Ancestors of the Bernese Mountain Dogs were brought into Switzerland more than 2000 years ago by forces of invading Roman soldiers, and although they can still to be found on the farms of central Switzerland today, by the end of last century the breed had degenerated to such an extent as to be unrecognisable.
The Bernese Mountain Dog was mainly used as a drover's dog and a watchdog in the farmyards in the Canton of Berne. Sufficient dogs of correct type remained for a rehabilitation programme to be undertaken by fanciers and by 1907 a breed club was formed, and the breed found favour with many Swiss as a pet and companion.
These beautiful dogs can live up to 12 years of age, but fed the right food will usually live up to 14 years.
Average size and weight
A male dog in peak condition should be about 50kg and be 70cm tall and the female should be 34 to 40kg and up to 60cm tall.
Breed personality, characteristics & temperament
This is a multi-purpose farm dog capable of draught work as well as being a kind and devoted family dog. It is slow to mature, but it is self-confident, good-natured, friendly and fearless and any aggressive behaviour should be stopped as soon as it starts.
Compatibility with other pets
It is essential that the Bernese Mountain Dog be made part of the family if it is to be kept truly happy. It will get along quite happily with other pets so long as it is brought up with them.
An extremely hardy dog, strong, sturdy and alert, the Bernese is jet black with rich reddish brown on its legs, cheeks, spots over each eye, and on either side of his white chest markings. Its coat is of medium length and silky with a slight wave and needs daily grooming.
Please take note
Because of the Bernese Mountain Dog's strong in-built herding instinct can quickly turn into a dangerous chasing habit if not curbed. Because they are tempted to round up any moving object, this can include traffic - so train your dog to understand that ‘traffic herding’ is not allowed.
Because these dogs can grow so quickly and are extremely active, they are usually too ‘full on’ for very young children and elderly folk. Their herding instinct can also make them a problem for the young.
Click here for advice on adopting a rescue dog and finding a breeder. All information has been provided by the Kennel Club.
Get all the information you need about the various kinds of dogs on our breeds category page.
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