The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Written By: Lindsay Giguiere

Editor: Julie Zawadzki

Dog Breeds
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With the Bernese Mountain Dog, beauty meets brawn. These majestic and gentle giants embody the perfect blend of strength and sweetness. Originally bred to work on Swiss farms, they're now cherished companions worldwide. From their stunning tri-colored coat to their unwavering loyalty, the Bernese Mountain Dog holds a special place in the hearts of dog lovers.

Did You Know these Facts about the Bernese Mountain Dog?

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs were skilled at various tasks on Swiss farms, from pulling carts to herding cattle.

  • Despite their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their calm and gentle demeanor, making them great family pets.
  • Their striking coat features a combination of black, white, and rust, forming unique patterns that make each dog truly one-of-a-kind.
  • With their protective nature, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be excellent watchdogs, alerting their owners to potential threats.

  • Unfortunately, these beautiful dogs have a relatively short lifespan, usually around 7 to 10 years.

The Bernese Mountain Dog holds a respectable number 22 position in terms of popularity, often ranking among the top 30 most registered breeds by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Their loving temperament and stunning appearance contribute to their continued popularity among families and dog enthusiasts.

felicitails breed guide about the bernese mountain dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere
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Traits of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Overall Personality. Bernese Mountain Dogs are more than just beautiful; their warm personality is truly endearing. Their affectionate and gentle nature makes them perfect companions for families and individuals alike. Their eagerness to please is matched by their desire to shower their loved ones with devotion. Their friendliness extends to both familiar faces and strangers, often making them the heartwarming center of attention wherever they go.

Family Life. These dogs are the embodiment of a loyal and loving family member. They thrive in the embrace of a loving and active family environment. Known for their patience, they effortlessly endure the joyful chaos that often comes with a bustling household. Children and adults alike are met with their warm, kind-hearted nature, and their strong bonds with all family members solidify their place as cherished members of the family.

Physical Appearance. The Bernese Mountain Dog's physical appearance is as captivating as their personality. Adorned with a tri-colored coat, their striking black, white, and rust patterns make them an eye-catching sight. Their sturdy build and powerful frame harken back to their historical role as working dogs on Swiss farms. These traits aren't just for show; they reflect their historical purpose and innate strength.

Sociability. Socializing is practically second nature to these social butterflies. Their inherent friendliness extends to their interactions with other dogs and even other pets. They have an uncanny ability to get along with their four-legged counterparts, fostering harmony in multi-pet households. Early socialization plays a pivotal role in shaping their confident and well-adjusted demeanor in various social situations. Their easy-going attitude and gentle approach make them the ultimate social companions, both in their immediate circles and in the wider community.

Average Sizes & Life Expectancy

  • Height: 23 to 27 inches tall (58 to 68.5 cm)
  • Weight: 75 to 110 pounds (34 to 50 kg)
  • Life Expectancy: Around 7 to 10 years

Detailed Description of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

With a captivating tri-colored coat, a gentle disposition, and an impressive history, the Bernese Mountain Dog stands as a beloved breed that captures the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world. Known for their exceptional temperament, striking appearance, and versatile skills, these dogs offer a unique blend of companionship, utility, and warmth to those fortunate enough to share their lives with them.

Physical Appearance. One of the most striking features of the Bernese Mountain Dog is their coat. A masterpiece of natural art, their tri-colored pattern showcases a lustrous combination of jet black, pristine white, and rich rust. This unique coloration is complemented by their strong, well-built frame, which exudes both power and grace. Their size, marked by their considerable weight and height, makes them a prominent presence wherever they go. Their broad head, dark expressive eyes, and trademark gentle expression add to their charm.

Temperament and Personality. The Bernese Mountain Dog's character is as notable as their appearance. They are affectionate, patient, and gentle, making them ideal companions for families and individuals alike. Their strong bond with their loved ones is a testament to their loyalty and devotion. Eager to please, they thrive on positive interactions and praise. Their friendly demeanor extends beyond family, as they often approach strangers with a wagging tail and a friendly demeanor. This disposition, combined with their intelligence and sensitivity, makes them intuitive and responsive companions.

