History of the breed in NZ

Bernese Mountain Dogs first arrived in New Zealand in 1973 when Doreen Murdoch emigrated from the UK, bringing with her Kisumu Achilles as the foundation sire of her “Durrbachler” breeding programme.  The bitch Kisumu Bonne Chance followed shortly after but died tragically without reproducing and was replaced with Kisumu Desiree.  Later the male, NZCH Majanco Chianti and a further bitch, NZCH Forgeman Fancy arrived and these imports formed the foundation of the breed in New Zealand.  Mrs Murdoch is thought to have bred only four litters but exported several bitches to Australia also to establish the breed there.  Breeders and owners today, own an enormous debt of gratitude to Mrs Murdoch for going to such great lengths to bring this beautiful breed to our country.

Yvonne Fison-Bates (also from the UK) brought a bitch from one of the Durrbachler litters to establish her Balahu kennel in Auckland.  Yvonne bred her first Bernese litter in 1980 and kept breeding until she returned to the UK in the early 2000’s.  Yvonne imported a male, NZCH Meiklestane Dusky Emperor (Hasso) from the UK and later jointly imported NZCH Clashaidy Winged Dagger (Carlo) in 1985 with Steve and Barbera Tate of Estcarp Bernese in Taranaki.  Barbera had purchased CH Balahu Dark Empress CDX (Penny) as a puppy from Yvonne in 1983 and she became the foundation bitch for Estcarp.

In the mid-late 80’s the Tates and other enthusiasts joined to form a Club holding yearly Garden Parties and publishing a quarterly newsletter for owners and enthusiasts.  The Club is still operating over 25 years on.

In the early 90’s in an effort to increase substance and size in the NZ Bernese, Steve & Barbera imported the Swedish bitch NZCH Swedeana (Brenna) and Linda & Chris Jury imported the Swedish male NZCH Jamakis Lucky Swede (Eiger).  Eiger sired two Estcarp litters and Brenna produced one litter to Eiger and then a second to the Tates new Swedish male Clangulas Starbound (Wasa).  Sadly, Brenna became ill and passed away at only 4 1/2 years old but she left a notable impact in her offspring and subsequent generations.The 90’s were a boom time for imports with more than 20 arriving – predominantly from Australian breeders.

Show entries increased dramatically with the breed’s rise in popularity and recognition.  As a minority breed, they were often overlooked for higher accolades but group placings started to become more prevalent in the mid-late 90’s with a few males in particular becoming quiet consistent at group and in-show level in the late 90’s – early 2000’s.

In 1998 Nathalie Sperling moved from Queensland to New Zealand with her two adult Bernese.  Her male “Ortez” (Aust/NZCH Vindissa Night Man o War) was already very successful in the Australian showring with 3 BIS’s, over 80 Group and In Show awards and 950 CC points.  He proved just as consistent in New Zealand including Best in Group at the Nationals Curtain Raiser show in 2003 at almost 10 years of age, demonstrating that Bernese often get even better with age.  Sadly Ortez passed away at the grand age of 13.

Can/AM/NZ/Aust CH Turi V Bernetta, (Turi), a Swiss import arrived in NZ in 2001.  A wonderful gift from a very generous breeder in Canada, Kiki Menegoz who had imported him as a puppy, to shape the future of Lisa Stevenson’s kennel – Anahera.  Turi spent 6 months in Australia in 2004 and became the only Bernese in Australasia to have four show CH titles.  He sired his 27th litter in 2007 and has CH offspring in 3 continents.

Sennenhof Hanspeter arrived in 2003 – bred by Turi’s former owner in Canada and was used to good effect, particularly with Turi daughters – before his tragically premature death in 2005.  A very solidly built male, he has left a legacy of increased substance and improved type in the 6 litters he sired in NZ.  His influence is strongly evident in his daughters.

Zanzebern Kennels was founded on Norwegian imports and their influence is now widely felt throughout the NZ gene pool, more recently interspersed with new blood from her Swedish, Dutch and Belgian dogs.

More new lines hit our shores in 2002 with the arrive of NZCH Makker Romany Bergerac to Margaret Davies in Taupo.  Bergerac’s sire was of full Norwegian parentage from the Zanzebern Kennel but his dam line was unique in NZ.  His dam CH Bernedalen’s Gypsy is the litter sister the World CH BMD winning bitch SUCH/NUCH Bernerdalens Gina.  Their sire was two time World CH BMD and Crufts winner from Denmark, INT CH Sennetta’s Sixten.

Several imports have come with emigrating owners from various countries, although Australia remains the most constant source of new lines to NZ breeders.  They have enjoyed an increase in numbers of new dogs and lines available and it is widely accepted that it’s a much easier way for us to find something new than importing from the Northern Hemisphere.


