Bernese Mountain Dogs: Affectionate and Charming Giants

Bernese Mountain Dog is a kind-hearted dog and loyal helpers. They get along excellently with every member of the family, and kids are condescendingly forgiving any leprosy. Patience and poise have made the Berns almost ideal pets. They are not capricious in learning and learn commands easily. In addition, they inherited excellent watchdog skills from their ancestors, which they enjoy using whenever the opportunity presents itself.


Brief Information

  • Breed name: Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Country of origin: Switzerland
  • The birth time of the breed: 1910
  • Weight: males 39-50 kg, females 36-48 kg
  • Height (height at the withers): males 64-70 cm, females 58-66 cm
  • Life span: 8 – 10 years

Key Facts

  • Despite its impressive size, Bernese Mountain Dogs take root well in apartments.
  • Dogs of this breed grow for a relatively long time and finally mature only by 2 years.
  • They get along without any problems with other pets, and with cats, they are able to maintain a truly friendly relationship.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs graciously accept the master’s attention, but begging for affection is not in their rules.
  • They take walks on a leash well, but the chain and life in the aviary do not suit them.
  • They learn quickly and willingly fulfill commands, although they are somewhat inferior in intelligence and discipline to other shepherd dogs.
  • Some individuals exhibit slight stubbornness, which can sometimes slow down the training process.
  • Berns has a thick long coat and shed intensely throughout the year.
  • They need good walking and regular physical activity.


Molossians are considered to be the distant ancestors of today’s Sennenhunds, which were bred by the ancient Romans. Representatives of this breed were considered versatile dogs since each individual combined fighting, herding, and guard qualities. Molossians accompanied the Romans on military campaigns, which helped the dogs get to the Alps and leave offspring on the territory of modern Switzerland, which gave rise to the ancestral branch of the Sennenhund.

Swiss peasants quickly appreciated the stamina and good-natured nature of these large dogs, adapting them to work in cheese dairies and transport milk along mountain paths. Until the middle of the 19th century, the Sennenhunds regularly grazed cows on alpine lawns, in between working as dairy product carriers, but they were soon pushed out of this niche by St. Bernards. In some remote areas, the descendants of Roman colossi were still bred, but not so zealously, which is why the famous tricolor color among animals was less and less common.

For a long period of time, Swiss Mountain Dogs were equated with mongrels and were not quoted by breeders. Only at the end of the 19th century, these dogs began to arouse the interest of specialists, which became the main impetus for the emergence of the branch of the Bernese Shepherd Dogs. A fundamental role in the formation of the breed was played by the Burgdorf winemaker F. Schertenleib. The entrepreneur fell so in love with Alpine dogs that he tirelessly traveled around the province of Dyurbach in search of suitable “specimens” for his kennel.

The name “Bernese Mountain Dog” of this branch was given by Professor of the University of Zurich Albert Heim, he also formulated its main “identifying features”. Well, in 1907, the first breed standard was adopted, which, in fact, was a pure formality. As a result, Bernese Mountain Dogs were exhibited for quite a long time in European salons without pedigrees and registration numbers.

An interesting fact: in the 40s of the XX century, as a result of the accidental mating of the Bernese Mountain Dog with the Newfoundland, Swiss shepherd dogs were able to improve their natural characteristics. For example, the Bernese Shepherd Dogs acquired a shinier and longer coat, and their temperament became more phlegmatic.

The peak of popularity of the burns came in the 80s of the last century. Calm and friendly shepherd dogs enjoyed unchanging authority among European and American breeders.


Bernese Mountain dogs are rather large dogs with long black and fawn coats and white spots around the nose, neck, and legs. The so-called “smile” of the Bernese is considered the trademark of the breed. In a calm state, the muscles of the dog’s muzzle and head relax, opening the mouth and creating the illusion of human facial expressions. The reference height at the withers for males is from 64 to 70 cm, for bitches – from 58 to 67 cm. The average weight of the Bernese Mountain Dog ranges from 39-50 kg for males, 38-48 kg for females.

Coat and Color

The coat is long, straight, with a spectacular shine. In some places, it can have light “waves”.

