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Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed Profile

Other Names
Berner, Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Cattle Dog 
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
Bernese Mountain Dogs belong to the working group and are used as companions, watchdogs and seen in the show-ring. 
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
£7.50-10 per week
Feeding Requirements
As puppies, it is imperative that you stick to the breeder's recommended diet sheet in order to prevent skeletal defects and bone and joint problems. 
Other Expenses
A puppy will cost in the region of £500 to £550 in Scotland, and more in England. 
< 9 years
Bernese Mountain Dogs, in common with the other large breeds, can have relatively short lifespans of about 7 years, although, many of them do live 10 years or longer. 
Average Litter Size
Litter sizes can vary from 1 to 14 puppies! The average size is 8. 
General Physical Description
Strikingly aristocratic, Berners are one of the most attractive of the Swiss working dogs with their gleaming black coats and illustrious markings. Their coats are soft and silky with a thick under-lay. They are strong, sturdy dogs with tremendous bone and power of the shoulders and long balanced strides. They reach their full adult height at about 15 months but can take another 2 or 3 years to reach full maturity.

Height Min Max
Bitch 58cm (23") 66cm (26")
Dog 64cm (25") 70cm (28")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 32kg (71lbs) 46kg (101lbs)
Dog 37kg (82lbs) 54kg (119lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Bitches measure between 58 to 66cms at the withers, dogs between 64 to 70cms. Both sexes weigh between 40 to 44kgs. 
Bernese do suffer from health problems and screening of the parentage is a must. Guard against over-feeding, especially protein, to help prevent bloat. Annual veterinary checkups are recommended. 
Common Ailments

Cerebellar degeneration
Cancer, Trembler  
Susceptibility To Illness
This breed can be traced back 2000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland, then known as Helvetia, being used as 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. During the 1800's the breed had very nearly disappeared due to the interest in the St Bernard, and the lack of concentrated breeding programmes and it was not until the turn of this century that a Swiss cynologist, Herr Franz Schertenlieb, combed the countryside to find the last of these dogs. He did have some success around the Durrbach district of Berne and then a Zurich professor, Albert Heim joined up with him. Thanks to them, the Bernese Mountain Dog made a comeback. At first these dogs were known as either 'Gelbbackler' (yellow cheeks), 'Vierauger' (four eyes) or more commonly, 'Durrbachler'. As they now came from the whole area of Berne and not just Durrbach, in 1908 the club already formed changed their name to Berner Sennenhund. The Bernese had, by then, a huge following in Switzerland, the Continent and Scandinavia and was finally recognised in America in 1936. Canada followed suite in the 1970's but the breed still remains relatively rare in Great Britain. 
Bernese are intelligent, willing to please and relatively easy to train to an acceptable level as long as this is done when they are young. Leaving it too late will result in a boisterous, uncontrollable dog who thinks he can do exactly as he pleases!< 
Show Characteristics
The head should be strong with a flat skull, slight furrow and well-defined stop. The jaws are strong with a complete scissor bite. The eyes are almond-shaped and dark brown. The ears are medium-sized and set high, brought forward slightly when alert. The neck should be strong, muscular and of medium length adjoining long, strong and sloping shoulders. The body is compact rather than long with a broad chest and a firm, straight back. The front legs should be straight and well-muscled and the hindquarters broad, strong and well-muscled with well-bent stifles. The feet should be short, round and compact and the tail bushy reaching just below the hocks, raised when alert but never carried over the back. 
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Records Held
Overall Exercise
60 - 80 minutes per day.
As puppies, exercise should be restricted to the garden for at least 4 to 5 months to allow the bones and joints to form properly. For the same reason, care should also be taken when there are stairs in the house. After the age of 6 months, progress to controlled walking on a collar and lead. After they are 1 year old, they can be allowed off the lead for free-running exercise. As adults, Bernese need a moderate amount of exercise, ranging between 1 to 5 miles a day depending on their level of fitness. They are very accommodating, however, and will accept if their exercise has to be curtailed for one reason or another. 
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
Berners are good-natured dogs who love to be included in all aspects of family life, making wonderful companions. They are affectionate, patient dogs 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. Some of them can be dominant with other dogs. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
Every Day 
Requires Professional Groomer
Daily grooming is a must to keep them tangle-free and to reduce the amount of shedding. The hair between the pads should be trimmed regularly. 
Bernese 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. 
Suffers From Allergies

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