Farm dogs by heritage, Bernese Mountain Dogs are the only variety of the Swiss Mountain Dog breeds that possess a long, silky coat that helps the hardy dog thrive in cold climates. Well-known for its high level of intelligence, strength, agility, and loyalty to be a wonderful family companion, the Bernese Mountain Dog is currently ranked as the 33rd most popular breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club. Read on to find a full breed description and determine whether this “gentle giant” is the right match for your household and lifestyle.
|Name||Bernese Mountain Dog|
|Other Name||Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Cattle Dog,|
|Size Type||Giant Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Working Dog Breeds|
|Life Span||7 - 8 years|
|Temperament||Loyal, Faithful, Affectionate, Intelligent|
|Height||Male: 25–28 inches; Female: 23–26 inches|
|Weight||65 to 120 pounds|
|Colors||Tricolor (black, rust, and white)|
|Puppy Price||Average $800 - $1000 USD|
As a large, strong, and sturdy dog with agility, the Bernese Mountain Dog has an elongated body with a broad head that is flat on the top with a moderately defined stop. The dogs have a strong straight muzzle, teeth that meet in a scissors bite, and medium-sized ears in the triangular shape set high on the head with rounded tips. While the straight legs are strong and the bushy tail is carried low on the hindquarters, the feet are rounded with arched toes. Male Bernese Mountain Dogs are typically between 24 to 28 inches at a shoulder height with a weight ranging from 85 to 110 pounds, but females are slightly smaller at 23 to 27 inches and ranging from 80 to 105 pounds as an average weight.
With the base of the coat being black, most Bernese Mountain Dogs are tri-colored with symmetrical markings of black, rust, and white. Along with a white blaze on the chest, head, toes, and tip of the tail, the rust coloring is usually shown on the cheeks, over each eye, on the chest, on all four legs, and beneath the feathery tail.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a weather-resistant or waterproof dense coat that consists of moderately long, thick, and slightly wavy or straight hairs. With such a thick, long-haired coat keeping the dog warm in cold climates, it is no surprise that this breed is known as being a seasonal heavy shedder in the spring and fall months.
|Good with Kids|
Since the Bernese Mountain Dog tend to shed year-round with heavy shedding in seasonal changes, it is normally recommended that the dogs are brushed at least three times a week to keep the coat neat and reduce the amount of fur gathering around the home. Although brushing requirements may be more time-consuming due to its size, the Bernese Mountain Dog only needs to be bathed once every few months or when necessary depending on how often the dog spends in the mud. Veterinarians also recommend that special attention be given to the breed’s ears because they can trap dirt, liquids, and bacteria easily. Therefore, owners should give the Bernese Mountain Dog weekly ear cleanings to drop the risk of ear infection.
As the most well-known of the Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps also known as the “Berner Sennenhund” in German, the Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the Swiss Mountains in the canton of Bern that gives the breed its name. Originally kept as a general farm dog for their large sturdy frame and calm temperament, the breed were particularly good at drat work, pulling carts to the market, driving dairy cattle, watching over the farm, and being loving companions to the farmers. By the late 1800s, the breed was in danger of being lost as many other working dogs were being imported to Switzerland and numbers significantly dropped. However, professors Albert Helm and Franz Schertenleib took it upon themselves to develop efforts that would help preserve the breed that was only found in the valleys of the lower Alps at this time. Through their collaboration, the duo was able to stabilize the quantity of Bernese Mountain Dogs throughout Switzerland again and even extend to the rest of Europe. As the finest specimens came from the Durrbach area, the dogs were soon exported for the first time to America in 1926. Prized for their talents at tracking, herding, guarding, and carting, the Bernese Mountain Dog was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937.
Known for being calm and cheerful dogs that love being around children, Bernese Mountain Dogs are often described as being highly intelligent, docile, trainable, self-confident, alert, courageous, and good-natured with a pleasant temperament. Not suitable for being confined to the backyard or a kennel, these sociable and friendly dogs must be with people. Placid towards other canines and human strangers, the breed is affectionate and patient to take children happily climbing over them. Owners will only experience behavioral issues with this gentle breed when not displaying natural leadership or treating the dog more like a baby. As outdoor dogs at heart despite being well-behaved in the house, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs regular exercise, including a long daily walk. Since not being given an adequate amount of exercise often leads to barking or harassing behaviors, the breed should be provided ample opportunities to work off excess energy. Although they do not have a great deal of stamina, the dogs can move with strong bursts of speed that makes them a good match for hiking or jogging. Due to the fact that the Bernese Mountain Dog is relatively inactive indoors and thrives with a large fenced-in yard for roaming, apartment living is not recommended.