Donna shares insider tips about your pets gained through exclusive interviews
with industry experts.
Look at the size of the paws are on this 40-day old Bernese Mountain dog
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Bernese Mountain dogs, one of several Swiss Mountain dog breeds, were
developed in Berne and gained American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition in 1937.
This was quite a comeback for a breed that was, according to the Burnese
Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA), “nearly extinct” in the 19th century.1
About Bernese Mountain Dogs
The breed standards were set in 1907 by a small group of breeders in Burgdorf,
and the dogs gained popularity with the Swiss farmers.
There was a failed attempt to import them to the United States in 1926;
however, in 1937, they were successfully introduced. The first two AKC-
recognized Berners were named Fridy and Quell.
These hardy dogs were working farm dogs and performed tasks such as hauling
small loads in dog carts, or herding cows.
The Bernese Mountain dog’s high intelligence level and strength, combined with
their people-pleasing personalities, made them well-suited for such tasks. The
farmers relied on them to keep a watchful eye on the farm and family.
Pros & Cons of Berners as Pets
Today, one might see the Bernese Mountain dog competing in events such as
drafting, droving, tracking, other agility sports, or offering love and
affection as a therapy dog.
However, they need early socialization and obedience training to prepare them
for these roles, and to overcome their natural predisposition to shyness.
- Families with small children or other pets may or may not want to consider this breed unless they are willing to commit to such training.
- Additionally, they may want to chat with other Berner owners to get a better feel for the overall temperament of the breed.
- With their deep chests and large-boned bodies, Bernese Mountain dogs are impressive-looking dogs.
- They are high maintenance in terms of needs for human interaction and grooming. They do shed and their heavy coats make them ill-suited for hot weather.
Note: Be sure to watch the short video below as you can really see how
massive the chest area is in this breed. The dog shown was not full-grown when
the video was shot, but you can see that this is a giant-sized breed!
They are happiest when they are close to their families, so plan on keeping
them as inside dogs, and allow plenty of time daily for playing, exercising,
and grooming. Add a bath as needed and a well-balanced diet. With proper care,
your Berner should stay happy and healthy.
According to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA), males are
approximately 25 to 27 inches tall and weigh about 80 to 115 pounds. Females
are smaller, weighing about 70 to 95 pounds and 23 to 26 inches tall.
Like most large or giant dogs, they have a relatively short lifespan of just
seven to eight years, according to the BMDCA.
Characteristics of Bernese Mountain Dogs
Here’s a snapshot of the Bernese Mountain dog.
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- Origin : Switzerland.
- Nickname: Berner.
- Characteristics: Loyal, intelligent, some herding instincts, extremely agile given the large bone structure.
- Need for Human Interaction: Extremely high; may exhibit undesirable behaviors if left alone for extended periods.
- Social Skills: Only if well socialized and obedience trained. Puppies may “mouth” objects.
- Exercise needs: Moderate.
- Lifespan: Approximately seven years.
- Need to vocalize: Moderate.
- Grooming: Weekly brushings; baths as needed.
- Associations: The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America.
Now, let’s talk about the potential health problems your Berner could face.
Common Breed Health Problems
If you are considering purchasing a Berner, you should be aware that they are
predisposed to several severe health problems. The most common are:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Eye disease
- Mast cell cancer
- Malignant histiocytosis
If this breed profile has piqued your interest, then you may have decided you
would like to own a Bernese Mountain dog.
A good place to start your research and get more information is at the BMDCA
1 – The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc. “The BMD History and the
BMDCA Info Series, “Health Issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs,” 2009 #4
BMDCA Info Series, “FAQs About Bernese Mountain Dogs,” 2009
The American Kennel Club (AKC), “AKC Meet the Breed: the Burnese Mountain Dog”
What Do You Think About These Giant Dogs?
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 21, 2011:
Hi, Cindy! Yes, the one Bernese Mountain dog did look sad…but I included the
picture because he or she was well past the average lifespan of 7 years old.
If someone is considering one of these beauties, I thought it might be good to
know that at least one of them had made it past seven:)
I also want to take just a minute to thank you for the help, tips, and
continued support this year. I’ve really learned a lot from reading your hubs
and feedback on mine, and it’s helped me become a better writer.
Congratulations on achieving all the goals you set this year, and my best
wishes for an even more successful 2012:)
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 21, 2011:
They are cutie-pies, aren’t they? I would love to have one or two of them, but
we recently lost our gentle giant Lost Boy, and my hubby just can’t bear the
thought of getting another dog right now. However, when/if that day ever
comes, the Bernese Mountain dog is my dog of choice:)
Thanks for all the feedback and support this year, Deborah. You probably don’t
realize just how much encouragement it has given me, and I want you to know
how much I appreciate you:)
Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 20, 2011:
They are so cute as puppies! That middle image in your thumbnails looks so
I really enjoyed this hub, and the video was great!
Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 20, 2011:
these dogs are so adorable.. I love them.. great Hub. I am so gLad you keep us
informed about our animals what to look out for and so on. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO