Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

*. Thinking that the Bernese Mountain Dog could be your next dog companion? You will be astonished at the big, fluffy bundles of love and joy. He is bright-eyed and smiley and has a tri-colored, shaggy fur that makes him super cuddly.

The Berner is strongly built and an established working dog . Although they were originally designed to work in the mountains, Berners quickly became a family favourite and a beloved companion. They are a well-rounded dog that can adapt to almost any environment, provided you can manage their size.

There are some things to keep in mind before you welcome this fluffy friend to your home. The Berner is large and active so they are not suitable for every family . It is important to determine if you have the financial means to pay for large-breed dogs. Are you ready to discover if this is the right Swiss puppy for you? Let’s get started!

Bernese Mountain Dog


The Bernese Mountain Dog ,, or the Berner, as he’s affectionately called by his owners, is a well-known working dog breed. Believed to have been around on Swiss farms for 2,000 years, his origins are thought to be the Molosser or other traveling Mastiff-type dogs.

Molosser dogs were brought to Switzerland in the 1st century by the Romans when they invaded the Alps. They bred them with unknown breeds to produce the four Swiss sennenhund The Berner is one of four and often compared to the Swissy, which has the same coloring, but a shorter coat.

Their name comes from Bern. Bern, a vast agricultural area, is home to the two largest exports of Swiss chocolate and cheese. Although the Berner is no longer needed to work on the farms, there are still upwards of 12,000 farms spread over Bern’s valleys, hills, and mountain areas. The Berner was a versatile farm dog ,, responsible for pulling milk-laden carts and herding livestock. He also protected the family and property.

Their numbers dwindled throughout the 19th century, but by 1899 the Swiss sought to preserve their native breeds and the Berner dog club. Many of the members were experienced breeders and owners of purebred Swiss dogs. Unfortunately, shows and breeding were put on hold during the World Wars. Post-war, however, the first dogs were exported to the USA, and in 1936 the Glen Shadow Kennel in Louisiana imported a pair of Berners for breeding.

Today they rank in the top 30 most popular dog breeds and have done regularly for some time. This breed has been gaining popularity due to the hard work of breeders to secure other Swiss breeds in AKC ranks. Although he is loved by many, he can also be used for therapy. his popularity has also resulted in numerous Berner mixed breeds.


The AKC breed standard describes them to be self-confident and alert. Never shy or sharp. The Berner is a very affectionate, intelligent, protective, but not intimidating, dog. They make a wonderful family companion and are gentle with children. is a well-balanced dog that can be loved by the whole family.

If you’re looking for a great house dog, this is the one. They can be very vocal and will bark at strangers or any other threat they perceive. Their size and standoffishness can make them a formidable visual deterrent for would-be intruders. Their gentle nature does not come without their guarding tendencies. The Berner would probably just observe from afar any intruders trying to enter the house.

The Berner doesn’t understand that he’s not a lapdog when it comes to cuddle-time. he climbs on your lap if you’re not moving for more than a few seconds .. Once he is comfortable with you, he will show affection to all family members and friends. He is the perfect hang-out buddy for any family.

He is also moderately energetic and not quite as laid back as his Saint Bernard cousin. The Berner is a lot of fun and will play all day with his family. The Berner is a very clumsy dog. He needs a fun and active family. If you’re looking for entertainment, this is a great choice. This is not the case if you live a sedentary life.

Size & Appearance

The Berner is a large breed of hound. He weighs between 80 and 115 pounds, and he measures between 23 and 27 1/2 inches. He is a powerful man, to be sure. His weight alone would be enough to knock over an adult man if he was crashing into him while he is having fun. His shaggy fur makes him look soft and cuddly, but underneath is a strong frame.

Their eyes are big and intelligent, with a friendly expression The Berner is a happy dog, if such a thing exists. His ears are round and large. They also drop down. His body is long and strong. His strong, balanced, and powerful appearance gives him the ability to walk confidently with a confident trot. His tail is long and his paws large.

Coat & Colors

The Berner’s coat is only available in three-color. However, if the Berner is not a pedigree, there might be some variation. The ground coat is typically jet black with clear white markings and rich rust. The areas that are visible include the cheeks, corner, nose, mouth, chest, legs and under the tail. The inverted cross is the most common chest marking. The coat will have a medium length and a soft, silky sheen.

