Updated 01-08-2023

Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics, Facts & Traits

The Bernese Mountain Dog hails from Switzerland's farms and is an incredibly adaptable working dog. To herd livestock, pull carts, and serve as a watchdog and faithful companion, they were bred and developed over time. Swiss Mountain Dogs are the only breed with long hair among the four varieties.

Due to their origin in the Swiss canton of Bern, this breed is known as a Bernese Mountain Dog. They're a huge and sturdy breed of dog with a kind and calm demeanor. They're also good at conformation, obedience, tracking, herding, and carting.

The sociable, intelligent, and highly trainable qualities of this breed may entice a first-time dog parent. Beginners should, however, be aware. Bernese Mountain Dogs are challenging to handle because of their size and enthusiasm. As a result, they have little patience for being cooped up in their homes all day. They have a lot of drool and require it to be wiped off their faces frequently.

This breed's ability to serve as a watchdog comes at the cost of its predisposition to bark excessively. When completely adult and trained, they are gentle, but they may want to chase and play rough with smaller animals.

The Bernese is a breed that may display unconditional affection and loyalty if the right conditions are met, such as a large, open territory, regular grooming and training, and time and effort. The whole family will fall in love with a well-trained Bernese. If they've had appropriate socialising training, they'll even welcome newcomers to the family pleasantly.

Almost no other breed has as a high proclivity for being friendly as the Golden Retriever. As a result, if you're up for the task, getting a Bernese Mountain Dog will be a decision you'll never regret.

The following is a complete list of Bernese Mountain Dog traits.


  • Berners are susceptible to a wide range of health issues due to their limited genetic foundation, as well as other unknown factors. There is currently a six to eight-year life expectancy for a Bernese Mountain Dog, however this has recently increased to roughly ten years. This may be attributable to more thoughtful breeding practices that take into account various genetic factors.
  • For profit, some breeders have bred dogs of lower quality and sold them to naive purchasers because of the Berner's appeal. Most of the time, these dogs are purchased at auction with no prior knowledge of their health. Don't encourage cruel animal breeding methods. It's better to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organisation than to donate money to people who breed dogs indiscriminately.
  • Because of the breed's health issues, veterinary treatment might be expensive.
  • Additionally, Berners are known to shed a lot, especially in the spring and autumn. This may not be the breed for you if excessive shedding is a major issue for you.
  • Berners enjoy spending time with their families. Barking, digging, or chewing can occur if the dog is kept away from people and their daily routines.
  • When Berners reach their full potential, they grow to be massive dogs who thrive when given a task. Because of these reasons, it's a good idea to start obedience training as soon as possible.
  • Despite their friendly demeanour toward youngsters, Berners have been known to accidentally knock over a baby or toddler.
  • A healthy dog should never be purchased from an unreliable breeder or puppy mill.


Social Appearance 


It's a common misconception that a little dog is better suited to living in a limited space. Many tiny dogs have too much energy and are too yappy to live in an apartment building. An apartment dog's best attributes include being quiet, low energy, somewhat peaceful indoors, and respectful to the other inhabitants. Your dog's personal space in your apartment can be improved by purchasing one of these fantastic dog cages.

Sensitivity Level

Depending on the dog, a strong rebuke can be taken in stride by some, while others regard even the tiniest hint of disapproval as a personal attack. If you have a loud or pushy owner, a chaotic home, or a routine that is unpredictable or variable, your low-sensitivity dog, often known as "easy-going," "tolerant," "resilient," or even "thick-skinned," will be able to handle it better. Do you have young children, host a lot of parties, or have a hectic lifestyle? Choose a dog that isn't overly sensitive.


You can't tell from looking at them whether or not they're hyperactive, but when they do anything, they do it vigorously. They tug at their leashes (unless you teach them not to), they push their way through barriers, and they down their meals in huge, gobbling gulps. A home with young children or an elderly or feeble person may not be the best place for these dynamos to learn proper etiquette. On the other hand, a dog with poor vitality adopts a more reserved demeanor.

Potential for Playfulness

Some dogs never grow out of their puppyhood and are always looking for a game to play, while other dogs are more reserved and serious. Consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and if you have children or other canines who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

Personality Appearance


In the same way that dogs who were raised to run all day need to work out their bodies, so too do dogs who were bred for professions that involve decision making and intelligence, like herding sheep. Digging and chewing are two examples of activities that a bored pet will engage in if they don't obtain the mental stimulation they need. Obedience training and interactive dog toys, as well as dog sports and occupations like agility and search and rescue, are wonderful ways to keep a dog's brain engaged.

