The Bernese Mountain Dog is not mountainous in stature, but he is gigantically affectionate. The Swiss Berner, once ignored and near extinction, is now one of the most beloved breeds. The Bernese Mountain Dog whose lineage is rooted in Roman times, withstood centuries of Alpine climates and thankless hours toiling on farmers fields. Today, the Bernese Mountain Dog retains much of his worker instinct and is most content when laboring towards an end.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a puppy long after he has reached his full height. He is a consummate playmate for young and old alike and will constantly seek affection and attention. But, owners of the Bernese Mountain Dog know that every moment with their Berner is precious as this breed’s lifespan is fleetingly short.
Bernese Mountain Dog History
The early history of the Bernese Mountain dog is unclear but it is known that the breed is a member of the Sennehunde group, meaning Swiss mountain dogs. The Bernese Mountain Dog is believed to have originated when Julius Caesar and his Roman army invaded Switzerland in about 55 BC. The Roman army brought Roman Mastiffs as warrior dogs and it is widely speculated that some of these dogs bred with native Swiss guard dogs of unknown lineage. The result was the yet unnamed Bernese Mountain Dog.
The Bernese Mountain Dog was well suited to his name as he could easily withstand brutal alpine conditions. This quality made the Bernese Mountain Dog a suitable draft dog, herder and general purpose farm dog, but he remained unappreciated. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s early breed history is more a story of chance and neglect than selective breeding and few people were interested in establishing the breed. By the 1800’s fewer Bernese Mountain Dogs were needed for their utility and the breed was nearly lost. But, by the late 1800’s a benefactor had emerged.
Professor Albert Heim was a Swiss geologist whose work studied the physical features of the Alps. He was bemused by the rugged Bernese Mountain Dog and initiated a study on their suitability and adaptability for living in the Alps. Soon, the Bernese Mountain Dog was named and identified as a native Swiss breed and efforts were made to stabilize their numbers.
Dr. Heim’s study promoted the Bernese Mountain Dog throughout Europe and an interest in this breed began to grow. Soon, the Bernese Mountain Dog could be found throughout Western Europe and in 1926, the breed was brought to America. The America Kennel Club recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog in 1937.
Bernese Mountain Dog Appearance
The Bernese Mountain Dog sports a gentle and winsome expression. White flashings color the chest and muzzle extend between the eyes to the crown. His ears are triangular and frame his handsome face.
Logically, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a thick double coat. The coat’s texture is silky and the fur is moderately long and wavy. This thick coat provides excellent insulation during the winter and is blown in spring.
Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an affectionate breed who will long for attention. As a puppy, the Bernese Mountain Dog is devilish and will stop at nothing in the name of fun. The new Bernese Mountain Dog owner is well advised to keep a close eye on his puppy as this pup will chew and tug without regard for designer labels.
Once grown, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s owner can take a more relaxed position on supervision, but this breed will seek and find entertainment. The Bernese Mountain Dog loves to play outside in cool and even cold weather. He is cheerful and boisterous in yard games but will be calm and is usually reasonable indoors. With children, the Bernese Mountain dog is a trusted companion, although small children should be taught to not provoke this or any dog.
Because of the Bernese Mountain Dog’s Alpine heritage, one might be tempted to characterize this breed as an outside dog. This would be an incorrect assertion as the Bernese Mountain Dog cannot be isolated from his family. He must have plenty of indoor attention and affection from his family to thrive.
Bernese Mountain Dog Exercise Info
The Bernese Mountain Dog will need a daily 5 kilometer walk on a leash. He will enjoy these walks, but the Bernese Mountain Dog seems to think the object of these outings is to pull the walker along the pavement. Training your Bernese Mountain Dog to heed the heel command is essential for you to both enjoy these jaunts.
By nature, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a worker dog so he will need to make good use of his time. Some owners will allow the Bernese Mountain Dog to pull a stone filled cart hither and fro. And, despite its chain-gang quality, this exercise does seem to satisfy the Bernese Mountain Dog’s commitment to enterprise.
Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming Info
The Bernese Mountain Dog will need daily brushing with special attention to this duty in early spring. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s coat is thick and he will shed (or blow) his undercoat in seemingly unreasonable quantities. You will find alarming tufts littering the yard and sticking to any surface, especially expensive black trousers. Daily (perhaps twice daily) brushing in spring will ease this. The Bernese Mountain Dog will allow a bath, but drying him thoroughly is essential to avoid serious skin irritations. His white chest may harbor bits of food and spillage, so spot-cleaning may be necessary here. On the whole, the Bernese Mountain Dog is not a prissy dog of leisure so there is little fuss in keeping him in tip-top shape.
Bernese Mountain Dog Training Info
The Bernese Mountain Dog is typically eager, but the Berner is slow to mature, so he may be slow to learn. Additionally, his eagerness can melt into boredom if the training sessions drag on too long. So, be sure to keep training sessions short – 10 minutes should suffice, and be patient. Your Bernese Mountain Dog may look fully mature at one year of age, but he is still intellectually a puppy.
Most trainers have found much success with crate training Bernese Mountain Dogs. Just bring your Berner outside immediately following naps and meals and soon, an acceptable bathroom routine will be established. Other household manners need to also be taught. Just remember that your Berner is keen to please and mistakes happen. Ignore the inappropriate behavior and amply praise the positive with a tasty treat and a pleasant tone.
Reserve a firm but controlled voice for misbehavior and only use it immediately following the inappropriate deed. Your Bernese Mountain Dog will not make the connection between a punishment now and a chewed pillow from three hours ago.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health Info
Some common health concerns for your Bernese Mountain Dog included; CHD, elbow dysphasia, mast cell tumour, gastric torsion, cataracts, entopion, ectropion, SAS, hypomyelination, allergies, hepatocerebellar degeneration, hypothyroidism, PRA.
Note: The Bernese Mountain Dog is intolerant to heat and is very susceptible to heat stroke.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a short life expectancy. There is a Swiss expression explains the Bernese Mountain Dog most succinctly, Three years a young dog and three years an old dog, All else is a gift from God.
Is a Bernese Mountain Dog Right For You?
The Bernese Mountain is one of the most loving breeds. So, if your family’s hectic schedule will mean hours of isolation for your dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog may not be the breed for you. However, those families who tend to stay close to home and are keen to devote much time to a pet will find a splendid companion in the Bernese Mountain Dog.
Families with children will find the Bernese Mountain Dog to be gentle and patient, (so long as it is reciprocated), and potential owners looking for an affectionate buddy need look no further. Ideally, adoptive families should have a love of the outdoors, or at least be prepared to develop one as the Bernese Mountain Dog will make an explorer out of anyone!
When purchasing your Bernese Mountain Dog, resist the urge to purchase a dog inexpensively from a pet store or from an advertisement in a newspaper. You may unwittingly buy a mal-adjusted, sick, puppy mill dog. This is to be avoided at all costs.