Bernese Mountain Dog

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Is the Bernese Mountain Dog right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Berner; Bernese; Berner Sennenhund; BMD

The basics:
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an ancient working breed from the Swiss Alps. The legend suggests they were developed from the ancient Roman invader's mastiffs into multi-purpose drover, draft, and watch dogs. Easy-going yet cautious, they must be properly socialized from an early age so that they don't become unreasonably shy. The ideal owner lives in a cold climate that gives this alpine breed the opportunity to romp or even pull a child's sled in the snow.

Appearance / health:
Large and powerful, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sturdy and balanced. The skull is flat on the top and broad. The neck is strong and muscular. The eyes are brown and slightly oval. Reddish markings are present above each eye. Their medium-sized ears hang close to the head. The tail is bushy, straight, and sometimes upright. The tip of the tail is white.

Bernese have a relatively care free coat, but they do shed constantly, and "blow their coat" completely once or twice a year. Periodic brushing to remove loose hair and a very good vacuum cleaner will make living with a Bernese easier.

This breed requires moderate amounts of exercise to keep fit and happy. An inactive dog might display destructive behavior such as excessive biting, chewing, or barking. A walk or a jog is ideal for these dogs.

Several health issues plague these beautiful lovable dogs, limiting their average life span to 7 years. The most common health problems faced by BMD's are hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative arthritic changes in hip sockets and elbow joints which can lead to lameness. They are also prone to eyelid problems and bloat.

According to the Bernese Mountain Club of America, "Cancer presents great challenges to breeders in genetic selection and a greater challenge for dog owners. In Bernese, at least two types of cancer are inherited. They are Mast Cell Cancer and Malignant Histiocytosis. How these cancers are inherited is not known although a polygenetic mode of inheritance is suspected. In the 2000 BMDCA Health Study, 50% of all dogsthat died succumbed to some form of cancer."

Bernese Mountain Dogs used for breeding need to have certified elbows, hips, heart and eyes. Breeding dogs also need to have solid temperaments.

Behavior / temperament:
Bernese Mountain Dogs are capable of a sudden burst of activity and speed but lacks the endurance of lighter dogs. Younger dogs mature slowly, and remain energetic and lively, either jumping around or climbing trees. They thrive in human company can develop problems if kept alone for too long. They make natural watchdogs with their alertness. A few dogs have the tendency to dig holes. Their hunting and herding instincts have reduced over the years though a few may still enjoy chasing animals.

They may take time to learn. Training needs to be firm, consistent, and kind. Training on obedience and housebreaking must begin at an early age. Socialization is necessary to prevent shyness, timidity, or aggression in them. But well-trained dogs are highly regarded for being calm and gentle.


wonderful family dog, loving dogs, great therapy dogs, majestic appearance, gentle disposition


innumerable health issues, genetic disease, daily grooming, awful health issues, fragile creature


massive physiques, heart wrenching, avoid backyard breeders, BernerGarde Foundation

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