The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large-sized breed of dog and is one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps.
Mountain dogs were bred by crossing guard-type breeds and Mastiff crosses.
These dogs are known for their intelligence, athletism and bulky frames and for being great family dogs. With these qualities, they have developed to become great family dogs.
Some of you might know these dogs are ‘Berners‘ which is their nickname.
If you decide that a Bernese Mountain dog is going to be your next family dog, you are going to quickly realize that he is a loyal canine friend and is also great with kids.
But before you make any decisions, you need to know what this dog has to offer.
In this guide, we are going to tell you all that you need to know before getting this dog and how you can take care of him.
Let us get right into it.
About the Bernese Mountain dog
The Bernese Mountain dog was bred to be a working dog with great agility.
This pooch is a hardworking and powerful dog that is also blessed with good looks and sweet nature.
They get along well with the whole family and are especially good and gentle with children. Their goofy nature and playfulness are what children find very appealing about them.
However, there is always that one person that they develop a great attachment. This strong attachment also means that they should not be left alone for long.
They can also be aloof to some extent but are not threatening.
Berners have several names that they can be referred to as;
- Swiss Mountain dog
- Berner Sennenhund
- Bernese Cattle dog
Bernese Cattle dog origin
Developed in the Swiss Alps as a drover and farm dog, Bernese has evolved to become one of the best family dogs that one can ask for. Next to the likes of Golden Retrievers.
The Romans are responsible for taking these dogs to Switzerland centuries ago. This name, Bernese Mountain dog, is derived from the Canton of Bern.
He is also one of the three dogs in the family of other Swiss dogs like;
🐶Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Berners were bred from crosses of Mastiffs and other guard-type dogs to create a tough and hardworking pooch.
These dogs would protect livestock, property and also act as companions to their owners at the same time.
They would also assist farmers to transport their cheese and milk on carts and thus gaining the nickname ‘Cheese dogs.’
However, these doggos almost into extinction in the 1800s because of farming practices and transportation. This plus the growing popularity of the St.Bernard would have led to the extinction.
Learn more about the St.Bernard dog breed.
But we have Franz Schertenleib to thank for saving this breed.
These pooches were imported to the US in 1926 by a Kansas farmer. Their popularity grew from this time to date.
Although the Bernese Mountain dog came to the US in 1926, he did not get recognized by the American Kennel Club till 1937.
In 1968, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America was formed because of his increasing popularity.
Then the breed standards were established in 1990.
General appearance and characteristics of the Bernese Mountain dog
Berners summary table Height Males stand between 25 and 28 inches while females can stand anywhere between 23 to 26 inches. Weight 80 to 115 pounds for male Mountain dogs and 70 to 95 pounds for females Lifespan 7 to 10 years Breed Type working Purpose Working and companion dogs Suitable For Owners and families with farms Grooming requirements moderate to high Color Variations Tricolor(white, black with a rust marking) Health concerns hip and elbow dysplasia, and bloat Temperament intelligent, loyal, loving, friendly, Energetic, Affectionate and can also be destructive when neglected. Other Names Bernese, Swiss Mountain Dog, Berner Sennenhund or Bernese Cattle dog
You would be very accurate if you referred to the Bernese as a giant dog breed.
With males having a height of between 25 to 28 inches and weighing between 80 to 115 pounds. Their female counterpart can have a height of anywhere between 23 to 26 inches and weigh around 70 to 95 pounds.
Swiss Mountain dogs are well-balanced dogs that have striking appearances.
They are longer than they are tall and they also have sturdy bodies. These dogs have dark brown oval-shaped eyes and floppy ears adding to that intelligent look.
Berners’ strong and agile bodies would help them when they were driving through the snow and cold weather of Switzerland.
Their skulls are broad and flat are also well-defined and slightly furrow. Bernese dogs also have strong muzzles.
The tail of a Bernese Mountain dog is low when relaxed and bushy.
Just like other Swiss mountain dogs, Berners have double coats with wooly undercoat and long outer coats to protect them from the harsh climate of the Swiss alps.
However, they are the only Swiss dogs that have long silky coats.
These coats are moderately long and can either be slightly wavy or straight.
They shed fairly throughout the year and blow out their coats during Spring and Fall.
According to the breed standards, these dogs should be tri-colored(Black and white with rust markings)
They also have distinctive colors on the sides of their mouths, above their eyes, around their chests and in the front of their legs.
Personality traits and Temperament of the Bernese Swiss dog
Traits Rating Friendliness🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕 Confidence🐕 Protectiveness🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕 Prey Drive🐕🐕 sociability🐕🐕🐕
Generally, Bernese dogs are affectionate, sweet and highly energetic. They are also known to be very protective especially over children.
If you are looking for a large and gentle-natured family and companion dog, this is the right pooch for you.
Their temperaments can vary from being happy, shy and friendly around strangers and being aloof. They are also known to be very shy.
You can, however, reduce this timidness through early socialization.
This is a dog that will alert you when something is not going right or when they spot an intruder which makes them great watchdogs. But they do not bark a lot.
Unfortunately, these dogs are known to suffer from separation anxiety due to the people-oriented nature and friendliness. They may also get frustrated and destructive when left alone for long periods.
The good thing about these dogs is that they have a very low prey drive despite being bred to be working and herding dogs.
