Is there anything more beautiful than the Bernese Mountain Dog?
With their tricolour coats, their floppy ears and eyes that would melt butter, these soft, giant size dogs are one of the most sought after breed of dogs in the world and, allowing for some exceptions (which we will cover later in the post) are the perfect dog breed for families.
But, aside from their handsome stature, their gentle nature and their famous tri-coloured double-layer coats; what makes the Bernese Mountain dog so unique and lovable?
10 Important Facts That Bernese Mountain Dog Owners Shouldn’t Ignore
If you are looking to buy a Bernese Mountain puppy or adopting an older dog and need information before you do, here are 9 important facts that you need to know about this gentle giant.
#1 DON’T Ignore The History Of The Bernese Mountain Dog (it’s what makes them the dog they are)
Berner Sennenhund (The German name for the Bernese Mountain Dog)
- The name Sennenhund comes from the German word Senne (which means ‘alpine pasture’ ) and Hund (meaning hound/dog).
- Descendents of dogs used by Roman soldiers 2,000 years ago, the Bernese Mountain Dog was originally a cross between a variety of mastiffs and other guard-type breeds.
- Because of their size and strength, the Bernese dog was used to pull heavy carts for the Alpine herders and dairymen over treacherous mountain passes through the Swiss Alpes.
- Berner (or Bernese in English) refers to the area of the breed’s origin, the city of Bern in Switzerland.
- At the turn of the century, Professor Albert Heim saved the Bernese Mountain dog from near-extinction when he continued to carefully develop the breed, crossing the breed with a Newfoundland, he improved the dog’s temperament and size.
- The breed of Bernese Mountain Dog was officially established in 1907 and in 1937 was recognised by the American Kennel Club.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog is listed under the working breed dog category.
#2 DON’T Ignore The Size Of The Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain dog is a big puppy that turns into an even bigger dog!
Do not consider buying this breed if you live in a small apartment with no garden. The Bernese breed needs space.
If you would like a big dog that is suitable to small space living then check out this white dog breeds post.
Be aware that if you at the stage in your family life that includes small toddlers, the Bernese dog may very well bowl little ones over (unintentionally of course) but all the same, toddlers who are just learning to get on their feet will need to be supervised at all times around this gentle giant who doesn’t know his own strength.
Male: 38 – 50 kg
Female: 36 – 48 kg
Height at Withers:
Male: 64 – 70 cm
Female: 58 – 66 cm
#3 DON’T Ignore The Health Problems Of This Breed
There are lots of things to consider if you are buying a dog for the first time– the last thing you want to think about are potential health problems.
Looking at this bundle of tri-coloured fluff it is hard to think about any possible health problems (you’d much rather be choosing a gorgeous and unique name to suit your Bernese puppy!) and although none of the following may occur, it is best to be aware of the common health problems that are linked to this breed.
The potential health problems that Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to include:
- Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Elbow dysplasia – elbow joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis in dogs.
- Entropion – inward turning eyelids.
- Gastric Torsion – also called ‘bloat’ this is a life-threatening condition that can affect large, deep-chested dogs such as Bernese dogs. This is especially true if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating.
Most health issues are due to irresponsible breeding, so please only buy your Bernese Mountain Dog from an accredited breeder.
Although none of the above health problems may ever occur in your dog, it is important that you discuss the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
The health issues associated with Berners are often due to irresponsible breeding. Never buy Bernese puppies from the newspaper or other ‘mass-produced’ advertising platforms.
#4 Don’t Ignore The Bernese Lifespan
It is usually the way that something so good can only last so long and this is somewhat the case of the Bernese Mountain dog.
Beautiful to look at and with a temperament to match, the owner of this breed can expect a lifespan of 6-10 years of life with this breed.
Not the longest lifespan compared to other dog breeds, but every year with a Berner will be unforgettable.
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#5 DON’T Ignore The BM Dog Temperament
Affectionately known as a ‘Berner’, the Bernese mountain dog temperament is calm, kind, alert and good-natured.
When you come to name your new puppy make sure you choose a unique dog name to match his personality!
Not only is this gentle giant beautiful to look at but they are one of the most sweet-natured dog breeds making them the perfect dog breeds for kids.
But. If you are planning on making the Berner your life long companion there are things you should be aware of!
Their background is a working dog and because of this, the Berner enjoys the challenge of new things.
This is not a breed that is happy to sit doing nothing all day.
The Berneses Mountain dog likes to play and be part of the family and if left alone and isolated will become bored and destructive. It is very important that he has the opportunity to socialise from an early age.
If you plan to buy a dog that will live outside in a kennel then this is not the breed for you. The Berner needs to be around her family members at all time. Consider investing in an extra-large stylish indoor kennel and this way your baby will be with your family constantly without you necessarily knowing it!