The predominant body color of the Mountain Dog is black. Areas of the rich fawn coat are found on the chest, all four legs, and above the eyes. White marks in Bernese Sheepdogs can be on the head in the form of a blaze (should not reach the fawn areas of the coat), on the muzzle in the form of a spot (should not go beyond the corners of the mouth), and chest. Ideal parameters are also considered white “socks” on the paws and a white tip of the tail. The presence of small white “fragments” in the occiput and anus is acceptable.


Bernese Sheepdogs are extremely kind, obedient, and loyal friends who will not harass the owner with a demand for increased attention and a violent temperament. Berns is imperturbably calm and infinitely wise, but at the same time, they are not “crackers” and are quite capable of showing feelings. Representatives of this breed are typical family dogs. By the way, despite the fact that Mountain Dogs are not considered ideal nannies, they treat children with patronage, with a feeling of slight superiority, and do not respond to annoying pranks with aggression.

Young individuals are usually very inquisitive and a little careless, they allow themselves to fool around in moderation, but at the same time, they do not go too far. Adult and experienced dogs are calmer and more phlegmatic. These imperturbable giants will no longer lead a cat running across the road and other simple provocations. Bernese Mountain Dogs love to play assistants, guides, and guards. Berns also make excellent animators: teach your pet to walk in a sled, and he will be happy to ride your children in a cart.

In general, Mountain Dogs are patient and affectionate, respecting a person. Speaking of respect: Bernese Shepherd Dogs treat strangers calmly, without showing aggression, but also without much sympathy. Usually, only one family member becomes the most respected in the eyes of an animal. This, of course, does not mean that the dog does not obey other people. It’s just that the pet will not perform the commands of the owners of the “second plan” so actively. Despite the slight laziness and love of sleep, periodically condescending to the representatives of this breed, Berns take part in outdoor games with pleasure. True, by virtue of their nature, they do not like to have fun for too long.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are subject to compulsory socialization, and the sooner you start teaching the puppy commands, the better for both of you. Regardless of their imperturbable appearance, Bernese Shepherds are very sensitive dogs, so you shouldn’t yell at a pet, as well as use physical violence against it. In upbringing, it is recommended to show a certain firmness and perseverance: for oversight, the puppy should be given suggestions in a strict tone (the system of punishments for small puppies, as a rule, is not applied).

From the first months of life, begin to smoothly wean the dog from spontaneous hopping. While the animal is small, such an expression of tender feelings evokes sincere affection, but when, after a couple of years, a shaggy 50-kilogram carcass jumps into your arms, it will cease to be a pleasure.

Important: Bernese Mountain Dogs mature later than other breeds, so complex training should only be practiced with individuals who have reached the age of two.

Pet training should begin with wearing a collar and the simplest commands “Come to me!”, “Fu!”. other. Even a one and a half-month-old animal can learn these simple lessons. Give your workout 10 to 15 minutes. per day so as not to overwork the puppy, and be sure to use the delicious rewards bought at the pet store or prepared yourself. Those who see their dog as a future watchman should develop the dog’s ability to divide people into friends and enemies. It also includes the skill of refusing to accept food from a stranger. Exceptions are unacceptable even for “good friends.”

Care and Maintenance

A home for a Bernese mountain dog can be either a village cottage or a city apartment. It is more expedient for individuals carrying the protection of a private house to build housing in the yard. Usually, in it, the shepherd dogs are fenced off with an aviary in which the booth is installed. If the pet will live in an apartment, it is best to give him a corner on the balcony (provided that it is glazed). To prevent the animal from freezing in the offseason, you can equip a small kennel on the balcony.

In the summer, it is also necessary to monitor the temperature on the balcony: the sun heats up the walls of the dwelling strongly, which does not have the best effect on the dog’s health.

Bernese Shepherd Dogs are supposed to be walked twice a day, while it is desirable to combine walking with active physical activity. You can get your dog to run or take part in some simple game to burn extra calories and raise muscle tone.


