The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is large-sized, and belong to the Sennenhund group of dogs from the Swiss Alps. In German, this dog is called Berner Sennenhund. It is considered the perfect family dog and a loyal companion because of its calm and sensitive nature. It gets its name from the canton of Bern, which is its place of origin.
The Bernese Mountain Dog breed hailing from the alpine regions of Switzerland is of ancient lineage, but the exact time of its origin cannot be determined. It is one among the Swiss mountain dogs or Sennehunde, but its coat of medium-length fur sets it apart from the others.
A crossbreeding between native mountain dogs, which were commonly used for guarding sheep, and some Roman mastiffs that came to the area during the Roman invasion of Switzerland could have led to the development of this breed. This new breed was known for its versatility as it was used in various capacities as farm dog, draft dog, drover or herder besides being used as a guard dog. They could do all these in the freezing temperatures of the Swiss mountains.
In spite of being extremely useful in many different ways, the breed declined in numbers toward the end of the 19th century. It would have gone extinct but for its being discovered by Professor Albert Heim. He promoted the breed all over Switzerland and introduced it to the rest of Europe too. The breed was called “Durrbachler” for a time, but then began to be known as Bernese Mountain Dog. This breed was introduced in to the United States in 1926, but official recognition from AKC came in 1937.
Bernese mountain dogs are large in size, and heavy in build. They are 25 to 27 inches tall at the withers and can weigh up to 125 pounds. The females may be slightly smaller. The body is longer than the height of the dog and very muscular.
They have medium-long coats with a tri-colored pattern consisting mainly of black with white on the chest and rust highlights around the mouth, and at the lower ends of the limbs. They typically have rust spots above their eyes too. The tail is bushy and it may have some white at the tip.
These dogs are known for their loyalty and devotion to the family to which they belong. They are gentle, affectionate, and patient with children, tolerating quite a bit of rough play from the young ones with good humor. This makes them the ideal pets for households with young children.
The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is easy to train. It can socialize well with other people and pets too.
Grooming and exercise
As is clear from the type of coat the Bernese Mountain Dog breed has, regular grooming is part of ownership. Thorough brushing 2 to 3 times a week, and more often during the shedding seasons, should be sufficient to keep the coat, as well as your home, free of dead hair.
True to its origins in the alpine regions, the Bernese Mountain Dog breed love the outdoors, especially when it is cold. Even though they need to remain active, vigorous exercises are not necessary. Regular walks in the park or long hikes on leash are sufficient to keep the dog in good form. These dogs are known to love pulling objects, be it a sled or a child in a toy car. Such activities can be worked into its schedule.
Even though these dogs have no problem spending the cold nights outdoors, they should be brought inside in the evening for some quality family time. They need the company of their human family to be really happy.
Common health issues of Bernese Mountain Dog dog breed
Bernese Mountain Dog breed has a relatively short lifespan. Their life expectancy is 6 to 9 years, but most dogs do not live beyond 7 years of age. They are plagued by musculoskeletal disorders such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and arthritis at a younger age compared to dogs of the same category. Canine cancers are also seen more frequently in this breed. They are prone to canine SAS, gastric torsion, and eye problems such as ectropion and cataract. Regular health checkups are a must with this breed.