Breeds, Working Group

Bernese Mountain Dog

This guide serves as a comprehensive overview of the Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed known for its majestic appearance, gentle temperament, and unwavering loyalty. Highlighting the essential traits and characteristics of these magnificent animals, it aims to equip potential owners with the knowledge they need to ensure a happy, healthy life for their furry companions.

From understanding their significant need for companionship to their exercise requirements and health considerations, readers will gain insights into what makes the Bernese Mountain Dog a unique and rewarding pet. With a focus on providing practical advice and thoughtful guidance, this manual is an invaluable resource for anyone considering adding a Bernese Mountain Dog to their family.

Bernese Mountain Dog – Size & Life Expectancy

Bernese Mountain Dog Height

25-28 inches (male)
23-26 inches (female)

Bernese Mountain Dog Weight

80-115 pounds (male)
70-95 pounds (female)

Bernese Mountain Dog Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

7-10 years

About the Bernese Mountain Dog

Originating from the Swiss Alps, the Bernese Mountain Dog, often affectionately called the “Berner,” boasts a rich history that dates back over two millennia. Initially bred as a farm dog, its ancestors were integral to the rural communities of Switzerland. These majestic animals were not only companions but also workers, excelling in tasks such as herding cattle, pulling carts, and serving as vigilant watchdogs. Their strength, endurance, and keen intelligence made them indispensable to the farmers and merchants of the Bern region, from which their name derives.

From Work to Wonder: The Evolution of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Over the centuries, the role of the Bernese Mountain Dog evolved, yet their inherent traits remained. With industrialization reducing the demand for their traditional roles, Berners found a new place in the hearts and homes of people worldwide, not as workers, but as loyal companions. Their gentle nature, combined with a striking tricolor coat, has endeared them to many. Today, while they may no longer pull carts or herd livestock on a daily basis, their versatility and adaptability are unmistakable.

The Modern Bernese Mountain Dog: A Status Symbol

In contemporary times, the Bernese Mountain Dog enjoys popularity not just for its impressive appearance but also for its character. Known for being affectionate, loyal, and gentle, they make excellent family pets. Their patience and friendliness towards children are particularly notable, making them a preferred choice for households. Additionally, their intelligence and eagerness to please facilitate training, although their size and energy levels demand adequate space and exercise.

The breed’s allure is not limited to its temperament and physical attributes; the Bernese Mountain Dog also carries a certain prestige. Owners often are drawn to the breed for its noble history and unique appearance, making it a symbol of both tradition and status. This has led to a diverse community of Bernese Mountain Dog enthusiasts, from those who cherish them as family pets to others who engage in activities like agility, obedience, and conformation shows.

A Commitment for Life: Embracing the Bernese Mountain Dog

Potential owners must understand the commitment involved in caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog. Their size and energy levels require owners to dedicate time to regular exercise and space for them to roam. Health considerations, including a predisposition to certain genetic conditions, necessitate attentive care and regular veterinary check-ups to ensure a long and healthy life. Moreover, their thick coat demands regular grooming to maintain its condition and appearance.

In essence, the Bernese Mountain Dog embodies a bridge between the past and present, offering a unique combination of history, beauty, and companionship. Those who choose to welcome a Berner into their lives not only gain a devoted friend but also become part of a tradition that celebrates the enduring bond between humans and their canine companions.

Traits & Characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Gentle and Affectionate: Known for their loving and gentle nature, making them excellent family pets.
  • Intelligent and Trainable: Highly intelligent, responding well to positive reinforcement and training.
  • Strong and Sturdy: Originally bred for farm work, they possess great strength and stamina.
  • Loyal and Protective: Deeply loyal to their families, with a natural instinct to protect.
  • Social and Friendly: Enjoy the company of people and other pets, showcasing a friendly demeanor.
  • Large and Majestic: With a striking appearance, they have a large, muscular build and a distinctive tricolor coat.
  • Requires Regular Exercise: Energetic and playful, needing regular exercise to maintain health and happiness.

Owning a Bernese Mountain Dog

Considering bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life is a decision that promises companionship, loyalty, and a bit of adventure. These majestic dogs, with their tricolor coats and gentle eyes, bring joy and warmth to any home they enter. However, owning a Bernese Mountain Dog comes with responsibilities that extend beyond love and affection. To ensure the well-being of this breed, understanding their specific needs in terms of health, exercise, grooming, nutrition, and training is crucial. This guide aims to equip potential owners with essential insights into caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog, fostering a healthy, happy life together.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a robust breed, but like all large dogs, they come with certain health predispositions that require attention. Common conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia, certain types of cancer, and bloat. Regular veterinary check-ups are vital to catch any signs of these conditions early. Additionally, genetic testing of breeding dogs helps minimize the risk of hereditary diseases. To support their health, provide a balanced diet, regular exercise, and monitor them for signs of discomfort or unusual behavior. Being proactive about their health can lead to a longer and happier life.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are energetic and require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. Daily walks, coupled with playtime in a secure, open space, cater to their physical needs. They excel in activities that challenge both their mind and body, such as agility training, hiking, and even pulling activities, paying homage to their working heritage. Exercise not only keeps them fit but also helps prevent behavior problems stemming from boredom or excess energy. Remember, a tired Berner is a happy Berner.


