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Getting to know the Bernese Mountain Dog breed

Getting to know the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a breed of Swiss Mountain Dogs that traces its origins back to the central region of Switzerland, Bern Canton. It is a beautiful breed known for its long, flowing fur. They live a work-hard-play-hard lifestyle and are eager to please.

In this blog, we’ll discuss characteristics and features of the Bernese Mountain Dog breed to see if it’s the ideal dog for you.

Bernese Mountain Dog History

Today’s Bernese Mountain Dogs (known affectionately by lovers of the breed as Bernies or Berners) have ancestral roots that date back more than 2,000 years. Their ancestors found a home in Switzerland when they were brought to the country by invading Roman soldiers.

It wasn’t until 1892 that a breeder started seeking out “good specimens” to use as breeding stock. They were originally sought out as draft dogs, drovers and watchdogs for farm owners.

The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937.

Physical Characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs require weekly grooming and daily brushing because they shed profusely! You will also need to spend time brushing his luxurious coat to keep it shiny and free of tangles. If you want your house to be fur-free and clean, this is not the breed for you.

The Bernese Mountain Dog ranges from 85 to about 100 pounds and can be anywhere from 23 inches up to 28 inches tall; the females are typically smaller than the males. The breed, unfortunately, is short-lived with lifespans of between six and eight years.

As with all breeds, there may be breed-specific health issues a Bernese Mountain may face. Since the breed is large, it may be prone to elbow or hip dysplasia (affecting the hip joints). The breed is also subject to thyroid disorders, cancer, eye disorders and autoimmune diseases, though many Bernese Mountain Dogs remain healthy throughout their lives.

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Personality

If you’re looking for a true lap dog, the Bernie might be a bit large, but many of them don’t appear aware of how big they are and will clamber up to sit with you.

Lovers of the breed also say:

  • They are eager to please.
  • They are great with children and other dogs.
  • They yearn for outdoor activities.
  • They bark when necessary.
  • They are a good-natured and calm family pet.
  • They’re not aggressive, nor are they overly shy.
  • They are alert and intelligent, as well as beautiful.

So, if you are seeking a family-oriented companion, who approaches life with an attitude of joy and determination, as well as an overwhelming affection for her family, the Bernese Mountain Dog might fit right in!

A Bernese Mountain Dog Right For You?

Basic obedience training should be a priority for any dog owner who wants to raise a happy, healthy well-adjusted puppy, but with large breeds it is especially important. This breed will get along with all family members, but there may be one lucky family member upon whom the dog will become more attached and focused on. This can be problematic if the dog begins resource guarding “his” person; for this reason, it’s best that everyone in the family plays with, trains and spends time with your Bernese Mountain Dog.

While this breed does enjoy time snuggling on the couch, it is a medium energy breed and will thrive if given regular exercise. He will fare better in colder temperatures and will welcome running through and playing in snow.

No matter which breed you get, it is a highly personal decision, but it is always best—for you and the dog—to have as clear an understanding of the breed as possible before committing to the relationship.


Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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