Bernese Mountain Dog – Dog Breeds Expert

Bernese Mountain Dog

Loving, affectionate, loyal.

What isn’t there to love about the Bernese Mountain Dog? Also nicknamed “Berners”, these dogs are all that they seem to be. Loving, affectionate, intelligent, loyal, and the list goes on and on.

A Bernese Mountain Dog sitting down facing the camera, against a white background.
Bernese Mountain Dog

They are large and heavy making them good at their natural drive to pull things. They have a distinctive tri-color coat with rust, black and white. The markings on a Berner are very recognizable and something that makes this breed so special.

If you’re in the market for a hardworking and diligent dog, then this will be the perfect breed for you. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very muscular breed with a strong stance.

Most, if not all, breeds of dogs were bred for a certain purpose. Berners were bred for the purpose to work, and pull things such as carts, wagons, and crates.

Bernese Mountain Dog – Temperament

This breed has an innate desire to work, and you will see that come to life when you put your dog to work. If trained properly, they will enjoy pulling children in a parade or being part of a festival.

They are said to be able to pull up to one thousand pounds, and one time a lone Bernese pulled over two thousands pounds, which is incredible for any single dog. With this being said though, it is also important not to push your dog past their limits when it comes to manual labor.

Make sure you take note of what you think they can physically handle and work around that. They love to work and help, but if they are pushed too far, it can cause a plethora of problems for you and your furry friend.

However, with proper care and a responsible owner, your Berner could become the next member of your family in no time.

A Bernese Mountain Dog lying down on sand by the sea, with the ocean in the background.
Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are some of the sweetest, most loving dogs you could own.

They even have somewhat of a goofy, smiling face due to the tri color markings on their face.

They are very good with children and other dogs. These dogs in general have a very gentle manner, and are pretty easy going, which also makes training fairly simple as well.

It is important that your Bernese Mountain Dog is around and with people for the most part, instead of being confined to a kennel or a backyard. They thrive and flourish when they are playing with their loved ones or sitting by your side. Like many dogs, they love affection and will give back what is given to them.

Since they are such people oriented dogs, they do great with kids and are best suited for families that can give them as much attention as possible. Living with someone who works nine to five every day and can only see their dog for a little bit at night, may want to consider a different breed of dog.

The Berner would become very antsy and anxious if they had to live alone for such a long period of time.

Bernese Mountain Dog – Breed History

Head and shoulders of a Bernese Mountain Dog, with green grass in the background.
Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of four of the Sennenhund dogs from the Swiss Alps. “Sennenhund” is a German word with “Senne” meaning “Alpine Pasture” and “hund” meaning “dog.”  The other breeds are the Appenzeller Sennenhund, the Entelbacher Sennenhund, and the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhuns.

The Berner originated in the Swiss mountains where they worked to pull carts, herd animals, and guard the herd.  It is in their nature to work, and the hardworking aspect can be lead back to their origin.

It is thought that Bernese Mountain Dogs are over two thousand years old. Over the years they were bred to be drafting dogs, as well as great companions. However at the beginning of the industrial revolution, new methods of transportation took the jobs of many drafting dogs.

The Berner actually almost completely disappeared due to lack of concentration in breeding. By the 19th century, other types of dogs were imported into Switzerland and the Bernese Mountain Dog’s popularity declined. 

Luckily, they didn’t die off completely, thanks to the help of Albert Heim who began to preserve and promote the breed. 

A breed club was formed in 1907 and by the 20th century, the breed regained popularity, not only in Switzerland, but worldwide. 

Today, this breed is still used for farm work in some parts of the world, but they have become popular as therapy dogs, and search and rescue.  Most important, they make great companions and are a great choice for families with children.

They were first introduced into the American Kennel Club in 1937  and in 2014, the breed ranks 31st in popularity, at least in the United States.

