Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a classic example of what is called „gentle giants". They are easy-going and get along with other animals and their entire family, especially children, with whom these dogs are extremely patient, and therefore this breed is widely popular among families with children. This dog is commonly known as a Berner, and some people also call him Berner Sennenhund and Bernese Cattle Dog. Their friendly appearance, rich tricolor coat, and size make them popular wherever they go. These dogs require a lot of attention and love from their humans. If you are not sure if this is the right dog breed for you, make sure to explore this breed before you start searching for Bernese Mountain Dog breeders. Although they are good and gentle dogs, they still need persistent training and socialization. When these dogs learn something they will know it for the rest of their lives. They will respond well to positive reinforcement training so you should never treat them rough because you will not get anything done. Berner is a very intelligent and loyal dog and they will love their whole family but especially their owner.
FUN FACT: Bernese Mountain dog is one of the four variants of Swiss mountain dogs. The other three are Appenzeller mountain dog, Entlebucher mountain dog, and Greater Swiss mountain dog.
23–27,5 in (58–70 cm)
70–115 lb (31–52 kg)
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large-sized dog breed, that originates from Switzerland. Throughout history, these dogs were used as working dogs, most often for herding cattle, and several farm-related tasks.
For more than 2000 years Bernese Mountain dog has been working on Swiss farms – for pulling carts, like a watchdog and a loyal companionship. In 1888, 36% of the Swiss population has been working in agriculture and they needed a dog who could help them during work. In 1899 many breeders founded a dog club called Berna to preserve native Swiss dog breeds. The club included members and breeders of a variety of different purebred dog breeds.
That club sponsored a dog show In 1902 and they wanted to draw attention to Swiss mountain breeds. Two years later the club sponsored a class for Swiss shepherd dogs at the International dog show in Bern. This show included Mountain dogs and that was the first time that they refer to these dogs as Bernese. Later in that year the Swiss Kennel Club officially recognized Bernese Mountain dog.
After World War I this dog breed was exported to Holland followed by the US. Bernese mountain dogs were imported in England by two British breeders in 1936 and the Glen Shadow kennel from Louisiana imported two dogs- male and a female from Switzerland. World War II managed to interrupt the export and progress of this dog breed outside their native land, but after 1945 they resumed with export in the US.
Dog Breed Characteristics
Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, heavy and powerful dogs built for hard work, but also have gentle and affectionate, non-aggressive nature. They are slightly longer than they are tall, and are muscular with the strong and wide back.
By this standard, these dogs belong to group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer type-Molossoid breeds- Swiss Mountain and Cattle-Dogs) – section 3 (Swiss Cattle Dogs). Ideal height for male dogs at the withers is 26 - 27 inches (66-68 centimeters) and for females 23-25 inches (58-63 centimeters). The FCI accepted this dog breed on a definitive basis in 1954.
Males are 25-27.5 inches (63 - 70 centimeters) tall and females are 23-26 inches (58 - 66 centimeters) tall. Male dogs weight from 80-115 pounds (36-52 kilograms) and females weigh from 70-95 pounds (31-43 kilograms). This breed belongs to the Working group. AKC fully recognized this dog breed un 1937. while the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America was founded un 1968.
Grooming and care
These dogs have a double coat, the outer coat is longer while the undercoat is wooly. Their coat is tricolored. The majority of the coat is covered with black hair. They usually have a white marking on the chest that looks similar to the inverted cross. They can have a white blaze between eyes and on the tip of the tail. The described coat requires frequent brushing to keep it clean. Bernese Mountain Dog's coat sheds moderately year-round (it sheds heavily during seasonal changes, twice a year). Regular brushing will reduce the amount of hair around the house and reduce the tangles. With regular brushing, you will keep the coat shiny and healthy. Their thick, silky and moderately long, tricolored furry coat does well in cold climates. To maintain their appearance only periodic bathing is required. Bath your dog every two to three months. Their teeth should be cleaned a few times a week to prevent gum diseases and to secure a fresh breath and their nails should be trimmed as needed. Check their ears regularly for any signs of infections (redness, wax buildup, bad odor). While you are checking his ears you can wipe them with a small cotton ball dipped into ear cleaner. These dogs require a great amount of care and if you want your dog to cooperate you will have to make a positive experience for the dog. Start while they are young and during grooming sessions always reward them so they will enjoy it when they grow up.
