27 Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Facts: Traits, Care, Diet, More

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What is a Bernese Mountain dog breed, its profile, behavior, traits, lifespan, health, training, personality, grooming, care, and other interesting facts? The Bernese Mountain Dog, hailing from the picturesque farmlands of Switzerland, stands as a testament to versatility in the world of working dogs. These magnificent canines have seamlessly transitioned from their roots as livestock herders, car pullers, and vigilant watchdogs to being cherished as loyal and affectionate companions in many households worldwide. Among the four distinct Swiss Mountain dog breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog stands alone in its distinctive long, flowing coat. This article will give you an overview of Bernese Mountain dog breed profile, behavior, traits, lifespan, health, training, personality, grooming, care, and other interesting, fun facts. Keep reading.

One cannot help but be captivated by the eyes of a Bernese Mountain Dog. These dogs possess a certain allure with their eyes that are nothing short of beautiful and sweet. It’s as if they have an old-world charm, resembling a living teddy bear in various expressions. Originally bred as diligent working dogs, their unique and endearing gaze sets them apart.

Bernese Mountain dog breed profile interesting, fun facts

With a commanding and robust physique, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking spectacle to behold. Their muscular build, imposing stature, and innate intelligence contribute to their appeal as an extraordinary pet. Moreover, their remarkable beauty is complemented by a sweet and affectionate nature, making them a perfect addition to any family. Here are some of the interesting, fun facts about Bernese Mountain dog breed:

1. The Origin and Lineage of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog, known as “Bernard Sennenhund” in German, belongs to the category of large dog breeds and is one of the four Sennenhund-type breeds hailing from the Swiss Alps. This magnificent breed emerged from a cross between Mastiffs and guard dogs, and it made its way to Switzerland a remarkable 2,200 years ago. The moniker “Sennenhund” has its roots in German, with “sen” meaning “alpine pasture” and “hund” referring to “hound” or “dog.” This nomenclature is a nod to their historical role as companions to alpine herders and dairymen, known as “sen.” Additionally, “Berner” or “Bernese” in English pays homage to the breed’s region of origin, the canton of Bern.

2. From Working Farm Dog to Beloved Companion

Originally, the Bernese Mountain Dog served as an indispensable fixture on Swiss farms, assuming the role of an ordinary farm dog. Their robust build and strength were not limited to herding alone; these dogs were also employed as draft animals, pulling heavy carts and carriages. Official recognition of the breed occurred in the 19th century, marking a turning point in their history. In 1907, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog, categorizing it as a member of the Working Group—a designation that endures to this day. This journey from the Swiss Alps to American Kennel Club recognition showcases the enduring legacy of these remarkable canines.

3. Distinctive Appearance of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese mountain dog, a member of the Sennenhund family, boasts a commanding and robust presence. Characterized by its impressive size and a coat that unfailingly captures attention, it is a breed that easily stands out. The most striking feature of this breed is its tri-colored coat, a harmonious blend of black, white, and rust. Black dominates the white chest and gracefully extends to create a striking contrast with the rust markings that embellish the face, front legs, and the chest. However, what truly sets the Bernese mountain dog apart from its Sennenhund relatives is its luxurious long coat, making it the only breed among them to possess such an elegant feature.

4. Distinguishing Marks of the Bernese Mountain Dog

To identify a perfectly marked Bernese mountain dog, there are several key visual cues to look for. A hallmark of this breed is the presence of a lustrous white blaze that adorns the nose, which remains consistently black. This stark contrast creates a distinctive and captivating visage. When viewed from the front, another remarkable feature is the presence of a white “Swiss cross” on the chest, further accentuating its unique appearance. Yet, it’s not just the front view that’s noteworthy; there’s also the captivating “Swiss kiss.” Typically found on the back of the neck, though it might extend partially down the neck, this feature contributes to the breed’s overall allure. It’s important to note that a complete and unbroken ring marking is considered the ideal standard, adding to the breed’s allure. The intricate patterns and markings of the Bernese mountain dog are a testament to the precision of nature’s artistry.