Adaptability. These versatile dogs are adaptable to various living situations, although their natural inclination is to be close to their human companions. They flourish in homes with ample space and those who can offer them regular exercise. Their calm and patient nature makes them a great match for families with children, as they are known to tolerate the playful energy of kids with grace. Additionally, their amicable attitude towards other pets and dogs contributes to their seamless integration into multi-pet households.

Care Guidelines. While the Bernese Mountain Dog is a loving companion, their long coat requires regular maintenance. Brushing their coat several times a week helps prevent matting and keeps their fur in optimal condition. Due to their large size, proper nutrition is crucial to their overall health. Regular exercise is essential to prevent obesity and keep their joints healthy. Routine veterinary care and preventive measures are also vital in ensuring their well-being.

Training Strategies. Training these intelligent dogs can be a rewarding experience. Positive reinforcement methods work best, as they respond well to praise and treats. Early socialization is crucial to shape their well-rounded and confident demeanor. They can excel in obedience and even advanced training due to their eagerness to please and their ability to learn quickly. Given their working heritage, engaging them in mentally stimulating activities can help satisfy their need for mental challenges.

Notable in History and Pop Culture. Originating in the Swiss Alps, Bernese Mountain Dogs were initially bred as farm dogs, helping with herding and pulling carts laden with goods. Their remarkable strength, endurance, and gentle nature made them indispensable to the rural communities they served. While they may not be as prevalent in modern-day farming, their historical legacy lives on.

In pop culture, these dogs have made appearances in various media, from movies to commercials. Their wholesome and gentle demeanor has solidified their place as the ideal family dog, often seen in advertisements that celebrate togetherness and companionship. Their real-life heroics have also been documented, with stories of Bernese Mountain Dogs providing comfort and support during natural disasters and crises.

Bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life is like welcoming a loyal and affectionate friend who is always ready to share their love. Their presence enriches homes with warmth, and their gentle nature makes them exceptional companions for families, individuals, and even other pets. Their beauty, both inside and out, ensures that they will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who are fortunate enough to call them family.

What to expect when living with the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Personality. Owning a Bernese Mountain Dog is embarking on a journey filled with loyalty, companionship, and love. Their affectionate personality is one of their most endearing qualities, making them ideal family members and companions.

Ideal Environment. These dogs thrive in environments that provide them with plenty of human interaction and love. They have a natural affinity for being around people, enjoying the company of family members, children, and even strangers. Their friendly nature extends to other pets as well, making them a great addition to multi-pet households.

Maintenance Level. To ensure their well-being, Bernese Mountain Dogs require a moderate level of maintenance. Their striking coat needs regular brushing to prevent tangles and keep it healthy and shiny. Due to their size, they may not be well-suited for apartment living. Instead, they thrive in homes with spacious yards where they can roam and play. Regular exercise is important to keep them physically and mentally stimulated, and walks, playtime, and interactive activities are essential to their happiness.

Overall Health Expectations and best Health Tests for the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Health Considerations. Like all breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health conditions. Being informed about these potential health issues can help you provide the best care possible for your furry friend. Some of the common health concerns for this breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as certain types of cancer. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to catch any potential health problems early and to ensure your dog's overall well-being.

Recommended Health Tests. Health tests are an important part of responsible breeding practices and can also help in identifying potential health issues in your dog. When looking to acquire a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, it's essential to work with reputable breeders who conduct health tests on their breeding dogs to ensure that genetic health issues are minimized. Health tests for Bernese Mountain Dogs may include hip and elbow evaluations, eye examinations, and DNA tests for specific genetic conditions.

Best Nutrition, Diet & Supplements for the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Nutrition and Diet. Bernese Mountain Dogs are large and active breeds, so their diet should consist of high-quality protein sources to support their muscle development and energy needs. Look for dog foods that list real meat, poultry, or fish as the main ingredient. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits also provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's important to monitor portion sizes and avoid overfeeding, as excess weight can strain their joints and lead to health issues like obesity. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate daily caloric intake for your individual dog based on their age, activity level, and health status.

