So you’re thinking of getting a Bernese Mountain Dog.
If you are looking for a good natured dog that loves to run and will be good with the family, read on.
This may be just the dog for you.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed is one of the many breeds that I love because they are good, hard working dogs that enjoy running, playing, love their families.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Overview
- Working dog originating from Switzerland.
- Suited to a veteran dog owner, as their size and high energy can make them difficult to handle.
- A great watchdog.
- Tendency to bark loudly
- Will love kids and greet strangers warmly if provided with the proper training.
- Require a fair amount of grooming, as they shed a lot.
- Their high energy means they need lots of exercise.
- The need for exercise and loud barking means they are not well suited to apartment living.
About the Bernese Mountain Dog
This is a smart, hardworking dog whose original purpose was to herd cattle and pull carts filled with goods on their way to the local market.
Eager to please, they will look to you and try to figure out what you need them to do.
This makes them highly trainable.
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Berner Sennenhund
- Bernese Cattle Dog
Historical Origins of the Breed.
The origins of this breed are well known.
They are the most well known of the Swiss Mountain Dogs, and is the only one with the silky long coat.
By the late 1800’s, the breed was almost lost until Professor Albert Heim studied the Swiss Mountain dogs and identified the Bernese, found only in the valleys of the lower alps.
He promoted them throughout Switzerland and Europe.
The finest example could be found in Durrbach region, and they gained the name Durrbachler.
As recognition grew the name was changed to Bernese Mountain Dog.
They arrived in America in 1926 and recognized by the AKC in 1937.
This is a strong, hardy, and large dog that requires room to run because of their size and energy.
Adults range from twenty three to twenty seven and a half inches depending on the gender.
They can grow to weigh anywhere between seventy to one hundred fifteen pounds.
They are a slow maturing dog, and may continue to fill out beyond their third year of age.
Male: 25-27.5 inches (64-70 cm)
The male of this breed should reach between twenty-five and twenty-seven and a half inches from the shoulder to the floor after reaching adulthood, which is between two and three years of age.
Female:23-26 inches (58-66 cm)
The female of this breed when fully grown (also between two and three years of age) should measure between twenty-three and twenty-six inches from the top of the shoulder to the floor.
Puppies : Height is dependant on litter size
There is no information given for the height of Bernese puppies, as their skeletons are known to grow unevenly and larger litters have larger pups, and smaller litters have smaller pups.
It is not uncommon as they get older to see their hindquarters be two inches taller than their shoulders at some point in their development!
A better marker of growth for this breed is made by weight.
Male: 80-115 pounds (36-52 kg)
As with most any breed, the male Bernese will have a final weight that is heavier than the female, weighing between eighty and one hundred and fifteen pounds.
Female: 70-95 pounds (32-43 kg)
The female Bernese will generally weigh less than their male counterparts, generally topping out anywhere between seventy and ninety-five pounds when fully grown.
Puppies :12-24 pounds (abc–abc kg)
By the time your puppy reaches eight to ten weeks of age, they should weigh between twelve to twenty four pounds.
This large difference is due to litter size, which often reflects the starting weight of the pups.
Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Purity: PureBred or Mixed?
This dog has a tricolor coat of jet black, rust, and white.
They are sturdy and balanced, and while appearing boxy they are actually longer than they are tall.
The males will appear masculine and the females will appear feminine.
The nose is solid black and they are a dry mouth breed, meaning they shouldn’t drool.
A purebred dog allows an owner to know what to expect in terms of temperament, coloring, and health issues.
While a mixed breed or a puppy without papers is cheaper at the outset, you will likely spend more in vet bills due to hidden health problems that show up from poor breeding or inbreeding.
Behavior And Temperament
The Bernese Mountain Dog is cheerful, and will get along well with children.
The love to be with their pack, and if you want the loving, loyal, attentive dog they can be, you need to make sure you are the alpha of the pack.
They get along well with other pets and dogs, and are friendly with strangers.
Alert is one of the first characteristics you learn of when researching a Bernese.
They were considered to be watchdogs and companions historically, alerting their owners to the goings on around the farm.
Bred to be companions, they will make a wonderful addition to your family provided that you care for them appropriately.
If you are looking for a friendly addition to your family, then look no further!
Bernese are friendly with other people and animals, and love children.
They need early obedience training and socialization, and to know their place in the pack, to exhibit the best traits of their breed.
Bernese are considered a gentle breed, but as with most animals the traits of the parents, breeding history, and early care helps shape this aspect of their personality.
The best way to make sure your puppy will have a kind and gentle disposition is to look at the traits of the parents, and to ensure early socialization and obedience training.
Many are attracted to the obvious intelligence of this breed.
They show off their ability to learn when given the time to analyze what you want them to do.