5. Diverse Varieties of Bernese Mountain Dogs

The world of canines boasts a rich tapestry of breeds, each with its unique set of characteristics and history. Among these, the Bernese Mountain Dog, a majestic and powerful breed, offers a remarkable array of varieties. These variations not only bear different names but also encapsulate the diverse geographic regions and historical backgrounds that have shaped their evolution. To gain a deeper understanding of the Bernese Mountain Dog and its captivating variations, let’s delve into the distinctive traits and origins of each variety.

Grocer Schweizer Seinenhund – Greater Swiss Mountain Dog:

The first variety, known as the Grocer Schweizer Seinenhund, is more commonly referred to as the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. This canine exemplifies robust strength and undeniable charisma. With a massive and imposing stature, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a regal air that reflects its centuries-old history as a working breed in the Swiss Alps. Boasting a striking tri-color coat of black, rust, and white, the breed commands attention wherever it goes. These dogs were once indispensable farmhands and pack animals in the mountainous terrains of Switzerland, endowing them with a tenacious spirit and an unwavering loyalty to their human counterparts. Today, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog stands as a beloved family companion, a guardian of the home, and a symbol of enduring Swiss heritage.

Bernard Sennenhund – Barnes Mountain Dog:

The second variety, the Bernard Sennenhund, has a more familiar English moniker: the Barnes Mountain Dog. Renowned for its endearing temperament and striking good looks, the Barnes Mountain Dog is a well-loved breed worldwide. Originating from the Bern region of Switzerland, it has left an indelible mark on the hearts of dog enthusiasts. These gentle giants are characterized by their captivating tricolor coat, marked by luscious shades of black, rust, and white. The Barnes Mountain Dog, a breed with a heart as big as its stature, is celebrated for its affectionate and sociable nature, making it an excellent choice for families and individuals seeking a loyal, furry companion. See what I picked to go in my BoxDog

Sennhund of Appenzella – Mountain Dog of Appenzella:

The third variety, known as the Sennhund of Appenzella, takes on the name of the region from which it hails, becoming the Mountain Dog of Appenzella in English. The Mountain Dog of Appenzella is a striking and robust breed that encapsulates the hardworking spirit of its homeland, the Appenzell region in Switzerland. These dogs are distinguished by their glossy, tri-color coat, which showcases a harmonious blend of black, rust, and white. Historically, they played a pivotal role as cattle herders and guardians, displaying unmatched loyalty and a keen sense of duty. Today, the Mountain Dog of Appenzella stands as a steadfast protector and devoted companion, embodying the resilience of the Swiss Alps.

Entlebucher Senenhund – Antelbucher Mountain Dog:

The fourth and final variety, the Entlebucher Senenhund, is lovingly known as the Antelbucher Mountain Dog in English. Hailing from the Entlebuch Valley, this breed represents a more compact yet robust member of the Bernese Mountain Dog family. Its coat is adorned with the signature tri-color pattern of black, rust, and white, a testament to its lineage. The Antelbucher Mountain Dog may be smaller in size, but it is certainly not lacking in spirit and character. Renowned for its agility and herding skills, this breed has been a reliable companion to the Swiss farming community for generations. In contemporary times, the Antelbucher Mountain Dog remains a cherished working dog and loyal family member, demonstrating that great things come in small packages.

In summary, the Bernese Mountain Dog family, with its remarkable varieties, is a testament to the enduring legacy of Swiss canine heritage. Each variety, bearing its unique name and history, embodies the strength, loyalty, and charm that has endeared this breed to dog lovers around the world. Whether it’s the imposing Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the affectionate Barnes Mountain Dog, the diligent Mountain Dog of Appenzella, or the agile Antelbucher Mountain Dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog varieties collectively represent a testament to the rich tapestry of the canine world.

6. Variations and Specific Criteria

While the Bernese mountain dog’s distinct coat and markings are central to its charm, there are certain variations and criteria that breed enthusiasts and experts carefully consider. Among the variations, the standard list, ineligibility factors, blue eye color, and acceptable ground colors, except black, are of paramount importance. Breed standards are set to maintain the integrity and quality of the Bernese mountain dog lineage, ensuring that each member adheres to the unique and captivating characteristics that define this breed.

