Bernese Mountain Dog

Breed At A Glance


Affectionate, intelligent and loyal

Life Expectancy
7-9 years

Average Height
Males 24-28 inches; Females 23-27 inches

Average Weight
Males 85-110 lbs; Females 80-105 lbs

Coat Color
Black and white with brown markings

Coat Length/Texture
Moderately long and glossy, with thick undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally heavily

Also known as Berner, Berner Sennenhund, Bouvier Bernois, Bovaro Bernese, Dürrbächler

General Temperament

The Bernese Mountain Dog is, by nature, loving and alert. They are generally tolerant, sweet, and gentle, making them excellent with children and other pets (even cats or other non-canine pets). They are devoted dogs and generally stick close to family members. They will even sometimes find a comfy spot laying right up against it’s owner’s legs or on their feet. In short, they thrive on human companionship and activity, and may even develop behavioral problems if they are deprived of social interaction. Although they are gentle and tolerant with children, their sheer size can sometimes cause harmful situations for small or unknown children.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is protective, loudly announcing the arrival of both human and canine visitors, but is not aggressive unless threatened or provoked. They do, however, have a tendency to be shy and can sometimes be aloof with strangers. The Bernese is an intelligent breed and is easily trained, as long as the training starts early and is consistent, yet never harsh.

The Bernese’s calm temperament and massive strenght makes them a natural for pulling small carts or wagons, a task they originally performed in Switzerland. With proper training, they enjoy giving children rides in a cart or participating in a parade. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America offers drafting trials open to all breeds, and regional Bernese clubs often offer carting workshops.

Breed History

Bernese Mountain Dogs were first brought into Switzerland over 2,000 years ago by invading Roman soldiers and established in the area of Switzerland called Berne. There, the breed is known as Berner Sennenhund, and has a long history of driving livestock, draft work (i.e. pulling carts) and guarding farms. They can even be seen in many famous paintings dating as far back as the 16th century.

The Bernese Mountain Dog was first brought to the United States in 1926 by farmer Isaac Schiess of Florence, Kansas, and was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1937.

Body Structure and Composition

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking, tri-colored, large dog. They are sturdy, strong and balanced, and are agile enough to do the draft and droving work for which they were used in the mountainous regions of their origin. They are slightly longer in the body than they are tall, with a strong neck and a level back. The legs are well-muscled and strong. The ears are set high and hang loose close to the face, and the muzzle is straight and of medium-length. The tail is bushy and usually carried low. Males appear masculine, while females are distinctly feminine.

Medical Information
Cancer is the primary cause of mortality for most dog breeds, but is uncommonly prevalent in the Bernese Mountain Dogs. Some studies show that up to 50% of Bernese deaths are caused by some form of cancer. Unfortunately, it sometimes strikes the animal early in life, leading to a reduction in the average life span for the breed as a whole.

Like most large breeds, Hip or Elbow Dysplasia can be a problem for the Bernese Mountain Dog. This condition occurs when the head of the bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms. Excess gas can get trapped in the stomach, causing an emergency condition called “bloat,” another somewhat common problem for the Bernese. Entropion and Ectropion (eyelids turned in or out, respectively), resulting in damage to the dog’s eye, have been reported in Bernese Mountain Dogs. Allergies can also be a problem, especially those that are food-related.

A daily brushing is suggested for this breed to help prevent matting, and is especially helpful during the dog’s heavy shedding season. Their size and thick coat make them highly susceptible to heat stroke, so they may not be right for life in an unusually warm climate, and should be kept indoors during extreme summer temperatures.

Anecdotal Information

Details Coming Soon

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