Now if you looking for a LARGE dog that’s perfect for just about any family and isn’t going to look like every other dog on the block, there’s a good chance that a Bernese Mountain dog might just be the right dog for you!
But we need to warn you…
We here at IndulgeYourPet, tend to be a bit “bias” when it come to these gentle giants because in our own personal experiences, we have found that most Bernese Mountain dogs that we have had the good fortune to meet all seem to be exceptionally sweet and extremely loyal to their owners.
But, just becuase…
The Bernese Mountain dog breed happens to be a fabulous breed doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be the right “kind” of owner for one of them. This is why we choose to write this article so that any perspective Bernese owner might get a better understanding of what it might be like to own one of these magnificent creatures.
This way if you do decide to get one, you won’t be disappointed six months from now with your decision.
Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Fast Facts
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Original Purpose: Working Dog
Height: 23 to 27.5 inches tall
Weight: 65 to 120 pounds
Life Span: 7 to 10 years
Dog Breed Classification: Working
Origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed
The Bernese Mountain dog or Berner Sennenhund was originally developed in Switzerland where he was designed to work as a “farm” dog as well as a “herding” dog.
Now we say…
“Farm” dog and “herding” dog because, unlike other “herding” dogs like your Collies or Shepherd dogs, the Bernese Mountain dog wasn’t only used for herding animals. These friendly “giants” were also used by the Alpine herdsmen to do a wide range of different “jobs” around the farm including pulling carts and keeping watch.
Back in the early 1800’s, it was a common sight in the Swiss Alps to see a milk cart pulled by two Berners hooked to it.
Now fast forward…
A few hundred years, and what you’ll find is that Switzerland is now one of the richest and most advanced nations on the plant, so you’re not likely to see all that many dogs pulling milk cars anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the Bernese Mountain dog has disappeared like the “milk man” of yesterday!
This is because…
Over the past century, the Berner has solidified himself as one of the premier “companion” animals out there. Particularly, if your looking for a larger dog that is not only gorgeous, but also a little bit “intimidating” towards anyone considering doing you any harm!
Bernese Mountain Dog Origins.
While the actual origin of the Bernese Mountain dog is a bit uncertain, it is widely believed that these dogs were first created in Switzerland when the Roman Armies invaded Switzerland over 2000 years ago. During this “invasion”, it is believed that the Mastiffs that the Roman soldiers used in war were crossbred the the local herding dogs of that time.
The result of such a union…
Produced a very large and powerful dog combined with the skills and intelligence needed to be a productive member of the farm. These dogs also had to be extremely tough as well because they were often forced to work in some pretty inhospitable environments.
Despite how useful and beloved this breed was throughout the centuries, the Berner breed almost became extinct as their role in Switzerland diminished as Switzerland moved from an agrarian society to a more modern industrialized nation.
A few iconic specimens remained in several rural areas within Switzerland which allowed a few dedicated breeders to revive the Breed to full strength and ultimately export a few to the United States in the early 1930’s.
A move that…
Was almost immediately appreciated by the public at large which almost certainly guaranteed that this breed would never face extinction again. In fact, this breed became so popular once arriving to the US that the American Kennel Club (AKC) wasted little time in decided to “officially” recognize the breed in 1937.
Physical Characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog
If you haven’t already guessed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is big and sturdy dog. But in addition to this, unlike some other dog breeds where you may have a few months to procrastinate about beginning the obedience training, Bernese puppies don’t stay small for long!
Which means that…
You’re not going to want to wait too long before you start your obedience training otherwise what you’re likely going to find is that within just a few months, you’re lovable ball of fur is going to become a mountain of uncontrollable enthusiasm (which can be quite challenging at times)!
Your Bernese will have a broad head with a furrow that runs through the middle; triangular ears and dark eyes. This Swiss dog will also have a classic tri-colored coat, which will be one of the most distinguishable features of the Berner, along with his long and bushy tail.
Male vs. Female Berners.