Hydration is Key. Ensure your Bernese Mountain Dog always has access to fresh, clean water. Proper hydration is vital for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall vitality.

Supplements. While a well-balanced diet should provide most of the necessary nutrients, there are certain supplements that can benefit Bernese Mountain Dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly recommended supplements to support joint health and prevent issues like hip dysplasia, which is common in larger breeds. Omega-3 fatty acids can help maintain a healthy coat and skin.

Foods to Avoid. Some human foods can be toxic to dogs, including Bernese Mountain Dogs. Avoid feeding them foods like chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and certain artificial sweeteners. Additionally, large breed dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs can be prone to bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition. To reduce the risk of bloat, feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals and avoid vigorous exercise immediately after eating.

Grooming Requirements for the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Coat Maintenance and Shedding. They have a thick double coat with a longer outer coat and a dense undercoat. While their coat is stunning, it does shed quite a bit, especially during shedding seasons in spring and fall. Regular brushing is essential to remove loose hair and prevent matting. A slicker brush and an undercoat rake can help effectively remove loose fur and keep the coat in good condition. To manage shedding and keep their coat healthy, it's recommended to brush Bernese Mountain Dogs at least 2-3 times a week, and daily during shedding seasons. Regular brushing not only helps with shedding but also distributes natural oils and stimulates the skin.

Paw Care and Hygiene. Bernese Mountain Dogs are active and may be prone to collecting debris in their paws. Regularly check their paw pads for any cuts, cracks, or foreign objects. Keep the hair between their paw pads trimmed to prevent matting and irritation.

Bathing Frequency. Bathe your Bernese Mountain Dog as needed, but not excessively, as over-bathing can strip their coat of essential oils. Use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to keep their coat clean and moisturized. Keep an eye on their ears, teeth, and nails. Clean their ears regularly to prevent infections, brush their teeth a few times a week to maintain oral hygiene, and trim their nails as needed.

Exercise Required for the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

These dogs benefit from a variety of exercises, including daily walks, playtime in a fenced yard, and engaging in canine sports like obedience, agility, and tracking. They have a natural tendency to pull, so activities that utilize their strength, such as carting or pulling objects, can also be enjoyable for them.

On average, Bernese Mountain Dogs need about 60 to 120 minutes of exercise each day. This can be broken down into multiple shorter walks or play sessions. They enjoy spending time with their family, so involving them in family activities like hiking or camping can also be a great way to keep them active and happy.

Training Tips for the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Training a Bernese Mountain Dog requires patience, positive reinforcement, and understanding of their unique personality traits.


  • Start training from a young age to establish good behavior habits. 

  • Use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to reward desired behaviors.

  • Socialize them with various people, dogs, and environments to build their confidence.

  • Keep training sessions short and engaging to prevent boredom.


  • Use harsh training methods or punishment, as it can damage their trust and confidence.

  • Skip socialization, as Bernese Mountain Dogs can become timid if not properly exposed to new experiences.

  • Overfeed treats during training to prevent weight gain.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed is Suitable For

Bernese Mountain Dogs are well-suited for a variety of homes, but there are certain factors to consider before bringing one into your family. These dogs thrive in family environments and are known for their gentle and patient nature with children. They are affectionate and enjoy being part of the family activities. However, due to their larger size, supervision is recommended when interacting with young children to prevent accidental knocks or bumps.

They are a larger breed and require ample space to move around comfortably. They can adapt to apartment living if provided with regular exercise, but a home with a fenced yard is ideal to meet their exercise needs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs can get along well with other pets when properly socialized from a young age. They generally have a friendly demeanor towards other dogs and may even form strong bonds with them. However, their herding instincts might lead them to chase smaller animals, so early socialization is important.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed is Not Suitable For

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a thick double coat that makes them better suited for cooler climates. They can overheat easily in hot weather, so living in regions with extreme heat might not be the best fit for them.

These dogs thrive on companionship and attention. They are not well-suited for homes where they will be left alone for long periods of time. Loneliness can lead to behavioral issues and separation anxiety.

Famous Bernese Mountain Dog Owners

  • Julia Roberts - The acclaimed actress is a proud owner of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Her love for these dogs is well-known, and she has been photographed spending quality time with them.


