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Adopt a Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


livestock dog, mountain dog, mastiff (draft/cattle)

Area of origin:


Original function:


Average size of male:

Ht: 25-27.5, Wt: 90-120

Average size of female:

Ht: 23-26, Wt: 70-100

Other names:

Berner sennenhund, Bernese cattle dog

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Temperament

The Bernese mountain dog is an easygoing, calm family companion (that is, after he leaves his adolescent stage). He is sensitive, loyal and extremely devoted. He is gentle with children and often reserved with strangers. He generally gets along well with other dogs and pets.

Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Care

This dog enjoys the outdoors, especially in cold weather. He needs daily but moderate exercise, either a good hike or a walk on leash. He is so in tune with his human family that he cannot be relegated to life alone in the yard. Inside, he needs plenty of room to stretch out. His coat needs brushing one or two times weekly, much more often when shedding. The Bernese life span is described by a Swiss expression: "Three years a young dog, three years a good dog and three years an old dog. All else is a gift from God."

Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, elbow dysplasia, histicytosis, OCD
Minor concerns: fragmented coronoid process, gastric torsion, PRA
Occasionally seen: hypomyelination
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
Life span: 7-9 years
Note: Extra care must be taken to avoid heatstroke.

Interested in the history of the Bernese Mountain Dog dog breed?

The most well-known of the sennehunde, or "Swiss mountain dogs," the Bernese is distinguished by being the only one to have a fairly long, silky coat. The origin of the breed is speculative at best. Some experts believe his history traces back 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. Despite the utility of these dogs, 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 Heim's efforts, they were promoted throughout Switzerland and even Europe. The finest specimens came to be found in the Durrbach area, at one time giving the breed the name Durrbachler. With the breed's spread, the name was changed to Bernese mountain dog. The first Bernese came to America in 1926; official AKC recognition was granted in 1937.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Bernese Mountain Dog Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Bernese Mountain Dogs ready for adoption:

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