Bernese Mountain Dog: A Complete Breed Guide and Information

bernese mountain dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the most popular breeds in Switzerland and across the world. They have an extremely friendly disposition, high intelligence, undivided loyalty, and devotion towards their humans. Affectionately known as the Berner, these dogs are also famous for their willingness to please which makes them an ideal pet for children and adults alike.

Read on to find everything about this majestic breed.

Overview of the breed

Breed Type

Height

Weight

Lifespan

Price

Working Dogs25-28 inches (male)

23 -26 inches

(female)

80-115 pounds (male)

70-95 pounds (female)

6-8 years$2,000 to $2500

History

The complete details about the origin of Bernese Mountain dogs are a little vague as the breed is quite old. Some believe that they originated around 2000 years ago when the Romans brought mastiff-like dogs to Switzerland. This theory has been objected to by others since some remains of giant dogs that have been discovered in Switzerland date back earlier than when the Romans crossed the Alps. However, there isn’t much art or literature to help dig further into this topic. It might be so because artists are mostly known to place stylish hunting and lapdogs on their canvas while our Berners have been working dogs since their early days.

These dogs were almost permanently replaced when the St. Bernard dog rose to fame in Switzerland in the late 1800s because of their uniform coloration and distinct origin. IAs the big dog started gaining more popularity, people started forgetting about Swiss mountain dogs. In 1883, the Swiss Kennel Club began and decided to not acknowledge any of the mountain dogs, choosing to instead showcase St. Bernard and other canines of the area. Bernese Mountain dogs and other similar breeds were not in demand because of the rise in the popularity of farm dogs.

An innkeeper named Franz Schertenleib is credited for saving Bernese Mountain dogs from being completely wiped out. He had heard many stories about these noble dogs from his grandparents, and he dedicated himself to resurrecting this breed along with other Swiss Mountain dog breeds. He did so by traveling across Europe searching for good specimens and carrying their stories along with him

The American history of the Bernese Mountain Dog began in 1926 when a Kansas farmer imported a pair. They caught on quickly, and the AKC registered their first Berner in 1937.

Appearance

Bernese Mountain dogs have a long nose, drooping eyelids, and a bushy tail that is carried low. The head is broad and flat on the top and the ears are small, erect, and set high. The most interesting feature of this dog breed is their expressive dark brown eyes. The Bernese Mountain Dog is the only one among the four varieties of Swiss Dogs to have a long, silky coat.

Bernese Mountain dogs are strong and muscular, so much so, that they were actually bred to work. These working dogs are slightly longer than they are tall. They have a strong, wide back which helped to pull heavy loads. Made for enduring the rocky terrain of the mountains, the legs of this mighty breed are long and quite powerful with round, arched toes.

These large dogs have pretty attractive, tri-colored coats. They have red (or rust) and white markings on their chest while the background body color is black. The major part of your Berner’s body is covered with jet-black hair and the white markings look like an inverted cross on their chest. The rust markings are specifically seen above the eyes, front of legs, sides of the mouth, and also around the white chest. With a thick and fairly long coat, they do require frequent brushing to keep the coat healthy and mats-free.

Temperament

These dogs have been traditionally used in Switzerland as herding dogs and hunting companions, but they’ve also proven to be great family pets. What makes the breed so special is their deep and ever-warming loyalty to family.

Being bred to protect their homes and owners, these Swiss dogs carry a vigilant, watchful nature at all times. People sometimes joke that they have eyes in the back of their heads as they are always keeping an eye on things, even when they are goofing off or simply lying around. This trait makes the Berner a good guard dog.

Your Bernese Mountain dog will want to be wherever you are every hour of the day. Considering their easy-going, affectionate temperament, you will also not want them anywhere far from you.

Bernese Mountain dogs are also known as happy dogs. They have legendary, transformative smiles which one can say are brought to mankind by angels. You won’t be able to stop your heart from melting once you see how these family lovers stay the happiest by your side.

Since Bernese Mountain dogs have this extreme need to keep their humans happy, they make loving family pets. In fact, making their owners happy is one of the greatest pleasures for Bernese Mountain dogs. If you get amused by any of their specific antics or actions, they will stick to it and make you laugh by repeating the same thing again and again. These adorable ones will find that particular trick just to keep their humans giggling. We might say that they are some lovable people pleasers.

