Frequently Asked Questions
Are you trying to produce a “new” breed?
No. We love the Bernese Mountain Dog. But we don't like the numerous and significant health issues associated with the breed. In understanding that each purebred breed originally came from and was developed from numerous other breeds, it is our intention to introduce genes from vigorous breeds and then breed back to the Bernese Mountain Dog to regain Bernese Mountain Dog type and temperament. In other words, we want a Bernese Mountain Dog that looks and acts like a Bernese Mountain Dog but does not die young like the present Bernese Mountain Dog.
Are dogs from the BMD Vitality Project registered?
No. Presently the AKC (American Kennel Club) will not register dogs that come from a mixed ancestry. It is possible, in the future, when the dogs from the Vitality Project are consistently producing Bernese Mountain Dog in type and temperament, that the AKC will register them. But, understand, it is more important to us that we develop a dog that looks and acts like a Bernese Mountain Dog and that is healthy than to have a dog that is registered but has numerous health issues.
Are other people also breeding out to other breeds?
Yes … kind of. It does happen in some breeds. But breeding out is taboo in the show world, and it is very secretive. Within the AKC show dog world, outbreeding is kept quiet and underground. We are the first Bernese Mountain Dog breeders who have publicly announced what we are doing. We hope that by being public we can better assess progress as well as set a precedent for other breeds that are in dire straits as well.
It is worth noting: The Finnish Kennel Club now allows one pure breed to be bred to a different pure breed to help the breed(s) in one aspect or another. It is an application process through which the breeder must demonstrate why there is a need to outcross, but at least the Finnish Kennel Club is progressive in its thinking and is willing to take the next step in genuinely helping dogs.
In addition, the Norwegian Lundehund breed has taken on a similar outcross project to improve the health of that breed. That project is called "Genetic Rescue of the Norwegian Lundehund".
Are the resulting puppies free?
No. Keep in mind: these are well researched, purposely bred litters that are being raised by responsible and ethical breeders who will give you guidance and support for the life of your dog. These pups will be raised within home environments and will be well socialized. Temperaments will be scrutinized and evaluated. Some pups will also receive a significant amount of training prior to going to their new homes, and the new owners will then be trained as well so that they understand what their pups know. The current price of purebred Bernese Mountain Dogs from responsible breeders is $2,000–$3,000. Our pups will be significantly less, despite the research, care, socialization, and training that will go into them.
Is this just a scam that is covering up a puppy mill or a "designer" breeder?
Absolutely not. Our group consists of National Bernese Mountain Dog club members who have trained and shown in conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, drafting, and herding. We have had champions, grand champions, group winning and placing dogs, best-in-show dogs, high-in-trial dogs, as well as countless obedience and draft titles. Our dogs are our friends and they all live inside the house with us—no kennels! We have, as a whole, believed for years that we were doing the right thing by breeding a purebred champion Bernese Mountain Dog to another purebred champion Bernese Mountain Dog. But the health is not getting better; in fact, we believe it is getting worse. While we understand that not all will agree with our choice to outcross, we don’t believe there is another way to get us out of the genetic health corner we are in with this breed.
I want to compete in agility, rally, obedience, or drafting with the pup I get from you. Can I?
Absolutely! We strongly encourage any of the performance sports that are well suited to your individual dog. We believe that training and competing can deepen your connection and bond with your dog, leading to a much more satisfying relationship. If your dog has been spayed or neutered, they can be "registered" of sorts via the AKC and compete in AKC performance events. Otherwise, there are numerous other kennel clubs through which you can compete with your dog.