Since Bernese Mountain Dogs shed intensively, it is necessary to comb them every day. But bathing the dog too often is not worth it. A bath day for representatives of this breed is held no more than once a month, except for those cases when your pet has managed to get thoroughly dirty during a walk. It is advisable not to wet the head at all while washing the animal in order to avoid water getting into the ears. The shampoo is used as needed and in very limited quantities, the hairdryer is used only for drying adults. After bathing, remove excess moisture from the coat with a towel and make sure that the animal does not sit in a draft until it dries. After drying, the wool is combed.

The ears of the Bernese Mountain Dog should be examined once a week. If you are walking the animal in a forest belt, then it is better to check it after each walk. Contamination from the ear funnel is removed by means of a cotton pad moistened with boiled water. The use of cotton swabs is not recommended, in order to avoid damage to the hearing organs. Bernese Mountain Dogs are supposed to have their claws cut once every two weeks. Removal of yellow plaque from the surface of the teeth is done with a special paste applied to a cotton swab, 1-2 times a week.


Two-month-old puppies are fed up to 5 times a day, three-month-old – 4 times, seven-month-old adolescents are transferred to three meals a day, and by the year the dog should eat twice a day. An animal under two months of age should receive fermented milk products like cottage cheese, yogurt, or kefir every day. It is not allowed to give pure milk. Meat is introduced into the Sennenhund diet gradually, combined with boiled cereals and vegetables.

The “menu” of an adult who is on natural feeding must necessarily include lean meat or offal, sea fish fillets (frozen), and dairy products. Together with meat, it is recommended to give vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, broccoli), and for “dessert” your pet can be pampered with a slice of banana, apple, or pear. The number of cereal products consumed by animals should be at least 10% of the total diet. A couple of times a week, the Bernese Mountain Dog can be treated to a raw yolk or hard-boiled egg.

Owners who prefer to treat their pet with “drying” should attend to the search for food with low-fat content (no more than 16%) and with a protein content of 18 to 26%. Try to choose varieties that are free of soy, corn, and wheat. A healthy adult animal should consume from 1800 to 3000 kcal per day, a two-month-old puppy – about 600 kcal, while an elderly, inactive dog will need 1500 kcal.


To train the Bernese Mountain Dog to the toilet, it is usually walked after eating. If the puppy did not wait for the walk and made a puddle in the apartment, it is useless to scold him. But it is worth encouraging patience and the administration of natural needs in the right place. In the first months of life, the puppy needs to be taken outside more often in order to catch the moment when he wants to relieve himself. An adult animal, whose skill has already been formed, is able to tolerate. For indoor toilets, rubber mats, newspapers, or diapers are usually used to help keep the floor clean.



Bernese Mountain Dogs are dogs with good heredity, but the constant companion of “apartment” dogs – physical inactivity and constant stress can seriously undermine the health of the pet. The average life span of the Bernese Shepherd Dog is 8-10 years. In the absence of serious diseases and quality care, some representatives of this breed “hold out” to the 13th birthday, which is considered a kind of record.

Typical diseases of Bernese Mountain Dogs:

  • dysplasia of the elbow and hip joints (not a verdict and, with properly selected treatment, may not cause discomfort to the pet);
  • osteochondrosis of the shoulder;
  • problems with the organs of vision (cataract, entropion, retinal atrophy);
  • alopecia (hair loss, animal hair loss);
  • weeping eczema;
  • umbilical hernia;
  • overheating (heatstroke).

Like many other breeds, Berns is prone to cancer. In addition, in some individuals, hereditary kidney pathologies may appear.

How to Choose a Puppy

Bernese Mountain Dog puppies should be taken at the age of 2 to 6 months. Males of this breed look more solid due to their impressive dimensions, but they are more difficult to train. Individuals of the female sex are more flexible and intelligent, but during the estrus period an irresistible “craving for travel” awakens in them, which can become a serious problem for the owner. Be sure to appreciate the environment in the nursery by looking into the enclosures where animals live and carefully studying their standard menu. Acquaintance with the parent of the puppy, as well as his veterinary card, will also not be superfluous.

Frisky, playful, and inquisitive puppies are in the greatest demand: this behavior signals that the animal is healthy and is kept in acceptable conditions. At a young age, Berns may have a modified structure of the coat: it can be too straight or, conversely, curly, and also have a grayish undertone. All these features are not considered defects and disappear with age.

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