Strong, majestic and docile, these ‘gentle giants’ are known for their friendly, affectionate nature. Originally bred as working dogs in Switzerland, they are large enough to perform duties such as pulling carts or herding cattle. First time dog owners should beware that this size can make them boisterous when young, but on the whole this handsome breed have a calm, sweet disposition which makes them a delight to own. Some highlights:
Because they are so gentle and friendly, these dogs make excellent family pets.
Unlike some other breeds, they are not overly demanding of your attention.
This adorable breed retain puppy-like characteristics into their later years.
Although on the whole Bernese Mountain Dogs are a lovely breed, there are some factors which prospective owners should take into consideration before purchasing their Bernese puppy. Some downsides to the Bernese Mountain Dog:
As mentioned, they are very large dogs, so they can be difficult to handle when young. They also have more hair, which means more shedding!
As they are working dogs, they have large amounts of energy and need lots of exercise.
These dogs drool quite a lot, and you may have to wipe their faces on occasion.
Originating in the mountains of Switzerland, Bernese Mountain Dogs are thought to have developed as a cross between Swiss farm dogs and a Mastiff-type breed which the Romans brought with them when invading the Alps in the first century BC. They are believed to have existed in the Swiss Mountains for more than 2000 years, helping with the smooth running of farms by herding cattle and acting as watchdogs, as well as being loyal companions to their owners. They still exist there today, performing just the same role as all that time ago, but they have also spread further afield and become popular across the world. In the media, Bernese Mountain Dogs were recently popularised by the film ‘Beethoven’, which advertised the breed’s sweet and friendly nature (and tendency to drool!).
These dogs are very large - a male will measure on average between 64 and 70cm, and a female between 58 and 66cm.
Their weight matches their height, and you can expect an average Bernese to weigh in at between 35 and 55kg.
These dogs only come in one variation — a tricolour combination of white, black and reddish fur.
Loyal, vocal and large, these dogs make excellent guard dogs. Their size is certain to intimidate any intruders, and they will sound off as soon as a stranger approaches.
As mentioned, these dogs are a vocal breed with a tendency to bark loudly, which can cause problems if they are not properly trained.
Bernese Mountain Dogs mature slowly, which means they retain a cute, puppy-like nature into adulthood, but also means that they reach full size long before they reach full maturity. Therefore, early training is essential for this breed to ensure that they develop into well-rounded dogs.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are very friendly and affectionate dogs, which means they have a high potential for playfulness. Their youthful temperament means they’ll keep this quality well into their later years.
These dogs are known for being ‘gentle giants,’ and are great with children. Owners should keep in mind, however, that their size may mean that they inadvertently bump into smaller children. As with all breeds, interactions between dogs and children should be supervised, and children should be taught how to approach dogs properly.
Bernese Mountain dogs are on the whole great with other pets, although they should be supervised and properly trained to be careful around animals much smaller than them.
These dogs are loyal pets and ‘people-watchers’ who love nothing more than being around their families and involved in activities. If they are left alone for long periods of time, they are likely to develop irritating habits such as barking, digging or chewing.
Although Bernese Mountain Dogs are on the whole a very healthy breed, they can be prone to certain health conditions, which prospective owners should be aware of when researching this breed.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a moderate life span, and can be expected to live for between 6 and 10 years.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a very energetic breed, and they need large amounts of exercise. As well as plenty of time running around in a yard, these dogs need between 30 minutes and an hour of vigorous exercise every day.
Because these dogs have a very small gene pool, they can be prone to numerous health conditions. These conditions may result from irresponsible breeding, and owners should make sure to obtain the required health checks. In particular, you should ask your vet to look out for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand’s disease. They may also suffer from various forms of cancer — owners should look out for abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, any bleeding, sores which haven’t healed, or difficulty with breathing. Bernese Mountain Dogs are also particularly prone to Gastric Torsion, as they have a broad chest — owners should split their food into two meals a day, and avoid vigorous exercise directly after they have eaten.
Bred to be kept in the open countryside, these large, spirited dogs do not cope well in small spaces, as they will feel cooped up. They are not suited to apartment living, and would be happiest in a house with a large garden.
The recommended amount to feed your dog is between
Bernese mountain dogs are a high-maintenance breed on the grooming front, as they are large dogs with thick fur. It is recommended that you groom your Bernese at least once a week, but ideally more in order to avoid matting. These dogs shed seasonally, so will need more frequent brushing in the Spring and Autumn.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly between £500 and £1000 for a well-bred Bernese Mountain Dog puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): around £100 per month
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Bernese Mountain Dog puppy buying advice:
Because of the wide range of health conditions these dogs may be susceptible to, especially in the case of irresponsible breeding, prospective owners should make sure to research their breeders thoroughly and ensure that they have the required health checks.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: https://bernese.co.uk/ https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findarescue/Default.aspx?breed=5114 https://bernesewelfare.btck.co.uk/ https://bernese.co.uk/rescue/