Now, if you are 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 be the right dog for you! But we need to warn you we here at IndulgeYourPet tend to be a bit “biased” when it comes to these gentle giants because, in our own 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 highly loyal to their owners.
But, just because…
The Bernese Mountain dog breed is fabulous, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be the right “kind” owner for one of them. This is why we chose to write this article so that an anprospectiveve Bernese owner might better understand 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 initially developed in Switzerland, where he was designed to work as a “farm” dog and 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. The Alpine herdsmen also used these friendly “giants” to do a wide range of different “jobs” around the farm, including pulling carts and keeping watch.
In the early 1800s, it was common 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 wealthiest and most advanced nations on the planet, 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 disappeared like the “milkman” of yesterday!
This is because, over the past century, the Berner has solidified himself as a premier “companion” animal, particularly if you’re looking for a gorgeous giant dog that is candidating” towards anyone considering doing you any harm!
Bernese Mountain Dog Origins
While the 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 thought that the Mastiffs that the Roman soldiers used in war were crossbred with the local herding dogs of that time. Such a union produced a vast and powerful dog combined with the skills and intelligence needed to be a productive farm member. These dogs also had to be extremely tough because they were often forced to work in some pretty inhospitable environments.
Despite how valuable and beloved this Breed was throughout the centuries, the Berner breed almost became extinct. Their role in Switzerland diminished as Switzerland moved from an agrarian society to a more modern industrialized nation. Luckily, a few iconic specimens remained in several rural areas within Switzerland, allowing a few dedicated breeders to revive the Breed to full strength and ultimately export a few to the United States in the early 1930s.
A move that was almost immediately appreciated by the public, which almost certainly guaranteed that this Breed would never face extinction again. The Breed became so popular once it arrived in the US that the American Kennel Club (AKC) wasted little time deciding to “officially” recognize the Breed in 1937.
If you haven’t already guessed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is significant and sturdy. But in addition to this, unlike some dog breeds where you may have a few months to procrastinate about beginning the obedience training, Bernese puppies don’t stay small for long! This means that you’re not going to want to wait too long before you start your obedience training;g otherwise, what you’re likely going to find is that within just a few months, you’re a lovable ball of fur is going to become a mountain of uncontrollable enthusiasm (which can be pretty 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, one of Berner’s most distinguishable features, along with his long and bushy tail.
Male vs. Female Berners
The females of the Breed are only slightly smaller than the males. However, you’ll notice that males seem to have a very masculine look, while females are much softer and feminine. That doesn’t mean the female Berner is any less intense or powerful than the male! It just means they might not look as intimidating to someone just glancing at them from afar.
Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming and Care Until now, we’ve only been talking about the size of the Burmese Mountain dog. But guess what? These dogs are giant, and they’re also REALLY hairy. Plus, the Berner sheds a lot, especially during the seasons’ changes, which means that it’s going to be vital 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 skin!
The excellent news is…
These dogs generally only require a bath every two months, as they stay clean. But clean his ears, as they can trap 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 advice for us owners, too!)
Personality and Temperament
The Bernese Mountain Dog temperament is that of a very gentle, kind, and tolerant dog. That said, the average Bernese Mountain dog will remain very “puppy-like” for a long time – 3 to 4 years. But remember, we told you this dog “grows” very fast, so you’re likely to have a 60 to 70-pound “puppy” on your hands for a few years! This is why a Berner puppy may be difficult to handle for any new dog owner or “large dog owner.”
These guys are going to be…
Very active and always looking for something to chew on. They can also get a little nervous sometimes. 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 more minor children as opposed to a puppy.
The Bernese Mountain Dogs are also often shy and cautious when interacting with strangers. This is why starting their training and socialization is essential as early as possible. The excellent news is that Berners are generally very respectful dogs to their owners and naturally want to please them and make them happy. This is true provided that your Berner is getting plenty of exercise and given ample time to burn off all the energy they inherently have.
Bernese Training and Obedience
Regarding training and obedience, the Bernese Mountain Dog has two positive traits for him. First, they are brilliant, and secondtheyhe want to please their owner. As a result, these gentle giants will usually be excellent students, provided you utilize plenty of “positive” enforcement in your techniques and offer them plenty of opportunities to run and play while learning.
The key is to start immediately; 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 ugh, these dogs require a ton of exercise; folks around the country continue to discover what a great family dog the Bernese can be and continue to adopt these incredible creatures in mass!
Potential Health Concerns
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). And while we’d like to tell you that if you follow a few simple rules, your Bernese will likely live much longer, we 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, there will be risk even then.
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, the treatment cost can be anything from $300 to $7,500; you should consider this before adopting a Bernese Mountain dog.
Now we don’t want…
To convince you not to purchase a Berner puppy or adopt a Bernese Mountain rescue dog, we want to ensure 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