Bernese Mountain Dog

Let’s take a look at the Bernese Mountain Dog or “Berner”, by the numbers.

By all accounts, this is a large category breed. The height of the male varies from 24 to 28 inches or 61 to 71 cm. Its weight tends to vary from 85 to 110 pounds or 38 to 50 kg. The female, on the other hand, usually stands between 23 to 27 inches or 58 to 69 cm., only very slightly smaller than the male. Her weight ranges from 80 to 105 pounds or 36 to 48 kg. Again, just a little less.

You can expect this breed to survive approx. 6 to 8 years. However, there is some debate about this. Originally, life expectancy was 10 to 12 years, but due to health concerns, which we will discuss later, the numbers were reduced. A relatively recent and credible study on the subject determined that the actual life expectancy for the Bernese Mountain Dog was 7.2 years.

Litter size is usually 8 young, although this can vary considerably, reaching as high as 14 young.

It should come as no surprise that this breed can be traced to the mountain regions of Switzerland. In fact, their name is derived from the canton or state of Switzerland called Bern. But it is speculated that their true origins date back to the Roman occupation of the region thousands of years ago. From what is known of the breed’s development, not much attention, if any, was given to serious reindeer breeding until the early 1900s. It was not until the late 1930s that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The breed’s coloring consists of basic black with brownish/rust colored cheeks, part of the chest, on all legs and under the tail. In addition, it has white on its head, paws, chest and tail.

As mentioned earlier, this is a large dog, but can be very active and needs regular exercise. Because of their size and temperament, small homes are not recommended. Give them space.

Their original use was for drafting, surveying, tracking and general farm handing, so the breed is conditioned to be useful. Mostly for this reason, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs to be with people without being alone for long periods. It is also important, as with most dogs, that they get to know their owners as the alpha component of the relationship. They need a framework with clearly defined rules, communicated early in the training process, which in turn provides a cheerful and well-balanced companion. Their intelligence can make training easier and more effective as long as the owner is firm with the dog, without being too dominant. This can also result in a dog that is comfortable with small children and other animals for that matter. A warning is that no child should be left alone with a dog or any animal that can cause harm; just common sense.

The breed suffers from ailments associated with most larger dogs, such as dysplasia in various parts of the body (especially hips), some arthritis and allergies. Cancer seems to have become a particular problem for the breed, to the extent that it shortens the lifespan and unfortunately takes some quite early in life.

Berners are a shedder and seasonally heavy, so regular grooming is not only a good bonding exercise, but will reduce the problem of waste or at least make it easier to manage.

Regarding the bonding experience with the Bernese Mountain Dog, this breed has an optimistic personality that requires a relationship with the owner that is firm but loving. Positive reinforcement, within clear boundaries, plenty of space to run and play combined with long walks and regular grooming will ensure you will have a wonderful companion for many years.

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