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Alternative Name

Berner Sennenhund, Bouvier Bernois, Dürrbächler (nick Berner), The Berne Herdsman's Dog

Basic Information

The Bernese Mountain Dog, also known as Berner Sennenhund or Bouvier Bernois, stands as a versatile and majestic cattle-herding and farm dog with roots in the canton of Berne, Switzerland. This tri-colored giant of a dog boasts a size ranging from 23 to 27.5 inches (58-70 cm) at the withers, showcasing its impressive stature. While breed standards typically omit weight specifications, Berners generally fall within the range of 70 to 130 pounds (32-60 kg). Instantly recognizable by its distinctive tricolor pattern — a beautiful blend of black, rich tan, and white — the Bernese Mountain Dog captivates with its unique markings, including a white "Swiss cross" on the chest when viewed from the front in a sitting position. The breed's expressive dark brown eyes add to its charm.

Health

Despite their majestic appearance, Bernese Mountain Dogs face health challenges due to a somewhat narrow genetic base. Hereditary diseases such as malignant histiocytosis, mastocytoma, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and osteosarcoma are common. Issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis, aortic stenosis, autoimmune problems, and kidney issues are also prevalent. The breed is known for a higher occurrence of stillborn young, indicating concerns about inbreeding depression. While slow to mature, Berners, unfortunately, do not have an extensive lifespan, with the average being around seven years. The prevalence of cancers contributes to this shorter lifespan, prompting the saying among the Swiss that a ten-year-old Berner is a very old one.

Behavior

Berner Sennenhunds are outdoor enthusiasts with a gentle demeanor indoors. They require regular activity and exercise, although their endurance may not be extensive. Surprising for their size, Berners can exhibit bursts of speed when motivated. Their temperament is a highlight — affectionate, loyal, faithful, stable, and intelligent. These qualities make them exceptional family pets. Training is possible, but patience and consistency are key, as Berners need time to ponder and understand. The breed's stability in temperament, patience, and loving nature contribute to its popularity.

Origin

Switzerland

History

The history of the Bernese Mountain Dog is deeply rooted in Swiss farm villages, where it served as a versatile working dog. Tasks included herding livestock, hauling carts laden with milk cans and farm goods, and acting as a reliable flock guardian. The breed faced near extinction in the late 1800s but was rescued by the determined efforts of Swiss cynologist Herr Franz Schertenleib around the turn of the century. This rescue effort ensured the preservation and continued legacy of this magnificent Swiss breed.