The most common faults are:
• Head shape!
• Light eye colour
• Round eyes
• Loose eyelids
• Loose lips
• Low earset
– > Warm friendly expression is being lost!
If a dog has any two of the faults listed above, the quality grade must be lowered by one
step; if more than two, by two steps, etc. A dog with several faults in the head should not
be awarded a quality grade higher than ”good”.
1.4. BITE AND TEETH
BS: ”Strong, complete scissor bite (molars 3 (M3) are not taken into consideration). Pincer bite
FAULTS: Irregular set of the incisors provided that the bite remains correct. Absence of any
other teeth than 2 PM1 (premolars 1); the M3 (molars 3) are not taken into consideration.
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: Undershot or overshot mouth, wry mouth.
MAIN PROBLEMS IN BITE AND TEETH:
Irregular bite and missing teeth. At the moment the breed standard also allows pincer bite;
the necessity of this change was debated.
The bite and any missing teeth must always be mentioned in the critique, and they should
also affect the quality grade if necessary. As stated in the breed standard, the absence of
two PM1 or M3 shall not be taken into consideration.
1.5. FRONT: ANGULATIONS, FORECHEST, CHEST
BS: ”Chest: Broad and deep, reaching to the elbows; forechest distinctly developed; ribcage of
wide-oval section extending as well back as possible
Forequarters: General appearance: Forelegs seen from the front straight and parallel, standing
rather wide apart.
Shoulders: Shoulder blade long, strong and well laid back, forming a not too obtuse angle with the
upper arm, well attached to the chest, well muscled.
Upper arm: Long, set oblique.
Elbows: Close fitting; neither turned in nor out. Forearm: Strong, straight.
FAULTS: Fine bones
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: - "
MAIN PROBLEMS IN FRONTS:
• Lack of forechest (breadth and depth)
• Lack of angulation ->
• Upright shoulders and short upper arm
• Short neck
• Poor front movement
The biggest problems today are found in the front construction. Breeders and judges
alike must understand how the front functions if they are to see what is wrong with it;
this calls for more education. It is important to go over the front with the hands to really
find out how it is constructed.
Articles dealing with the correct front construction are needed in breed magazines to
increase awareness of the issue. Insufficient angulations and the lack of forechest must
affect the quality grade. It is also important that the front and rear angulations are in
balance: a sloping topline due to insufficient front angulations is a fault. Unbalanced
angulations must result in a lower quality grade.
BS: “Bushy, reaching at least to the hocks; hanging straight down when at rest, carried level with
back or slightly above when moving.
FAULTS: - DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: Kinky tail, ring tail”
MAIN PROBLEMS IN TAILS:
• Tail set
• High tail carriage -> curled tails
• Short sloping croups
• ”Dead” or ”unnatural tails” (tail hangs limp between the rear legs, even when the dog is moving).
Tail faults are still being overlooked; judges should pay more attention to the tail and
always mention tail carriage in the critique.
High/gay tail carriage, curled tail and unnatural tail must cause deductions in the quality
grade. A Bernese with a ring tail (like the Appenzeller tail) must be disqualified, like the
breed standard requires.
The ideal Bernese tail is a natural continuation of the topline and always sways happily
from side to side, expressing the friendly, good-natured, relaxed temperament of the
BS: “HAIR: Long, shining, straight or slightly wavy.
COLOUR: Jet black main colour with rich tan markings on the cheeks, above the
eyes, on all four legs and on the chest, and with white markings.
Distinctly curly coat.
Faults of colour and markings
Short coat, double coat (Stockhaar) Other than tricoloured coat
Other main colour than black”
MAIN PROBLEMS IN COATS:
• Too short hair
• Over grooming!
• Trimmed dogs!
The problem today is too short coats, and it is not always clear whether the coat is
naturally short or caused by over-grooming. Either way, a short coat must result in a
lower quality grade.
The coat of a Bernese must be natural, and males in particular should have longer hair
on the chest (at least 5 cm).
The hair must not be trimmed with scissors, this is not a breed that requires trimming or
grooming. Tidying the ears and feet is acceptable, nothing else!
Over-grooming must always be mentioned in the critique, and if necessary the quality
grade can be lowered significantly because of it. In the future it is also possible to give
the grade ”cannot be judged”, and grooming will be carefully monitored when judging.
We do not want the breed to develop in this direction.
