The Bernese Mountain Dog is an exceptional dog breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world. With its distinctive features and unique characteristics, the Bernese Mountain Dog stands out among dog breeds.
In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the fascinating world of the Bernese Mountain Dog, from its breed information to essential care tips, explaining in depth:
- Bernese Mountain Dog history
- Bernese Mountain Dog characteristics
- Male vs Female Bernese Mountain Dog
- Bernese Mountain Dog colors
- Bernese Mountain Dog temperament
- Bernese Mountain Dog health issues
- Bernese Mountain Dog lifespan
- Bernese Mountain Dog care
- Bernese Mountain Dog price
- Bernese Mountain Dog pros and cons
This guide centralizes all the resources needed to learn more about the Bernese Mountain Dog breed, ownership, and how to properly care for them from diet requirements, exercise, training, grooming, Bernese Mountain Dog breeders, where to find Bernese Mountain Dog puppies for sale, where to find Bernese Mountain Dogs for adoption, Bernese Mountain Dog pet insurance and to know whether a Bernese Mountain Dog is the right dog for you.
Whether you’re an enthusiast, a new Bernese Mountain Dog owner, or a seasoned owner, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on this journey to understand the Bernese Mountain Dog breed and discover what makes this breed truly exceptional and whether it’s the best dog breed for you.
Table of Contents
Quick Bernese Mountain Dog Facts
23 to 27.5 inches (male and female)
80 to 115 pounds (male and female)
Tri-color (Black, Rust, and White)
Affectionate, gentle, and intelligent
7 to 10 years
$ 800 – $ 2500
Bernese Mountain Dog History
The Bernese Mountain Dog, often referred to as the “Berner,” has a rich and storied history that dates back to Switzerland. This breed is one of four Swiss Mountain Dog varieties, with the Bernese originating in the canton of Bern in the Swiss Alps.
Originally, Bernese Mountain Dogs were working dogs utilized by Swiss farmers and dairymen to perform various tasks such as herding cattle, pulling carts loaded with produce to market, and guarding their farms.
The breed’s origins can be traced to Roman times when they were likely brought to Switzerland by the invading Roman armies.
Over the centuries, these dogs adapted to the harsh alpine environment, resulting in the development of their distinctive tri-color coat and sturdy build.
By the late 19th century, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s role shifted from a working farm dog to a companion and draft dog, thanks to the advent of mechanization in agriculture.
The breed’s friendly and affectionate nature made it an ideal choice for families, and their strong physique made them well-suited for pulling carts.
In the early 20th century, efforts were made to standardize and preserve the breed’s characteristics, and the Bernese Mountain Dog was officially recognized by the Swiss Kennel Club in 1907. The breed’s popularity gradually spread beyond Switzerland, and it gained recognition from international kennel clubs.
Today, the Bernese Mountain Dog is celebrated not only for its historical working abilities but also for its gentle temperament and loyalty as a beloved family pet.
They are known for their striking appearance, with a distinctive tri-color coat, and are cherished by dog enthusiasts worldwide for their warm and friendly disposition.
Bernese Mountain Dog Appearance
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking and majestic breed known for its robust and well-proportioned physical appearance.
These dogs have a sturdy and strong frame, with a powerful build that reflects their heritage as working dogs in the Swiss Alps.
One of their most distinctive features is their beautiful tri-color coat, which consists of a predominantly black body with rich rust markings on the cheeks, eyebrows, legs, and chest, as well as white markings on the chest, paws, and a blaze on the forehead.
Their head is broad and expressive, with a strong, slightly arched neck that leads to a deep chest and well-sprung ribs.
Berners have a level back and a straight, muscular, and moderately long tail that is carried low. Their legs are straight and strong, supporting their substantial body weight. The breed’s feet are rounded with well-arched toes.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a kind and intelligent expression with dark, almond-shaped eyes that convey warmth and attentiveness.
Their medium-sized, triangular ears are set high and hang close to their cheeks. They have a well-developed, black nose with wide nostrils.