His double-layered, multi-layered coat was designed to keep him warm in rain and snow. It is also meant to protect him from the elements as he works in the mountains. Contrary to popular belief the Berner is not a natural swimmer ,. Many people do not like the water. His temperature is controlled by his double coat, so he should not be shaved during the summer. He sheds moderately throughout the year, but sheds more in spring and autumn due to extreme temperature changes.

Exercise Requirements

Berners need 60 minutes of exercise every day to stay healthy and prevent boredom. Because they are working dogs, it is in their nature to use mind and body while they move. They are happy to spend their time indoors, despite this aspect of their personality. Another appealing aspect of his personality is his off-switch at home.

But outside activities are a must. These can include long hikes, camping and backpacking. The Berners love pulling carts, especially with the children in tow, and participating in herding contests. High-impact activities , like running are best avoided as they can cause damage to his joints. This is especially important during puppyhood as it can cause injury to his developing body.

Living Conditions

Because of his size and outdoor-loving nature, they will need a yard to roam . He doesn’t like being cooped up in an apartments. He needs to have a secure yard. Berners love to chase animals due to their high prey drive. However, they also enjoy a good walk. They will wander the neighborhood if they are allowed to escape the yard. This large, giant breed requires a large home.

The calm and gentle nature that the Berner has makes him ideal for families with children He is patient and understanding of small children who might pull or be overexcited. Be sure to supervise children and dogs, and pay attention to his long tail. If they are not careful, it can be enough to knock a toddler off their feet. He is also happy to run around the yard playing with older children and chasing them. He is a good judge of size and playability.

The Berner can be unpredictable with other dogs. If you have a Berner at home, make sure to arrange a playdate. If he is the resident doggo, he can be turned around and vice versa. A Berner puppy will quickly adapt to his big sibling or brother if he is adopted. Because of their high prey drive ., most Berners don’t get along well with other family pets.


They are trustworthy workers and eager to please. He is a great partner . because of his love for tasty treats and this. He is an intelligent learner thanks to his intelligence. He enjoys simple tasks and more involved tasks like pulling carts, moving heavy items, and caring for cattle and children.

If you want your dog to be respectful, obedience training early is essential. Large dogs can be dangerous if they are not controlled and allowed roam free. Keep in mind that dogs are sensitive and open-hearted, and can easily be hurt by harsh words. Positive reinforcement training is the way to this big friendly giant’s heart.

The Berner is not a good fit for his company, despite his extraordinary character and human-centered outlook. He shouldn’t be left alone for too long. He will experience separation anxiety ,, so crate train him as soon as possible. Begin with only short periods of solitude and limit your time to between three to four hours. You could experience anxiety attacks and destructive behavior if you go beyond this limit.


The expected lifespan for large breeds is shorter than the average pup, and this breed has a life expectancy of just 7 to 10 years. Due to their small size, and limited gene pool, this breed is more susceptible to genetic health issues. While not all Berners will have health issues, here are some of the most common.

Cancer. This disease can cause premature death in many Berners. The symptoms include difficulty breathing, swelling, lumps and bleeding from the body.

Hip or elbow dysplasia is A condition in which the affected joints don’t fit together properly. It manifests as lameness and pain. It can be diagnosed by X-ray and treated with medication or surgery. It can cause arthritis and mobility problems if left untreated.

Portosystemic Shunt: Congenital abnormality where blood bypasses liver. This causes neurobehavioral disorders, such as low blood sugar and urinary tract problems and stunted growth.

Panosteitis: Is self-limiting lameness, meaning it will eventually go away. It has been reported that Berners may limp on one leg and then on the other. Then, without treatment, the limping will cease. It is often compared to growing pains and has no long-term consequences.

Gastric Torsion : Also called bloat. This is a serious condition that can cause death in large breeds. They can be especially vulnerable if they only eat one large meal per day. Drinking a lot of water and exercising close to mealtime are good options. The stomach becomes swollen from trapped gas or air, and then twists (orsion). This causes the blood to stop flowing normally to the heart and can lead to heart failure.


Their dietary requirements will change as they become adults and older. You must be attentive to their changing needs as a responsible owner. Because of their shorter lifespan, they can be more vulnerable than you might think. An average Berner adult will consume four cups per day , depending on their size and weight. If your Berner is active or a working dog, you should allow for energy expiration. He will need to eat more calories.

