To find out how a Bernese is supposed to look and act, check out the: Illustrated Bernese Standard
We like Diamond Naturals as a good dog food value based on having not wheat or corn ingredients and price. Kirkland is a equivalent sold by Costco. Kirkland
I believe many chronic health problems can be slowed or reversed with proper nutrition.
A natural mineral supplement/wormer I like is. Diatomaceous Earth Diatomaceous earth is great to sprinkle on the dogs and their bedding areas occasionally to get rid of fleas without chemicals. Good writeup on worming:
We also like kelp supplement for trace minerals Kelp Spirulina and Chlorella are great natural superfood supplements to sprinkle on food. nuts.com has these supplements in powder form at reasonable prices
It is very important to feed a slow growth diet and to not over supplement with synthetic vitamins with large breed dogs because males especially can develop various bone/joint ailment when they are growing. This article discusses conditions common in large breeds and what every owner should know: growth conditions
You can google dog food ratings to find many sites that will give you information on how to read dogfood labels and what to avoid so I won't go into that here.
Ideally I believe in the raw meaty bones diet. We realize It can be difficult to get adequate raw meaty carcasses or meaty bones, though we have found you can buy chicken on sale for the price of better dogfood. However once a week feeding raw meaty bones or better yet a whole carcass for the other organs is better then nothing to promote better oral and overall health in your dogs. It is important that bones and carcasses be raw because after cooking the bones become brittle and could injure the dog. Our dogs look and smell better since we have fed more raw meaty bones. People comment on their nice breath and white teeth and we have not done cleanings. We do notice our small Pomeranians teeth still need cleaning probably because they don't have the power to really grind the bones...
Here is an excellent raw feeding primer for those who are hesitant: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/raw-feeding-primer/Nice Raw Diet reasons for explained by Vet Video Read the book: raw meaty bones Raw meaty bones diet guide pdf
Puppy Dew Claw Removal: We will just remove the rear dewclaws as the Bernese standard calls for. The front are optional and there are folks that suggest the front dewclaws are a useful appendage in helping with traction and grabbing etc. and the connecting muscles are also thought to help absorb energy when the dog is running so you don't want to atrophy the muscles.
another dewclaw article
We believe that it is best to wait until the dog is fully weaned and healthily settled into its new home to vaccinate. Then we believe in minimal vaccinations such as a parvo/distemper combo. Puppy Vaccination Article There are plenty of folks against vaccination in general: Dr. Becker's Thoughts
. We would suggest based on the above puppy vaccination article to wait to even 10-12 weeks for the parvo/distemper vaccine because this is the date that it has a 95% chance of taking rather then bombarding the pup with 3 rounds of shots.. the 6 week round most likely doing more harm then good
Let us know if your vet has serious recommendations for your area. Many vets will want to give a 5- way vaccine which we think is over doing it based on our research. However, unless you make arrangements with us otherwise we will not be vaccinating before the puppies will usually be leaving at 8 weeks. Dr. Jean Dodds Schedule:
Mental and Physical Development:
When to Neuter or Spay: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/your-dog-needs-to-be-spayed-or-neutered-right/
We have started doing Early Neurol Stimulation with our puppies: Read about it here Creating Super Dogs
An excellent presentation table of the stages of development of Puppies: Puppy mental Development
Our goal is to produce, healthy Bernese that make excellent companions and are beautiful to behold.
I like the quote from The Dog Listener training book I read that says something to the effect that don't get too proud because you likely won't improve a breed with your breeding program but at the least you have the responsibility to do the breed no harm..
On a note..We do not always skip a heat between breeding. We realize it is not politically correct to have a bitch have a two litters in a row without skipping a heat. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up that sentiment that I am aware of. There are ,however, studies recently presented at Michigan State at an AKC breeding symposium that say breeding every cycle until the bitch is done breeding is best for her long term health over skipping heats for the allotted number of litters one plans to do with a female.. of course one must only breed a female in excellent body condition at the time of breeding. Read more about the study towards the bottom of the linked article all of which is excellent informative reading: breeding practices This information does not mean one pumps out puppies from a female her entire reproductive life but it does mean one has choices as to when to breed..