  • Daniel Craig - The actor, best known for his role as James Bond, is also a fan of Bernese Mountain Dogs. He and his wife, Rachel Weisz, have been spotted walking their Bernese Mountain Dog together.


  • Reese Witherspoon - This Hollywood star and producer is another celebrity who adores Bernese Mountain Dogs. She has shared pictures of her Bernese Mountain Dog enjoying outdoor activities with her family.

Accomplishments of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their strength, loyalty, and working abilities.

Historically, Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred to work on Swiss farms as versatile working dogs. They excelled at tasks such as pulling carts, herding livestock, and guarding property  Due to their gentle nature and calming presence, Bernese Mountain Dogs often serve as therapy dogs in hospitals and care facilities. Their friendly demeanor brings comfort to patients and staff alike.

While not as common in pop culture as some other breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs have made appearances in movies, television shows, and commercials. Their striking appearance and friendly personality make them an endearing choice for on-screen roles.

felicitails breed guide about the bernese mountain dog breed, breed traits, breed standards, felicitails founded by lindsay giguiere
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The History of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

The Bernese Mountain Dog, known for its majestic appearance and gentle disposition, has a rich history rooted in the Swiss Alps. The breed's origins date back centuries, where it played a vital role in the farming communities of Switzerland.

Creation and Purpose. The Bernese Mountain Dog, or "Berner Sennenhund" in its native Swiss language, was developed as a versatile working dog. Bred by farmers and dairymen in the canton of Bern, these dogs were essential companions for various tasks. Their primary roles included herding cattle, pulling carts laden with milk and produce, and serving as loyal guard dogs for farms and homesteads.

The breed's physical traits were specifically honed to match the demands of their working environment. Their strong, sturdy build and well-developed musculature allowed them to navigate rugged terrain and assist with tasks such as hauling heavy loads. Their thick, tri-colored coat provided insulation against the harsh alpine climate.

Early Roles and Evolution. As agricultural practices evolved and modernization reached the Swiss countryside, the Bernese Mountain Dog's role as a working dog began to decline. However, their friendly nature and striking appearance continued to make them beloved companions in rural communities. In the early 20th century, enthusiasts recognized the breed's unique qualities and started efforts to preserve and promote it. The breed's popularity gradually spread beyond Switzerland's borders. 

In the early 20th century, Bernese Mountain Dogs were introduced to other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1937, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America was established, contributing to the breed's recognition by major kennel clubs.

Through concerted efforts by breed enthusiasts, the Bernese Mountain Dog's characteristics were refined to adhere to a consistent breed standard. This standard emphasized not only their physical traits but also their friendly and affectionate temperament. The breed's popularity grew steadily, and they became sought-after family companions due to their gentle nature and striking appearance.

Changes and Modern Impact. In the modern era, the Bernese Mountain Dog's role has shifted primarily to that of a beloved family pet and show dog. Their charming personality and loyalty have endeared them to countless families around the world. Despite their historical association with agricultural work, their enduring qualities as affectionate companions continue to define the breed's legacy.

It's important to note that due to their large size and certain genetic predispositions, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to some health issues. Responsible breeding practices and regular veterinary care are essential to ensure their overall well-being.

In summary, the Bernese Mountain Dog's history is a testament to their enduring qualities and adaptability. From their origins as hardworking farm dogs in the Swiss Alps to their present-day role as cherished family members, these dogs have truly left an indelible mark on the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Standard

The Bernese Mountain Dog is classified within the "Working" group by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This group comprises breeds with a history of performing various tasks, such as guarding, herding, and pulling carts.