Although Bernese Mountain Dogs are perfectly happy resting and napping clenched next to their owners, these dogs need to be provided with enough exercise. They don't need intensive training or running exercise, but they need a decent yard or regular moderate walks around the block, or outgoings to the woods (where is colder). Because of their thick black coat, they are prone to heatstroke. Their favorite activity is romping around and playing in the snow.
You should be very careful when training your puppy. Because their joints and bones are still developing you shouldn’t over-exercise your dog or allow him to run and play on hard surfaces, jump or pull heavy loads until they grow up. To prevent joint injuries you should also feed them with proper food which will ensure the building of strong joints and give them protection in life.
These dogs are great participants in canine sports such as obedience, agility, rally, and tracking.
Are Bernese Mountain dogs easy to train?
The Bernese Mountain Dog is highly trainable responds very well to positive encouragement. This dog requires a consistent but gentle hand. Although most of the members of this breed are easy to train, sometimes, males can be stubborn and/or dominant, especially when during adolescence. During this age, some males will also be aggressive towards other males.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are extremely loyal and eager to please their humans. This is mostly the reason why these dogs are prone to separation anxiety. They enjoy spending time with their family and so they tend to be destructive when left alone for too long. The Bernese Mountain dog is a devoted friend who will enjoy accompanying the family everywhere. They thrive on human companionship. They are very protective of their family and make excellent watchdogs.
Proper socialization will help ensure that the Bernese is patient with other dogs and with children. Their temperament is affected by numerous factors but the most important is socialization. If they are not socialized properly, they can be shy around new people and could be afraid of unusual sights and sounds. Socialization is mandatory to teach the Bernese Mountain Dog how to behave properly in the house and with other people. Start from the puppy age and expose your Bernese dog to many different people, sights, and sounds so he can grow up into a well-rounded dog.
Bernese Mountain dog and kids
These dogs are very gentle and affectionate with children who know how to interact with the dog. The only thing why you should be careful when you let your dog and kids play is their big size because they could unintentionally knock over the child. Like with any other breed if you want to be completely sure that your dog and kids will get along it is necessary that you teach you kids what is the correct way to play and interact with the dog and also that you provide your dog with proper socialization. This way you can be sure that your kids and the dog will get along and enjoy each other's company.
Berner and other animals
Like we already said these are good and gentle dogs who can get along well with everybody. This dog will especially love other pets and animals if they are raised together.
The biggest drawback of this breed is that members of Bernese Mountain Dog breed are prone to some serious health problems and a short lifespan. An average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog is approximately 7 to 8 years, with cancer being the leading cause of early death for these dogs. Symptoms of cancer include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, difficulty with breathing, sores that don’t heal… They are also prone to arthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Von Willebrand's Disease (a blood disorder that affects the clotting process), ligament ruptures, etc. Because of predispositions for these diseases, veterinary care can be expensive.
To be sure that your dog is healthy there are a few recommended health tests that you can perform to be sure that your dog is healthy: hip and elbow evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, cardiac exam, and Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA test.
Because of their popularity, some people have bred dogs of lesser quality and have been selling them to unaware and unsuspecting buyers. These dogs' health history is often a disaster. To reduce the possibility of getting this kind of a Bernese, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder or pet store. Find decent Berner breeders that will show you health certificates and health clearances of both puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. Because this breed is naturally prone to some serious health conditions, these precautionary measures won’t eliminate the possibility of your dog getting sick, but will reduce it. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited health problems until it grows up.
Here at World Dog Finder we work exclusively with breeders of the highest standards and require them to send us the necessary documents that show us they are registered with the FCI (AKC) and their countries' cynology association. We also advise you to search Berner breeders at the national cynological association of your country.
These are great family dogs and you surely will not make a mistake if you decide to get Berner dog. They require everyday interaction with their human family for them to be happy. If you put in the work and teach and socialize your puppy from the start you will end up with the “gentle giant” who will get along with everybody and who will fill your days with love and joy. With these dogs, your life will certainly change – for the better.
FUN FACT: A white marking on the Bernese Mountain Dog’s chest is called “the Swiss cross”.
World Dog Finder team