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Bernese Mountain Dog

  Large Breed

See your Bernese Mountain Dog's

on our breed pages



  Working Dog
  Country of Origin Switzerland, particularly near the capital city of Berne (Bern).
  Ancestry The Bernese Mountain Dog may be a descendant of Roman Mastiffs mixed with Swiss herding dogs. 
Original  Function The Bernese Mountain Dog was developed as a tough, sturdy  all-purpose working dog that could pull loads, guard, herd and drive livestock, primarily cattle. 
  Height at Shoulder female: 23-26"   male: 25-27.5"
  Weight female: 70-100 lbs   male: 90-120 lbs
  Lifespan 7-9 Years
  Coat The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its distinctive tri-color coat.  The moderately long, soft and slightly wavy coat is predominately black with tan markings.  A white chest, muzzle and forehead (flashings) complete the striking look.
  Tail The tail is heavy, heavily plumed and is carried low.
  Head The strong, heavy head has a flat skull and a well-defined stop.
  Ears The ears are medium-sized, V-shaped and held close to the head.
  Related Breeds Appenzeller, Entlebucher, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Mastiff, Bullmastiff, St. Bernard, Leonberger
  Alternative Names Bernese Cattle Dog, Berner Sennenhund, Durrbachler, Dürrbächler, Bouvier Bernois, Sennenhund or Swiss Mountain Dog
  Nicknames Bernese, Berner, Berners
  Famous Individuals  


  Grooming: The Bernese Mountain Dog has an exceptionally thick, double coat made for cold, harsh climates.  The thick coat should be brushed several times a week to keep it free from mats, dead hair and debris.  When the weather transitions from cold to warm, the Bernese Mountain Dog can shed profusely.  During shedding season, particularly when the weather swings back and forth between cold and warm, brushing should be a daily routine. 

Due to central heating and air conditioning, many dogs shed somewhat all year around.  With a large, heavily coated dog, families should expect stray hair around the house all year around. 

Exercise requirements: Low.  As with many large and giant breed dogs, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a relatively low metabolism and can be fond of soft couches.  Several daily walks are usually sufficient.  An occasional hike in the woods or mountains is preferred when the weather is chilly or cold.  The Bernese Mountain Dog can have limited endurance especially in warm weather.  The black coat absorbs the heat from the sun.  It is not a breed that can go for a long jog in the middle of summer. 
  Aggression: The Bernese Mountain Dog is a calm, friendly dog that is generally friendly around other dogs, pets and people.  It is generally affectionate and good with children.  Although the Bernese is a reasonable watchdog, the breed is not considered a good protection dog due to their placid nature. 
  Temperament: Bernese Mountain Dogs are docile, stable and affectionate dogs.  They can be active and playful as puppies and young adults and be quiet and reserved as adults.  They are generally easy going dogs who can live with other dogs, pets, children and the elderly.  They may not be active enough for athletic, active families and individuals. 
  Owner requirement: Firm, sensitive and physically strong.  Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, heavy dogs who enjoy pulling large loads.  They can be quick on their feet and active for short spurts.  They are also sensitive, loyal and take direction well. 
  Trainability High
  Health concerns Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD), Elbow Dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), bloat, heat stroke, fragmented coronoid process, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Malignant and systemic histiocytosis, a form of cancer. Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD).
  Environmental requirements: Bernese Mountain Dogs have very thick, double coats that provide excellent protection against cold, harsh weather.  They have very low tolerance for heat and cannot remain in direct sun or hot conditions for any length of time.  These are large, heavy dogs and require sufficient space indoors to lie down comfortably.  The Bernese require living with the family and do poorly when left alone outside. 
  Feeding requirements: Growing puppies need to avoid excessively fast growth.  As an adult, the Bernese Mountain Dog requires more frequent and smaller meals throughout the day to prevent obesity and bloat.
  Activities: Drafting or carting.  Therapy dogs. Obedience. Agility.
AKC: American Kennel Club USA: Working, since 1937
UKC: United Kennel Club USA: Guardian Dog
CKC: Canadian Kennel Club: Group 3 Working
FCI: Fédération Cynologique Internationale: Molossoid Breeds
    Group 2/Section 3/The Bernese Mountain Dog is Breed 45
ANKC: Australian National Kennel Council: Group 6 Utility
KCUK: Kennel Club United Kingdom: Working
NZKC: New Zealand Kennel Club: Utility

Berner Garde: Information regarding genetic diseases of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a strong, rugged, good-natured working dog developed in the Swiss mountains as a guardian and herder of livestock.  Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, it is possible that they are descendants of Mastiffs brought to the area by Roman invaders two thousand years ago.  The Bernese is closely related to the other Swiss Mountain Dog Breeds: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher.  The breeds are similar in color but the Bernese has a distinctively long coat and they are considered sufficiently different to be distinct breeds. 

Dog enthusiasts Franz Schertenleib and Professor Albert Heim resurrected the Swiss Mountain Dog breeds after they nearly died out in the 1800s.  They found many hardy individuals in the Durrbach area giving the breed the name Durrbachler for a time.  Heim promoted the breed in Switzerland and by 1910, the newly named Bernese Mountain Dog was declared a breed. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a heavy-set, sturdy, placid member of the family.  Somewhat rambunctious as a puppy, the adult Bernese is usually quiet, gentle and content to be a household companion.  The thick, heavy, shedding, black coat can be a problem in temperate climates and a difficulty in hot weather.  Heat stroke is a serious issue and owners need to provide air conditioning in hot climates.  The Bernese is a large, heavy dog and requires sufficient space to be comfortable. 

Although it is not a giant breed, the Bernese has one of the shortest life expectancies of any purebred dog.  Some enthusiasts consider 7 years to be common.


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