Energy Level

Dogs with a lot of energy are continuously on the lookout for something to do. A canine job, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding animals requires a lot of stamina; these dogs were originally designed for that purpose. As a result, they're more inclined to engage in activities such as jumping, playing, and exploring new sights and smells.

The canine version of a couch potato, a low-energy dog is satisfied to lounge around all day. Consider your own level of activity and lifestyle when choosing a breed, and whether or not you'll find a rambunctious, excitable dog energising or irritating.

Easy To Train

It is easier for dogs that are easy to train to build associations between a cue (like "sit"), an action (like sitting), and a reward (like a treat) than it is for dogs that are difficult to train. Other dogs require a greater investment of time, patience, and repetition.

You'll need to utilize incentives and games to get your dog excited about training because many breeds are intelligent but have a "What's in it for me?" training mentality.

Family Affection Level

Affectionate With Family

Even if they've been nurtured by the same person since puppyhood, some breeds remain aloof and independent; others bond strongly with one person and are indifferent to others; and yet others shower the entire family with love. Not only does the dog's breed influence its level of attachment, but so does the dog's upbringing, as canines raised in homes with people tend to be more open to human interaction and form stronger bonds.


Kids-friendly dogs are calm, strong enough to bear the hefty hugs and pets kids can dish out, and have an unfazed attitude about rushing, scream-inducing children. There are several names you may not expect to see on the list: Fierce-looking Both Boxers and American Staffordshire Terriers are regarded as family dogs (which are considered Pit Bulls). Chihuahuas, which are small, sensitive, and potentially sharp, are not always family-friendly.

Dog Friendly

Friendship with dogs and friendship with people are two distinct concepts. Even though they're good with people, some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs; some would prefer play than fight; and yet others will turn tail and flee. It's not just the animal's breed that matters. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies should have spent a lot of time playing with their littermates and their mother, and they are more likely to have good social skills.

Physical Appearance

Amount of Shedding

Having a dog in the house means that you'll have to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothing and in the home. It's worth noting, however, that shedding varies widely among breeds. Some dogs shed all year long, while others ``blow" just during specific times of the year, and still others don't shed at all. If you're a stickler for cleanliness, you'll need to choose a breed that sheds less or lower your expectations. You can use a deshedding tool to keep your house a little cleaner.

Drooling Potential

While greeting you, some dogs may cover their arms with ropes of drool and create large, wet patches on your clothing. If you don't mind a little drool, go for it; but if you're a stickler for cleanliness, you may want to look for a dog with a low drool rating.

Easy To Groom

Some breeds of dogs can simply be brushed and left alone, while others require frequent washing, trimming, and other grooming in order to maintain their health and appearance. If you don't have the time or money to take care of a dog that requires a lot of grooming, you may want to look into hiring a professional.

Exercise Needs

Evening walks around the neighbourhood are perfectly acceptable for some breeds. Others, particularly those trained for physically demanding vocations like herding or hunting, require regular, rigorous exercise.

They can gain weight and release their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, including barking, chewing, and digging, if not given enough exercise. Those looking to train their dog for an energetic canine activity, such as agility, should consider getting a dog that needs a lot of exercise.

Average sizes and life expectancy of the breed


70 to 115 pounds


6 to 10 years


23 to 28 inches


The Bernese mountain dog has its roots in Switzerland, specifically in the canton of Berne. The dog's progenitors arrived in the area thousands of years ago and are descended from Roman mastiffs, among others. The longer and silkier coat of the Berner distinguishes it from the other three types of Swiss mountain dogs. The Entlebucher mountain dog, the Appenzeller mountain dog, and the Greater Swiss mountain dog are the other three kinds.

During the 1800s, these dogs were used to move cattle, protect farms, and carry large burdens. They were also devoted family members. In the late 1800s, the breed's popularity waned as machines took over many of their jobs. However, this sparked the formation of organisations to protect the breed and rekindle interest in it.

As early as the early 1900s, a group of Berners arrived in the United States. Additionally, in 1937 the American Kennel Club officially recognised the breed. In the United States, they've become one of the most popular breeds of dog.