Always look for high-quality foods that produce age-specific food formulas for large breed dogs. Catering to their needs as a puppy, adult, and senior. Most veterinarians still recommend Kibble as the preferred food. It’s tightly controlled and provides a balanced, healthy diet with added vitamins and minerals that will ensure your pup is healthy. Although it may look unappetizing and dry, most dogs will love it. It’s also safe and convenient.

These dogs love food and have a strong appetite for all things edible. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight. As they are more likely to be obese , many don’t exercise enough and their heavy coats can conceal many extra pounds they have put on. You can monitor it by using the scales. You must also adjust the food you eat when you train to compensate for any treats. Do not add weight to his joints.


Due to the Berner’s double coat and thickness of fur, they shed frequently and their grooming needs are high. Their grooming is simple, even though they require more attention. To maintain their shiny locks, brushing two to three times per week is necessary to remove dirt and dead hair. They shed moderately to heavily, as we’ve already mentioned. The Berner is not for you if you don’t like hair or furballs in your home. If you are interested in a pup with lower grooming needs, consider a Bernedoodle.

Most of their loose hair can be removed with a slicker brush that breaches the deep undercoat made up of the finer hair that sticks to everything. It stimulates hair follicles, and promotes natural oils that maintain their beautiful glossy coat. Their fur will naturally shed a lot of the dirt and grime that they accumulate every day. They are usually clean and take good care of their fur.

Bathing your Berner Dog every other month is a good idea. Avoid cleaning your Berner Dog too often as this can strip the natural oils from the coat. He should be taught how to groom his dog from an early age. Use gentle shampoo made with natural ingredients to avoid irritation. It may be necessary to use a concentrated shampoo that penetrates his thick hair.

The Berner’s claws should naturally wear down as he exercised. But if you can hear them clipping the floor, they are too long and need trimming or grinding with a Dremel. To maintain good dental hygiene, he will need to brush his teeth. The Berner is a great companion and will spend as much time with you as possible.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

They are a popular breed and there are many reputable breeders all over the country. It makes it easier to find healthy puppies, but it also means that you will likely have to wait on a waiting list. The average price of a puppy is around $1,500. However, you will pay more for a dog bred by an award-winning breeder. A good place to start is the AKC’s list of registered breeders.

When looking for a Berner puppy, it is important to recognize if one might be offered by an animal rescue. These breeders place profit above health. Low prices, evasive conversations, and poor communication are all signs that the breeder may be of low quality or part of an animal breeding operation. This is especially true when you meet the puppies before you take them home. Do your research to avoid any problems!

When budgeting for your Berner, make sure you consider all costs associated with owning one. He is a large breed of dog and not inexpensive . Factors such as insurance, medical care, food, bedding, crates, and tough dog toys are just the beginning. Dogs are an expensive investment in time and money. Please make sure that you can afford him.

Rescues & Shelters

If you don’t have a rescue dog, it is worth considering before you buy a puppy. visit your local shelter as many popular breeds will find their way there, regardless of what price they were purchased.

There are dedicated rehoming organizations that can help these precious bundles of Swiss love. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America and the BFW Rescue list charities that find forever homes for Berners. You may also find other useful information.

As Family Pets

  • The Berner is suitable for many types of families and is great fun.
  • They are happy to relax and cuddle or put in a hard day’s work.
  • Berners need 60 minutes of exercise a day to stay healthy.
  • The breed does better where they are at home with family.
  • Berners are family and child-friendly pups.
  • They are aloof with strangers until they know the stranger can be trusted.
  • Berners are good watchdogs, but terrible guard dogs.
  • They are highly intelligent and trainable.
  • Their size and power require experienced owners.
  • They don’t like apartment living, doing better with bigger yards.

Final Thoughts

The Bernese Mountain Dog

will win your heart with his huge, goofy smile and stunning looks. He is gentle, loyal, protective, patient, and an all-around fantastic family dog (find the perfect name for your Bernese). He is happy to relax or get to work if he’s with his family. He is a joy for owners and to live with. As long as he’s close to his family, he’s able to be independent. He can also be a lapdog if he needs it.

So, whether you’re a suburban family, an outdoor worker, a professional couple living in a city or retired on a farmstead in the country, the Berner will fill any dog-shaped gap in your life. He only needs the interaction, love, and exercise he is able to give to make him the furry friend he was born to be. It is easy to see why he has become a beloved pet and a favorite with many families over the years. He’s versatile and easy-going.

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