Bernese Mountain Dog
To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs. – Aldous Huxley
Bernese Mountain Dogs trace their ancestry back 2,000 years to the Roman invasion of Switzerland. Roman mastiffs interbred with local herders to produce a dependable breed that could withstand severe cold while guarding livestock.
The Berner is one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs originating in the Swiss Alps. The word “Sennenhund” comes from the German “Senne” meaning “alpine pasture” and “hund”, the word for “dog”. They were the dogs who worked with the alpine herders and dairymen, or “Senn”.
This dog was also used for pulling carts to transport goods to market, drive cattle, track, and as a rescue dog.
He takes his name from the Swiss canton of Berne where he was most popular.
Photos displayed courtesy of Kelly Saunders, Enstone Kennel,
and Lisa Hilbrecht Photographs, British Columbia
This is a large breed, standing up to 27.6 inches (70 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighing 100 lbs (45 kg) or more.
This is the only one of the four tri-colour varieties of Swiss mountain dogs that has a long coat. The Berner has a heavy, long-haired, shiny jet black double coat with striking reddish brown and white markings. The coat is weather resistant and also resists matting so grooming is not a huge chore. He does shed. Because of his coat, very hot and humid climates are not good environments.
One striking feature of the Berner’s coat is the white marking on his chest. When viewed from the front, it should give the impression of a white Swiss cross.
He may also possess a “Swiss kiss”: a white mark located on the neck but typically behind the neck.
A sweet-natured, affectionate dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog is devoted and loyal to his people and eager to please. He is a great family dog and good with children as he has the patience to tolerate children climbing over him. He also gets along well with other cats and dogs in the household. The Berner is friendly, outgoing, and resourceful. One of his most endearing characteristics is his tendency to curl up at and on his master’s feet!
Self-confident and alert, he is naturally territorial and makes an excellent watch dog. He may be aloof or suspicious with strangers.
As with all large breed dogs, his size dictates that he be well socialized and trained when he is still young, before his weight makes him a challenge to handle. He is a very fast learner and will do well in obedience training.
Despite his size, the Berner is very laid back. Not considered one of the more active breeds, he is still capable of amazing bursts of speed for their size but generally the Berner’s exercise needs can be easily met if he has a field or yard in which to run and play. Berners are outdoor dogs at heart, so they enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities with their people.
Like many breeds, boredom or lack of sufficient exercise may lead to nuisance barking.