Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog Adult

Bernese Mountain Dog


The Bernese Mountain Dog (known as the Berner Sennenhund in German) is a type of Sennenhund dog which has origins in the Swiss Alps of Switzerland. More specifically, this breed comes from the canton (Swiss state) of Bern.

Originally, the Bernese Mountain Dog was intended for use as a general farm dog. In the past, its duties included herding livestock, as well as pulling small carts.

In the early 1900’s, the Bernese Mountain Dog experienced a rise in popularity at dog shows and competitions. Later, in the year 1907, the first Bernese Mountain Dog breed club (Schweizerische Dürrbach-Klub) was formed. This also led to the recognition of a standard for the breed, also leaders to its recognition as a breed.

After a few years, there was over one hundred registered members of the breed and its popularity continued to grow. By the mid 1900’s, the breed had made its way to the United States. Finally, in the year 1937, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog as its own breed, as a member of the working group.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a medium (although higher end) sized breed. Its body tends to be longer than it is tall. Furthermore, due to its working class roots, the Bernese Mountain Dog had been bred to be very muscular and stocky, traits which still show today. Their legs are straight and very strong, with rounded and arched toes on the feet. Lastly, its tail is bushy, tends to hang, and is carried low. Males tend to measure between 24 and 28 inches at the withers, and weigh between 85 and 110 pounds. Females, on the other hand, are smaller, measuring approximately 23 to 27 inches and weighing between 80 and 105 pounds.

Their heads are also on the stocky side. It is flat on top with a moderate stop. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s ears are of medium size and triangular in shape. They are also set high and rounded at the tops. They are also droopy. It also has a strong jaw with teeth that have a scissor bite. Bernese Mountain Dogs typically have black eyes. They can have a variety of other dark or ground colors, or even blue, but this is seen as a reason for disqualification under AKC standards.

As for coloring, the Bernese Mountain Dog, like the other three Sennenhund breeds, is tricolored. The back is usually black, and the chest, neck, and underside are usually white. This dog also has “rustic” (light to medium orange-brown) markings above the eyes, on the sides of the mouth, the front of the legs, and sometimes on the chest. This marking may form what is known as a “Swiss Cross” on the neck or chest. The marking around its nose, if it is a typical Bernese mark, is said to be the shape of a horse shoe. A “Swiss Kiss” is also typically present on the back of the neck. Finally, while the Bernese Mountain Dog has been known to be a heavy shedder, especially during seasonal changes, their fur is long and should be brushed at least once per week.

Litter sizes vary greatly for this breed. These dogs have been known to have litters of just 1 puppy up to 14. However, 8 puppies per litter is the average.

Life span of the Bernese Mountain Dog tends to be shorter than other dogs of its size. Average life span for them is about 11 years, while the average life span for this breed is only about 6 to 8 years.


Bernese Mountain Dogs make excellent family pets. They tend to be very affectionate and love sticking by their owner’s side. They are also very patient with the little ones of the house, and do not mind children playing with or climbing on them. They are also very good around other dogs and pets, and around strangers.

The Bernese Mountain Dog, although it enjoys activity and exercise, can easily enjoy a quiet, calm evening in the home. Also, despite preferring the outdoors at heart, they are usually very well behaved in the home, as long as they were properly trained.

Again, the Bernese Mountain Dog does require a fair amount of exercise. It can be quite agile and athletic when it wants to be. These dogs often enjoy playing outside with their owners, or going on walks or hikes. However, one down side to the Bernese Mountain Dog is that they can tire easily. Without exercise, though, incessant barking and harassing may ensue until they get what they need.

In order to avoid behavioral problems, Bernese Mountain Dog owners should be sure to get these dogs socialized as early as possible. Puppies love to be around other dogs and people, and this is especially true with this breed. Early and continued training are also important, especially when sticking to the working class roots of the dog or adapting them to be a household dog. Regular walking and obedience training are easy and simple methods of doing this.

Current Use

These dogs can still be used for farm work, since their breed is still built for it. However, this breed is also prone to many health issues and a short life span, so caution is advised. They still get along great with livestock and other farm animals, and love to help out with the farm and house work, though.

Another modern use of the Bernese Mountain Dog is as a mountain rescue dog in several areas throughout the Swiss Alps. Because they are strong, athletic, and caring, these dogs are great in helping to find, rescue, and console injured or lost people.

Overall, though, like many other breeds, this dog is generally used as a companion animal today. Again, the Bernese Mountain Dog does great living in a household, as long as they are trained well and frequently. They also love to be around people, and especially children. They also do very well with cats and other dogs, unlike many other breeds.