Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the most popular working breeds. These big softies are still strong and able specimen. Bred to both herd livestock and pull carts, these massive dogs are quite versatile in their athleticism. Although any dog so big can be a challenge to manage, this breed has become quite popular with American families because of their sweet nature. Read on to learn more about the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Description of the Bernese Dog

A big boned dog, the Bernese retains a placid expression and sweet eyes. For families that can handle his giant needs, he can be a great family pet. In fact, the Bernese is calmer and better suited to family life than most of his working contemporaries.

These dogs are obviously strong. Their thick muscle is only slightly hidden by equally thick hair. However, they are also surprisingly agile.

The Bernese has a distinctive, luscious coat. They are characteristically tricolored, with a bold and striking pattern.

Life Expectancy and Size

The Bernese is one of the giant breeds, standing between 23 and 28 inches tall – it’s their bulk that’s truly impressive. This dog can weigh anywhere from 70 to 115 pounds!

Unfortunately, this breed has a relatively short lifespan. They live just 7 to 10 years. This is significantly shorter than some of their close cousins. Health problems may plague the breed from an even earlier age.

Protective Ability

Surprisingly, this dog isn’t necessarily great at guarding. They have a deep, booming bark, but they often don’t use it. In fact, many Bernese are timid with strangers!

However, these gentle giants will certainly provide a visual deterrent for any intruder.


The Bernese is generally quite agreeable. Use tasty treats to motivate them to listen, and be prepared to reduce meal size if you use lots of treats. No need to use harsh words or punishment. If anything, that will just shut these social dogs down. A sad Bernese is bad news for everyone.

This breed may be slow to respond. Practice patience, and allow them to proceed at their own pace. As long as they are making progress toward a goal, make sure to shower them with plenty of praise.

Energy Level

Although this breed is often calm and agreeable, it does not mean that they don’t require the same amount of exercise as any large dog bred for work. It’s best to provide regular forms of exercise so these workhorses don’t be come too stir crazy. Then, during the rest of the day, they will likely laze around placidly.

What Living with a Bernese Mountain Dog is Like

Living with a giant breed can be a challenge. Although they indeed are quite majestic, they have real needs and cannot be treated like an impressive lawn ornament.

Bernese are not known to be aggressive, and in fact they tend to be timid or reserved. Thus, socialization is important for them to become calmer, more well-mannered adults.

These dogs are quite playful for a giant dog. Most of all, they are very social. The Bernese needs plenty of time with his owner. They are not the right breed for a house that can’t handle some messiness.

These dogs also have their fair share of health issues and you have to be prepared for that going in.

Care of the Bernese Mountain Dog

For homes that can handle the unique needs of a giant breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog can be a loving, reliable companion.

Environmental Needs

These dogs were bred for harsh mountain environments. Because of this, they can handle most climates and are practically weather proof. However, being larger dogs, the Bernese can overheat quite easily. It’s important to monitor their exercise in the heat. Always provide shade and plentiful water.

Exercise Needs

As with many large dogs, balance is key. It is smart to provide the Bernese with daily, regular exercise. This can be anything from playing in a yard or going for a hike. They love the outdoors and are great companions on the trail.

Maintaining a basic level of activity will prevent them from acting out of boredom.

Shedding and Grooming

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a heavy shedder. This is particularly true during profuse periods a couple times each year. Their thick, luscious locks will end up everywhere.

However, it’s not hard to take care of their coats. They simply need a quick brushing every week or so. During heavy shedding, increased baths and brushing can lesson the amount of hair that ends up on the furniture. Check for mats behind their ears and on their bellies where the hair is softer.

Ideal Home Environment

Ideally, these dogs end up with a family that can appreciate both their loving temperaments in all their grandeur.

Owning such a large dog can be hard, but their warmth is worth it for many people. It is essential that families have a large enough space to house these mountain dogs. They also must have the patience to consider their special needs. Beyond that, anyone that doesn’t mind drool or hair may find joy in this breed.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are usually great with kids! These dogs usually choose one special human to bond with, but they are always loving toward their entire family.

Health Concerns

This breed, like other large dogs, is susceptible to bloat. This quick onset stomach disorder can be deadly.

Other common issues are epilepsy, cancer, and heart disease. Elbow and hip pain may become so severe that the dogs can’t walk. The Bernese Mountain Dog has heavy-hitting health problems and a short lifespan. Families must be ready for this unfortunate reality.

Behavior Problems

The Bernese is surprisingly well behaved. In fact, they are easier to manage than many other large dogs. Their most common issue arises with separation anxiety. They hate being away from their families!