They need mental stimulation to keep them busy or they may engage in behaviors you don’t want to see.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is friendly and playful and will work hard to please you, and they generally keep the outgoing aspect of their personality, not just as a puppy, by into adulthood.
This generally doesn’t extend to strangers and if socialized and trained properly they aren’t aggressive.
If you are looking for an addition to your family that is loyal, playful, and a companion that is great with children, the Bernese fits the bill.
They love to play and want nothing more than to be with their pack.
It is important that they stay with their mother and littermates until around eight weeks of age to ensure they have good canine social skills.
The coat is tricolor and long and silky, and it can be straight or slightly wavy.
It is a thick coat, with a long outcoat and wooly undercoat that does require grooming.
If you want to show your dog, take care to not trim the coat and know that curly or dull coats are undesirable.
The AKC standard for the coat is black, tan, and white, or a black, rust, and white.
The main color is a jet black, and the tan or rust areas should be vibrantly colored.
There are dogs that black and white, black and rust, or rust and white, but these three combinations are not standard colors.
The eyes are intelligent and warm, and should be a dark brown.
Blue eyes are considered an automatic disqualification if you plan on showing your Bernese.
Generally slightly oval with close fitting lids.
Everted or inverted lids are considered serious faults.
It’s also interesting to know that they don’t have eyelashes on the lower lid.
When a Bernese Mountain puppy is born, their nose can be any combination of black and pink, but all puppies are born with a pink nose.
As they get older the pigment comes in a little t a time until the nose becomes entirely black.
This could take a short amount of time or up to eighteen months.
As an adult their nose should be entirely black.
The tail of a dog is as expressive as their eyes, and the Bernese is no different.
They show excitement, attention, and playfulness in the way they hold their tail.
The tail should be bushy and often carried low.
When alert it can swirl over the back, but it shouldn’t do that at any other time.
The bones of the tail should be straight and reach to the hock joint or below.
A litter of Bernese Mountain Puppies can range anywhere from one to fourteen!
Fourteen is a massive amount of puppies, and it’s more likely that you’ll see around eight.
This is the average size litter for this breed.
It’s better to have a midrange or smaller litter, as the larger the litter the smaller the pups are starting out.
There’s a saying about this breed, “Three years a young dog, three years a good dog, three years an old dog…all else is a gift from God.”
They have a shorter life span because of their size and because they are predisposed to cancers.
The average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog is now seven years.
Caring For Your Bernese Mountain Dog
Your Bernese will be with you for a while, so proper nutrition, grooming, and exercise is important if you want your furry friend to stay with you as long as possible.
Regular vet checks are important as they are susceptible to some serious health issues, especially if you buy from an unreputable breeder.
The Bernese has a long coat that sheds all year, but “blows” or sheds profusely, in the spring and fall.
They require brushing a few times a week, and a bath a few times a year.
Be sure to keep their nails trimmed, as long nails can cause problems and pain.
- Need a half hour of moderate exercise as an adult to stay healthy and happy.
- They enjoy the outdoors, and love hiking, camping, and backpacking.
- They can be cart trained and enjoy working like this.
- Young dogs need less exercise more often to prevent damage to their joints.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, both hereditary diseases.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a painless inherited disease that leads to blindness.
- von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), a clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding.
- Hystiocytosis, a form of cancer that makes of twenty five percent of all cancer cases in Bernese, is hereditary.
- Gastric Torsion, also known as bloat, causes the dogs stomach to fill with gas and twists the stomach or intestines. Is quickly fatal.
- Also susceptible to allergies, epilepsy, heart disease, and hypothyroidism.
- Begin obedience training and socialization early, after eight weeks of age.
- Socialize early so they learn human and canine socialization skills
- Do not use negative reinforcement because they are so eager to please that their feelings get hurt easily.
- Start with simple commands such as “sit” and “no”.
- Spending time with the family can help curb undesirable behaviors.
Physical Characteristics Of Bernese Mountain
The Bernese is a large, balanced dog that is agile and ready to work.
They have a sturdy body and bones and are slightly longer than they are tall.
They have a base coat of jet black, with triangular ears that are set high and rounded to the tip.
They have a straight and strong muzzle with a dry mouth meaning they do not drool much.
This is not a very adaptable breed for a few reasons.
They need a large backyard, so they are not good apartment dwellers.
They are sensitive, loving structure, routine, and needing kind redirection for unwanted behaviors.
They do not like to be left alone, preferring the company of their pack as often as possible.
And finally, their thick long coats mean that while they can adapt to cold weather easily, they are prone to heatstroke in hotter climates and during warm weather.
Other Dog Friendly
The Bernese can do well with other dogs if they are provided the right upbringing.
Staying with their mother and littermates during the first eight weeks of life allows them to learn canine social skills.
They also need to be socialized with other dogs after this, and throughout their lives.