Personality and Temperament

An alert and friendly breed, the Bernese mountain dog is a popular family pet. Because they have working experience, they like the opportunity to learn something new. Because of their huge size, they need to be taught to obey from an early age so that they can be good house pets. It is still in the breed's nature to protect and labour on the farm.

In addition to serving as an excellent guardian, the Bernese Mountain Dog excels in herding and drafting duties. Bernese mountain dogs are well-known for their draught work, which can be seen on field trails and amongst their owners. A dog's ability to both pull and control a cart is taken into consideration. There are several benefits to owning a dog that requires physical activity and a job to do.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is an excellent family pet because of its laid-back personality and tranquil demeanour (that is, after the adolescent stage). This dog is sensitive, loyal, and devoted to his family, but he can be wary of new people. Most other dogs and pets get along well with Bernese Mountain Dogs. They struggle when left alone for long periods of time.


To be happy and healthy, Bernese mountain dogs need a modest amount of exercise, combined with regular training and socialising. However, you should be prepared to deal with a lot of stray hair when it comes to their upkeep.


Due to reckless breeding, some Berners have health problems. If you're thinking about getting a Berner, it's crucial to know about the ailments they are susceptible to.

Checking for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease should be a priority with Berners. To be on the safe side, you should be aware of the following circumstances.

Von Willebrand's Disease

This is a blood condition that impairs the clotting process in both dogs and people. These include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, persistent bleeding following surgery, and occasionally blood in the stool. This disease can only be diagnosed in children between the ages of three and five, and there is no known treatment. However, it can be treated with cauterising or suturing injuries, blood transfusions prior to surgery, and avoiding certain drugs.


Known as "pano," this illness results in a person becoming unable to walk without assistance. When a dog is five to twelve months old, it may begin to limp on one leg, then the other, before the limping stops altogether. There are usually no long-term repercussions from this treatment. If the dog is in pain, rest and a limited amount of activity may be recommended. A high-quality dog food that doesn't include too much calcium or too much protein, which some say may induce pano, is the best thing you can do for your Berner. Ask your veterinarian for his advice.

Hip Dysplasia

The thigh bone does not fit tightly into the hip joint due to a hereditary problem. Some dogs have obvious indicators of pain and disability in their hind legs, whereas others don't. (Diagnosing the issue with a high degree of certainty is only possible through X-ray screening.) As the dog aged, arthritis may develop. Hip dysplasia should never be bred into a dog population.

Elbow Dysplasia

Large-breed dogs are more likely to suffer from this type of degenerative disease than smaller breeds. It's thought to be the outcome of a weak or misformed joint due to aberrant growth and development. The degree of the sickness varies from dog to dog: he may only acquire arthritis or he may become completely crippled. Surgery, weight loss, medical supervision, and anti-inflammatory medication are all options for treatment.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

The retina gradually degenerates in this group of eye diseases. As the condition develops, affected dogs become night-blind and lose their ability to see during the day. As long as their surroundings remain the same, many affected dogs are able to adjust to their reduced or lost vision.

Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)

An irregularity in blood arteries that allows the liver to be bypassed is a congenital condition. As a result, the liver is unable to perform its normal function of cleansing the blood. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that commonly show up before the age of two, including but not limited to: neurobehavioral abnormalities, anorexia, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), intermittent gastrointestinal disorders, urinary tract troubles, medication intolerance, and stunted growth. Most times, surgery is the most effective treatment.

Gastric Torsion

Large, deep-chested canines like the Bernese Mountain Dog are particularly vulnerable to this life-threatening illness, which is also known as bloat. A heavy meal, eaten quickly, followed by a lot of water and hard exercise are all factors that contribute to this. It is more usual in older dogs to suffer from bloat. When the stomach is filled with gas or air and then twists, it's known as a gastric twist (torsion).

An inability to belch or vomit means the dog's regular return of blood to the heart is hindered. The dog goes into shock when his blood pressure drops too low. The dog is in danger of dying if not given emergency medical care right away. Because of a bloated abdomen and increased salivation, you should be on the lookout for bloat in your dog. The heart rate may also be elevated and they may be agitated, despondent, lethargic, or feeble. If you see any of these symptoms, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


Many Bernese Mountain Dogs are diagnosed with cancer, which can lead to an early death. Abnormal swelliness, sores that don't heal, and bleeding from exposed wounds are all symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis. Chemotherapy, surgery, and medication are all forms of treatment for cancer.