7. Size and Weight

The Bernese mountain dog is a breed that commands attention not only through its striking appearance but also through its impressive size and weight. Adult males typically stand tall, measuring between 25 to 27.5 inches (58 to 66 cm) at the withers, the highest point of their shoulder blades. Their weight ranges from 80 to 120 pounds (36 to 54 kg), underlining their substantial and powerful build.

In contrast, adult females are slightly smaller, standing between 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm) in height and weighing in the range of 70 to 95 pounds (32 to 43 kg). This size discrepancy between males and females is a distinctive characteristic of the breed, with males exhibiting greater mass and stature. It’s worth noting that the considerable size and weight of the Bernese mountain dog reflect its historical role as a working and draft dog in the Swiss Alps, a testament to its strength and capability.

8. The Distinguished Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain dog, traditionally characterized as a breed known for its stoic countenance, stands tall, exuding an air of majestic presence. Towering gracefully, they possess a stature that is not only muscular but also undeniably imposing. Their expansive back, seemingly as wide as the horizon, reflects the robustness of this remarkable breed. The Bernese Mountain dog boasts a head that is flat at the summit, adorned with a moderate stop, while its medium-sized, triangular ears perch high upon its head, their apexes rounded, adding an element of regality to their visage.

9. Dental Precision and Graceful Limbs

A hallmark of the Bernese Mountain dog’s regal appearance is the meticulous arrangement of its teeth, which come together in a scissor-like fashion, epitomizing both form and function. Their legs, long and straight, are characterized by a sense of strength and grace, with fingers that are rounded and gently arching, reminiscent of an artist’s stroke on a canvas. These noble canines are often found with their dewclaws removed, enhancing their streamlined appearance. As the gaze descends, one cannot help but notice the subtlety of their shrub-like tail, carried with an elegance that belies their substantial size.

10. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Temperament

The breed standard for Bernese Mountain dogs defines their character with precision, specifying that they should not display aggression, anxiety, or shyness. Instead, they are expected to embody traits that encompass “good-natured,” “self-assured,” and “wary” of strangers, reflecting a judicious yet friendly demeanor. It is notable that these noble creatures resort to aggressive behavior only when compelled to protect their owners, a testament to their loyalty and protective instincts.

11. Diverse Personalities Within the Breed

Within the Bernese Mountain dog breed, the spectrum of individual personalities is vast, as not all representatives conform precisely to the standard. Puppies, like their counterparts in large breeds, can vary in temperament. Nevertheless, early and consistent training and socialization can mold them into well-adjusted, sociable companions. This breed is no stranger to physical activity, and they thrive when provided with regular exercise and opportunities to engage their inquisitive minds.

12. Bernese Mountain Dogs: A Unique Breed with Shortened Lifespan

When considering dog breeds, one might be quick to think of longevity as a defining characteristic. However, the Bernese Mountain Dog, often lovingly referred to as “barneys,” stands out as an exception to the rule. These majestic canines, despite their considerable size, possess a comparatively shorter lifespan in the grand spectrum of dog breeds. While some of their counterparts enjoy the privilege of a decade or more of existence, Bernese Mountain Dogs typically have a life expectancy of about 7 to 8 years. This fascinating characteristic is a significant part of what makes them unique and worth understanding further.

13. A Glimpse at Lifespan Disparities

To truly appreciate the peculiar brevity of life that Bernese Mountain Dogs experience, it is essential to juxtapose them with their canine peers of similar size. Most breeds of equivalent size tend to traverse the vast landscape of life for a more extended period, often ranging from 10 to 12 years. The striking discrepancy in lifespan becomes even more apparent when you delve into statistics. A comprehensive UK survey of 25 breed clubs discovered that the highest recorded age for Bernese Mountain Dogs reached a remarkable 15.2 years, an outlier amidst the general trend of shorter lives in this breed. The mystery behind this deviation from the norm is one that piques the curiosity of dog enthusiasts and researchers alike.

