The Bernese Mountain Dog is a giant dog breed.
It is one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps.
Some experts believe this breed’s history traces to the Roman invasion of Switzerland, when the Roman mastiffs were crossed with native flock-guarding dogs. This cross produced a strong dog that was able to withstand the Alpine weather and that could serve as draft dog, flock guard, drover, herder, and general farm dog.
The Bernese Mountain Dog originated around the city of Berne, for which it is named.
Historically, Berners were used as general purpose farm dogs.
Their large, sturdy frames and calm, confident temperaments made them ideal for pulling carts to market, driving dairy cattle, watching the farm and acting as companions to farmers.
Becouse these dogs pulled carts of milk and cheese they were known by the locals as “Cheese Dogs.”
Despite their utility, little attempt was made to perpetuate them as a breed purposefully. By the late 1800s, the breed was in danger of being lost. At that time, Professor Albert Heim initiated a study of Swiss dogs that led to the identification of the Bernese Mountain Dog as one of the existing
types. These dogs were found only in the valleys of the lower Alps. Through Dr. Heim’s efforts, these dogs were promoted throughout Switzerland and even Europe.
The breed was officially established in 1912.
Today, this versatile breed participates in conformation, obedience, carting, agility, tracking, herding and therapy work. This is a dog that thrives in colder climates but does not fare well in warmer weather. He loves to frolic in the snow, and also loves to play with kids.
The Bernese is one of the shortest-lived dog breeds, compared both to other breeds of a similar size and to purebred dogs in general. The average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog is approximately 7 to 8 years.
The Bernese mountain dog stands 58 to 70 cm (23 to 27.5 inches) and weighs from 35 to 80 kg (75 to 120 lb).
It has a distinctive tri-colored coat, black with white chest and rust-colored markings above eyes, sides of the mouth, front of legs, andount around the white chest. The ideal of a perfectly marked individual gives the impression of a white horseshoe shape around the nose, which is always black. There is a white “Swiss cross” on the chest when viewed from the front. A “Swiss kiss” is a white mark located typically behind the neck, but maybe a part of the neck. A full ring would not meet the type standard. The AKC breed standard lists, as disqualifications, blue eye color, and any ground color other than black.
An excellent family dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog gets along well with children and most other pets and loves to be included in all family activities. Breed aficionados love the Bernese Mountain Dog’s intelligence and devotion to family. They are protective but not aggressive, loyal but independent, and energetic but not exhausting.
Bernese Mountain Dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise. Although a nice long walk will do, Bernese Mountain Dogs are highly versatile, excelling at competitive obedience, agility, tracking, and of course, carting.
The German name for the Bernese Mountain Dog is Berner Sennenhund. The name Sennenhund is derived from the German Senne meaning “alpine pasture” and Hund – hound/dog, as they accompanied the alpine herders and dairymen called Senn.
In the early 1900s, fanciers exhibited the few examples of the large dogs at shows in Berne, and in 1907 a few breeders from the Burgdorf region founded the first breed club, the Schweizerische Dürrbach-Klub, and wrote the first Standard which defined the dogs as a separate breed.
By 1910, there were already 107 registered members of the breed. There is a photo of a working Bernese Mountain Dog, dated 1905 at the Fumee Fall rest area in Quinnesec, MI.
In 1937, the American Kennel Club recognized it – today, the club classifies it as a member of the Working Group.
In the US the Bernese Mountain Dog is growing in popularity.
These dogs are very popular as family dogs in German-speaking countries, where they are among the most popular dog breeds.
On average, price for this breed is between $800-$2,000. According to NextDayPets, the median price for all Bernese Mountain Dogs sold is $1,147.50. That number increases for dogs with superior lineage. A
top-quality dog with exceptional breed lines generally starts at $2,500 and can go as high as $10,000 or even more.