Obedience training makes sure they listen to your commands when needed to keep them, and other dogs, safe.
A Bernese Mountain Dog is an excessive shedder!
Being such a large dog coupled with the fact that they have a double coat means that they have a lot of fur!
They shed all the time, but shed excessively in the fall and spring.
If you have allergies, or are not prepared to brush them at least three times a week, a Bernese may not be the right dog for you.
Ask anyone who knows this breed, and they will tell you that these dogs are loving and affectionate.
Resembling big teddy bears, they will gladly lay with you and take a nap.
That being said, they are happiest when playing and being outside, and they need a lot of this be happy.
Bernersare a high energy dog that need exercise if they are to stave off obesity and stay entertained.
They are a working dog and require at least thirty minutes of outdoor time a day.
Walks, hiking, general play, and agility training are all good ways to spend bonding time with your pet and give him the physical and mental stimulation that he needs.
Are you looking for a companion that will always be by your side?
Then look no further!
A Berner needs to be with his people, as their main purpose was companionship and acting as a watchdog.
They do not do well being alone or left outside without companionship.
These big dogs do not do well in apartments.
They need a large backyard to run in, and because they were used as watchdogs they have a tendency to bark- loudly.
While they are generally aloof with strangers, meaning they’ll be polite to your neighbors, they are too high energy to live in a small area, even with frequent time out.
Since Berners have so much fur, you need to make sure you introduce them to grooming at an early age.
As with any breed, if you start brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and teeth brushing when they are pups, they will not fear these routines and learn to enjoy it.
Make it a fun time by giving praise, and even the occasional treat, and it will be a fun time for everyone.
When socialized and trained properly, Bernese will either be happy or generally tolerate strangers.
They are not aggressive, but will act aloof when an unknown person comes around.
Socialization at an early age ensures their natural sense of caution does not become the fault of shyness.
A Bernese Mountain Dog has a strong tendency to bark.
If you live in an apartment, have close neighbors, or have noise restrictions that would affect this furry family member, a Berner may not be right for you.
This tendency comes from their watchdog trait, so if you need a dog to alert you to strangers and you don’t live too near others, a Bernese may be a good fit for your home.
Expect to spend some money on your pet if he or she gets ill, as they have some expensive health problems.
They are prone to joint issues, eye problems, a dangerous bleeding disorder, bloat, and cancer.
Reputable breeders will have test results for both parents which can help choose as healthy a pup as you can.
Regular checkups and good nutrition will also help keep your furry friend healthyl.
As a working dog, they were bred to work on farms.
Their job is to protect and alert their masters to any perceived threat.
They can be territorial, and some males may become aggressive toward other male dogs.
Early and proper training will help keep this trait in check, allowing for everyone to be happy.
Berners are great family dogs, but when young they can be a little too energetic, especially around smaller animals.
Always supervise play, and get a pup who stayed with their littermates and mother for two to three months prior to separation.
This will help in canine social skills and teach them proper play.
Early introduction to cats will keep frustration and misunderstandings at bay.
These dogs are highly intelligent!
It is one of the reasons they are a member of the Working Group.
They need work to do, so obedience and agility training is essential not only for manners, but to keep them entertained.
This will keep undesirable behaviors from manifesting.
Berners are highly trainable.
They are notorious people pleasers, but their feelings are hurt easily, so gentle redirection is necessary to keep them happy.
They love to work, may wander and have a strong prey drive, so training is important if you want to overcome these instincts.
If you need a dog that is gentle with children, and have a great love of family, Berners are one to look at.
Yelling and screaming kids, big bear hugs, and rough and tumble play are not a barrier to owning this dog.
Making sure your puppy is raised around people helps them to be good with adults and children alike.
Playful should be this breeds middle name!
They love to spend time with their families, and it is actually required if you choose to bring one in your home.
Much of their play can be tied to their exercise, such as walks, fetch, or agility training.
They have a tendency to mouth things as pups, so strong toys meant for chewing and playing with is a must.
Having been bred for generations for their ability to watch over farms, and their admittance into the UKC Guardian Group, their ability to be a watchdog is well known.
Training, socialization, and lots of love help finetune the Berners instincts into behaviors that keep them from being bored and keep your home and children safe.
They are highly trainable, and loyal to the ones they love.
The Bernese can get along well with other pets in the home, provided they are properly trained and socialized.
Early interaction with a variety of people and animals help socialize them early, and training helps them learn to back off when they get too rambunctious.
Some males may be aggressive around another male, so be aware of this when introducing two male dogs.
Feeding and Nutrition
Knowing the nutrition requirements of a Bernese Mountain Dog is important.
Following the guidelines given from the breeder,or a vet, will help you in choosing not only a quality commercial food (or a quality home prepared food), but also the recommended amounts for your new pet.