14. The Bernese’s Docile Nature and Unique Skills

Beyond their relatively brief lifespans, Bernese Mountain Dogs possess a distinctive set of characteristics that set them apart. Their inherent docility and calm demeanor make them naturally inclined to assist with tasks that require strength and determination. Historically, in their native Switzerland, Bernese Mountain Dogs were revered for their ability to pull small carts and wagons, serving as indispensable working companions to the local farmers. This heritage has translated into a unique aspect of their temperament – an eagerness to work with people. With proper training and guidance, they derive immense pleasure from tasks like pulling a child’s wagon or participating in local parades, such as the renowned Condé, New Hampshire Holiday Parade. To facilitate the continuation of this tradition, regional Bernese Mountain Dog clubs frequently organize carting workshops, fostering a strong sense of community among both dogs and their dedicated owners.

15. A Journey into Uncharted Territory: AKC Harding Engagement

On the 1st of July in the year 2010, a significant development reshaped the landscape of dog events and competitions, heralding a new era for Bernese Mountain Dogs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) welcomed these majestic canines into their prestigious fold, allowing them to participate in the AKC Harding events. These events, unique in their nature, do not revolve around traditional competitive dog shows or exhibitions. Instead, they focus on assessing a dog’s engagement and training abilities through non-competitive Harding exams.

It is noteworthy that Bernese Mountain Dogs, with their inherent obedience and diligence, can be trained to meet the criteria for Harding examinations, offering them yet another avenue to showcase their remarkable capabilities. This addition to the AKC’s repertoire serves as a testament to the enduring allure and appeal of the Bernese Mountain Dog, shedding light on their unique aptitude for both work and play.

16. The Outdoor Enthusiasts

While the Bernese Mountain dog is certainly content within the confines of a home, it finds its true calling in the great outdoors. Their enthusiasm for outdoor activities is a defining characteristic. Engaging in physical pursuits is not a mere requirement but a source of delight for these noble creatures. Their boundless patience may give the impression that they require little, yet they blossom with outdoor adventures. Their capacity to move with astounding speed, given their size, is nothing short of remarkable.

Bernese Mountain dog breed, its profile, behavior, traits, lifespan, health, training, personality, grooming, care, and other interesting facts

17. Affectionate Companions for All Ages

Bernese Mountain Dogs, despite their imposing presence, are incredibly affectionate, particularly towards children. Their endearing nature shines through as they gently interact with young ones, making them exceptional family pets. These dogs are hardy and well-equipped for outdoor escapades with their youthful playmates, owing to their seemingly boundless reserves of energy. Yet, their tranquil disposition ensures that they are equally content with a quiet evening indoors.

18. Guardians and Loyal Companions

In the realm of canine companions, the Bernese Mountain Dog exhibits a remarkable degree of versatility. They coexist harmoniously with other pets and are often gallant protectors of the household. These dogs are known to forge deep bonds with their owners or families, displaying unwavering loyalty and affection. To outsiders, they may appear somewhat aloof and distant, reflecting their reserved yet steadfast nature. Their disposition, combining elements of reserve and loyalty, adds to their allure as an exceptional and treasured breed.

19. Caring for Bernese Mountain Dogs’ Coats

The Bernese Mountain dog, known for its majestic appearance and friendly disposition, requires special care to maintain its luxurious coat. These dogs are known to shed year-round, with the heaviest shedding occurring during the transitional seasons of spring and autumn. To keep their coat in prime condition and minimize the inevitable presence of fur on your floors and furniture, regular brushing is essential. It is recommended to brush your Bernese at least once a week during these seasons. This not only helps in keeping their coat clean but also ensures that the excess fur is captured by the brush, sparing your living spaces from a furry invasion.

20. Bathing Your Bernese Companion

The frequency of baths for your Bernese Mountain dog largely depends on their activity level and the amount of time they spend outdoors getting dirty. Typically, a Bernese will require a bath approximately once every few months or as needed. Their thick, weather-resistant coat doesn’t need frequent bathing, as it can strip away natural oils that keep their skin healthy. Maintaining a balance between cleanliness and oil preservation is key to a happy and healthy Bernese.

