The Bernese Mountain Dog, originally named "Dürrbächle," is a farm dog of ancient origin which was used as a guard dog as well as for driving cattle in the prealpine regions and in the midland areas around Bern.
Despite their large size, the Bernese Mountain Dog is very gentle and friendly, especially with children. Make sure your Berner gets regular but not too stressful exercise. Although Berners are outdoor dogs at heart, they need lots of human companionship and must be allowed inside the house. They can move with amazing bursts of speed for their size when motivated. Stray cats and similar intruders must beware of the Berner!
Other Names: Berner
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Utilization: Originally used as a guard and drought dog and for driving cattle in the Kanton Bern; today also multipurpose, companion and family dog .
FCI Classification: Group 2: Molossian type and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs; Section 3: Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs; AKC Classification: Working Group
Photo courtesy of Kennel Starzhy
Size: Large (23-26 inches at shoulders)
Colors: Jet black with rich tan markings on cheeks, over the eyes, on all four legs and on the chest, and with white markings.
Litter Size: 8
Life Span: The life expectancy of BMDs remains low when compared with breeds of similar size, such as flat coated retrievers (mean, 9.5 years) or German shepherd dogs (mean, 10.3 years). This is attributed to high incidence of cancers in this breed (28%-55% of all deaths). In addition, some previous studies indicate a lower life expectancy of male BMDs compared to females.
Grooming Requirements: These dogs are natural and need only occasional brushing.
Shedding: Heavy seasonal or year round
Personality: Self-confident, attentive, vigilant, fearless in situations of every day life, good- natured and devoted to his own people, friendly towards strangers.
Social skills: Berners must be socialized with other small animals at an early age.
Suitability for Children: Very patient with children of all ages and are usually protective of them.
Exercise Needs: Needs daily exercise for at least 60 minutes.
Train Ability: These dogs are very intelligent and extremely trainable, although training must be approached with a gentle approach.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Brain disorders, inflammation in blood vessels, cancers (histiocytic sarcoma, a very aggressive cancer with poor prognosis).