Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Other Names: Berner, Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Cattle Dog
Dog Group Kennel Club: Working (AKC, KC)
Bernese Mountain Dogs are beautiful Swiss working dogs. They are strong, sturdy dogs, with well muscled legs and a long bushy tail. They reach their full adult height at about 15 months but can take another 2 or 3 years to reach full maturity.
The have a medium glossy double length coat, which is straight to slightly curly. Coat colours: berners are jet black with a white muzzle and blaze, white chest, paws and tail tip. They have either a tan or chestnut colour separating the black and white on their legs and cheeks.
Weight: Both sexes weigh between 40 to 44kgs.
Average Life Span: 7-10 years
Berners are friendly, good natured, calm, and very loyal. They are very loving and cheerful dogs who adore being the centre of attention. They are great with children and will protect them, making them ideal family pets. If they are socialised from puppy-hood properly they will get along well with other dogs and animals. Berners only bark when they know something is amiss making them excellent watchdogs.
They love to be centre stage but training should start from day one when the puppy comes home. Careful, gentle training and plenty of socialisation are the keys to a happy well balanced puppy. They are eager to please but can also be quite stubborn. Therefore consistent training should be carried out from early puppy-hood. Berners must also be socialized well from an early age.
Daily grooming is requires to keep their coats healthy, gleaming, and tangle free.
Berners need regular daily exercise to meet their energy requirements. However, as puppies, exercise should be restricted to the garden for at least 4 to 5 months to allow the bones and joints to form properly. For the same reason, care should also be taken when there are stairs in the house.
Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues
Bloat (gastric torsion), though not a hereditary condition, frequently affects this breed. This is a very serious condition. When a dog bloats, the stomach can turn and block, causing a build up of gas. Unless treated quickly, bloat can be fatal. Signs of bloat include futile attempts to vomit and to salivate. Bloat, which may lead to cardiovascular collapse, usually occurs when exercise too closely follows eating. The incidence of bloat may be lessened by feeding adult dogs twice a day and, of course, by allowing a dog time to digest before taking him for a run in the park. Click Here for more information
Hip dysplasia: a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): is a hereditary disease of the eye that has been identified in Bernese Mountain Dogs. PRA is a blanket term for many types of retinal diseases, all of which result in blindness. All Bernese Mountain Dogs, regardless of age or breeding status, should be examined yearly by a member of the Veterinary Opthalmologists
Cataracts: cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
Hypothyroidism: an endocrine disease that results in the abnormally low production of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy, mental depression, weight gain and a tendency to seek out warm places. Hypothyroidism can also affect the coat and skin, causing hair loss and excessive dandruff.
Epilepsy: is a seizure disorder which has been found in this breed. Seizures vary between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your pet falling on his side, barking, gnashing his teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling his limbs. Seizures usually appear suddenly and end spontaneously, and can last from seconds to minutes. The disorder has no known cause, however it is important for your veterinarian to determine your pets general health and make sure there is no underlying disease that may be causing the seizures. Treatment can include anticonvulsant medications. Always ask your vet for advice.
Cancer: Berners do have a higher than average incidence of cancer. Besides the typical canine cancers, Berners can have histiocytosis — an heritable cancer which seems to be specific for this breed alone. The Berner-Garde Foundation has been established to understand and reduce genetic disease in Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Bernese Mountain Dog History
Bernese Mountain dogs can be traced back 2000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland, then known as Helvetia, being used as cattle drovers and guard dogs. The Roman mastiff-type dogs were probably crossed with flock-guarding dogs who could withstand the severe weather in the Alps and also served to soften their temperaments.
During the 1800’s the breed had very nearly disappeared due to the interest in the St Bernard, and the lack of concentrated breeding programmes and it was not until the turn of this century that a Swiss cynologist, Herr Franz Schertenlieb, combed the countryside to find the last of these dogs. He did have some success around the Durrbach district of Berne and then a Zurich professor, Albert Heim joined up with him. Thanks to them, the Bernese Mountain Dog made a comeback. At first these dogs were known as either ‘Gelbbackler’ (yellow cheeks), ‘Vierauger’ (four eyes) or more commonly, ‘Durrbachler’. As they now came from the whole area of Berne and not just Durrbach, in 1908 the club already formed changed their name to Berner Sennenhund. The Bernese had, by then, a huge following in Switzerland, the Continent and Scandinavia and was finally recognised in America in 1936. Canada followed suite in the 1970’s but the breed still remains relatively rare in Great Britain.