Hailing from the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog has had working class origins. It was extensively used as a farm dog for herding cattle through the alpine pastures and for farm protection. Though its actual origins are shrouded in mystery, this breed is thought to have originated when the Roman mastiffs brought along by the Roman conquest of Switzerland interbred with the native flock-guarding dogs. This breed had declined considerably before Dr. Albert Heim identified the Bernese Mountain Dog as an individual type and set about its restoration.
The Bernese Mountain Dog gained recognition by the AKC in 1937.
An affectionate and extremely loyal family dog, the Bernese is also very sensitive. Generally calm and gentle, this dog also docile towards strangers and very well behaved. High intelligence is another marker for this breed, as is the ease of training. The Bernese is an outdoor dog at heart, and tends to develop behavioural problems if it feels it isn’t getting much exercise. It is extremely agile for its size, and is capable of extreme bursts of acceleration.
- Activity level: 3/5 (quite active)
- Intelligence level: 4/5 (very intelligent)
- Curiosity: 2.5/5 (moderately curious)
- Friendliness: 3/5 (quite friendly)
- Vocal: 3/5 (vocal at times)
The Bernese is a large dog, with a strong musculature and sturdy physique. The Bernese has a long, thick coat which gives it a companionable look. Another distinct marker of the Bernese is the distinctive Swiss Cross at the centre of its coat.
- Fur: Thick, moderately long coat; may be wavy or straight.
- Eyes: Slightly oval, dark brown eyes; close fitting eyelids.
- Body structure: Large, well balanced, muscled physique. Square body, which slightly longer than it is tall.
- Facial features: Intelligent, animated expression; head is flat on top with moderate stop.
- Weight: Male of the breed can weigh between 80 to 120 lbs, whereas the female weighs between 75 to 100 lbs.
While generally considered sturdy and robust of health, the Bernese mountain dog can occasionally be prone to a few health concerns such as von Willebrand’s Disease, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and hepatocerebral degeneration. Genetic blood tests and electroretinography are used for detecting PRA, whereas hepatocerebral degeneration is diagnosed through MRI and CT scans of the head and EEG. Von Willebrand’s Disease, which affects the coagulation capability of blood, is diagnosed through a platelet function assay (PFA), and complete blood count. Hip dysplasia is detected through X-ray analysis and synovial fluid analysis, whereas gastric torsion is detected through imaging techniques such as CT scans and ultrasound.
Care must be taken to protect the Bernese from a heat stroke, as it is an alpine breed. Moreover, a weekly brushing cycle is considered adequate for grooming purposes.
We have gathered this information from our breeders based on their experience with this breed. However, remember that each animal is different with its own personality and needs (just like people!), so use this information wisely.
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