The Bernese Mountain Dog

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Bernese Mountain Dog
Weight: 70 — 120 lbs
Height: 23” — 28”
AKC Rank 2008 # 40
Lifespan 6—9 yrs
Group: Working
Origin: Switzerland

Dog Breed Info - Bernese Mountain Dog

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Breed Overview

Origin:: Ancient times. Original function: Draft. Today: Draft, herding, companion.

There is some belief that the Mountain Dog traces to the Roman invasion of Switzerland, when the Roman mastiff’s were crossed with native flock-guarding dogs. This cross produced a strong dog that was able to withstand the Alpine weather and could serve as draft dog, flock guard, drover, herder, and general farm dog. These dogs were found only in the valley of the lower Alps. The best dogs were found in the Durrbach area, at one time, giving the breed the name Durrbachler. As the breed spread, the name was changed to Bernese Mountain Dog. The first Bernese came to America in 1926. Official AKC registration occurred in 1937.

A very sleepy, yawning B.M.Dog puppy
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Very trainable. The Bernese Mountain Dog loves to please and is intelligent. Because this is such a large dog, he needs to be well socialized when very young so check that out when getting one. The best way to train this guy is with clicker training and positive reinforcement that works so well for these dogs.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are not all that difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Bernese Mountain Dog patrolling her territory
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The Bernese Mountain Dog is an easy-going, calm, family companion after it leaves it’s adolescence stage. It is sensitive, loyal and extremely devoted. This dog is gentle with children and often reserved with strangers. This breed generally gets along with other dogs and pets. They do NOT do well when isolated from family activities. This dog wants to be included in everything the family does which is what you want a dog to be.

If you happen to get a dog with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Yes, generally this dog is friendly toward other dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, is known to mix fairly well with other household dogs and cats. This is a loving breed and not known for aggression. Gets along with pretty much everything.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, friendly but somewhat reserved as a rule. They do bond with one family and don’t do well if required to bond with a second family. But, bring on the relatives. Bernese Mountain Dog’s will be nice to them.


Somewhat playful, especially with kids.


Yes, the Bernese Mountain Dog is loyal and affectionate, especially with his immediate family. Once this dog bonds with a family, he will not let go.

Bernese M.Dog resting on green grass.
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Good with children?

Yes. Tolerant and quiet. The dog is heavy and can injure toddlers so supervise closely.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes, the Bernese Dog is a good match for seniors... as long as the senior is up for a nice long walk everyday rain or shine, the Bernese Mountain Dog can be great. comforting company. They are loyal and content to hang out or walk or jog so the owner can decide what he’s up to doing. Try to find a Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue group and look for a dog 2 or 3 years old that is house trained and knows commands to make it easy on the senior.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, suburb, city, all OK. Bernese Mountain Dogs are not suited for warm,. moist climates and they need to live indoors with their humans. Air conditioning is good., They need their people around them and don’t do well when left alone too much.

A medium to large fenced backyard would be good for the Bernese Mountain Dog to roam, sniff and investigate in. A great place to chase balls and play vigorous games of fetch for exercise.

This dog especially enjoys the outdoors, particularly in cool climates where it will romp and play Don't leave this dog alone in the yard. They get very antsy. Indoors, the dog needs room to fully stretch out.

Affectionate B.M. Dog with a young lady.
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Energy level

Low key dog. Fun to be with... but not overly energetic.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A good long walk on leash is fine.


Good to average.

Guard dog

Not really a protection dog. Just not aggressive enough.





Yes, needs daily brushing to keep the long fur from matting and to remove dead hair when shedding. This is a most attractive dog and looks his best when brushed. Use a stiff bristle brush.


Suggested Reading For The Bernese Mountain Dog
Click on the cover photo for more book information and reviews.

  • 3rd book from left - "A Dog Who's Always Welcome" takes your Bernese way beyond normal obedience training and into THERAPY DOG work. You'll proudly walk with the most welcome dog in the neighborhood - a dog that can charm everyone!

  • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners and should be kept close at hand.

Bernese Mountain Dog Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Bernese Mountain puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Bernese Mountain Dog Breeders with puppies for sale.

Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue At this time, Petfinder is listing only 112 total mountain dogs for the entire USA. Go online and search for Bernese Mountain dog Rescue to see if there are any more around. If you do adopt one, try to locate past dog health records as they might be useful later.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but you probably need to check out all the dog kennels and breed rescue groups you can find. Use Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue for searches.

Dog Health Issues - Bernese Mountain Dog
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems as listed for the Bernese Mountain Dog by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Mast Cell Tumors—Mast cells are found throughout the body and help maintain the dog’s normal immune response, health and body functions. The tumors in question are CANCEROUS and spread through the body. There is no known cause for mast cell cancer and no cure, other than surgery for early-detected, low degree tumors that haven't spread too far. The best formula is to keep the dog as healthy as possible and be aware of any signs of tumors or poor health. Whether the dog survives or not depends on how advanced and fast moving the malignant tumor is.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Cataract—Hazy, cloudy vision similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Ectropion—A hereditary medical problem. The lower eyelid grows outward leaving a gap between the eye and the eyelid. Excessive tearing and conjunctivitis are common signs of the disease but some dogs will have no symptoms. Blunt trauma and/or nerve damage can also cause the problem. If the cornea becomes damaged or if the conjunctivitis becomes chronic, surgery will be necessary.

  • Hypomyelination—Inherited disease of the central nervous system causing puppies to shake. It’s called “Shaky Puppy Syndrome.” The defective gene causing the disease is recessive, requiring study of the parents and grandparents of the puppies affected. Affected pups tend to grow out of this tremors in a year or so. Weimaraners and Chow Chow’s are mostly affected.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint including the shoulder. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease and arthritis in the Bernese Mountain Dog. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints. Treatments include non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Hepatocerebellar degeneration—An increased concentration of bile acids shown after fasting and a high plasma concentration of ammonia. There is no treatment... except euthanasia.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Bernese Mountain Dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Heat stroke - The Bernese Mountain Dog has a heavy double coat and is not able to dissipate heat very well. She is prone to heat stroke in warm and hot, humid climates sod care should be taken to keep her cool.

  • Nasal depigmentation - "Pink nose." Cause unknown. The nose and sometimes other areas like around the eyelids turn from normal black to a pinkish color. There are many theories but no answers. It can affect Siberian Huskies and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Use protective sun screen cream on the nose and keep the dog out of the direct sun if you can.

Other health problems could occur In your Bernese Mountain Dog. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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