Is the Bernese Mountain Dog right for you? Big, powerful, and built for hard work, the Bernese Mountain Dog is also strikingly beautiful and blessed with a sweet, affectionate nature. Berners are generally placid but are always up for a romp with the owner, whom they live to please. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, sturdy worker who can stand over 27 inches at the shoulder. The thick, silky, and moderately long coat is tricolored: jet black, clear white, and rust. The distinctive markings on the coat and face are breed hallmarks and, combined with the intelligent gleam in the dark eyes, add to the Berner’s aura of majestic nobility. A hardy dog who thrives in cold weather, the Berner’s brain and brawn helped him multitask on the farms and pastures of Switzerland.
Berners get along with the entire family and are particularly gentle with children, but they will often become more attached to one lucky human. They are an easygoing, calm family companion (that is, after the adolescent stage). This dog is sensitive, loyal, extremely devoted, gentle with children, and often reserved with strangers. The Bernese generally gets along well with other dogs and pets. They do not do well isolated from family activities.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is alert and good natured. Coming from a working background, they enjoy the challenge of learning new things. They should be obedience trained because of their large size at an early age to make them pleasant household companions. Their natural instincts to guard and work on the farm still carry over in the breed today. The Bernese makes a good watchdog, and is even better at herding and draft work. Draft work is demonstrated in field trails for Bernese mountain dogs and popular with owners today. The dogs are judged on ability to both pull and have control over a cart. As a family pet, the Bernese will enjoy some physical work and a job to do. They are eager to please!
Not everyone should own a Bernese Mountain Dog. His enormous size, food requirements, veterinarian bills, and short life span can make him a questionable companion for the average person. Know the Bernese Mountain Dog before you commit! If you have decided that the Bernese Mountain Dog is the breed for you, it is imperative that you invest the time and effort to find out the characteristics, requirements, advantages, and drawbacks of owning this noble breed. Attend dog shows in your area and study the Bernese Mountain Dogs as they are judged; talk to exhibitors and breeders. Visit as many kennels as possible and compare the puppies available.
Ask to see the parents of the puppies; puppies of this breed change continually from infancy to adulthood, but should resemble their parents when mature. If you do not see a dog you like at a particular kennel, try another–no breeder has a corner on the market. Be honest with the breeders when you visit. Tell them what you want in a Berner–companion, show/breeding dog, or therapy dog. As a novice, you will be in a better position to finally select and purchase a puppy that will fit into your home as a friend and companion if you are well informed about the breed.
Facts to Consider Before You Purchase
Because of the eventual size of the breed, a Bernese needs both obedience and household manners taught at a young age. The Bernese mountain dog is a devoted friend who will enjoy accompanying the family everywhere. They thrive on human companionship and will be most happy if allowed to be a house dog.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a double coat, with a longer outer coat and a wooly undercoat. The coat of the Bernese is thick, long and has a bright, natural sheen. Berners shed a fair amount, even more so during shedding season, which occurs twice a year. Weekly brushing (daily during shedding season) will help to remove loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Any tangles can be worked out with a slicker brush or metal comb. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog pain and structural problems.
As a breed, they are slow to mature both physically and mentally and should not be pushed into training too rapidly. Although they are large, they are “soft” dogs and do not do well with harsh correction. Proper socialization will help ensure that the Bernese is patient with other dogs and with children. As with any breed, however, the level of patience varies with the particular dog.
They make great walking partners! Bernese Mountain Dogs need at least a half-hour of moderate exercise every day to stay healthy and happy. While they are definitely meant to live indoors with their human family, Berners enjoy outdoor activities and make great companions on long walks or hikes. Outdoorsy owners often take their canine companions camping and backpacking. Berners enjoy pulling young children in a cart, and some even participate in carting and drafting competitions. Other canine sports in which Berners participate and excel include agility, herding, obedience, rally, and tracking.
If you want a show dog, it is essential that you make this fact clear to the breeder. No one can guarantee you a “Champion”, but he can select a puppy that in his opinion, is of superior quality and free of visible faults that would eliminate the puppy from show competition.
Is he a watchdog? YES! Is he a guard dog? NO! NO! NO! Guard dogs and watch dogs are not synonymous. The end result of people who try, end up with a vicious, unpredictable, and potential four-legged lawsuit in their backyards. Berners are imposing but not threatening, and they maintain an aloof dignity with strangers.