Bernese Mountain Dog
Strikingly aristocratic, Bernese Mountain dogs are one of the most attractive of the Swiss working dogs. Their coats are soft and silky with a thick under-lay, and are always jet black with a white muzzle and blaze, white chest, white paws and white tail tips. A rich chestnut or tan colour separates the black and white on the legs and cheeks. They are strong, sturdy dogs, with adult females standing at between 58 to 66cm and males at 64 to 70cm. Both sexes weigh between 40 to 44kg.
- Category size: Giant
- Grooming requirements: Daily
- Shedding: Heavy
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Usually quiet
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Working
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: Medium
- Stability as a guard: Medium
The Bernese Mountain dog breed (or 'Berner') breed can be traced back 2,000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland, then known as Helvetia, with their cattle drovers and guard dogs. The Roman mastiff-type dogs were probably crossed with flock-guarding dogs who could withstand the severe weather in the Alps and also served to soften their temperaments. Berner Sennenhunds where then used as cart-pullers to transport woven goods or dairy products from village to village.
Bernese Mountain dogs are good-natured dogs who love to be included in all aspects of family life, making wonderful companions. They are affectionate, patient and especially good with children, protecting them if necessary. They need to be with people and be given affection. They will bark to advise the arrival of visitors but will soon settle down again. Provided they have been introduced to cats and other household animals when young, they will always accept them.
The health issue of most concern to the Bernese Mountain dog breed are certain types of particularly aggressive cancers that they are particularly prone to, and as such they often have a short life-span. As with many large breeds, they can also suffer hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
As puppies, exercise should be restricted to allow the bones and joints to form properly. After they are a year old, they can be allowed off the lead for free-running exercise. As adults, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs about an hour's daily exercise.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Bernese is also prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
Daily grooming is recommended to keep the Bernese Mountain breed tangle-free and to reduce the amount of shedding. The hair between the pads should be trimmed regularly.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
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What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
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