Male vs Female Bernese Mountain Dog: Bernese Mountain Dog size and weight
The Bernese Mountain Dog is characterized by their large size and muscled body. They are massive dogs.
The male Bernese Mountain Dogs are slightly taller and heavier than the female Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Adult male Bernese Mountain Dog stand between 25 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder with an average weight of 80 to 115 pounds (36 to 52 kilograms) while the adult female Bernese Mountain Dog stands at 23 to 26 inches with a weight of 80 to 115 pounds (36 to 52 kilograms).
Bernese Mountain Dog Coat Colors
Bernese Mountain Dogs are renowned for their distinctive and striking coat color. The breed’s coat is primarily characterized by a tri-color pattern, which consists of three main colors: black, rust (or tan), and white.
The black color dominates the coat, covering most of the body, including the back, sides, and outer part of the legs.
The rust or tan markings are typically found above the eyes (eyebrows), on the cheeks, on the legs (between the black and white portions), and on the chest. These rust markings add warmth and contrast to the predominantly black coat.
The white markings in Bernese Mountain Dogs are typically located on the chest, running down the face as a blaze, on the paws (known as “boots”), and often as a white collar around the neck.
This white coloration provides a striking contrast to the dark black and rich rust, giving the breed its distinctive appearance.
It’s important to note that the tri-color pattern is a hallmark of the Bernese Mountain Dog breed and is highly desired in show dogs.
The combination of these three colors creates a visually appealing and charming coat that adds to the breed’s overall appeal.
Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their exceptional temperament, which is characterized by a unique blend of qualities that make them beloved family pets and companions.
They are affectionate, displaying a deep and genuine love for their human family members. Berners thrive on human interaction and are often described as “gentle giants” due to their large size and gentle demeanor.
These dogs are remarkably friendly and sociable, often getting along well with children, other dogs, and even other household pets when properly socialized from a young age.
Their patient and tolerant nature make them a great choice for families with kids.
Intelligence is another hallmark of their temperament, as Bernese Mountain Dogs are quick learners and eager to please.
This trait makes them relatively easy to train, although they can have a playful streak that may require consistent training and positive reinforcement.
Confidence and a calm disposition are key aspects of their temperament, which helps them adapt well to various living environments.
They are not typically aggressive or overly protective, but their size and presence alone can serve as a deterrent to potential threats.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are also known for their loyalty and devotion to their families, often forming strong bonds that last a lifetime.
While they may be reserved around strangers, their affectionate nature shines through once they establish trust.
Overall, Berners are cherished for their warm, loving, and gentle temperament, which makes them wonderful companions for those seeking a loyal and affectionate dog.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues
Generally, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a healthy dog breed, however, they are susceptible to the breed’s specific health problems and conditions that affect large breed dogs.
These health conditions include:
- Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition in Bernese Mountain Dogs which occurs during their growth stages. The condition causes pain and difficulty in walking because of the loosening of the hip joint.
- Bloat: Bloat is a common Bernese Mountain Dog health problem. It is the accumulation of air in the stomach that makes it twist, preventing blood flow in the body.
- Cancer: Cancer is a common health condition in the Bernese Mountain Dog, and can occur at a relatively young age. The breed is particularly prone to histiocytic sarcoma, a cancer that affects the cells of the immune system.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited eye disease in which the retina degenerates, and a Bernese Mountain Dog suffers impaired vision and often blindness.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease: Von Willebrand’s Disease is a common hereditary blood clotting disorder that results in excessive bleeding, even from minor cuts.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited eye disease in which the retina degenerates, and a Bernese Mountain Dog suffers impaired vision and often blindness. There are early- and late-onset forms of the disease.
- Heat Stroke: Bernese Mountain Dogs have a dense double coat, which makes them prone to overheating in hot weather. They are also susceptible to skin issues, such as hot spots and dermatitis, if their coat is not properly maintained and kept clean.
- Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is common in giant breed dogs. This inherited condition involves developmental abnormalities that lead to malformation and degeneration of the dog’s elbow joints. Symptoms usually present between 4-10 months.