The females of the breed are only slightly smaller than the males. That said however, you’ll notice that males will just seem to have a very masculine look about them, while the females are much softer, very feminine.
Now that doesn’t…
Mean the female Berner is any less strong or powerful compared to the male! It just means that they might not look as intimidating to someone just glancing at them from a far.
Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming and Care.
Up until now, we’ve really only been talking about the size of the Burmese Mountain dog. But guess what, these dogs are giant, and they’re also REALLY hairy.
The Berner sheds a lot, especially during the changes in a season. Which means that it’s going to be really important for you to brush his coat once every week, particularly during spring and the fall, unless of course you don’t mind having everything you own covered in a beautiful tricolor coat!
The good news is…
That these dogs generally only require a bath every 2 months – as he generally stays clean. But be sure to clean his ears, as they can trap a lot of dirt and bacteria.
Brush his teeth too…
To prevent bad breath and trim his nails when they grow too long (which isn’t all that bad of advice for us owners too!)
The Bernese Mountain Dog temperament is that of a very gentle, kind and tolerant dog. That said, the average Bernese Mountain dog is going to remain very “puppy like” for a long time – 3 to 4 years.
We said this dog “grows” very fast, so this means that you’re likely to have a 60 to 70 pound “puppy” on your hands for a few years! Which is why, a Berner puppy may be difficult to handle for any new dog owner or new “large dog owner”.
These guys are going to be…
Very active, and always be looking for something to chew on. They can also gets a little nervous some times. This is why, if you have small children, it can sometimes be best to bring an adult Berner home rather than a puppy because an adult Berner usually won’t be as “hyper” as a puppy and will generally know how to behave around smaller children as opposed to a puppy.
The Bernese Mountain Dogs are often shy and cautious when it comes to interacting with strangers. This is why it is important to start their training and socialization as early as possible.
The good news is…
Berner’s a generally very respectful dogs to their owners and generally want to please their owners and make them happy. This is true provided that your Berner is getting plenty of exercise and given ample time to burn off all of that energy that they inherently have.
Bernese Training and Obedience
When it comes to training and obedience, the Bernese Mountain Dog has two really positive traits going for him. First, they are very intelligent and second, the want to please their owner. As a result, these gentle giants will usually excellent students provided that you utilize plenty of “positive” enforcement in your techniques and you provide them plenty of opportunity to run and play while learning.
The key is, just start right away, that way you’re not trying to teach a 100 pound dog how to heal or not jump!
But don’t get too concerned…
Because remember, despite an average Bernese size, and despite the fact that these dogs require a ton of exercise, folks all around the country continue to discover what a great family dog the Bernese can be and continue to adopt these awesome creatures in mass!
Bernese Mountain Dogs Health Problems
Unfortunately, the Bernese Breed isn’t one of the healthiest breeds out there. Which is why as a whole, the life expectancy of your average Berner isn’t all that long (only 7 to 10 years).
We’d like to tell you that if you follow a few simple rules, you’re Bernese will likely live a whole lot longer, we simply wouldn’t want you to get your hopes up.
This is because, even working with a highly reputable breeder can only do so much. And while you should always work with a breeder who can produce a CHIC certification, even then there will be risk.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health Risks such as:
- Malignant Histiocytosis
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Cruciate Ligament Rupture
- Aseptic Meningitis
- Mast Cell Tumor
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Phew! That’s a long list.
Yes and the cost of the treatment can be anything from $300 to $7,500. Which is something that you should consider before deciding to adopt a Bernese Mountain dog.
Now we don’t want…
To try to convince you not to purchase a Berner puppy or adopt a Bernese Mountain rescue dog, we just want to make sure that you understand what you might be getting yourself into.
It’s also why…
We always recommend that anyone thinking about getting a Berner also think about possibly buying a pet insurance policy at the same time so that if their dog does develop any medical issues later on down the road, they won’t be on the hook for 100% of the veterinarian bills!
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies in the industry, feel free to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article