The luxurious double coat of a Bernese Mountain Dog is one of their most striking features. To keep it in top condition, regular brushing is required, especially during shedding seasons in the spring and fall. Bathing should be done as needed but not so frequently as to strip the coat of its natural oils. Attention should also be paid to their nails, ears, and teeth to prevent common issues like overgrowth, infections, and dental disease. Grooming is not just about maintaining their appearance but also contributes to their overall health.


Feeding a Bernese Mountain Dog a balanced diet is fundamental to their health. High-quality commercial foods that cater to large breeds are generally recommended, though some owners choose to prepare homemade meals with veterinary guidance. Important considerations include the right balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, along with essential vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, and onions. Portion control and regular meal times help prevent obesity and bloat, two conditions to which the breed is susceptible.


Training a Bernese Mountain Dog is a rewarding endeavor thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please. Starting from puppyhood, basic obedience training lays the groundwork for a well-behaved companion. Socialization is equally important, exposing them to various people, animals, and environments to foster a well-rounded temperament. Positive reinforcement techniques work best, using treats and praise to encourage desirable behavior. Consistency and patience are key, as is the understanding that training is an ongoing process that strengthens the bond between dog and owner.

Embracing the journey of owning a Bernese Mountain Dog means committing to their health, happiness, and development. With the right care, these gentle giants can not only thrive but also bring unparalleled joy to their human companions.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Standard

The Bernese Mountain Dog, a symbol of strength and serenity, boasts a breed standard that epitomizes the perfect balance between physical prowess and gentle temperament. This breed standard serves as the quintessential model against which the dogs are evaluated in shows, reflecting the ideals set by national and international canine authorities. The essence of the Bernese Mountain Dog can be distilled into several key characteristics that define its physical and behavioral ideal.

Majestic Appearance

The Bernese Mountain Dog commands attention with its size and stature, presenting a muscular and sturdy body that’s both agile and graceful. The breed’s hallmark is its striking tricolor coat—black with rich rust and white markings. A symmetrical white blaze on the face, white chest, and white paws are desirable, with the rust appearing above the eyes, on the cheeks, and around the chest, creating a stunning contrast against the jet-black base of the coat. The tail is bushy, carried low, and the eyes sparkle with a friendly and intelligent gaze.

Proportional Build

In terms of proportions, the Bernese Mountain Dog exhibits a slightly longer body than tall, ensuring a grounded and robust appearance. The chest is deep and broad, providing ample room for a strong heart and lungs, essential for their working dog heritage. The head is flat on top with a moderate stop, and the muzzle is strong and straight, culminating in a black nose. Ears are medium-sized, set high, and gently rounded at the tips, adding to their alert but friendly expression.

Movement and Grace

Despite their size, the Bernese Mountain Dog moves with an effortless and fluid gait, showcasing strength and agility. The movement is straight and true, with good reach in the front and powerful drive from the rear. This effortless movement reflects the breed’s versatility and endurance, traits that were indispensable in their historical role as farm and draft animals in the Swiss mountains.

Gentle Giant

Beyond physical attributes, the breed standard emphasizes a temperament that is as beautiful as the dog’s exterior. The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its calm and gentle demeanor, showing patience and affection to its family members. They exhibit an innate kindness, are approachable, and never show aggression or shyness without cause. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them responsive to training, reflecting a cooperative spirit that enhances their suitability as both a working dog and a devoted companion.

The Ideal Companion

Adherence to the breed standard ensures the Bernese Mountain Dog remains true to its heritage, combining the strength and agility required of a mountain dog with the gentle temperament suited to family life. Judges at dog shows look for these characteristics, rewarding dogs that best embody the standards of the breed. For owners and breeders, these standards provide a guide to maintaining the health, beauty, and temperament of these magnificent animals, ensuring they continue to be cherished companions for generations to come.

Bernese Mountain Dog – FAQ

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions about the Bernese Mountain Dog, your go-to source for uncovering the essentials about this lovable and majestic breed. From their gentle nature to their care needs, find answers to the most common queries and delve into what makes these dogs truly special companions.

Alternatives to a Bernese Mountain Dog

When considering the majestic Bernese Mountain Dog, a few other breeds share its impressive size, gentle temperament, and striking appearance. Among these, the Newfoundland stands out, known for its giant stature and equally large heart. Originating from Canada, Newfoundlands are celebrated for their swimming ability and rescuing instincts, showcasing a gentle and patient nature that rivals that of the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Similarly, the Saint Bernard is another gentle giant, with a history steeped in alpine rescue. This breed combines strength and kindness, possessing a calm demeanor and a protective instinct towards their families. Their thick coats and friendly faces make them instantly recognizable and deeply cherished pets.

The Great Pyrenees is another breed that echoes the characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog. Originating from the Pyrenees Mountains, they were bred to guard livestock. Their white, fluffy coats and noble bearing, combined with a protective yet gentle temperament, make them excellent companions and watchdogs.

Lastly, the Leonberger, with its lion-like appearance and friendly disposition, shares the Berner’s love for human companionship. They display a blend of loyalty, intelligence, and kindness, making them a perfect fit for families seeking a large, loving dog.

Each of these breeds embodies the essence of what makes large dogs so special: the combination of a commanding presence with a warm, gentle heart, making them beloved companions in homes around the world.