Bernese Mountain Dog
Affectionately known as the “Berner,” the Bernese Mountain Dog is a variation of the Swiss Mountain Dog. Sporting a long, silky coat it is made for cold and rugged weather high in the mountains, where it spends much of its time on farms doing drafting and droving work.
Known for its strength, intelligence and agility it is used for many purposes today including herding, tracking, carting and even therapy work. Named for the Canton of Bern in its native Switzerland, the breed is one that can excel at both hard work on the farm or hanging out with a family. If socialized early and give consistent obedience training, they can evolve into a dog that any farm or family will be proud to have around.
Physical CharacteristicsA large, muscular dog, the Berner has a very distinctive tri-colored coat. The three primary colors are black, rust and white with most dogs sporting a combination of the three, though many Berners often have coats with only two colors. They are easily recognized by their big white chests, distinctive black heads and backs and small rust-colored areas around their eyes and mouth. Most breeders agree the perfect look for a Berner is one appearing to show a white horseshoe around the nose and a white Swiss cross on the chest. Some have small white marks on the back of their necks, which are referred to as "Swiss kisses."
A bit longer than it is tall, the Bernese Mountain Dog has one of the most muscular bodies of any dog breed. Their legs are very straight and strong, allowing them to perform the farm labor and herding they are known for. Carrying their tails low to the ground, they are also noted for their distinctive heads that are flat on top and rounded, triangular ears set high on their heads.
TemperamentGentle, easygoing dogs by nature, these dogs love the companionship of humans. Always calm and confident in themselves, they have been great work dogs as well as companions to farmers, spending their days driving cattle, pulling carts and acting as watchdogs while also being man's best friend.
Though bred to be outdoor dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs do quite well inside one's home. Thus, they are seen as a great fit for many families, and do especially well with children. Affectionate and patient, they can often be seen letting kids climb all over them while they simply stand or sit there and enjoy the attention. They have also been found to do well with other pets in the household as well as strangers who may drop by to say hello.
For those considering owning one of these dogs, they should be prepared to give it lots of exercise. These dogs thrive on activity and adventure, so they will enjoy a day spent hiking in the mountains or working on the farm.
Care & GroomingBecause these dogs are a double-coated breed, they do require a good deal of care when it comes to grooming. They have a tendency to shed, so they need to be brushed regularly to keep their coats smooth and free of tangles. Most shedding occurs when the seasons change, so spring and fall will be the busiest grooming times for their owners.
Generally, brushing only needs to be done once a week to keep their coats in good shape and the floor free of dog hair. They require bathing about every two months, but this can vary based on the dog's activities and how much time it spends outside.
As for health issues, this breed is prone to ear infections, so it's a good idea to clean their ears weekly with an ear cleaning solution obtained from a veterinarian. The breed is also prone to higher mortality rates from cancer and musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, so owners should take this into account. They are also prone to hereditary eye problems including cataracts and retinal atrophy, so they should have regular veterinary examinations to help detect any problems that may arise.