E21. ar Care and Health

One often overlooked aspect of Bernese Mountain dog care is ear hygiene. The unique ear shape of these dogs can inadvertently trap bacteria, dirt, and even liquids, making regular cleaning vital. To minimize the risk of ear infections, it’s advisable to use a cleanser recommended by your veterinarian for weekly ear cleansing. Proper ear care is an essential component of their overall health and well-being.

22. Nico’s Heroic Rescue in California

In a heartwarming tale of courage and compassion, a 25-year-old adopted Bernese Mountain Dog named Nico emerged as a bona fide hero. The stage for this remarkable act of valor was set against the backdrop of a serene Californian seaside. It was here, by a meandering stream, that Nico’s profound bravery shone forth. Two men found themselves perilously trapped, their lives hanging in the balance. What unfolded next was nothing short of miraculous.

Nico, with his loyal and unwavering spirit, leapt into action when he sensed the dire circumstances these men were facing. Without hesitation, he plunged into the turbulent sea, fighting against the unforgiving currents, and pulled the drowning men to safety. Nico, a testament to the unwavering bond between humans and their faithful canine companions, had single-handedly averted a tragedy of immense proportions.

23. Bella: The Lifesaver and Comforter

Bella, the beloved Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Chris Laroc, stands as a paragon of canine devotion and heroism. A fateful day took a tragic turn as Chris was abruptly wrenched from the sanctity of his own home, grappling with a severe injury that left him with reduced mobility. The injuries he sustained threatened to claim his life, had it not been for the timely intervention of his four-legged savior.

Bella, with her intuitive understanding and boundless love, became Chris’s lifeline during this harrowing ordeal. She stayed by his side, offering solace and a comforting presence when he needed it most. Chris himself attested that, were it not for Bella’s unwavering support, he might not have lived to tell the tale. This heartwarming narrative is a poignant testament to the extraordinary connection between humans and their canine companions.

24. Oakley’s Vigilance in the Face of Adversity

In the tranquil environs of a Vermont ski condo, a chilling nightmare unfolded one fateful night when disaster struck in the form of a raging fire. Oakley, a 25-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, was not one to let his family face this peril alone. The blaze that threatened to consume their haven was a dire adversary, but Oakley, with his courage and loyalty, rose to the occasion.

As the flames raged and danger loomed, Oakley stood unwaveringly at his master’s side, positioned at the head of his slumbering owner. His steadfast presence was not in vain. Oakley’s vigilant stance ensured that the moment his master awoke, he was immediately aware of the impending danger. The swift action that followed saved the family from potential catastrophe. Oakley, with his keen senses and fearless spirit, exemplified the profound protection and love that Bernese Mountain Dogs provide to their human families.

25. Ben’s Heroic Act Amidst a Fiery Ordeal

In a chilling scenario that unfolded within the confines of a family’s home, Ben, a remarkable blend of Bernese Mountain Dog and Border Collie, emerged as the guardian angel that the family never knew they needed. A fire had ignited, threatening to consume their sanctuary as they slumbered, unaware of the impending disaster.

It was Ben who first detected the looming peril, and without a moment’s hesitation, he sprang into action. His intuition and bravery guided him to the children’s room, where he roused the youngest member of the family from slumber. With unwavering determination, Ben ensured the safety of the child, heroically leading them to the path of salvation.

This tale of Ben’s heroism is a vivid illustration of the indomitable spirit and protective instincts of these incredible dogs. In times of crisis, these canine companions go above and beyond to safeguard the lives of their human families, a testament to the remarkable bond forged between man and his four-legged friend.

26. Managing Your Bernese’s Diet

A crucial element of responsible Bernese Mountain dog ownership is managing their diet. These dogs have hearty appetites, even as fully grown adults. It’s important to recognize that they should have their individual meals. Leaving food in a bowl for free-feeding can lead to overeating, particularly as they grow older. As Bernese dogs age, they typically require fewer meals a day. If your dog finishes its meal within a minute, there is generally no need to overindulge them unless specific circumstances demand it. The amount of food needed can also vary based on their activity level. A common guideline is around three cups of food per day, but this may change as your dog becomes more or less active. Managing their diet is essential to avoid unhealthy weight gain.

