Deriving from the farmlands of Switzerland, the Bernese mountain dog has a distinctive heavy coat meant to keep this dog warm in the cold Swiss mountainous areas. This is a versatile, steady-tempered working dog with a past history of being used for a vast array of tasks. It’s one of the four Sennenhund (Swiss mountain dogs) comprising the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog.
This breed was selectively bred to herd cattle, pull carts /(up to 1000 pounds!) and guard property and family on Swiss farms for more than 2,000 years. Originating from the canton of Bern, this breed is thought to derive from the ancient molosser. There are chances that when the Romans invaded the Alps in the first century B.C. they brought along mastiff type dogs that crossed with the local dogs found working on farms in the Swiss alps. The numbers of Berns though decreased by 1888 when only few farmers worked in agriculture and the Industrial revolution was taking place. Luckily, in 1899, the Swiss worked on preserving the native breeds. Despite this, their numbers decreased again due to World War I, an era when breeding dogs was unpopular due to the war. Post war though, many Berns were imported to Holland and the United States. World War II though put a dent and their numbers decreased again. The American Kennel Club finally accepted the breed in 1937 and was categorized under the working group.
Despite a history of being used in cold climates and used for working, nowadays, the Bernese mountain dog is prone to several health problems. Be ready to spend money on costly veterinary visits. The lifespan of these dogs is relatively short ranging from 6 to 8 years.
The best household
This is a breed that craves and thrives being around his family. Isolate him for too long either in the yard or in the house and you’ll end up with problematic barking, digging and chewing and in some cases even separation anxiety. The ideal owner should invest time in exercising this dog for at least 30 minutes a day.Despite being active, this breed doesn’t have a great deal of endurance so it doesn’t make a really good jogging companion. With children this breed generally gets along well and can be gentle and patience, but because of their size they can easily knock a small child down. Children must learn how to handle dogs and respect them. Never leave a child and dog alone.
This breed needs a large fenced yard and does not do well in an apartment. Don’t keep him cooped up for to long. If you live in an area that has frosty winters, this breed thrives in cold climates and loves to play in snow. Berners tend to get along well with other dogs and other pets even though occasionally some Bernese males are aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex., but again, due to their size, best to supervise interactions with smaller pets.
This is the only of the 4 breeds boasting a long coat. Blessed with a heavy and long double coat, this breed will obviously tend to shed, especially in the spring and fall. Some specimens with massive heads and loose jowls may be prone to drooling and slobbering especially after eating. Expect to wipe around the home with these fellows.
This is a large breed of dog that is capable of dragging you down the road once mature. Expect exuberant jumping during puppy-hood. Obedience training is a must and can be started early. On top of that, this is a breed that has an innate need to have a job to do. Early socialization is a must; these dogs tend to be shy and aloof and under-socialized specimens may be nervous around unfamiliar people, places and situations. These dogs may enjoy pulling small carts or wagons. This breed requires gentle training and patience because they may learn at a slow pace and some can be hard-headed. Their training may pose a few challenges when their adolescents.
The most distinctive feature is the long, double coat which comes in striking colors. This breed is tricolored, boasting jet-black hair with rust and bright white markings. The white markings are found on the chest in the shape of an inverted cross, and between the eyes under the form of a white blaze. Rust markings are found above the eyes and in the sides of mouth. The tail also has a white tip.This dog stands between 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weights between 70 to 115 pounds.
This is an affectionate, gentle, calm and protective breed that loves spending time with its family. He tends to be stuck in a dog’s big body with a puppy mind as this breed matures slowly.. The American Kennel Club describes this breed as ” self-confident, alert and good-natured, never sharp or shy”
This breed is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, portosystemic shunt, von Willebran disease, pano malignant histiocytosis, hypomyelinogenesis, epilepsy, cataracts and hypoadrenocorticism. The breed is also prone to histiocytic sarcoma and bloat. Sadly, this breed has a high rate of fatal cancer compared to other breeds statistics show that nearly half die of cancer.This breed thrives in cold climates. However, may be prone to heat stroke because of his black coat. The ears of this breed are prone to ear infections arising from bacteria, dirt, and liquid trapped in the ears.The average lifespan is approximately 7 to 8 years.
Where to get one:
Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America
Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.