JUDGING THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG
By Mary Alice Eschweiler and the BMDCA Judges’ Education Committee
O ne’s fi rst impression of the breed is a large, balanced, strong, tri- colored dog with a self-con fi dent charac- ter. Traditionally, this breed has been a Swiss farmer’s all-purpose dog, working as a companion, draft dog, and drover. Th e dog appears square, but should actually be slightly longer than tall. Sturdy bones are an essential feature. One must keep the ideal BMD in mind. Th e balance, essence , outline, char- acter, coat, head, and proper carriage are the elements to consider. Remember, any dog can gait soundly or correctly, but if he lacks the essence of the breed, he is not an ideal BMD. No single feature should over- power the impression of the whole dog. A dog measuring 25 inches compared to a dog measuring 27 ½ inches are quite di ff er- ent in size; however, both can be correct as they are within standard and have sturdy bone. Th e quality of the dog, including substance and balance, takes precedence over height in your evaluation. When approaching the dog, you should feel a sense of steady character. Shyness or aggression is not tolerated. Aloofness should not be equated with shyness. Many times, puppies will greet you with enthusiasm, or some with a look of concern. Work with the handler to make it a good experience for the puppy even though it will interrupt a routine examination. As a farm dog, the Bernese, though alert, is not an excitable dog. Inspection of the head will reveal important breed details. Expression is in fl uenced by markings. A moderate stop, medium ear size and placement, slightly oval - not round - eye shape and dark eye color contribute to expression. A pro fi le will allow you to compare the length of
When watching the Bernese Mountain Dog in the show ring, imagine that this dog would willingly be able to pull a cart unaccompanied to the cheesemaker.
Markings can create an optical illusion, as demonstrated in the above illustrations showing different amounts of white on the same head.
muzzle and skull and backskull, also depth of muzzle. Feel the head for su ffi cient stop, and for breadth and depth of topskull. Remember this is a dry mouth breed. Take note of bite and dentition. Allow the owner to show you the bite and dentition. Continuing the examination will require a judge to do a complete hands-on evaluation of the dog, starting with feel- ing for a medium neck, good prosternum, depth and breadth of chest and formation of the shoulders, upper arm, elbows, and
transition into the back. Do not depend solely on your eye in judging structure. Con fi rm that the front legs are well under the body and well behind the prosternum as this is an important element of a cor- rect outline. Going from the skull down the neck, into the topline, to slope of croup, to set of tail and down the tail, feel- ing for a kink, is invaluable to your judg- ment. Check for length of tail, reaching at least to the hock. Check for depth of body, rib cage and strong loin. Be aware of
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