1.8. REAR ANGULATIONS
BS: “General appearance: Seen from the rear straight and parallel, not too close.
Upper thigh: Long, broad, strong and well muscled.
Stifle: Distinctly well bent.
Lower thigh: Long and oblique.
Hock joint: Strong, well angulated. Metatarsus: Set almost vertically.
Metatarsus: Set almost vertically.
FAULTS: Fine bones
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: -
Pastern: Seen from the side almost upright, firm; seen from the front in straight line with the
Feet: Short, roundish; with well-knit, well-arched toes. Turned neither in nor out.
MAIN PROBLEMS IN REAR ANGULATIONS:
Lacking of balance with angulation
- > over angulated hindquarters, less angulation in front
-> sloping topline
Problems with rear pasterns -> long, weak
Balanced front and rear angulations must be given special attention.
BS: “Sound and balanced movement in all gaits covering a lot of ground; free stride reaching
well out in front, with good drive from behind; at the trot, coming and going, legs moving forward
in a straight line.
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: - ”
MAIN PROBLEMS IN MOVEMENT:
Poor front movement; close or turned-out rear movement. Many dogs are in poor muscular
The Bernese must move parallel both coming and going. Close or
turned-out rear movement should be reflected in the quality grade.
BS: “Self-confident, attentive, vigilant, fearless in every day situations: good natured and
devoted to his own people, self-assured and placid towards strangers; of medium temperament,
Aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be
MAIN PROBLEMS IN TEMPERAMENT AND BEHAVIOUR:
Temperaments have improved over the past 20 years, and shy, fearful individuals are seen less
Temperament is judged in accordance with the breed standard. Clearly nervous or shy
dogs must be disqualified.
BS: “Height at withers: dogs: 64-70 cm, ideal size: 66-68 cm,
bitches: 58-66 cm, ideal size: 60-63 cm. “
MAIN PROBLEMS IN SIZE:
At the moment the size is not a problem.
Size is judged in accordance with the breed standard.
1.12. COLOUR AND MARKINGS
BS: “Jet black main colour with rich tan markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on all four legs
and on the chest, and with white markings as follows:
Clean white symmetrical markings on the head: blaze extending towards the nose on both sides
to a muzzle band; the blaze should not reach the tan markings above the eyes, and the white
muzzle band should not extend beyond the corners of the mouth. Moderately broad, unbroken
white marking on throat and chest. Desirable: white feet, white tip of tail. Tolerated: small
white patch on nape of neck, small white anal patch.
Absence of white on head.
Blaze too large and/or muzzle band reaching noticeably beyond the corners of the mouth.
Large white patch on nape of neck (maximum diameter more than 6 cm).
White anal patch (maximum size 6 cm).
White markings on forelegs reaching distinctly beyond half-way of pasterns (“boots”).
Disturbingly asymmetrical white markings on head and/or chest.
Black ticks and stripes within the white on the chest.
“Dirty” white (strong spots of pigmentation).
Black coat with a touch of brown or red.
Other than tricoloured coat
Other main colour than black”
MAIN PROBLEMS IN COLOUR AND MARKINGS:
Dogs with incorrect colour or markings are rarely seen at shows; colour is not a major problem.
Colour is not the main issue when judging the Bernese, and thus it should not be given
too much weight; the quality grade must be primarily dictated by other factors. For
example the absence of white colour on feet or tail is allowed and it should not lower the
The chairpersons thanked everybody for their lively, enthusiastic input. Hopefully we can also
keep up this active discussion in the same positive atmosphere. the goal of the meeting was not
to change the breed standard but rather to give deeper insights into its interpretation and to find
common ground and a shared approach for conformation judges. It was also felt necessary to
highlight the problems seen today so that these can be given special attention in the show ring.
The meeting made it evident that the problems found in the breed are global, not limited to any
one country or area, and all the attendees of the meeting agreed about them. All of the
conclusions were formulated in a positive spirit and unanimously. The discussion revealed that
the main problems in the breed are proportions, heads (including teeth and bite), fronts,
tails, coats and incorrect grooming. These issues must be given particular attention in future
judging. It is also necessary to communicate with breeders and make them aware of the situation
so that they can focus on the right things in their breeding.
The attendees also expressed the wish that this judges’ meeting should not be the only one of
its kind; the next meeting could be held for example in connection with the international health
symposium in 4 years from now."
On behalf of the judges meeting,
Satu Ylä-Mononen & Matti Tuominen"