Berner Sennenhund Family compatibility
This is a pawfect family pooch.
They are protective, gentle and sweet and bond very well with children. Also, if you introduce them to other animals early they get along extremely with them making them great for pet households.
However, if you are going to add this dog as the next family member, you should watch them make sure that they do not overheat.
They have a low resistance to hot weather and should stay in the house most of the time. You should also monitor them when they are playing outside.
Frequently asked questions
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed a lot?
Berners shed fairly throughout the year with heavy shedding during Fall and Spring. In the blow out seasons, you should make sure that they are well-groomed and vacuum your house to reduce the amount of fur in your home.
Are Bernese Dogs cuddly?
Although the Bernese Mountain dog is tough and sturdy, he is also cuddly and robust.
Are there smaller Bernese Mountain dogs?
The Mountain dog can be crossed with other smaller dogs like the Miniature Poodle or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to make them smaller. This is done while still retaining their physical appearance.
How big does the Berner Sennenhund get?
On average, males have a height of between 25 to 28 inches and weighing between 80 to 115 pounds. Their female counterpart can have a height of anywhere between 23 to 26 inches and weigh around 70 to 95 pounds.
Bernese Mountain dog puppies
Berner’s litters can have between 1 to 10 puppies but the average litter size is 8 puppies.
These puppies stop growing when they are about 2 or 3 years old.
The price of one puppy can range from $800 to $2000 depending on the location and the breeder where you get the pup.
However, if you are looking for a puppy from superior lines, you could end up paying as high as $10000.
You should avoid buying puppies from puppy mills at all costs.
Caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog
As long as you can commit your time and energy to take care of this dog’s needs, he should be able to fit in any kind of family.
A large and energetic pooch like this one may need a big space like a fenced yard where they can explore and play.
You should be advised that if you may have any dog-related allergies, this may not be the dog for you.
Berners have thick double coats that shed all year long.
You need to invest in a good brush and a vacuum cleaner if you are planning to get this dog.
These dogs need regular brushing, at least once in a day to reduce shedding and to keep the coat healthy and shiny. And let us face it, who doesn’t want their dog looking great. Brushing also helps to remove mats and tangles from the coat.
You should let you Bernese pup know that brushing is a positive experience by making fun and interesting.
The dog should also be bathed only when it is necessary because ver bathing these dogs could strip the coat os essential natural oils causing the skin to dry out.
Also when you are taking care of their coats you should remember to trim the nails when they start getting long.
The ears should also be checked for any signs of infections and cleaned regularly. Brushing their teeth is also important for dental health.
You may need to visit the groomer several times in one year.
Exercising a Berner Sennenhund
Bernese Mountain dogs have high energy levels.
These pooches need around 60 minutes of daily exercise to keep them healthy. This also keeps their brains stimulated.
Failing to meet their mental and physical stimulation needs may lead to them developing unwanted and destructive behaviors.
Feeding you Bernese puppy on a nutritious and high-quality diet is very important just like with any other large dog.
Doing this helps to keep their organs and tissue healthy and boosts their immune system.
You need to meet their daily calorie requirements depending on the size of your dog and what he/she does. On average, they need around 1600 to 2500 calories in one day.
This equates to about 5 cups of high-quality kibble.
Belgian Malinois Daily Food Consumption Calories 1,300 Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗
You should also make sure that their dietary requirements depending on what your dog does:
✔ If you have a working Bernese Mountain Dog, you should increase the number of proteins and calories that you give him an increase in activities.
✓ Keep their meals light if they work on the farm a lot.
These dogs also need fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and even cheese other than dry food alone.
Training a Bernese Mountain dog
Mountain dogs may be intelligent dogs but they are still slower than other dogs both physically and mentally.
However, they are still fairly easy to train because of how eager to please they are.
To accomplish this, you need to make sure that you do it correctly through reward-based training and positive reinforcement. Never punish this dog for any unwanted behavior as it never works for any good.
Encourage him and praise him a lot every time he gets a command right or when he does something right.
Socialization is also vital in training. Introduce these doggos to a wide range of animals, people, and environments to prevent them from becoming hyperactive and unmanageable.
Known health concerns
This breed is prone to many hereditary health issues just like with any other purebred dog.
The most common health problems with this breed are bloat, hip and elbow dysplasia.
Bloat is also known as Gastric dilation or volvulus. And the best way to prevent these conditions is by making sure that you keep their weight in check and not feeding the dog on large amounts of food all at once.
Hip and elbow dysplasia results when the joints fail to develop correctly causing pain and lameness to the pooch.
These doggos are also prone to other condition such as;
- Canine cancer.
- Eye disorders such as progressive Retinal Atrophy.
- A histiocytic sarcoma is a form of cancer that affects immune cells.
Generally, Mountain dogs have an average lifespan of between 7 to 10 years depending on how healthy they are.
If you live in cooler areas and have an active lifestyle, the Bernese Mountain Dog or Berner may be the right dog for you. This is as long as you do not mind the year-long shedding.
They are intelligent, loyal, affectionate and athletic dogs that crave human attention.
These dogs also have a gentle demeanor that children find appealing and are very playful.
Tell us what you thought about this dog in the comment section below and what your experiences are if you own one of these pooches.
There you WOOF!!
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