Given their friendly and calm disposition, Bernese Mountain dogs are dog-friendly. When it comes to other pets, such as cats, hamsters, or birds, your Berne may not get along with these small animals. As the breed was developed for herding and tending the cattle, your Berne may nip, poke or ‘try to herd’ your small pets. But if you socialize your dog early and teach them how to act and treat other animals, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Trainability

In order to train your Bernese Mountain dog, you need to understand what they like and dislike. Here is a list of six tips to help you succeed in training your dog:

  1. Start with the basics. You will need to teach your new pup how to sit, stay, and come when called. Introduce them to new things in their environment slowly, such as other dogs, people, and objects.
  2. Take your time. Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent dogs that can learn quickly if they have the right guidance and training. This means that it is important to take your time in training them and not expect too much too soon.
  3. Reward good behavior. When teaching them commands or tricks, reward them with treats or praise when they do well! This will help build their confidence and make them more likely to do what you ask of them in the future!
  4. Learn how to read your dog’s body language so that you can understand what he or she is feeling and thinking about during training sessions.
  5. Avoid using harsh disciplinary techniques like yelling or hitting when teaching your children something new; instead, use a calm voice and be as kind and patient as possible.
  6. Earn your dog’s confidence and trust by establishing yourself as the ‘pack leader’ without using fear tactics. Instead of leaving your pet to their own devices, show them that you’re the one in charge.

Grooming

If you are thinking of getting a Bernese Mountain dog, make sure you know the amount of grooming they need so that you can plan accordingly. Bernese mountain dogs need to be groomed every two weeks with more frequent grooming during the shedding seasons which are around spring and fall.

According to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, weekly brushing and regular bathing will do fine for keeping the breed happy and healthy.

Here are some important Bernese Mountain dogs grooming tips that you need to follow when caring for their coat:

  • Brush your dog’s hair at least two times a week to remove any mats or knots.
  • Use a slicker brush to get rid of dead hairs and loosen the coat.
  • Use a comb for detangling and conditioning the hair.
  • Use a final coat conditioner after brushing your Bernese’s coat.
  • Do not shave your dog as shaving can expose your dog to sunburn and parasites.

You will need the following tools to groom your dog:

  • Pined brush
  • A metal-tined dog comb with medium spaced lines
  • Scissors
  • Rake for removing hair in the undercoat
  • Nail clippers/grinders
  • Towel
  • Cotton cloth or cotton balls
  • Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

Adaptability

Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred to withstand the cold climate of Switzerland. Their thick and flowy signature fur thrives in winter weather. Sure, they love being indoors with the family but you know where they’d rather be when the temperature falls low. These dogs are unbothered by snow as they go ruffling and digging, so you might as well get ready for some wintertime adventures with your Berner!

Apartment living

Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Live in Apartments? Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs can live in apartments. However, you’ll need to take them for regular walks, provide adequate exercise, and make sure you have something creative to keep your dog’s mind engaged in order for them to do well in apartments. Often, dogs of this type develop joint issues as they age. They will need access to elevators or other well-maintained floors if they’re unable to climb stairs.

Novice Owners

Bernese Mountain Dogs are renowned for their patience and intelligence. These dogs are so well-behaved that they can be easily trained to perform a variety of tasks such as sitting, staying, heeling, and walking on a leash. Despite their intelligence and good manners, these dogs require extensive training and should not be owned by novice owners.

Tolerance for Being Alone

Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent, gentle dogs that crave human companionship. They were bred for herding and guarding, so they need constant companionship and are highly social dogs. Therefore, these dogs cannot tolerate being left alone for long periods of time as they need to be around their human caregivers for company and support.

Cost

The initial cost of buying a Bernese Mountain Dog is $2,000 to $2500. The cost includes the purchase price and initial veterinary expenses as well as the ongoing costs such as food, supplies, and training.

The average cost of a Bernese Mountain Dog depends on many factors. The initial purchase price is only one factor that will affect how much it costs to own one for a certain amount of time. Factors like size, coat type, breeder, and location also contribute to the overall cost.

If you are tight on budget, you can always opt to adopt the dog. Depending upon the rescue groups and shelters, the price of adoption can vary from $50 to $500.

But adopting a dog is a tricky decision. Although it can cost less, there are many risks that come with adopting from a rescue. We can never fully know about the puppy’s background and at what risk of health issues they may be.