The AKC's formal Breed Standard for the Bernese Mountain Dog outlines the ideal characteristics that exemplify the breed. According to this standard, a Bernese Mountain Dog should possess a strong and balanced build, with a striking tri-colored coat of black, white, and rust. Their expressive eyes should convey a gentle and intelligent expression, while their overall demeanor should exude strength and confidence. The standard serves as a reference point for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to ensure the preservation of the breed's distinct traits.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) is the official national breed club dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and well-being of the breed. The club's website provides a wealth of resources, including information on breed history, health, training, and responsible breeding practices. For more information, you can visit their website: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America

General Appearance

Head, Muzzle, Nose. The head of a Bernese Mountain Dog is strong and well-proportioned to the body. It features a broad skull, slightly arched and adorned with a distinct furrow that extends from the stop to the occiput. Their expressive dark eyes exude kindness, while their medium-sized ears are set high and triangular, gently rounding at the tips. The muzzle of a Bernese Mountain Dog is straight and of moderate length, harmoniously blending with the overall facial structure. Their nose is broad and black, perfectly contrasting against their white muzzle. The Bernese Mountain Dog's nostrils are wide, ensuring efficient airflow.

Teeth. Bernese Mountain Dogs possess strong jaws with a scissor bite, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. This dental configuration aids in chewing, which is essential for their historical role as working dogs on farms.

Neck. Their neck is muscular and moderately arched, lending an air of elegance to their robust frame. The neck seamlessly transitions from the head to the shoulders, adding to the breed's balanced appearance.

Body. The body of a Bernese Mountain Dog exudes strength and power. Their chest is deep and broad, providing ample lung capacity for their outdoor activities. The back is level and strong, with a slightly sloping croup that merges into a well-muscled loin. The breed's sturdy build reflects their history as dependable working dogs.

Tail. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a bushy, thick tail that hangs straight down when at rest. It reaches to the hocks and completes the picture of a harmoniously proportioned dog.

Coat. One of the most distinctive features of the breed is their striking tri-colored coat. Their base color is jet black, adorned with rust markings on their cheeks, legs, and over their eyes. A white blaze graces their forehead, extending down the muzzle. Their double coat consists of a longer outer coat that is straight or slightly wavy, and a dense undercoat that provides insulation.

Size. Bernese Mountain Dogs are a large breed, with males typically standing between 25 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder, and females ranging from 23 to 26 inches. Adult males generally weigh between 80 to 115 pounds, while females weigh around 70 to 95 pounds.

Gait. When in motion, the Bernese Mountain Dog displays a purposeful and balanced gait. Their movements are smooth, efficient, and seemingly effortless, reflecting their history as working dogs traversing rugged terrains. Their straight and strong legs provide them with a steady and confident stride.

In conclusion, the Bernese Mountain Dog's general appearance epitomizes strength, balance, and elegance. Their regal posture and distinctive tri-colored coat make them stand out as a truly remarkable and picturesque breed.

Reputable Breeders

For those seeking a well-bred Bernese Mountain Dog, there are reputable breeders who prioritize health, temperament, and the breed's standard. Here are a few notable breeders:

  1. Relentless Ranch

  2. Barefoot Springs

  3. Rossingham Berners

Top Shelters for Adoption

Adopting a dog can be a rewarding experience. Here are five shelters where you might find a Bernese Mountain Dog in need of a loving home:

  1.  BFW Rescue Inc.

  2.  Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America

  3.  Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

How big do Bernese Mountain Dogs get?  

Adult males typically weigh between 80-115 pounds, while females weigh around 70-95 pounds.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good with children? 

Yes, they are known for their gentle and patient nature with children.

Do they require a lot of exercise? 

Yes, they benefit from regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed a lot? 

Yes, they have a thick double coat that sheds moderately throughout the year.

What are common health concerns for this breed? 

Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as certain types of cancer.

A Final Tip for Bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into Your Life

Welcoming a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life means embracing a loyal, gentle, and affectionate companion. Their remarkable combination of beauty and temperament makes them a wonderful addition to families who can provide love, attention, and ample space for their size. With proper care, socialization, and training, your Bernese Mountain Dog can become an enduring source of joy and companionship for years to come.

Valuable Resources for Your Journey to Parenting a Bernese Mountain Dog

At Felicitails you will find many wonderful services, supplies and guides for your life ahead with a loving pup at your side.

Hope You Enjoyed The Read!

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Hello, I’m Lindsay!

A warm welcome from Lindsay & Huck (my English Pointer). Hope you enjoy the read and find just what you are looking for when it comes to living your best life with your loved pets.

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