Bernese Mountain Dog

June 2, 2020 // 7 minute read

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Bernese Mountain Dogs, or also called Berners, are large-sized dogs initially used as an all-around farm dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent watchdog on farms, and their sturdy build is surely something farmers can rely on.

They have thick, long, and silky coats that protect them from cold weather conditions in Switzerland. It also comes in three colors, jet black, white, and rust, with distinctive markings on their coat and face that will immediately allow you to recognize them. Their eyes scream with intelligence that gives that look of nobility in them.

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Bernese Mountain Dog Statistics

Dog Breed GroupWorking
Breed SizeGiant
Height25-27.5 inches (male); 23-26 inches (female)
Weight80-115 pounds (male); 70-95 pounds (female)
Lifespan7-10 years

Bernese Mountain Dog Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Bernese Mountain Dog History

Bernese Mountain Dogs are believed to have been working on the farmlands of Switzerland for more than two centuries. They are one of the four mountain-dog breeds in the Bern Canton, which originated from crossbreeding farm dogs from the Alps and the Molosser.

Bernese Mountain Dogs have spent their time driving cattle and guarding farmlands. But after a long day of work, they become the farmers’ companions. They are also exceptionally known for their strength and ability to pull an object 10x their weight.

They were really useful in ranching and farming. However, despite this, their number still started to decline in the late 1800s. By 1899, some Swiss farmers decided to preserve the native breeds, and the dog club Berna was founded.

When 1902 came, the same dog club sponsored a show to introduce the Swiss mountain breeds, and in 1904, the dogs were finally recognized as the Bernese Mountain Dogs.

After World War I, they finally brought the first Bernese Mountain Dog to the United States. And it was only in 1937 when the American Kennel Club finally recognized the dog as a breed.

Now, Bernese Mountains Dogs remain to be gentle family companions. Their noble stature and tricolor coat is extremely popular, giving them the 22nd ranking in the most popular dog breed in the US.

Bernese Mountain Dog Facts


Bernese Mountain Dogs are good-natured, calm, and strong. But they are also affectionate, intelligent, and alert. Basically, they are even-tempered dogs.

Though a working dog, Bernese doesn’t need a lot of exercise. There will be days when he’ll laze around and wouldn’t care if you do something for the day or not.

If you’re living in a hot country, the Bernese may struggle with the climate. Their thick coat is designed to warm them up on cold weather conditions, and they won’t be able to handle too much heat. They will be excellent dogs in snowy areas, and you can even ask them to pull you on a sled as they have incredible strength.

The Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent family dog, and they are very gentle with children. However, there are times where they might only be attached to one person. They will also make excellent dogs even if you’re a first-time owner, as long as you provide them with their needs.

They can also get very protective of their family, but they are rarely aggressive. They can also be extremely shy when it comes to strangers or other animals. But there are also a few Bernese that tend to become aggressive with male dogs.

Early socialization is needed to prevent unlikeable behaviors. Let him interact with new people, new animal friends, new sights, and new surroundings daily. This is extremely important while he’s a pup.

Obedience training is also something that you can do. This way, he’ll be able to maintain his good nature. Of course, don’t forget to give him praise and always acknowledge an excellent job.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: The most important thing to remember when feeding a Bernese Mountain Dog is to provide a well-balanced diet. This must contain high-quality ingredients so he can get all the nutrients he needs. A Bernese Mountain Dog Diet should comprise the following: Low Protein Level (18-26%) and Moderate Fat (16%). Too much fat and protein will not be great on your Bernese, especially if he’s not the active type. You can add fresh foods as well, such as yogurt, cooked or raw meat, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. You can also add a few supplements to supply his other nutritional needs, such as vitamins and b-complex. Watch out for any food allergies too. You can consult a vet to ask for more guidance regarding the food intake of your Bernese Mountain Dog. The calorie intake would usually depend on his activities and age, so it varies from one dog to another.
  • Grooming: The Bernese Mountain Dog has a thick, shiny, long coat that sheds a lot. Shedding is even more frequent during the shedding season. To minimize this problem, weekly brushing, two to three times, is highly recommended. You can do it daily if it’s shedding season. This will help remove loose hair, and of course, decrease your problems of having to clean up your furniture. As you brush the hair, make sure to get rid of tangles too. Bernese Mountain Dogs also don’t need a lot of baths, mainly because their coat easily sheds off the dirt. Plus, since they mostly live in a cold climate, they rarely get dirty from mud or dust. Remember to trim the coat if it’s too long, but it’s best if you let the experts do it. Trim the nails also if it’s too long as this can be painful for your dog.
  • Exercise: Bernese dogs don’t need a heavy exercise, but to keep them happy and healthy, at least 30 minutes of walking will do. Yes, they enjoy lazing around with your inside the house all day, but they also enjoy outdoor activities, so you should give him that. If you love to travel, take him camping, hiking, or backpacking with you. You can also let him join some canine sports where he can showcase his herding, obedience, agility, and tracking skills.
  • Health: Bernese Mountains Dogs are sadly one of the dog breeds with the shortest lifespan. Knowing about the health problems which they are prone to will surely help you as an owner prevent them, and perhaps prolong his life more. Minor diseases they are prone to are cataract, subaortic stenosis (SAS), entropion, and ectropion, while the serious ones are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, and cancer. Remember to keep him in cold areas because too much heat will lead to heatstroke. There are screening tests that can be cone for early detection of some diseases. However, for some, you would need to do extra observation and take him immediately to a vet if you notice some symptoms.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Bernese Mountain Dogs is 7-10 years.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Famous Bernese Mountain Dogs

  • Brod and Shadow: Bernese Mountain Dogs of Irish President, Michael Higgins
  • Bella: A Bernese Mountain Dog who saved her owner in Canada from a fire
  • Nico: A Berner who saved two people swept away into the ocean by a California rip current
  • Izzy: Survived the North Californian Wildfires in 2017
  • Kitty Jacob Astor II: The first-ever property dog for the St. Regis Brand

Fun Facts About Bernese Mountain Dogs

  • They have many names: Berner Sennenhund and Bernese Cattle Dog.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are believed to have come from Switzerland.
  • The name Bernese originated from the area they came from – Bern Canton.
  • They were bred as working dogs – herding and guard dogs.
  • They are powerful. It is believed that they can haul up to 1000 pounds.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs mature slower than other dogs.
  • They are the ranked 22nd most popular dog breed in the US.
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