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(Berner Sennenhund) (Berner)


The Bernese Mountain dog originated in the Swiss mountains. Many 18th century paintings show dogs which looked just like the Bernese type dog. The breed was named for the Canton of Bern. They were working dogs particularly good at draft work, pulling carts to market. They also were used to drive dairy cattle, to watch over the farm and as a companion to the farmers.

By the end of the 19th century many other working dogs were being imported to Switzerland, which brought the numbers of the Bernese down as workers began to use other types of dogs. An effort was made by a group of people including Professor Albert Heim and Franz Schertenleib to preserve the breed. They went around finding what remaining dogs they could in order to stabilize the Bernese.

Today the breed makes a wonderful companion and they still to this day enjoy whatever draft work you can give them. The breeds’ talents are tracking, herding, watch, guarding, search & rescue, carting, and competitive obedience.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, strong, sturdy, agile dog. The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The broad head is flat on the top with a moderate stop. The muzzle is strong and straight. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The medium-sized, triangular ears are set high and rounded at the tip. The straight legs are strong. The bushy tail is carried low. Dewclaws are often removed. The feet are round with arched toes.

The weather-resistant coat is moderately long, thick and slightly wavy or straight. The dog is tricolour with symmetrical markings of black, rust and white. The base of the dog is black. The dog has a white blaze on the chest, and white on the head, toes and tip of the tail. Rust is on the cheeks reaching to the corners of the mouth, over each eye, on each side of the chest, on all four legs and underneath the tail.


These cheerful dogs love children. They are very intelligent, love learning and are easily trained and are natural watchdogs, but not overly dominant. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a friend for life: self-confident, alert and good-natured. Introduce these dogs to as many other dogs as possible when young. Slow to mature, acting like a puppy longer than other breeds. Rather friendly with strangers, and are generally good with other dogs and animals.

The Bernese needs to be with people and not confined to the backyard or a kennel. These dogs are sensitive and should be trained firmly, but gently. Owners will only run into issues with this dog if they are not acting as pack leader and are lacking in the knowledge as to what dogs instinctually need to be stable minded.

Owners who fail to convince the dog that they are the alpha leader of the pack may find themselves with a totally different dog than what is described above. For a dog to feel secure they need to clearly know the rules so they can follow them, thriving in structure, along with walks with the rest of their pack to satisfy their instinct to migrate. The Bernese Mountain Dog was bred for draft work and can be trained to pull a load.

Height, Weight

Height: Dogs 61-71cm. Bitches 58-69cm
Weight: 38-50kg. Bitches 36-48kg

Health Problems

The Bernese Mountain Dog is prone to the condition known as bloat, cancer and eyelid problems, hip and elbow dysplasia. Gains weight easily. Do not over feed.

Living Conditions

Bernese Mountain Dog are not recommended for smaller dwellings. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large, fenced-in garden. Because of their thick coats they are sensitive to the heat and would much rather be in cold climates


Large active dogs such as these need regular exercise, with at least two daily walks.

Life Expectancy

About 6-8 years. The average lifespan of the Bernese has decreased in recent years from 10-12 yrs to 6-8 yrs. Cancer is unfortunately a very large part of the Bernese world and many Berneses’ die young

Litter Size
Varies from 1 - 14 puppies - Average 8


Daily to weekly brushing of the long thick coat is important, with extra care needed when the coat is shedding. Bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. This breed has a seasonal, heavy moult.




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