Feeding Schedule Guidelines

For those raising Bernese Mountain puppies, it’s vital to follow an appropriate feeding schedule. Here’s a general outline to consider:

0-8 weeks: Four meals per day to support their rapid growth and development.
2 months – 1 year: Three meals a day to provide essential nutrition during their growth phase.
1 year and beyond: Gradually transition to two meals per day to accommodate their adult metabolism and activity level.

Mindful of Corn Content

Bernese Mountain dogs, while robust and adaptable, should not be exposed to excessive corn in their diet. Many commercial dog food brands include corn as an ingredient, primarily because it’s a cost-effective filler. However, excessive corn consumption can lead to various health issues in Bernese dogs. Given that they typically have a lifespan of 7-10 years, it’s crucial to be mindful of the ingredients in their food. Opt for high-quality dog food that prioritizes their nutritional needs over profit margins. Your Bernese companion’s health and longevity are well worth the investment in premium dog food.

27. Health Concerns in Bernese Mountain Dogs

Bernese Mountain Dogs, beloved for their gentle temperament and striking appearance, unfortunately face a range of health issues that significantly affect their lifespan and quality of life. This breed’s health concerns are a critical aspect of responsible ownership and require meticulous attention.

Cancer: A Grim Reality

Cancer, a formidable adversary in the realm of canine health, claims countless lives among dogs. However, Bernese Mountain Dogs stand out with an alarming mortality rate compared to other breeds. Disturbing statistics from both US/Canada and UK surveys reveal that nearly half of these majestic canines succumb to cancer-related causes, whereas the overall dog population sees about 27% mortality from cancer.

These cancers are diverse and menacing. Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to malignant histiocytosis, mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. Among these, malignant histiocytosis is particularly ruthless. Furthermore, they may inherit medical problems such as hypomelogenogenesis, progressive retinal atrophy, and possibly cataracts and hypoadrenocorticism.

The Ominous Histiocytic Sarcoma and Ocular Ailments

Histiocytic sarcoma, a pernicious cancer originating in muscle tissues, plagues Bernese Mountain Dogs. This hereditary disease is not only exceptionally aggressive but also dismally prevalent in older dogs. It casts a shadow over the breed’s health, creating a constant concern for owners. Dog accessories on Amazon

Moreover, the Bernese Mountain Dog is not immune to hereditary eye diseases. Older dogs are particularly susceptible, making regular eye examinations a necessity. It’s not all gloom and despair, though. There are success stories of Bernese Mountain Dogs, like Dylan, a four-year-old with lymphoma, who became one of the pioneering canines to receive chemotherapy, a testament to advances in veterinary medicine.

Muscular Woes: A Unique Burden

Bernese Mountain Dogs carry a unique and heavy burden when it comes to muscular ailments. In a UK study, an astonishing percentage of them were reported to suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament ruptures. To put this in perspective, the overall mortality rate from muscular illnesses in purebred dogs is typically less than 2%.

Owners of these noble dogs find themselves three times more likely to share tales of their pets’ struggles with muscular issues. Rheumatoid arthritis, joint problems (notably in the shoulders and elbows), hip dysplasia, and osteochondritis are common afflictions, with these challenges manifesting at an unusually young age.

Premature Muscular Problems and How to Help

Muscular problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs strike early in their lives. A US/Canada study revealed that 11% of living dogs already had arthritis at an average age of merely 4.3 years. This highlights the urgency of addressing these health issues to enhance their quality of life.

Owners facing this daunting reality have several options to assist their mobility-impaired dogs. Ramps, lifts, slings, and even dog wheelchairs offer solutions to improve access to cars or homes. Comfortable bedding can alleviate joint pain, contributing to a more comfortable and active life for these cherished companions.

Given the prevalence of these medical challenges, Bernese Mountain Dog owners must ensure that their dogs have Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) certifications. These certifications serve as a crucial step in safeguarding the health and well-being of these magnificent dogs, providing them with the care and support they need to thrive despite the odds stacked against them.

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