Breed Group: Working Group
Shoulder Height: 23-27.5 in.
Weight: 75-120 lb.
Life Span: 7-8 years
Colors: Tricolor - predominantly black with white chest and tan or rust markings
- The Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the midlands of Switzerland where they were companions and watchdogs for farmers.
- In the absence of horses, these dogs may also have been used to haul carts.
- The breed was also produced to protect farmland from wolves, which were quite common in Switzerland.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and powerful breed that was developed for a multitude of farm tasks. They didn't have a specific purpose on the farm (such as herding), but instead worked alongside their owner predominantly as a companion. As a result, their temperament is quite even, with no hint of aggression. They are good-natured and interact well with other dogs as well as children, and are usually sociable towards strangers.
Like any other large working dog, they require consistent training to fit into a household. They are intelligent and respond well to positive training methods. Bernese Mountain Dogs thrive in the outdoors and are the ideal breed for somebody who likes spending a lot of time outside. As long as they are physically fit — and they do require adequate exercise — they prove to be excellent dogs on hiking trips.
Do not mistake their love of the outdoors to mean they are hyperactive dogs like some of the Sporting breeds. While exercise is necessary, they are also perfectly content to keep you company during a quiet evening by the fireplace.
The breed does possess a thick double coat, so regular grooming is necessary to keep them comfortable. This coat also means that warmer climates will not agree with them.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are very large, so while they are quite healthy as pups, many problems do pop up as they get older.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia and arthritis, as with any large breed, is a problem with the Bernese Mountain Dog. One survey found that 12% of Berners had hip dysplasia and 18% had elbow dysplasia.
- Entropion, a rolling inwards of the eyelids, can cause irritation and inflammation of the cornea. This can be surgically corrected.
- Cancer is a leading cause of death in the breed, with lymphoma and hystiocytic sarcoma being the most common.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog, though powerful and active, does not have a lot of endurance over great distances, so exercise with care.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog has featured prominently in various children’s book series, keeping the dog fairly popular with families.
- A Berner named Nico made headlines early in 2015 when he rescued two people who were caught in a California riptide.
- The breed is famous for its survivability as there are numerous stories about Berners who were able to survive by themselves on different types of terrain before being rescued. Some of these dogs were by themselves for weeks on end, showing how hardy the breed can be when healthy.
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