Bernese Mountain Dogs: Playful, Energetic Working Pets

Updated on April 27, 2017
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Look at the size of the paws are on this 40-day  old Bernese Mountain dog puppy!This female puppy is 15 weeks old, and starting to develop the distinctive coat and appearance of a Bernese Mountain dog.Even though the average life span of a Bernese Mountain dog is about 7 years, this grand specimen is 12 years old. In spite of my immense size, I'm just a gentle giant at heart. I'm a working dog at heart, so give me lots of jobs to do like fetching your newspaper and I'll be a happy dog!
Look at the size of the paws are on this 40-day  old Bernese Mountain dog puppy!
Look at the size of the paws are on this 40-day old Bernese Mountain dog puppy! | Source
This female puppy is 15 weeks old, and starting to develop the distinctive coat and appearance of a Bernese Mountain dog.
This female puppy is 15 weeks old, and starting to develop the distinctive coat and appearance of a Bernese Mountain dog. | Source
Even though the average life span of a Bernese Mountain dog is about 7 years, this grand specimen is 12 years old.
Even though the average life span of a Bernese Mountain dog is about 7 years, this grand specimen is 12 years old. | Source
In spite of my immense size, I'm just a gentle giant at heart.
In spite of my immense size, I'm just a gentle giant at heart. | Source
I'm a working dog at heart, so give me lots of jobs to do like fetching your newspaper and I'll be a happy dog!
I'm a working dog at heart, so give me lots of jobs to do like fetching your newspaper and I'll be a happy dog! | Source

Bernese Mountain dogs, one of several Swiss Mountain dog breeds, were developed in Berne, and gained American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition in 1937.

This was quite a comeback for a breed that was in the nineteenth century, according to the Burnese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA), “nearly extinct.”1

About Bernese Mountain Dogs

The breed standards were set in 1907 by a small group of breeders in Burgdorf, and the dogs gained popularity with the Swiss farmers.

There was a failed attempt to import them to the United States in 1926; however, in 1937 they were successfully introduced. The first two AKC recognized Berners were named Fridy and Quell.

These hardy dogs were working farm dogs and performed tasks such as hauling small loads in dog carts, or herding cows.

The Bernese Mountain dog's high intelligence level and strength combined with their people-pleasing personalities made them well suited for such tasks, and the farmers relied on them to keep a watchful eye on the farm and family.

Pros & Cons of Berners As Pets

Today, one might see the Bernese Mountain dog competing in events such as drafting, droving, tracking, or other agility sports, or offering love and affection as a therapy dog.

However, they need early socialization and obedience training to prepare them for these roles, and to overcome their natural predisposition to shyness.

Families with small children or other pets may or may not want to consider this breed unless they are willing to commit to such training.

Additionally, they may want to chat with other Berner owners to get a better feel for the overall temperament of the breed.

With their deep chests and large-boned bodies, Bernese Mountain dogs are impressive looking dogs.

They are high maintenance in terms of needs for human interaction and grooming, they do shed, and their heavy coats make them ill-suited for hot weather.

Note: Be sure to watch the short video below as you can really see how massive the chest area is in this breed. The dog shown was not full-grown when the video was shot, but you can see that this is a giant-sized breed!

They are happiest when they are close to their families, so plan on keeping them as inside dogs, and allot plenty of time daily for playing, exercising, and grooming. Add a bath as needed, and a well-balanced diet, and your Berner should stay happy and healthy.

According to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA), males are approximately 25 to 27 inches tall, and weigh about 80 to 115 pounds.Females are smaller, weighing about 70 to 95 pounds and 23 to 26 inches tall.

Like most large or giant dogs, they have a relatively short lifespan of just 7.9 years according to the 2005 BMDCA health survey.

Characteristics of Bernese Mountain Dogs

Here's a snapshot of the Bernese Mountain dog:

  • Origin: Switzerland
  • Nickname: Berner
  • Characteristics: Loyal, intelligent, some herding instincts, extremely agile given the large bone structure
  • Need for Human Interaction: Extremely high; may exhibit undesirable behaviors if left alone for extended periods.
  • Social Skills: Only if well socialized and obedience trained. Puppies may “mouth” objects.
  • Exercise needs: Moderate
  • Lifespan: Approximately seven years.
  • Need to vocalize: Moderate
  • Grooming: Weekly brushings; baths as needed
  • Associations: The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America

Now, let's talk about the potential health problems your Berner could face.

Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy Playing

Common Breed Health Problems

If you are considering purchasing a Berner, you should be aware that they are predisposed to several severe health problems. The most common are:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Eye disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mast cell cancer
  • Malignant histiocytosis

If this breed profile has piqued your interest, then you may have decided you would like to own a Bernese Mountain dog.

A good place to start your research and get more information is at the BMDCA website.

Resources

1 - The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc. “The BMD History and the Standard”

BMDCA Info Series, “Health Issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs,” 2009 #4

BMDCA Info Series, “FAQs About Bernese Mountain Dogs,” 2009

Berner Organization

The American Kennel Club (AKC), "AKC Meet the Breed: the Burnese Mountain Dog"

Questions & Answers

    What Do You Think About These Giant Dogs?

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      • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Cosmato 

        6 years ago from USA

        Hi, Cindy! Yes, the one Bernese Mountain dog did look sad...but I included the picture because he or she was well past the average lifespan of 7 years old. If someone is considering one of these beauties, I thought it might be good to know that at least one of them had made it past seven:)

        I also want to take just a minute to thank you for the help, tips, and continued support this year. I've really learned a lot from reading your hubs and feedback on mine, and it's helped me become a better writer. Congratulations on achieving all the goals you set this year, and my best wishes for an even more successful 2012:)

      • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Cosmato 

        6 years ago from USA

        They are cutie-pies, aren't they? I would love to have one or two of them, but we recently lost our gentle giant Lost Boy, and my hubby just can't bear the thought of getting another dog right now. However, when/if that day ever comes, the Bernese Mountain dog is my dog of choice:)

        Thanks for all the feedback and support this year, Deborah. You probably don't realize just how much encouragement it has given me, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you:)

      • homesteadbound profile image

        Cindy Murdoch 

        6 years ago from Texas

        They are so cute as puppies! That middle image in your thumbnails looks so sad! :(

        I really enjoyed this hub, and the video was great!

      • Deborah Brooks profile image

        Deborah Brooks Langford 

        6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

        these dogs are so adorable.. I love them.. great Hub. I am so gLad you keep us informed about our animals what to look out for and so on. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU

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