Like many breeds, the origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog are unknown; although, they most likely were originally found working farms in the Swiss Mountains. Their appearance certainly seems to indicate that this was a breed that was bred to work. The Bernese is definitely a sturdy breed. Dogs stand 24-28 inches at the withers and weigh 85-110 pounds, while bitches stand 23-27 inches at the withers and weigh approximately 80-105 pounds. This makes them an impressive breed in terms of size. The breed also has an excellent coat for working in harsh elements. They are a long-haired breed with a weather resistant double coat that makes enduring harsh elements bearable. In terms of markings, the Bernese Mountain Dog should have white blazed on their chest, head, and toes, and should be black with symmetrical rust markings.
Temperament of the Bernese Mountain Dog
This breed of dog makes a wonderful pet. By nature, these dogs love children and are gentle and even tempered, making them ideal as a family pet. They are also highly intelligent, which greatly simplifies the training process. Their intelligence and eagerness to train makes them excellent learners who can learn both basic obedience as well as a variety of tricks. They are, however, very sensitive and therefore are considered soft dogs and should be trained very gently with positive reinforcement and never harsh corrections. The Bernese Mountain Dog is generally good natured with strangers and usually does fairly well with other pets but care should be taken when they are young to provide proper socialization to avoid any learned behavioral problems.
The Bernese can be extremely exuberant and may be slow to mature. They may exhibit puppyish behavior as well as clumsiness for the first few years of their life before maturing into a well-mannered dog. This behavior can be difficult to manage considering the size of the breed so basic obedience should be taught from a very young age. Dog Training will ensure that this breed does not allow its puppy behavior to become problematic.
The temperament of this mountan-sized dog is above all other characteristics loyal. This dog remains extremely loyal to its owner and as a result may be difficult to re-home if the need ever arises. They bond very strongly to their family and expect the same loyalty in return. They can also make excellent watchdogs, although they are not overly aggressive.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are unfortunately plagued with life spans that are growing increasingly shorter. While several years ago their life expectancy ranged from 10-12 years, which is rather common for dogs of their size, recent years have seen their life expectancy decline to a mere 6-8 years. Unfortunately, this gentle breed is prone to cancer, which claims the lives of many Bernese at a very young age. With the exception of the propensity towards cancer the Bernese Mountain Dog has very few other health issues. Other health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, and eyelid problems.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is definitely not a low maintenance breed. Their long, thick coat requires brushing at least weekly and as often as daily. They are seasonal shedders and the shedding during this period is extreme. They are also fairly active and require daily exercise.
This breed does not thrive in an apartment environment. They need regular exercise to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. Although they need exercise, care should be taken during the summers to avoid overheating. The thick coat of the Bernese Mountain Dog can make exercising in the heat extremely difficult for this breed.