The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gorgeous breed that is instantly recognizable to many. With their beautiful, long, tri-colored coat and warm, endearing smiles, it’s no surprise this is the 22nd most popular dog breed! These dogs are hard workers, as they were originally bred to work in the mountains. Today, some still work, but most get to enjoy a quiet life with their humans. While Bernese Mountain Dogs are growing in popularity in the United States, they have always been popular family dogs in German-speaking countries.
Bernese Mountain Dog History
The Bernese Mountain Dog got its name from where it was bred, the Bern canton in Switzerland. The dog was bred to help with a range of tasks on the farm, including pulling carts, herding cattle, and serving as watchdogs. Interestingly, the number of Bernese Mountain Dogs dramatically declined during the early 20th century, and they almost went extinct. Luckily, fanciers appreciated the Bernese Mountain Dog and stepped in, unintentionally saving the breed. These dogs first appeared at dog shows in Bern during the early 1900s. By 1907, the first breed club was formed. This was also the first time that there was a standard set to describe the breed. Within three years, the breed had 107 registered members. The American Kennel Club recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog as a breed in 1937.
Bernese Mountain Dog Appearance
Size - Large
Height - 23–26 inches for females, 25–27.5 inches for males
Weight - 70–95 pounds for females, 80–115 pounds for males
Color - Tricolor (black, rust, and white)
This is a unique breed, as it is the only type of Swiss Mountain Dog to have long fur. The breed is known for being large and sturdy. You can recognize the Bernese Mountain Dog from its tricolor coat, combined with white on its chest in a pattern that seems to resemble the shape of a Swiss cross. You will notice the coat is mostly black with white on the chest and the rust or brown coloring by the whiteness on the chest as well as by the eyes, mouth, and front of its legs.
According to breed standards, the “perfect markings” include a white patch in the shape of a horseshoe surrounding the black nose. The Swiss
cross should be visible on the dog’s chest from the front. There should also be a “Swiss kiss” or white mark behind the neck or on the neck. The breed standard does not include a full ring of white. For those concerned about the breed standard, blue eyes are a disqualification, as is the ground color not being black.
In terms of shape, the Berner is longer in length compared to its height. It has a wide back and muscular stature. Its head is flat along the top and features a moderate stop. The triangular ears are set high and feature rounding at the top. The breed has straight legs and arched tows. These dogs carry their bushy tails low.
Bernese Mountain Dog Personality
When they are not working, Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm and friendly, making them good family dogs. These dogs are known to be affectionate, intelligent, loyal, and eager to please. Just keep in mind that a Berner may accidentally knock over a child because of their large size. Even as a family dog, this breed may get more attached to one member of the family over others.
To make the most of their wonderful personality,
the Bernese Mountain Dog prefers to live with a family instead of being outside or spending all day in an outdoor kennel. If you leave your dog alone for extended periods of time, they may start chewing, barking, digging, or engaging in other destructive behaviors. It is also important to note that Berners tend to have their feelings hurt easily. This is important when it comes to training, which we’ll cover later.
Dog owners should also keep in mind that Bernese Mountain Dogs stay puppies for a long time, not fully mature until they are three or four years old. During this puppy stage, the dogs are rambunctious, active, and sometimes mouthy. Their history as working dogs also means that this breed enjoys activities like carting competitions, herding, or tracking. They are also great watchdogs, which can be both good and bad. You get peace of mind from protection but may have to put up with occasional excessive and loud barking.
Bernese Mountain Dog Exercise Requirements
With the Bernese Mountain Dog’s history of working, the breed is full of energy. They do best with room to roam and multiple walks per day. Ideally, this breed needs 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, and because of the risk of heatstroke, it’s best to break this up into multiple daily walks, in the morning and evening. Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy going on long hikes and adventures, camping, swimming, playing fetch, and interacting with other dogs at the off-leash park.
With Spot, walks are all private and on-leash to ensure your Pomeranian is always receiving the one-on-one attention they deserve. Dog walks are also conveniently available on your schedule, on-demand walkers are available with as little as 90-minutes notice,
while a Spot recurring walker will provide consistency and can be booked on a weekly ongoing basis. So whether you need a dog walker every month or every day, Spot is always just a few clicks away.
Bernese Mountain Dog Training and Care
Thanks to their working history, Bernese Mountain Dogs are also fairly easy to train. This breed is known for its ability to learn quickly and retain newly acquired skills for life. Puppy Berners love to chase, and as a result their interactions with other dogs may be on the rough side, so pay attention while your puppy is at the park, as training hem out of this behavior should be easy!
When training a Bernese Mountain Dog, remember that the breed is sensitive, they do not thrive with harsh corrections, so it’s best to keep training sessions as positive as possible using rewards as incentives. During the early days training a Bernese puppy, be sure to focus on frequent socialization. If a Berner puppy is not well socialized, they have the tendency to become shy and fearful.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health
- Major health concerns: Elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, CHD, and mast cell tumor
- Minor health concerns: Entropion, SAS, ectropion, and cataract
- Occasionally seen: Hepatocerebellar degeneration, PRA, hypothyroidism, allergies, and hypomyelination
- Average life span: 7–10 years
Unfortunately, the Bernese Mountain Dog comes from a small gene pool, which leads this breed to be susceptible to healthy issues. They have shorter life spans than most other dog breeds, until recently only typically living 6-8 years. Currently however, the breed can reach 10 years old, primarily because of more responsible breeding.
You should also pay close attention to the early growth of the Bernese Mountain Dog. Their quick growth rate puts them at risk of injuries and bone disorders. Be careful what types of surfaces your puppy plays, jumps, and runs on, and try to keep play sessions on grass for their first year just to be safe.
Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming
In terms of care, the long, gorgeous fur of this breed leads to a fair amount of shedding. Prepare to stay on top of grooming regular vacuuming to help mitigate the mess, especially in the spring and fall seasons when shedding is excessive. To mitigate shedding, brush your Berner 2-3 times per week with a slicker brush, stainless-steel pin brush, or comb with both coarse and fine teeth. With frequent brushing, you should be able to get away with bathing as infrequently as every few months. And as you would with any breed, pay attention to their nails, ears, and eyes.