(* indicates Berners who immigrated with their family)

1973 Kisumu Achilles UK Murdoch   Murdoch
1974 Kisumu Bonne Chance UK Murdoch   Murdoch
1975 Biggestrom Thor UK Johnson   Johnson
1975 Biggestrom ? UK Johnson   Johnson
1975 NZCH Majanco Chianti UK Murdoch   Murdoch
1975 NZCH Kisumu Desire UK Murdoch   Murdoch
1977 NZCH Forgeman Fancy UK Murdoch   Murdoch
1982 NZCH Meiklestane Dusky Emperor UK Fison-Bates   Fison-Bates
1985 NZCH Clashaidy Winged Dagger UK Tate  Tate
1986 Choristma Antipodean Mutz UK Jackson   Jackson
1986 NZCH Tudorhill Country Squire Aust Clunie   Clunie
1987 NZCH Valleyvu’s Charleswood Hannah Canada Toomey   Toomey
1988 Branbern Ambition Aust Toomey   Toomey
1988 Branbern Dark Karma Aust Longstaff   Longstaff
1988 Branbern Black Douglas Aust Freeman   Freeman
1988 NZCH Tudorhill Dark Amber Aust Tate   Tate
1988 NZCH Coligny Edelweiss UK Fison-Bates   Fison-Bates
1989 Duntiblae Dark Double UK Toomey   Toomey
1990 Coliburn Hennessey UK Toomey  Toomey
1991 NZCH Glanzberg Ingot UK Fison-Bates    Fison-Bates
1992 NZCH Zeigen Flair For Balahu Aust Fison-Bates   Fison-Bates
1994 NZCH Swedeana Sweden Tate   Tate
1994 NZCH Jamakis Lucky Swede Sweden Jury   Jury
1994 Darlpark Rochcombe Aust Sieffert   Sieffert
1995 NZCH Zeigen Jubilation Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
1995 Clangulas Starbound Sweden Tate   Tate
1995 NZCH Zeigen Kiwi Konexion Aust Cocking   Cocking
1995 Zanzebern Nordelinglen UK Dassler  Dassler
1996 Zeigen Nightshade Aust Cocking   Cocking
1996 NZCH Makker Nordic Frey Aust Davies   Davies
1996 NZCH Zanzebern Indiana Aust Dassler   Dassler
1996 Dolpena Miday Frost* UK Williams   Williams
1997 NZCH Zeigen Viena After Dark Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
1997 Zeigen Utopian Dream Aust Gallagher   Gallagher
1997 Zeigen Xpression of Innocence Aust Shaw   Shaw
1997 Korewal Big Boots UK Perkins   Perkins
1998 Zeigen Zugabe Aust Shaw   Shaw
1998 Aust/NZCH Vindissa Night Man O War* Aust Sperling   Sperling
1998 Aust/NZCH Zeigen Ulani* Aust Sperling   Sperling
1998 NZCH Ringo Sweden Hardegger   Hardegger
1999 NZCH Jamakis Inca Coya Sweden Tate   Tate
1999 Branbern Luvabear Aust Ivens   Ivens
2000 NZCH Abbwinmur Night Caitlin Aust Sperling   Sperling
2001 Aust/NZCH Zanzebern Chiquitita (AI) Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
2001 Zanzebern Laphroaige Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
2001 Zanzebern Hey Baby Aust Wagner   Wagner
2001 NZCH Branbern Special Blend Aust Ivens   Ivens
2001 Can/Am/NZ/Aust CH Turi V Bernetta Switz Stevenson   Stevenson
2001 Rolotebe Abiska Aust Davies & Langford   Davies & Langford
2001 NZCH Zanzebern Turi’s Tutu Aust Hardegger   Hardegger
2001 NZCH Zanzebern Topsy Turi Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
2001 NZCH Zanzebern Ace Venturi Aust Stevenson   Stevenson
2001 Elliot* Italy Fogden   Fogden
2002 Zanzebern Super Natural Aust Sperling   Sperling
2002 NZCH Makker Romany Bergerac Aust Davies   Davies
2002 NZCH Zeigen Radiant Lady Aust Peters   Peters
2002 Zanzebern Shiraz Aust Davies   Davies
2002 Zanzebern Scallywag Aust Walden   Walden
2002 Zeigen Tapestry Rug Aust Blair   Blair
2002 Zeigen Forget Me Knot* Aust McDougal   McDougal
2003 Sennenhof Hanspeter Can Stevenson   Stevenson
2003 Bernation Zachary Jack* Aust Dempsey   Dempsey
2003 Zoe* USA Demeter   Demeter
2004 Zanzebern Aja Aust Davies   Davies
Zeigen Bramble Bush Aust Peters   Peters
2005 Zeigen Hippogriff Aust Markheva   Markheva
My Lucy Lockett * UK Denham  Denham
Engetal Sorren Tide* UK Barnes & Coley  Barnes & Coley
2006 NZCH Zollikon Follow Th’ Dream Aust Lewis  Lewis
NZCH Makker Hudson Aust Davies  Davies
2008 NZCH Sagekeep’s Divine Savignon USA Langford  Langford
NZCH Hvalbernern’s Ablaze Deeodin Norway Stevenson  Stevenson
Zeigen Special Delivery Australia Freemantle  Freemantle
2009 NZCH Alpenspirit’s Oceans Apart Canada Stevenson  Stevenson
NZCH Harley V D Klaverhoeve Belgium Gadson  Gadson
Zanzebern Grecian Prince* Aust Turkington  Turkington
NZCH Sennen Maden Heaven Aust Jury  Jury
2010 reghegyi-Macko Feuertanzer Hungary Stevenson  Stevenson
AM/NZ CH Skylyn’s Powder Keg USA Stevenson  Stevenson
Sproga Porto Dolli * Latvia Vensberga  Vensberga
2011 Alpenhund Dash For Gold Aust Peters  Peters
NZCH Sennen Vintage Verdelho Aust Jury  Jury
NZCH Vevey Beowulf v Blassis Aust Sperling  Sperling
2012 NZCH Zollikon Foreign Affair V Blassis Aust Sperling  Sperling
2013 Double Fantasy z’ Kraina Zeusa Poland Stevenson  Stevenson