Or Berner, Berner Sennenhund, Bouvier Bernois, Bovaro Bernese, Dürrbächler
Breed At A Glance
Affectionate, intelligent and loyal
Males 24-28 inches; Females 23-27 inches
Males 85-110 lbs; Females 80-105 lbs
Black and white with brown markings
Moderately long and glossy, with thick undercoat
They are able to haul up to 1000 pounds! That’s approximately 10 times their own weight!
The Bernese Mountain dog loves to make their owners happy and laugh. They will find a specific antic or action to make them laugh and will stick to it, repeating it over and over again! I guess you can say their people pleasers, too!
The Bernese Mountain Dog, is affectionately called the Berner. The name refers to his Swiss homeland. The Berner was originally an essential part of farm life. They drove cattle, protected the family, and would pull loaded carts to nearby villages.
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 calm temperament and massive strength 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.
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 driving 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.
Nutrition and Care
Bernese puppies, like all large breed dogs, do require a good quality diet. During the first 12 months, bones and cartilage are growing at a phenomenal rate, and what you feed them, especially in the first year, will set them up for the rest of their life. Poor nutrition will result in poor structural development and contribute to health issues down the road. We feed our dogs a complete raw diet , which they thrive on, fresh meaty bones and a good quality kibble when we travel and raw isn’t as accessible. We have found raw food is no more expensive than a good kibble, and definitely saves on vet bills as they are so healthy.
Large breed puppies don’t need to vigorous exercise they get enough exercise playing and running around your house or yard, and they sleep a lot. As they get older they enjoy walks and play time and by the time they are over a year old can out-distance you in any exercise. Bernese are from the working dog class and enjoy tasks, outdoor activities, even hooking up to sleds and carts when older.
Many diseases are late on set and dogs may not show symptoms prior to being bred; you cannot tell by looking at a dog if it carries a genetic disease that can be passed on to its puppies. Testing for all breed specific diseases makes good sense to try to eliminate genetic diseases from our breeding lines, to produce the genetically healthiest puppies we can.
Understanding Degenerative Myelopathy
What is Degenerative Myelopathy? Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is an inherited progressive disease that affects the myelin sheath that covers the nerves of the spinal cord, which interferes with nerve function. This degenerative disease presents owners of affected dogs with significant management challenges over months to a year or longer course of time. Ultimately DM is fatal. In the Bernese Mountain Dog breed symptoms of DM have been seen as early as six years, which means DM is not only a disease of the older dog. Dogs may not show symptoms until they are 8 to 10+ years of age. The age of onset for this disease is well after the age at which dogs typically begin to be used for breeding. Disease Stages The first symptoms usually consist of unsteadiness in the rear, gradually progressing to an inability to control the back legs. Further degeneration leads to incontinence. In the late stages of the disease dogs experience instability in the front end; and, ultimately the throat is affected which interferes with the dog’s ability to eat. Treatment There is no treatment for the disease other than managing care for the dog, although there are some supplements and physical therapy measures that may delay the progression to a degree.
For more information about DM, see
Understanding Von Willebrand's Disease