Vital Statistics

Male: 25-28 in, 64-70 cm; 86-110 lbs, 39-50 kg

Female: 23-26 in, 58-66 cm; 79-110 lbs, 36-48 kg

Life Span:  Under 10 years

Colors: Tricolor (Black, White, Rust)

Ease of Training

Berners are naturally good mannered and well behaved. It is important to start training and socializing your Berner when they are young, so they do not grow up to be aggressive towards anyone.

They are sensitive but quick to learn, so a positive approach to training is a must. 

A Bernese Mountain Dog lying down on green grass, with a puppy
Bernese Mountain Dog

Although your pup may be calm and well behaved in the house, they do need their outside time quite a bit. Since they are so big, they are very active and do better in environments where they can be outside daily.

A living space with a fenced in backyard is a dream for this breed because they can run around at their leisure without having to worry about being too rambunctious.

Without proper exercise, your Berner can display undesirable traits such as skittish, anxious, or aggressive.


The Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent watch dog but as far as being a guard dog used for protection, you would be better off choosing a different breed.


A Bernese Mountain Dog standing on grass, looking up at the camera.
Bernese Mountain Dog

Although this dog is fairly easy going, the one high maintenance thing about them would be grooming their long, thick, coat.  See below for information on the FURminator grooming tool that we highly recommend.

Their coat is soft, silky and wavy and although it grows to a medium length, it needs daily brushing to keep mats from forming. The coat is very heavy, so these dogs do best in cooler climates and do not tolerate the heat as well as other dogs may.

This breed is a heavy, seasonal shedder, which means they shed year round, but it is heaviest during the season changes.  Extra care during these times is very important.

They need regular baths.  When bathing and grooming, pay close attention to the ears and around the eyes as bacteria can build up there and sometimes cause infection if not cleaned properly. Any breed who has ears that are held down and close to the head are at risk for ear infections. 

Other than that, regular checks up of the eyes, nails, anal glands.  Between the paw pads may need to be trimmed or clipped but this can be done by a professional groomer. 

FURminator deShedding Tool

We have found that the absolute best way of grooming any long haired dog breed is to use the FURminator grooming tool! We highly recommend this unique brush from Amazon to keep your dog in tip top shape. Click on the image below to find out more…

FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool for Dogs

Health Concerns

The down side of this breed is that they do not live as long as a lot of other breeds. Their average life span is around 6-8 years.

Cancer is very common in dogs in general and is the number one killer of dogs overall, but the Bernese Mountain Dogs have a higher rate of fatal cancer than other breeds.

Some of these types of cancer include;

  • malignant histiocytosis
  • mast cell tumor
  • lymphosarcoma
  • fibrosarcoma
  • osteosarcoma

Another reason this breed does not live as long is because they have multiple musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament rupture, and osteochondritis (a type of elbow dysplasia)

Make sure you confirm with your breeder that your new addition to the family does not have any of these conditions when you purchase them.  It is important to find a breeder who is knowledgeable of the breed and their health issues. 

Many genetic tests are now on the market that can be used to scan breeding dogs.  Hips and elbows can also be x-rayed prior to mating to assure that the parents are not passing on problems to their offspring.

It is important that you do not push your dog farther than they physically can handle, and if you suspect that there is any problem with your pet, make sure you contact the vet as soon as you can.

Overall, if you are looking for a big, lovable, fluff ball that will stay by your side and be a best friend, then the Bernese Mountain Dog may be a good option to consider for you. With proper exercise, grooming and attention, Berners will make an excellent addition to your family.

Reference and Further Reading

We always recommend that you do as much research about a breed before making that first call to a breeder or rescue or visit to your local shelter.  Here are a couple of books that you might want to consider adding to your doggie library.

Click on the images for further information.

Bernese Mountain Dog: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet

Bernese Mountain Dog: The Essential Guide for the Bernese Mountain Dog Lover (Breed Lover’s Guides)

Bernese Mountain Dogs (Barron’s Complete Pet Owner’s Manuals (Paperback))

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