AKC Dog Breeds: Bernese Mountain Dog

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height:21-26 inches   Weight: 50-70 pounds  Color: Gray, Black-gray, Blue-gray, Red-gray, Fawn

Bernese Mountain Dogs (Berner Sennenhund) originated in Switzerland and are named for the Canton of Bern. Historically, Berners were used as general purpose farm dogs. Their large, sturdy frames and calm, confident temperaments made them ideal for pulling carts to market, driving dairy cattle, watching the farm and acting as companions to farmers. Bernese Mountain Dogs are a highly versatile breed. One of four varieties of Swiss Mountain Dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the only variety that possesses a long, silky coat. A hardy dog that thrives in cold weather, the "Berner’s" intelligence, strength and agility helped him perform the drafting and droving work in the mountainous region where he originated. Today, this versatile breed participates in conformation, obedience, carting, agility, tracking, herding and therapy work. This is a dog that thrives in colder climates but does not fare well in warmer weather. He loves to frolic in the snow, and also loves to play with kids.

General Appearance
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, well built, and sturdy dog, with a keen, alert expression, and a striking and distinct appearance. The weight of the Bernese Mountain Dog is around 65-120 pounds, and the height of these dogs is around 23-28 inches. The coat of the Bernese Mountain Dog is lustrously thick and medium in length, and the coat can be slightly wavy or straight. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a sturdy, heavy dog, with a beautiful weather-resistant tri-color double coat of black with symmetrical markings of rust and white. The dog should have a white blaze on the chest, white on the head and toes, and rust markings over each eye, on the cheeks, sides of the chest, under the tail and on each leg. The coat is moderately long and either straight or slightly wavy. The broad head has a slight furrow down the middle. The medium-sized triangular ears are pendant. The dark eyes have a gentle expression and the nose is black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The body is compact with a wide, deep chest. The brisket should reach down to the elbow at least. The tail is long and bushy, carried low when in repose The Bernese Mountain Dog is a handsome and robust looking dog.


This breed is by nature, loving and alert. They are generally tolerant, sweet, and gentle. The Bernese Mountain Dog is typically excellent with children. However, since they are a large breed, they should never be left unsupervised with small children or children unknown to the dog. They thrive on human companionship and activity and may develop behavioral problems if they are deprived of social interaction. The Berner is protective but is not aggressive unless threatened or provoked. They may be aloof to strangers and have a tendency to be shy. This breed is a devoted indoor member of the family and a willing outdoor helper.


Although the coat of the Bernese Mountain Dog does shed, the grooming and maintenance requirements are not all that high. Twice weekly brushing of his thick coat should suffice under normal circumstances, although this will need to be increased during periods of heavier shedding.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a life expectancy of around 8-10 years, which is relatively short compared to many other dog breeds. Cancer is unfortunately a very large part of the Berner world and many Berners die young.  There are a number of health problems associated with this breed, and these include HD and elbow dysplasia, tumors, thyroid problems, PRA, histiocytosis, autoimmune problems, and skin allergies.

Activity Level
The Bernese Mountain Dog needs an inordinate amount of exercise, interaction, and activity. They require a minimum half hour of vigorous exercise daily as well as several outside trips. They are not recommended for apartment dwelling, as they need a securely fenced large yard to run and play. They excel in conformation, obedience, tracking, herding, and agility.


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Bernese Mountain Dog on dog encyclopedia
Bernese Mountain Dog profile on dog encyclopedia