- Obesity: Obesity occurs when a Bernese Mountain Dog carries excess body weight, primarily due to overfeeding, excessive treats, a lack of exercise, genetic factors and certain medical conditions.
Bernese Mountain Dog Lifespan
The Bernese Mountain Dog’s lifespan is 7 to 10 years. Although long, this lifespan is shorter compared to small breed dogs which have a longer life expectancy compared to large breed dogs.
Bernese Mountain Dog Care
Bernese Mountain Dog diet requirements
Bernese Mountain Dogs grow rapidly and require a nutritiously balanced diet for large-giant breed dogs, for healthy growth and prevention of developmental problems.
The basic essential nutrients of the Bernese Mountain Dog diet should have water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Bernese Mountain Dog supplements are also essential to promote bone and joint health. These are glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
Probiotics and prebiotics in the diet support gut health.
The amount of food depends on a Bernese Mountain Dog’s age, size, level of activity, and health.
All Bernese Mountain Dogs at all stages of life should not be fed one meal per day because this increases the risk of the development of bloat which is life-threatening to the breed.
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies grow rapidly and a proper diet regulates this growth so that they do not develop bone and joint health problems as they grow.
The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy diet should therefore contain high-quality large-giant breed puppy dog food which is formulated with the right proportion of nutrients that regulates the rate of growth and supports healthy development.
Also always provide access to fresh, clean water for your Bernese Mountain Dog. Proper hydration is vital for their overall health.
Some Bernese Mountain Dogs may have allergies or food sensitivities, so be attentive to any signs of digestive upset or skin issues. If you suspect food-related allergies, consult your veterinarian for guidance on switching to a hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet.
A discussion of the Bernese Mountain Dog food should always be done with a veterinarian, who will guide on a dog’s specific needs and diet requirements.
Exercise is an important aspect of caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog’s physical and mental well-being. The breed is known for its strength and agility, and regular exercise helps them maintain a healthy weight, muscular condition, and overall happiness.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a working breed, historically used for tasks like herding cattle and pulling carts, so they have the energy to burn.
Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise each day, which may include brisk walks, playtime in a securely fenced yard, and interactive games.
These dogs also enjoy activities like hiking and backpacking, which allow them to use their natural abilities and explore new environments.
Due to their dense double coat, they can be sensitive to heat, so exercise is best done in cooler parts of the day during hot weather.
Mental stimulation is equally important. Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent, and they thrive on mental challenges. Puzzle toys, obedience training, and interactive games can help keep their minds engaged.
It’s important to adapt their exercise routine to their age, health, and individual preferences. Puppies should have shorter, more frequent play sessions, while older dogs may require gentler exercise.
Always monitor your Bernese Mountain Dog during exercise to prevent overexertion, especially in hot weather.
Bernese Mountain Dog training
Training a Bernese Mountain Dog is an important aspect of owning this powerful and intelligent breed. Proper training is essential to ensure they become well-behaved, obedient, and well-adjusted companions.
This includes socializing your Bernese Mountain Dog. Socializing your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy should start as early as possible.
This is done by exposing them to various people, animals, and environments to help them become confident and comfortable in different situations.
Early socialization can prevent behavioral issues later in life.
The use of positive reinforcement training methods, such as treats, praise, and toys, to reward desired behaviors helps to reinforce good behavior. Bernese Mountain Dogs respond well to positive reinforcement and tend to be eager to please.
Consistency in training is important. The establishment of clear rules and boundaries for your Bernese Mountain Dog and ensuring that all family members enforce them consistently is essential. Inconsistent training can confuse your dog.
Basic obedience training is essential. Teach commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. Obedience training provides structure and helps establish you as the pack leader.
Proper leash training is essential for this breed due to their size and strength. They can be strong pullers, so teaching them to walk on a loose leash is important for both their safety and the handler’s control.
Teaching them to walk on a loose leash and respond to commands while on a leash is important.
When engaging in off-leash play, it is essential to supervise your Bernese Mountain Dog, especially if they are interacting with other dogs. Their protective instincts can sometimes lead to conflicts with unfamiliar dogs.
Seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist with experience in working with Bernese Mountain Dogs is important to prevent behavioral issues.
Grooming a Bernese Mountain Dog primarily focuses on maintaining their coat, cleaning their ears, trimming their nails, and providing general hygiene care. Bernese Mountain Dog grooming is not difficult.
Due to their double coat, Berners shed moderately year-round and experience heavier shedding during seasonal changes.
Brush your Bernese Mountain Dog’s coat at least 2-3 times a week to remove loose fur and prevent matting.
Start with a slicker brush to remove tangles and then use a pin brush to go through the entire coat. Pay special attention to the dense areas like the neck and tail.
Bathing is only required once a month (4 – 6 weeks), depending on their level of activity and how often they get dirty. The use of a mild dog shampoo is needed to avoid stripping their skin of natural oils is necessary.
Ensure you thoroughly rinse out all soap residue, as their thick coat can trap it.
The teeth should be brushed two to three times a week and the nails trimmed once a month. The ears must also be checked weekly with cleaning once a month and properly dried after each bath.
Cleaning of a Bernese Mountain Dog’s ears should be done regularly to prevent wax buildup and infection. A dog ear cleaner and a soft, damp cloth or cotton ball should be used and proper cleaning is done by gently inside of the ear flap and the visible parts of the ear canal.
Regular nail trimming is important in preventing overgrown nails that can cause discomfort and affect a Bernese Mountain Dog’s gait.
Brushing of a Bernese Mountain Dog’s teeth regularly is essential. This is done by use of a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste. Dental chews and toys can also help maintain oral hygiene.
Regular checking of your dog’s eyes regularly for any signs of redness, discharge, or irritation is required. The use of a damp cloth to gently wipe away any debris from the corners of their eyes is done to keep the eyes clean.
Keeping an eye on your Bernese Mountain Dog’s skin for any signs of irritation, hot spots, or allergies is also part of keeping their skin healthy. Appearance of any issues requires consultation with your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.
Ensuring that your Bernese Mountain Dog’s genital and anal areas are clean is also important. If needed, gentle cleaning of these areas with a damp cloth should be done to prevent discomfort or infections.
Bernese Mountain Dog Price: How much is a Bernese Mountain Dog?
The average Bernese Mountain Dog price is between $800 to $2,500 for a puppy from a reputable Bernese Mountain Dog breeder.
The price varies significantly based on various factors, including the dog’s lineage, age, gender, health clearances, the availability of puppies, the breeder’s reputation, and their location.
Well-established and reputable breeders who focus on producing healthy, well-tempered Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to charge higher prices for their puppies.
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are generally more expensive than an adult or older Bernese Mountain Dogs.
It is important to do thorough research, choose a reputable breeder, and ensure that the puppy you are considering comes from a responsible breeding program with a focus on the health and well-being of the dogs.
Avoid purchasing puppies from puppy mills or unscrupulous sources, as they may offer lower prices but often lack proper care and breeding standards.
Also, consider adoption from a rescue organization, which can be a more cost-effective option while giving a loving home to a Bernese Mountain Dog in need.
Where to find Bernese Mountain Dog puppies for sale
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies can be purchased from Bernese Mountain Dog breeders. Professional Bernese Mountain Dog breeders that practice ethical breeding produce healthy puppies.
Breeders provide the health history and certificates of their puppies which confirms the health status of a puppy before purchase.
Approved and certified Bernese Mountain Dog breeders can be found on the American Kennel Club’s marketplace.
The Bernese Mountain Dog breeders include:
Where to find Bernese Mountain Dogs for adoption
Bernese Mountain Dogs for adoption are available at Bernese Mountain Dog rescue groups or centers. Bernese Mountain Dog rescues help to rehome Bernese Mountain Dogs that need forever homes and provide assistance in getting a Bernese Mountain Dog.
When you obtain a Bernese Mountain Dog from a rescue center, ensure that they go through health checks to know their health status.
The price of a Berner from a rescue is $300 and $400, which is much cheaper compared to the purchase price form a breeder.