Recommended Health Tests 

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Elbow Evaluation
  3. Cardiac Exam
  4. Ophthalmologist Evluation
  5. Von Willebrand's Disease DNA Test


This type of dog requires a high-quality diet. To keep a dog in peak physical shape, it is critical that the food it eats be of the highest quality. Bernese mountain dogs are known for their love of fresh fruit, such as carrots, broccoli, squash, and pumpkin. Digestive enzymes can be found in many of these foods, which can help alleviate their stomach pain. Yogurt and lean, cooked meat can be eaten in moderation.

In addition to promoting healthy growth and strong bones, high-quality food also aids digestion in these dogs. In addition, feeding your dog the correct diet can aid with weight loss and keep them healthy by reducing their risk of injury or disease. This type of dog is best fed a diet strong in fats, fibre, and crude protein.

Artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, among other things, can be found in many low-quality dog diets, which are often heavily processed and loaded with fillers and additives. Owners of this breed may want to consider a less processed raw/freeze-dried food due to the breed's proclivity for certain malignancies.

To become strong, mature, and healthy adults, Bernese puppies need to eat high-quality food. Food that is 25 to 27 percent protein and 15 to 16 percent fat, on average, is recommended for puppies of the Bernese mountain dog.

Adult Bernese mountain dogs need a diet rich in natural, home-cooked ingredients including meat, grains, and greens.


Dirt and debris are easily repelled by the Berner's double coat, which has a shorter undercoat than the longer outer coat. However, it sheds a lot. Brush your dog thoroughly at least once a week to keep mats and tangles at bay. If you live in a climate where shedding occurs more frequently in the spring and fall, you may need to brush your pet every day to stay up.

Depending on how dirty your dog becomes, you should bathe it once a month. Every month, check to see if the nails need to be trimmed. Additionally, you should check your dog's ears on a weekly basis to see whether they need to be cleaned. Inspect the ears for dirt and any redness, swelling, or odour.

A final point to make is that while many Berners have very little salivation, those with loose jowls tend to salivate quite a bit. The dog, the house, and even you can get slobbered on as a result of that slobber. A clean-up cloth can help you keep your dog's fur from being embedded in the build-up of his drool.


Berners have a moderate degree of energy, and they require a lot of room to move and play because of their large size. Moderate-intensity exercises like brisk walks, treks, and fetch count toward your daily total of 30 minutes of activity. For canine sports like obedience, agility, tracking, and carting the Berner is a good candidate. This will challenge them both cognitively and physically, which will benefit them in the long run.


Because Bernese mountain dogs are intelligent and eager to please, training them is a breeze. When your dog is a puppy, begin training him in basic obedience and socialising. Adult Berners, which are forceful and difficult to handle if they haven't learnt their etiquette, are especially critical in this regard. Make an effort to expose your dog to a wide variety of people, animals, and circumstances in order to build its self-confidence.

Clicker training, for example, has been found to be effective in training Berners. They are prone to shutting down if they are subjected to rigorous training.

Children and Other Pets

Having a Berner as a pet is a great option for families with children who are respectful of animals. As a result of their size, they can accidentally injure or even kill little infants.

Dogs and children should always be supervised at all times, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. Your youngster should be taught never to approach a dog while it is eating or sleeping, or to try to steal the dog's food. A youngster should never be left alone with a dog, no matter how friendly it is.

As long as there isn't too much of a size disparity between Berner and other pets, he gets along OK with others.


As thrilling as it may be to adopt one of these dogs, the first 24 hours are critical. Dogs and their owners should begin leash training as soon as feasible in order to establish the alpha position between the two of them. Allow at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for this dog because he is still in the puppy stage of his mental development. They may be little, but these pups are voracious eaters. Bernese puppies should not be supplemented for at least the first six months of their lives, although they will require two meals a day while they are growing.

Dog breeds Similar to Bernese mountain dog

The Bernedoodle is a hybrid between a Bernese mountain dog and a variety of other dog breeds. Included in some of them are

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Bernese mountain dogs seem quite similar to this dog breed, which often has the same body fur colour as the Berners. It is a powerful but kind creature.

Anatolian Shepherd 

Like Bernese mountain dogs, these dogs are fearless, robust, and durable. The Berners, on the other hand, are more outgoing and social.


The calm and devoted nature of this breed resembles that of the Bernese mountain dog. As a family pet, it is a joy to have around, and it displays an affectionate demeanour toward its human companions.