Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and powerful dog originally bred for hard work.
Initially from Switzerland, this dog gained popularity fast over the years, thanks to its appealing appearance and working possibilities. Many would describe this dog as beautiful with sweet and calm nature.
They are calm, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t ready to play fetch or be busy with their favorite humans. After all, they live to please.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are perfect with children, and they share an equal amount of love with every family member.
They thrive in cold areas, and thanks to their ability to work under harsh conditions, they are loved by their owners from day one.
Among dogs, this breed is known as multitaskers who are even today busy working at farms of Switzerland.
Real name: Bernese Mountain Dog
Other names: Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Cattle Dog
Breed type: Working Group
Weight: 80-115 pounds (male), 70-95 pounds (female)
Height: 25-27.5 inches (male), 23-26 inches (female)
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Color: Tricolor (black, rust, and white)
Bernese Mountain Dog History
The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of four mountain-dog breeds that originated in the canton of Bern, Switzerland.
This region is known for its agriculture and is the proud manufacturer of two of Switzerland’s main products: chocolate and cheese. Their main job was pulling small carts with products from one point to another one.
This practice is almost unexisting today, but there is a cart pulling competitor where you can cart with your Bernese.
Did you know that this breed can pull up to 1,000 pounds?
Their job description included herding and guarding farms. Before the farm’s job was mechanized, Bernie was one of the most popular farm dogs.
As soon as machines intertwined the number of these dogs started declining, and by the late 1800s the Berner’s number was decreasing. Luckily, breed fanciers based in Switzerland joined their efforts and decided to preserve the breed.
One of the major milestones for the breed was founding a Swiss breed club back in 1907, under the leadership of Professor Albert Heim.
Albert was one of the most respected men of his time in scientific circles, and probably the most respected European dog fancier of his generation.
Thanks to the group’s efforts, the Bernese Mountain Dogs were once again loved farm dogs.
Not only that they were back on the farms again, but people started opening the door of their home to this breed.
Now, they were popular beyond the farms and the history of beloved Bernese household dogs could begin.
The Bernese Mountain Dog popularity in the States started in 1926 when a Kansas farmer imported a pair as all-around farm dogs.
People instantly loved them and their popularity grew. Today, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America sponsors drafting and carting events.
Bernese Mountain Dog Physical Appearance
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a big and tri-colored dog, who is sturdy and balanced. Overall, this breed is described as highly intelligent and strong.
This dog was used in the mountains, and in the mountains, you barely can see small -size dogs. When it comes to Bernese Mountain Dogs, males are bigger than females, while bitches are extremely feminine.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its gentle expression with big brown eyes and dark eyelids. This breed can occasionally have blue eye color, but this color is a reason for disqualification in the dog shows.
Ears are medium-sized, always set high, and rounded at the tip.
The nose is always black, while the lips are clean and teeth meet in a scissors bite. The neck is muscular and strong, while the chest is deep. The back is broad and firm, and the tail is bushy.
The tail should always be carried low when in repose. Legs are straight and strong while the feet are round.
Their coat is thick, moderately long, and usually straight or slightly wavy. An extremely curly coat in this breed isn’t desirable. A dull-looking coat is also undesirable.
Bernese Mountain Dog Personality
The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the calmest dog breed ever. They are easygoing, calm, and extremely sensitive.
They tend to be aloof with strangers, and don’t have problems finding new friends, both humans, and other dogs.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are also loyal, devoted, and gentle with children, although they aren’t well-aware of their size, which is why they shouldn’t be left alone with toddlers and younger children.
They usually get along with other pets as well, and they suffer if not included in family activities.
They are good-natured, and they love to learn. This is a breed that thrives when busy. Since they have a working background, they enjoy the challenge of learning new tricks.
Obedience training is mandatory, just like with any other breed, so they can learn to respect another person’s space.
They have natural instincts to guard and work, and that instinct is still active with this breed today.
They are great watchdogs and they adore draft work, which is popular even today. In this sport, dogs are judged on their ability to both pull and have control over a cart.
As a family pet, they will enjoy both physical work and having a job to do. Berner is always ready to please!
Living With Bernese Mountain Dog
If you have children, make sure that you educate them on how to behave around the dogs.
They should know not to disturb dogs when they are around their bowl, earing or drinking water.
They should also respect their space inside and around the crate, and never enter the crate. Dogs should have house rules to follow, as well as humans.
This is a large breed and they should be taught both obedience and household manners at a young age.
As a breed, they are slow to mature, both physically and mentally and training should be addressed carefully, and never too rapidly.
They may be large, but they are real softies and don’t do well with harsh correction.
Remember: no dog should go through harsh training treatment. Only use positive reinforcement training methods.
Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming
The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for his lavishing coat. The breed’s coat is double, with long hair and a wooly undercoat. Simply said, you will have to invest a fair amount of time into grooming.
Weekly brushing is mandatory – just make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand.
Have a vacuum cleaner on reach as well, because you will use it frequently. They do shed a fair amount, and even more during the shedding season, which occurs twice a year.
Make sure that you brush your Bernese every day during the shedding season. Regular brushing will keep extra hair away, and make a dog’s coat shiny and healthy.
For any type of tangles, you can use a metal comb or a slicker brush.
Trim nails regularly, check gums on a weekly level, and learn what to search in ears and eyes. Don’t neglect nails, because long nails can cause the dog pain and many health problems.
Bernese Mountain Dog Training
For any dog, early socialization is the key to proper behavior. Positive reinforcement training and early exposure to new people, places, and smells is what makes the dog curious about his surrounding, which is important for proper training and socialization – even with large breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog.
This breed is intelligent and eager to please, so they are easy to train. Just make sure that you know, as a trainer, what you are doing. Educate yourself on how to train a dog the best way possible.
If needed think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or taking puppy classes together. This breed is affectionate and their feeling can be easily hurt with any harsh methods.
Never use any harsh training methods on any dog, instead choose to focus on positive training methods. A Berner wants to be with his family and if left for too long, he may show non-desirable behaviors.
Some may suffer so much that they eventually develop separation anxiety.
This breed needs a minimum of a half-hour of moderate exercise every day to keep its body strong and mind happy. They love living indoors with their family, but they enjoy spending time outdoors, especially when it’s snowing.
They are great companions when it comes to hiking. They also enjoy pulling children in a cart, while those who are more active enjoy canine sports such as agility, rally, tracking, and so on.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health
Berners are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders will always screen them for various conditions and inform you of it. Moreover, they will usually present you with medical records that they have on the dog.
They will usually screen dogs for:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Blood disorders
- Some cancer types
- Progressive retinal atrophy
You probably know this, but there is no harm in mentioning it – all large breeds are prone to bloat, which is a life-threatening stomach condition.
This is why you should be careful about Berner’s eating habits, bowl style, and water access.
Make sure that you talk with your veterinarian about common health problems with this breed, just to be well-informed.
Check a dog’s ears for any sign of infection.
Serve your Berner a food that promotes teeth health, and enjoy grooming sessions – they should serve as bonding moments.
The Bottom Line
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an easygoing dog, who loves being active. He may seem like a super calm dog with a willingness to be lazy, but in fact, he can’t pass a day without being busy.
They are very responsive to obedience training in a good-natured way and tend to be friendly even with strangers.
If you want a dog that’s larger and powerful, can easily live with other pets and loves spending time outdoor in the cold, then the Bernese Mountain Dogs might be four you.
On the other hand, if you cannot deal with hairy floors and separation anxiety, and a very short lifespan, and some serious health problems, the Bernese Mountain Dog might not be the right fit for you.