The Berner can be quite a shy breed until they get to know you, so early puppy socialisation is important – as is being exposed to other dogs and people (take him to the local doggy cafe and watch all the attention he gets!)
The Berners size can be quite intimidating but they really are a very gentle giant and, if trained correctly, are well behaved. This makes them the ideal travelling companion.
Although they are very protective of their family members, the Berner is not an aggressive dog – he does have a very loud and deep bark that he will use occasionally!
#6 DON’T Ignore The Importance of Bernese Mountain Dog Training
Due to his size, the Berner will benefit from basic dog training at an early age with a gentle but stern approach; this way they can adapt to the rules and routines of being part of a family.
Remember that the Berner is late to mature both physically and mentally (rather like my 18-year-old son) so keep this in mind when you have been training him for some time and he still seems to ‘not quite get it’!
Take your time with your Bernese Mountain Dog training; little and often is the best approach with this breed. Due to the softness of their personalities, Berner’s feelings are easily hurt. Be patient and gentle and you will be rewarded with a well socialised and easily manageable dog.
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#7 DON’T Ignore Her Exercise Needs
Although not as exercise mad as a breed such as a Boxer, the Berner needs plenty of vigorous exercise. Due to her size, you do not have the option of installing a dog door and leaving her to come and go in the back garden by herself all day.
The Berner is at his happiest when he is fetching sticks, playing games with little kids, acting goofy and splashing around in the water!
If you are unsure how much exercise your Berner needs compared to how much he is getting then I suggest investing in the excellent Fitbark activity monitor. This provides you with a gentle reminder as to whether you need to do a little more (or less!) with your Bernese Mountain dog.
#8 DON’T Ignore Grooming
The gorgeous coat of the Bernese Mountain dog is what makes this breed stand out from the rest. Double layered with a long outer coat and a woolly coat underneath, the Berners covering is mostly black layered with intense rust and bright white colour.
Usually, there is a white pattern across her chest that looks like an inverted Swiss cross and another flash of white between her eyes.
The Berner is a gorgeous specimen.
If you are a fastidious clean freak then the Bernese breed may not be the dog for you. This breed sheds moderately throughout the year with spring and autumn seeing the worst of the fur falling from her coat and onto your carpets.
Because of this, it is super important to regularly brush your Berner (and to invest in a good vacuum!).
Keep your dog’s nails well-trimmed and clean her ears with a natural substance on a regular basis to avoid them from becoming smelly or infected.
The Bernese Mountain dog is not a massive drooler, but if she has loose jowls then she will need you to keep an eye on the slobber!
Don’t worry, plenty of Berner owners will testify that the drool and the shedding is worth every minute with this beautiful gentle giant.
The best brush that we recommend using for your Bernese Mountain dog is this one. It is sturdy and strong and lasts well considering the work it has to do. Check the prices for the Slicker Brush here.
#9 DON’T Ignore The Bernese Dog’s Climate Preference
Originating from the Swiss Alpes means that the Bernese Mountain dog is best suited to cooler climates.
This doesn’t mean to say that if you live in a part of the country that gets hot then owning a Berner is out of the question; just be aware that walks will have to be limited to times of the day that are the coolest, such as early morning and late evening.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for this then you might have to rethink.
Make sure that your Berner has plenty of shade in the day (especially in the summer) and that in the winter her bed is not placed next to a heater.
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#10 DON”T Ignore The Bernese Mountain Dog Price (Yikes!)
I hope you’ve got your wallet handy because the Bernese Mountain Dog price tag is by no means small.
Depending on where you are in the world and the breed line of the dog you can expect to pay anything from:
New Zealand – 2,500 NZD upwards. The Bernese Mountain Dog Organisation in New Zealand warns potential buyers that if ever you see a dog of this breed for sale for $600 – $800 NZD then it will be a scam and to not proceed.
United States – $1300 up to a whopping $10,000 (for an exceptional breed line)
UK – £1500 – £1800
Of course, there is always the option of adopting a Bernese dog. Look into your local region for these options if money is too tight and you would like to give one of these beautiful dogs a home.
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The Bernese Mountain Dog In A Nutshell
A gorgeous gentle giant that requires time, space, plenty of love, attention and a good quality dog brush!
If you have taken into account the important things to consider when buying a Bernese Mountain Dog and still feel that this is the breed for you then Yay!
Choosing a dog breed to be part of your family for the next decade or so is an important decision. I hope that these ten tips have covered everything you needed to know about this beautiful dog.
If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog and would like me to add something that I have may have missed to this list, please feel free to comment below or email me. And remember; if you enjoyed this post PLEASE SHARE IT with someone else you think would enjoy it as much as you!