Not all pet food is created equal.
Choosing one with meat ingredients listed first are a good place to start.
Puppies aged 8-10 weeks will generally eat somewhere between ¾ and 1.5 cups of food per feeding.
Two to three meal times per day is recommended until they reach around four months of age, then you will want to offer them two meals a day.
A healthy puppy will eat somewhere between 3-6 cups of food per day.
At six to eight months of age, your puppy will start eating closer to an adult serving.
The adult Berner needs an adult formula until they reach around five years old, then they will need a senior formula.
That being said, you want to feed them between three to five cups of food a day, broken into two or more mealtimes.
Don’t feed too many treats, as an overweight adult dog can worsen the chances of conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
Famous Bernese Mountain Dog all over the world
Two Bernese Mountain Dogs owned by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.
He has owned Berners for nineteen years, and took in Brod (meaning Pride in gaelic), and “Shadow” (Sioda meaning Silk in gaelic).
Brod originally belonged to a couple that emigrated to South Africa, and he was rehomed with the President before their departure.
#2 Sarah and Owen
Two beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs owned by Ryan Murphy, famous writer and producer. He is known for Glee, and American Horror Story.
Residing in a beautiful 1927 Spansh Style home in California, he, his new husband, and two beautiful berners plan on raising a family in the beautiful Beverly Hills.
Proud pup of Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
While on a trip to explore his family roots, this famous American Football star, also known as Big Ben, purchased a twelve week old Bernese Mountain Dog from his home region of Emmental.
Hercules will live alongside Ben’s other dog, Zeus, a German Rottweiler.
#4 Rigby Idaho
Owned by Eliza Dushku, a notable actress known for her role as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and for the show Dollhouse, created by Joss Whedon.
Rigby Idaho lives with her and her other four legged friend, a golden retriever named Max Factor. Eliza and her husband Peter Palandjian are currently expecting their first child.
Owned by Hilary Duff, a notable American actress, singer, songwriter, producer, author, and songwriter.
She has starred in films such as The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and A Cinderella Story.
Her product line of makeup, clothing, and accessories is called Stuff by Hilary Duff, and released her own album called Metamorphosis.
Sadly, Duboi passed away at ten years of age in February of 2018.
Belonging to Bill and Stephanie Freeman, this one year old Berner smelled smoke in the early morning hours and alerted her people by sitting on them until they woke.
Being sensitive to their dogs mood, they discovered the fire and were able to alert everyone. No one was hurt, and Oakley is a hero.
Belonging to Dan and Vivian Clarke, this three year old Bernese Mountain Dog heard a woman cry for help while on the beach in Ventura, California.
A woman was caught in a riptide, and Nico courageously swam out to her, and guided her safely back to shore.
Two time cancer survivor, and beloved pet of the Weaver family, managed to survive the decimating flames of the California Wildfires in October of 2017.
She had to be left behind as the family evacuated at a moments notice, but when they returned she was there to greet them, sooty and smelling of smoke.
What To Do Now That You Are Ready To Own A Bernese Mountain Dog
Finding a good breeder is paramount to finding a good pup.
They will ideally have all the parent testing done to rule out health issues, and can speak to the expected temperament of your new family member.
Find one who agrees to abide by the BMDCA’s code of conduct, which prohibits the sale of pups to or through pet stores.
You can also choose to adopt a rescue from the organizations listed further down in this article.
How Much Does a Bernese Mountain Cost?
- The average price is between $800-$2000, with a median price of $1147.50
- Dogs with superior breeding start around $2000 and can reach prices of up to $10,000 or more.
- Adoptions, including registrations and vaccinations, are generally between $350 and $550.
- Eating an average of 4-6 cups of dog food a day, a year’s worth of food will be around $800 for quality dog food.
- Vet care for common serious ailments range from around $1500 to $6000.
- Group training lessons for 4-8 weeks of one hourly lessons range from $50-125.
Working Group , Guardian Dogs (UKC)
The Bernese Mountain Dog may be in the working dog group according to the AKC, but in the United Kennel Club (UKC) they are considered a Guardian Dog.
Self-confident, vigilant, and alert, they were bred to be not only companion to their master, but also as a guardian of their farms.
National Breed Clubs
- Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America
- Rescue Pledge
- Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Nashoba Valley Rescue
- Adopt A Pet
- BFW Rescue
What Do You Like Most About the Bernese Mountain Dog?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of my favorite breeds!
We had a neighbor with one, and all us kids loved to play there.
I’ve given all the information you need to decide if they will make a good fit for your family.
Did you learn something new about Berners today?
Do you have some information that you would like to share with others?
And if I’ve left something out, let me know.
I can’t wait to hear from you! Be sure to share this article with others so others can learn all the things that make the Bernese a great family dog.