The Bernese Mountain Dog: A Loyal Companion from the Swiss Mountains

The Bernese Mountain Dog: A Loyal Companion from the Swiss Mountains

The Bernese Mountain Dog, also known as the Berner Sennenhund, conjures images of majestic herding dogs in the Swiss Alps. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the breed’s history, physical characteristics, care requirements, and more. Whether you’re considering adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog or simply want to learn about this noble breed, read on!

Origins and History

The Bernese Mountain Dog has its roots in the farms of the Bern region in Switzerland. Originally, these versatile farm dogs assisted with tasks such as herding livestock and pulling carts. Their robust build and thick coat made them well-suited for the alpine climate.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Physical Characteristics

Coat and Markings

  • The Bernese Mountain Dog boasts a long, tricolor coat.
  • Their base color is black, with white markings on the chest and rust-colored markings on the face, legs, and chest.
  • Ideal markings include a white horseshoe shape around the nose and a “Swiss cross” on the chest.
  • Blue eyes and any base color other than black are disqualifications according to the breed standard.

Size and Weight

  • Males stand between 25 and 27.5 inches (64-70 cm) in height, while females measure 23 to 26 inches (58-66 cm).
  • Male Bernese Mountain Dogs weigh between 80 and 120 pounds (35-55 kg), and females weigh between 75 and 100 pounds (35-45 kg).

Temperament and Behavior

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are affectionate, loyal, and friendly.
  • They make excellent family companions and get along well with children and other animals.
  • While generally calm, they require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Care and Health


  • Provide a balanced, high-quality diet to maintain their health.
  • Monitor their weight, as excess weight can impact their joints.

Exercise and Activity

  • Daily physical activity, such as walks and playtime, is essential.
  • Avoid excessive exercise in puppies to protect their developing bodies.

Grooming and Maintenance

  • Brush their long coat at least once a week to prevent matting.
  • Pay attention to their ears and paws to prevent infections.

Training a Bernese Mountain Dog

Training your Bernese Mountain Dog requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Be Patient:
    • Bernese Mountain Dogs are mild-tempered but need time to learn.
    • Avoid scolding or punishing; focus on positive reinforcement instead.
  2. Reward Good Behavior:
    • Use treats or praise to reinforce positive actions.
    • Redirect bad behavior with simple commands like “stop” or “leave it.”
  3. Short Sessions:
    • During puppyhood, keep training sessions under 5 minutes.
    • Practice 3-5 times a day for optimal results.

Remember, your Bernese Mountain Dog wants to please you, so create a supportive and encouraging training environment.

Exercise Needs for Bernese Mountain Dogs

Bernese Mountain Dogs are active and strong, but they also enjoy lounging around with their families. Here are some exercise guidelines:

  1. Daily Walks:
    • Regular walks are essential to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
    • Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of brisk walking per day.
  2. Playtime and Socialization:
    • Engage in interactive play sessions to prevent boredom.
    • Socialize them with other dogs and people to build confidence.
  3. Moderate Activity:
    • Berners enjoy hiking, but avoid excessive strain on their joints.
    • Swimming is great for low-impact exercise.
  4. Mental Stimulation:
    • Puzzle toys, obedience training, and agility exercises keep their minds active.

Remember, balance is key. Too much exercise can strain their joints, so tailor their activity level to their age and health. 🐾🏞️

Grooming Your Bernese Mountain Dog: Tips and Techniques

Grooming your Bernese Mountain Dog is essential to maintain their beautiful coat. Here are some effective grooming practices:

  1. Brush Regularly:
    • Berners have double coats (an undercoat and a long topcoat).
    • Use a slicker brush for general brushing and a rake comb for detangling and removing matted fur.
    • Brush every few days to control shedding and distribute healthy skin oils.
  2. Untangle Knots:
    • Comb through the fur first to find any knots (matts).
    • Use a detangling spray if needed, and gently comb through.
    • If matts are too large, carefully cut them out with scissors.
  3. Sensitive Areas:
    • Pay extra attention to the chest, tummy, and inner thighs.
    • Brush in the direction of hair growth.
    • Show love and patience during grooming sessions.
  4. Other Grooming Tasks:
    • Bathe your Bernese Mountain Dog every 2-3 months using a gentle shampoo.
    • Trim or grind their nails every 4-6 weeks.
    • Clean their ears with a mild ear-cleaning solution.

Remember, grooming is a bonding experience that keeps your Berner healthy and looking their best! 🐾🛁

Best Diet for Bernese Mountain Dogs

The ideal diet for Berners includes a balance of high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Consider these options:

  1. Natural and Home-Made:
    • Use meat as the basis (raw is optimal).
    • Supplement with moderate amounts of vegetables and small amounts of grains.
    • Consult a veterinary nutritionist for personalized advice.
  2. Commercial Food:
    • Wet food (around 1500g/day) or dry food (400g/day) can be convenient.
    • Research reputable brands to ensure quality.

Remember to tailor the diet to your Bernese Mountain Dog’s life stage and energy needs for their overall health and wellness. 🐾🍽️

Common health problems we should pay attention to

 Bernese Mountain Dogs, affectionately known as Berners, are gentle giants but are susceptible to various health issues. Here are some common health problems to watch out for:

  1. Neoplasia (Cancer):
    • The largest cause of death in Bernese Mountain Dogs is cancer.
    • Histiocytic sarcoma or malignant histiocytosis is a predominant form of cancer in this breed.
    • Regular blood tests and checkups are recommended.
  2. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD):
    • Abnormal hip joint development leads to pain and lameness.
    • Responsible breeders screen for CHD.
    • Look out for symptoms like decreased activity, limping, and stiffness.
  3. Elbow Dysplasia:
    • Similar to hip dysplasia, it affects the front limbs.
    • Abnormal elbow joint development causes pain and lameness.
  4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):
    • A genetic condition leading to gradual vision loss.
    • Regular eye exams are crucial.
  5. Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD):
    • A bleeding disorder affecting blood clotting.
    • Watch for bleeding gums or prolonged bleeding after minor injuries.
  6. Gastric Torsion (Bloat):
    • Berners fed once a day are more prone to bloat.
    • Bloat is a serious emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.
  7. ArthritisAllergies, and Hot Spots:
    • Arthritis can affect older Bernese Mountain Dogs.
    • Allergies may cause skin issues.
    • Hot spots (localized skin inflammation) can occur.

Remember to provide regular veterinary care and monitor your Berner’s health closely! 🐾🏥


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a loyal and beautiful companion that thrives in an active and loving environment. If you’re ready to commit to their care and enjoy their company, consider welcoming one into your home. These alpine dogs are sure to steal your heart! 🐾🐶

Always consult with a veterinarian for specific guidance on caring for your Bernese Mountain Dog.

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