Not surprisingly, there are many people who love the Bernese Mountain Dog but not the short lifespan. They would like to have a dog with a chance for a longer life. Early generations of dogs from the Outcross Project may vary in looks and temperament; however, we expect to see improved longevity in the first generation. Considering that the average Bernese Mountain Dog lives only 7 years, we feel there is a good chance that the majority of Outcross Project pups will live at least that long. This is why we track each and every puppy: so we can see if we are making progress in improving longevity.
All pups will be temperament tested and placed into an appropriate home. People who want a pup from the Vitality Project must agree to:
- Allow us to track the pup its entire life.
- Report any health issue, big or small.
- Keep us up to date on personality and temperament.
- Complete all required health screenings.
- Many homes will be asked to keep their dog intact (not spayed or neutered) until the next generation is selected for us to breed. This is done between 1 and 3 years of age. Dogs not selected to breed from must then be spayed or neutered.
- It is understood that each and every pup produced—whether the pup is eventually bred or not—is equally important to keep track of. Owners must be willing to stay closely in touch. Knowing whether or not we are making progress depends on knowing the status of each and every pup produced.
First, a heartfelt thank you to all breeders and stud owners who have had the courage to take this first step. We recognize that it is far easier and safer to sit by the sidelines and critique something like this, as opposed to taking action. While we wish we could publicly thank you by name, we will honor your privacy, a wise step at the beginning of such a project. But we commend you! And you have our complete gratitude!
We at Bernese Mountain Dog Vitality realize that there is no way to please everyone with the breeding decisions we make now or in the future. It is not our goal to please other breeders. Our goal is simply to help a breed that we love dearly and to make educated decisions the best we can about the various pairings and then track our progress and adjust accordingly.
At this time, we are not revealing what we are crossing to to discourage some individuals that might be looking for the next great hybrid to profit from. Gossip can also damage a breed just as much as unscrupulous breeding, if not more. We are choosing anonymity at this time to protect any outside breed, as we are concerned with the welfare of all dogs, not just the Bernese. Since our goal is not to be secretive, but rather protective, meticulous records are being kept and eventually all breeding combinations will be made public when the time is appropriate.
The second Vitality Project litter arrived on October 26, 2017 (6 males, 5 females). Mother is a 3 year old dog from the sporting group. Father is a 7 year old BMD. Both parents OFA clear hip and elbows. All puppies will be SOD1A DM carriers. Other clearances upon request.
All 11 pups were naturally whelped starting at 12 noon and ending at 6:30 pm with a 2.75 hour break half way through. All were pups born alive, vigorous and healthy. Weights were between 15 and 17 oz. Mother is able to supply enough milk to feed all pups without any supplemental feedings.
DNA (Via Mars Veterinary/Optimal Selection) to determine genetic diversity was run on each parent prior to breeding. On this scale, anything above 40 is excellent genetic diversity and what we strive for. Bernese as a breed has an average of 28. Father of litter 2 has a 28.4 genetic diversity rating; mother has a 43.3 genetic diversity rating.
DNA/GD results are pending on this litter. Via DNA we know the mother carries tan pointing. But we also knew she was a double dominant black, meaning that she can only produce black with white puppies. DNA on pups will determine which pups can produce tri color in the future. Pups are all black with varying amount of BMD white markings.
Pups are located in Minnesota and will all be temperament, health, and soundness evaluated. They will also receive a significant amount of training before going home.
If you are interested in being part of the Vitality Project and would like to be considered for a pup, please contact us immediately!
The first Vitality Project litter was born November 9, 2016 (six males, one female)
All pups from this litter are tri colored with extra white on legs and back of neck and will be around the average BMD size as adults. They will more or less look like a BMD. We expect these pups to have average energy level. Temperaments will be evaluated and the litter will have extensive training before they go to their new homes, including crate training, house-clean training, obedience basics, leash walking, focus, and tricks. We will work with new owners individually so they understand what their puppies know and how best to further their training.
Litter 1 Update 5-16-17
These beautiful pups have turned 6 months already! They each have great homes where they are well loved and appreciated. Homes range from very experienced BMD homes to owners with basic dog skills. All owners are enthusiastically supportive of this project! We remain in close contact with everyone.
All pups have had baseline bloodwork done (CBC and chem panel) and all are normal. DM SOD1A has been completed with 2 carriers, 5 clears. DNA has been run through Mars Veterinary and the Optimal Selection panel on each pup and both parents to access the genetic diversity and get a health index number. We are very pleased: every pup far exceeds the average BMD in both genetic diversity and health index. A solid start.
Physically they range from looking like the mother to looking like the father. Overall, they tend to be taller, have dark eyes, all have correct bites so far and tail carriage tends to be within the "correct range" for a BMD. Overall temperaments are stable, outgoing, friendly and sweet. Generally not as clingy or emotionally sensitive as the average BMD: self assured without excessive confidence. They are more "casual" - moderate energy level and generally relaxed in their interactions with people (not overly excited nor shy).
Pups received a lot of training before placement which the owners have continued to build on. All pups have been willing learners.