The Bernese Mountain Dog is a Swiss breed and is named after the city of Berne, Switzerland.
Bred originally to do farm work, these large, affectionate dogs are extremely versatile and can do a number of jobs, including herding and protecting livestock, and pulling carts. They were also once used by the Romans as fighting dogs, which is rather surprising given their amiable, laid-back personality.
The first “Berner Sennenhund”, to give the breed its German name, was brought to the United States in 1926, and gained recognition from the American Kennel Club in 1937.
The Bernese is a striking dog with a distinctive tri-color coat, which is mainly black and has white and rust markings on the chest and the face. The lower legs are also rust in color, with white paws. As you’d expect from a dog bred to survive in the mountains, the coat is thick, and the fluffy tail and folded ears provide additional protection from the cold.
A cheerful disposition and balanced personality, make the Bernese an ideal pet. They are loyal and devoted, and despite their large size, they are gentle and trustworthy with children. They are also placid and accepting of other pets – of both the canine and non-canine variety.
The Bernese is a very playful dog which makes him an excellent choice for a family with kids. They are also very adaptable, meaning they’ll fit in to most living arrangements, as long as they are close to their human family.
The Bernese requires quite a lot of grooming. They are heavy shedders, with particularly heavy shedding occurring in the spring. Expect to brush your dog every day if you want to keep dog hair off your clothes and furnishings. When grooming your dog, pay special attention to cleaning the ears, which are susceptible to infections.
In common with most purebred breeds, the Bernese has a number of inherited health problems. The most serious of these is canine cancer, while the breed is also at risk from joint and bone diseases:
- ligament ruptures
- hip dysplasia.
Less serious ailments include infections of the eyes and ears. Unfortunately, the Bernese is a short-lived breed, with an average lifespan of just 6-8 years.
Despite its history as a working dog, the Bernese can be quite lazy, and will loaf around if allowed to. It is up to the owner to ensure that the dog gets sufficient exercise. Like most dogs, the Bernese enjoys a good walk and can even be taught to pull a cart, like their forebears did.
The biggest joy of owning one of these gentle giants is their temperament. These loving, friendly, loyal and intelligent dogs absolutely love being around people and are exceptionally eager to please. They can be a challenge to train, though because they tend to regard everything as a game. Use that to your advantage by keeping training sessions short, positive, and most of all fun. As any Bernese owner will tell you, these delightful dogs, retain their puppy playfulness throughout their life.