Bernese Mountain Dog rescues in the United States include:
Bernese Mountain Dog Pet Insurance: Should I get one?
Bernese Mountain Dog pet insurance is a health insurance policy for Bernese Mountain Dogs that pays for medical expenses for your pet.
Unexpected illnesses or injuries can occur and large veterinarian bills can be emotionally and financially stressful.
Getting medical cover is a way to guard yourself against this which also ensures your Bernese Mountain Dog’s health care needs are met. Therefore it is important to have health insurance for your dog.
Bernese Mountain Dog pet insurance costs on average $44 – $63 per month. The cost depends on the age of a Bernese Mountain Dog and the type of cover.
Bernese Mountain Dog Pros and Cons
While the Bernese Mountain Dog has many positive traits, they are not the right breed for everyone. Potential owners should carefully consider their ability to meet the breed’s exercise, training, and socialization needs and be prepared for the responsibility of caring for a large dog.
Choosing a responsible breeder or considering adoption from a rescue organization is also important in ensuring the health and temperament of your dog.
Pros and cons of the Bernese Mountain Dog to consider include:
Affectionate and gentle
Prone to health issues
Excellent family dogs
Good with children and other pets
Large size requires space
Intelligent and eager to please
Shorter lifespan compared to smaller breeds
Calm and easygoing temperament
Needs regular exercise and mental stimulation
Loyal and protective
Sensitive to heat
Striking appearance with unique tri-color coat
Requires consistent training and socialization
Adaptability to different lifestyles
Can be prone to separation anxiety
Suitable for various activities, including dog sports
Can be expensive to purchase and maintain
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of home is best for a Bernese Mountain Dog?
A Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and powerful breed that requires a specific type of home to thrive. The best home for a Bernese Mountain Dog is one that offers space, a secure yard, an active lifestyle, socialization opportunities, a commitment to training, and experienced ownership. These considerations will help ensure that your Bernese Mountain Dog is happy, well-adjusted, and a loyal family companion. Bernese Mountain Dogs are also sensitive to extreme heat, so make sure your home environment is suitable.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good with kids?
Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally good with kids and are often described as excellent family dogs. They have a gentle and affectionate temperament, which makes them well-suited for households with children.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Good with other dogs?
Bernese Mountain Dogs can get along well with other dogs, but their compatibility with other dogs often depends on factors such as socialization, training, and individual temperament.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs hypoallergenic?
No, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic breeds are those that produce fewer allergens, such as dander and saliva proteins, that can trigger allergies in some people. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a double coat that sheds throughout the year, and they can produce allergens just like any other non-hypoallergenic breed.
Is the Bernese Mountain Dog a good guard dog?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally not considered good guard dogs. While they are large and can be imposing due to their size and appearance, their temperament is typically friendly, gentle, and affectionate. They are more likely to greet strangers with a wagging tail and a friendly demeanor than to display protective or aggressive behavior.
However, Bernese Mountain Dogs do have protective instincts, and they may alert their owners to the presence of strangers or unusual noises. They can serve as watchful and loyal companions, and their sheer size may act as a deterrent to potential intruders.
Summary: Is a Bernese Mountain Dog the right dog for you?
A Bernese Mountain Dog can be an excellent addition to the right home, but it’s important to carefully consider whether this breed is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.
Before bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your home, assess your ability to meet their needs for exercise, training, socialization and whether you can provide a secure living environment.
Also, be prepared for potential health care costs associated with the breed’s health concerns.
If you can provide the necessary care, training, and socialization, a Bernese Mountain Dog can be a loyal and loving companion.
However, if you are unsure about your ability to meet their needs or if you are a first-time dog owner, it may be wise to explore other breeds that may be a better match for your lifestyle.
Responsible ownership is key to ensuring that a Bernese Mountain Dog thrives and becomes a well-adjusted member of your family.
Therefore, if you desire to be a dog parent to a Bernese Mountain Dog, and are looking for a large breed dog that is affectionate, gentle, friendly, and a family dog, look no further than the Bernese Mountain Dog.