Health

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a highly-energetic working breed. Unfortunately, they can be susceptible to many health issues which we have briefly discussed below:

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common condition in dogs that is characterized by an abnormal development disorder of the hip joint. It can cause problems with mobility, pain, lameness, and arthritis in some cases.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is another common disease in Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, which regulates the metabolism and body temperature of your dog.

Lethargy, appetite changes, hair loss, and irregular heat cycles are often a sign that your dog may be suffering from hypothyroidism.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye condition that leads to blindness. The disease affects dogs and cats, but it is most commonly seen in dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs. PRA causes blindness in older dogs due to the loss of cells that cover their retina.

4. Histiocytosis

Histiocytosis is a rare disease that affects the dog’s immune system. The disease occurs when cells called histiocytes, which are white blood cells, multiply uncontrollably. Unfortunately, Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of the breeds that are susceptible to this condition. This breed has a high mortality rate due to this disease, which is also the main reason why they have a short life span.

5. Ear Infections

One of the most common health problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs is ear infections, which are usually caused by bacteria or yeast infections.

6. Bloat

Bloat in Bernese Mountain Dogs can be caused by different factors, including diet, exercise, and genetics. The most common symptom of bloat is a distended stomach with a rounded back end.

Bernese Mountain Dogs Mixed Breeds

Breeders all around the world have been breeding the Bernese Mountain Dog with other dogs to create a dog of their choice. Let’s get to know more about these mixed breeds, shall we?

Bernedoodle

A Bernese Mountain Dog Poodle mix or Bernedoodle is a crossbreed of a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Poodle. This type of dog is becoming more popular as they are known to be very loyal, intelligent, and protective. They are also famous for their hypoallergenic coat which makes them great for allergy sufferers.

Also known as a Bernepoo, Bernesedoodle, Bernese Mountain poo, and Bernesepoo, this unique breed is very popular in Europe and they have been making their way to North America.

Bernese Mountain Dog Husky Mix

The Bernese Mountain dog husky mix is a crossbreed between a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Husky, that is bred to be a companion and guard dog. They are friendly and playful, but they can also be stubborn and pushy. The Bernese Mountain dog mix has been gaining popularity in recent years due to their affectionate nature which makes them great family pets as well as guard dogs for homes with children or other animals.

Labernese

Labernese dogs, a cross between Bernese Mountain Dogs and Labrador Retrievers, are well known for their intelligence, adaptability, and loyalty to their owners. If you can handle the uncertainty of a mixed breed and are willing to put in the time to train and exercise a Labernese, you will find that their loyalty and loving personality will reward you a hundred times over. They will be your faithful companion for life if you choose them as your pet!

Golden Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog Golden Retriever Mix, also known as Golden Mountain Dog, is the crossbreed between the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Golden Retriever. Combining the best traits of their parents, this breed is known for their extremely friendly and docile nature.

Golden Mountain Dog breeds are known to be the best companions for children, dogs, and cats. They are always eager to please their owners with their goofy antics and never-ending affection.

Bernefie

The Bernese Mountain Dog Newfoundland mix, also known as Bernefie, is the cross between the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Newfoundland. These dogs were bred to be muscular and strong enough to pull carts and sturdy enough to tolerate the harsh mountain climate. Like their parents, these dogs are known for their intelligence, affectionate nature, and gentle disposition. They make excellent companions for families with children or other animals as well as for people who need a companion during their workdays.

Bordernese

The Bordernese, a cross between the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Border Collie, has been increasingly popular in Europe and the United States. These medium-sized dogs are intelligent and can be taught to do tricks, such as fetching and jumping through hoops. They are also very social and friendly with children. If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t require much maintenance and who is ready to give you all the love and attention, then the Bernese Mountain Dog Border Collie Mix might be the right breed for you.

Conclusion

From playfulness to their undivided love and devotion, Bernese Mountain Dogs are all about being lifelong companions. They just absolutely enjoy goofing around and having fun. If you want to bring home one of this versatile and handsome breed, make sure that you give them equal love, care, and exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Bernese Mountain Dog Vs Other Breeds

Here are some comparisons of the Bernese Mountain Dog with similar other breeds.

Bernese Mountain Dog Vs St Bernard

Thank you for reading the article.

Also, check out the Top 10 Bernese Mountain Dogs Facts That You Didn’t Know.

Do you have a Bernese Mountain Dog?  How do you care for them? What is their training routine? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

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