Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed Conditions, History and Temperament

Bernese Mountain Dog

Average Size of Male: Height: 25 inches–27.5 inches, Weight: 90 pounds–120 pounds

Average Size of Female: Height: 23 inches–26 inches, Weight: 70 pounds–100 pounds

Lifespan: 7–9 years

Major Concerns: Canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, histiocytosis, osteochondritis dissecans

Minor Concerns: Fragmented coronoid process, gastric torsion (bloat), progressive retinal atrophy

Occasionally Seen: Hypomyelination

Note: Extra care must be taken to avoid heatstroke in this large breed.

Brief History of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog was an essential part of the Swiss farm lifestyle. Breed experts think that it descended from a mastiff crossed with a dog that guarded sheep in the high country. The dog was put to work carting fresh milk, cheese and produce for farmers who did not own horses. He also served as a watchdog and presided over the flocks at home.

The dog was a common sight in the rural parts of the Berne area in Switzerland. In 1892 a Swiss innkeeper, along with a college professor from Zurich, began searching for some breeding candidates. They founded a breed specialty club in 1907. The Bernese Mountain Dog was brought to the United States in 1926, and the AKC recognized it in 1937.

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Appearance

The Bernese Mountain Dog, or Berner as he is affectionately known, is a strong, sturdily built dog. The Berner is broad-chested with a compact body. His tail hangs low, unless he is excited. His wide head has a furrow in the center, and his triangular ears are pendant. He has dark, expressive eyes. His coat is black, red or tan and white, with the body being predominantly black. He has red shadings on the cheeks and legs, and peanuts on the eyes. The face may have a white blaze, and the dog may have a white chest and white toes. The hair is thick and often wavy, with a dense undercoat. The gender difference is apparent at first sight. A male Berner has a distinctively masculine look, while the female is more feminine while maintaining the characteristic breed prowess.

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Maintenance

The Berner coat needs regular brushing, especially in the spring and fall when he sheds his undercoat. Some owners like to take their Berner to a professional groomer twice a year, although the salon must not be too warm as the dog can easily overheat, and he must never be shaved down. His coat acts as an insulator in both hot and cold weather.

Being a large breed, he is not suited to an apartment lifestyle. A Berner appreciates having a job, and many owners use him for what he was originally intended: hitching him up to a cart and walking him to the farmer’s market. A Berner thrives on a farm lifestyle. Although he generally likes competitive dog sports such as obedience and agility, and he excels at weight pulling. He is a bit heavy to have the speed required for many dog sports, but he does enjoy the physical activity.


PetWave: Bernese Mountain Dog


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