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Bernese Mountain Dog Breed InformationSelect a Breed
Quick Facts
Life Span:6-8 years
Litter Size:6-8 puppies
Group:Mastiff, Working Dog (America)
Recognized By:CKC, FCI, AKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
Color:Tricolor (Black/Tan/White or Black/Rust/White).
Hair Length:Long
Size:Extra Large
Shedding:Heavy Shed
Male Height:24-28 inches
Male Weight:85-110 pounds
Female Height:23-27 inches
Female Weight:80-105 pounds
Living Area:The Bernese Mountain Dog is an extremely loyal breed of dog, and will become upset if kept outdoors too often. You'll need to make some provision for keeping your dog indoors with your family as often as is possible. That said, however, the Bernese Mountain Dog does need some room to walk, run, and play outdoors, eliminating extremely dense urban areas as an ideal place to keep a Bernese Mountain Dog. Since the Bernese Mountain Dog isn't as prone to physical activity as some of its working dog cousins, however, you don't need to actually live out in the country in order to give your dog its ideal living environment--suburban areas or even less-dense urban areas will probably be fine to meet your dog's needs.

Description

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very large dog in the working dog family. They are well-balanced, sturdy and very intelligent. They have a great strength and agility about them, which is how they managed to do the driving and draft work in the mountains where they originated. With the Bernese Mountain Dog, it's almost easy to determine the sex as the males are very masculine and the females are very feminine. One has to only look at their lovable face to fall in love with them.

They are a tri-colored dog whose colors consist of black, rust and white. They are one of the oldest working dogs in the world. They are a very sturdy dog that is longer than they are tall. They have a big lovable head that goes with their body. Their expression is very intelligent and alert. The nose of this dog is always black, just as the eyes are dark brown and oval-shaped. The ears are medium sized and triangular in shape and hang close to their head unless they're alert. Their entire body is strong and muscular without being stocky. Their gait is a slow trot, although they can make good time when they need to. The coat of the Bernese Mountain dog is long, and sometimes wavy, almost like a collie and very smooth. When their coat is freshly brushed, it seems to almost shine.

The Bernese Mountain dog loves spending time with family members. They've been used a lot for pulling carts or wagons, which is what they were used for in Switzerland.

Coat Description

The Bernese mountain dog's coat is thick, moderately long, and shiny. According to breed standards, this coat should be trimmed as little as possible. The dog's distinctive markings include a white tail and a white inverted cross on its chest (when the dog is viewed from the front.)

The Bernese Mountain Dog is tri-colored with the base color being black. The markings on their body are rust and white. Rust appears on the eyes, on the cheeks, chest, under the tail and on the legs. They usually have a white blaze and muzzle band as well as a white chest. The tip of the tail is also white as are the feet.

History

The history of the Bernese mountain dog started back in the 1800s when they were used as a farm dog in Switzerland. They were scene most in the city of Berne. They were used as a watchdog and companion to the farmer and his family. This dog was also used successfully as a cart dog. Because of their large muscular size, they were the perfect dog for pulling carts. The Swiss farmers had small herds of cows, which the dog watched and herded. Mostly the dog was used as a farmer's companion.

The Bernese mountain dog can be seen in many religious paintings in Switzerland, pictures dating back to before the 18th century. This beautiful dog is still thought of very highly in Switzerland in addition to their popularity in other sections of the world.

Temperament

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very lovable, affectionate and loyal dog. They make excellent family pets. Their calm docile nature makes them perfect for children. They like being as close to people as possible, with lying at their feet being their favorite pastime. They also get along great with other animals, whether it's dogs, cats, horses, etc. They are very easy to train, but they like taking time to really think what they're doing. Patience is definitely they strong point.

They love pulling people in carts and wagons and do great in parades because of their calm obedient nature. They do tend to appear lazy at times. This is because as strong and energetic as they may appear, they don't have a lot of endurance for the long haul. But they're desire to please you will keep them going as long as possible. They have a sense of being in charge, probably because of their large size. This makes them an excellent watch dog for children or the home. They're not an aggressive dog, but their love for their family makes them protective. Some owners describe their Bernese Mountain dog as needy because of their desire to always be by their feet or near them.

Health Problems

Although the Bernese mountain dog is a relatively healthy breed, they don't have the long life span that similar dogs have. The Berners, as they are often called, have a high rate of death caused by cancer, with almost 50% of the Berners in the UK, USA and Canada dying of cancer. It's not limited to any one type of cancer either. Some of the most common types are mast cell tumor, fibrosarcoma, malignant histiocytosis and osteosarcoma.

Bernese Mountain dogs also have a right death rate from musculoskeletal problems such as hip Dysplasia, arthritis and cruciate ligament ruptures being the most common. Many of the dogs of this breed have mobility problems at a young age. Gastric torsion or bloat is another health issue that affects this dog. Signs of bloat need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Grooming

Looking at picture of the Bernese mountain dog shows you a dog with a full beautiful coat of fur. What it doesn't show you are how much this dog sheds? They possess an undercoat as well as an overcoat. Although they do their main shedding twice a year like most heavy coated dogs, they still shed on a daily basis. It's not unusual to see clumps of fur lying around the house. Their undercoat is very dirt and weather resistant, though, so they don't need a thorough brushing more than once a week. You may want to just give them a quick brushing over the surface each day before or after their exercise time. Some owners clip the fur on the dog. Unless you are a professional groomer or are planning to show the Berner, it's not a good idea to do any clipping. It's their full rich coat that adds to their beauty and you wouldn't want to mess that up.

It's important to keep their nails clipped so they don't break or tear unevenly causing them pain. If you begin this routine when your Berner is a small puppy, they'll come to expect and enjoy this activity. Another regular weekly routine should be checking their ears for dirt or wax. They can be cleaned with a moist cotton ball, making sure you dry them thoroughly. The more active they are, especially outdoors, the more brushing and cleaning they'll need.

Exercise

The Bernese mountain dog needs exercise just like every other dog. However, due to their susceptibility to developing joint problems as well as their low tolerance for strenuous exercise, they need exercise in moderation. They'll enjoy spending time outside with you going for walks or short runs. They love playing ball and Frisbee, however, don't allow them to overdo. The do need exercise on a regular basis, but may give the impression of being lazy if they're not made to do the exercise.

As much as they enjoy playing games with you, it's more the interaction with their owner than the actual exercise that they're enjoying.

Training

It's quite possible to train the Bernese mountain dog provided they are not pushed too hard. They love being with their owner more than anything else. They are a very loyal dog that strives to please their owner. Any type of obedience training should be started at a young age. You must take into consideration that this dog matures very slowly so don't expect too much too quickly. It's important to always end the sessions on a positive note, as this dog doesn't respond well to negative reinforcement.

Their calm disposition makes it very easy to train them for pulling wagons and carts. This is what they were trained to do many years ago, and it appears to be in their blood. Some Bernese clubs offer carting workshops to help and encourage the dog and their owners in cart pulling. Your children will love helping them with this sport! The Bernese mountain dog can earn titles as a draft dog, but will not be too successful with agility or strenuous activities due to their low stamina. They are very susceptible to joint and hip problems, which is the main reason they should not be pushed to do activities that may physically harm them.

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