One of the friendliest furry companions on the planet, Bernese Mountain dogs are heartwarmingly loyal, full of energy, and excellent watchdogs! These long-haired canines are obedient and can be trained easily due to their high level of intelligence. However, for first-time pet parents, keeping this breed can be challenging in many ways.
The large and energetic Berners are difficult to handle and require extra attention, especially in grooming. Despite their friendly nature, these furry creatures can also be loud and rough, so proper training is a must. Once you understand how to care for them, there is no better pet than the Bernese Mountain dog, as they warm up to the whole family and are super-loyal!
So, whether you’re an experienced dog owner or a beginner, this article will reveal plenty of interesting information about the breed, including its origin and characteristics. We have also shared a comprehensive care guide to help you keep your dog happy and healthy!
History of the Bernese Mountain Dog
Curious to know about the origins of the beautiful and charming Bernese Mountain dogs? You’ve come to the right place.
These sweet-natured canines are natives of Bern, Switzerland, and were initially used as labor on the farms. For over 2000 years, these friendly beasts have served as watchdogs and loyal puppies to their owners. They were also remarkable in herding cattle and pulling carts.
One of the four ancient Swiss breeds, the Bernese Mountain dog breed is also known as the Berner Sennenhund. With modernization and a dwindling agricultural industry, these sturdy and intelligent dogs had lost their popularity. A professor named Albert Heim played a crucial role in their return to the farms and households by founding a breeding club in 1907. Later, the Berners were imported to Kansas by a farmer in 1926 and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937.
These magnificent mountain pups are purebred and are considered a result of crossbreeding the farm dogs of the Swiss Alps and the Roman Molosser dogs. Their popularity grew in the United States in 1968 when the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America was established.
The Bernese Mountain dogs are broad and muscular, with silky long coats. Let’s explore some basic facts about this breed.
Color and markings: Tricolored; black coat with white and tan/rust markings on the face.
Coat: Dense, long, and silky; can be straight or wavy
Height: 25-27.5 inches (male); 23-26 inches (female)
Weight: 80 – 115 pounds (male); 70 – 95 pounds (female)
Life Expectancy: 6 – 10 years
Let’s get to know the sweet Bernese Mountain dogs so you know what to expect of them when you take a puppy home!
Temperament & Behavior
When it comes to their temperament, Berner’s dogs are an ideal choice because of their affectionate and calm disposition. They can quickly warm up to the whole family and are great with children. However, to achieve that, it is important to enhance their socialization skills when young.
These loyal canines are alert but not aggressive, which means they can guard your home and interact gently with strangers. Regularly take your puppy out for walks in the park and ensure interaction with other dogs and people.
These loving puppies are great to have around, though there is one setback. The Berners tend to bark excessively. That means this breed is not the most suitable choice for people living in apartments or those who prefer quieter company.
These pups are faithful and live to please their pet parents. Keep in mind that they are highly codependent; you should only keep these dogs if you can spend plenty of time with them!
A key point to remember is that this breed mentally matures at a slow pace despite its rapidly increasing size. That makes training and socialization an essential part of their care. The good news is that they are quick learners, so adapting them to your household will be relatively easy!
Regardless of all the challenges of keeping a pet, their sweet, loving, and calm nature will make you feel elated about your decision to bring them home. But before you adopt one, let’s explore the different aspects of caring for the Bernese Mountain dogs.
Caring for Your Bernese Mountain Dog
As with all large-breed canines, caring for the Bernese Mountain dogs comes with challenges. With considerable attention, a balanced diet, regular grooming, and enhanced physical activity, you can successfully raise these adorable dogs. Keep reading to learn the paramount factors in caring for these mountain puppies!
As active, large dogs, the Berners require a formulated diet best suited to their needs. Most high-quality commercial or homemade dog food is suitable for your canine’s growth and development. You should check that the meal is rich in proteins and low-carb to enhance your puppy’s health.
Their nutritional requirements also tend to change with age, so the best approach is to consult your vet for guidance regarding their feed. Make sure to provide clean and fresh water. It is advisable to keep their calorie consumption moderate to prevent obesity. That also requires an opinion from the veterinarian, depending on your dog’s health condition.
Here’s a list of human foods you can feed your dog:
- Low-fat cheese (cottage cheese, mozzarella.) Feed this as a snack occasionally but make sure that your dog is not lactose intolerant.
- Corn off the cob
- Cooked eggs
- Cooked fish in a limited amount. (Twice a week)
- Raw, unsalted peanut butter without xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.
Do not feed:
- Almonds and macadamia nuts
The majestic, dense coats make this breed even more beautiful. Their double coat also makes regular grooming a necessary part of their care routine. Bernese shed excessively, especially during the spring and fall seasons. That is why these puppies require frequent brushing, multiple times a week. You should also bathe them every 3 months to maintain cleanliness and beauty.
Taking care of their oral hygiene is another factor to keep in mind. Brushing their teeth daily or at least twice a week helps keep them safe from diseases. Make sure to get their nails trimmed every month to avoid pain and injury. Check your puppy’s ears and clean them thoroughly, without inserting anything deep inside, to prevent infections.
These dogs are highly adaptive to cold temperatures, though it is best to avoid adopting them if you live in a warmer region. That is because this breed was developed for the freezing temperatures of the Alps, with double coats. That means this breed is highly prone to overheating. Keeping them out of the sun and in colder environments with plenty of hydration will reduce the risk of heatstroke.
Besides a colder climate, your canine will need a larger space to move about and thrive. Houses with fenced yards are ideal for keeping this breed.
You will find that your big, beautiful pooch loves exploring and is full of energy. Of course, this results in the need for sufficient physical activity during the day. It would help to take your dog out for at least a 30-minute walk daily, besides providing a safe outdoor space for plenty of exercise.
If you love staying out and enjoy activities like hiking, you have the perfect furry companion!
The large and muscular Bernese Mountain dogs are gentle but difficult to manage due to their size. With obedience training, your intelligent puppy will be easier to tame, especially outdoors. Remember that these dogs are super-sensitive yet smart, so avoid punishment and use positive reinforcement.
Note: Do not overfeed treats as they can lead to obesity.
To learn more on how to better care for your pet, download the PetMyPal app. An all-in-one app with a Vet-Chat feature that allows you to virtually connect with a vet from the comfort of your home. This is perfect for non-emergency cases, and multiple affordable subscription plans are available.
While it is immensely rewarding to keep a dog, having a pet at home can also have a downside. These mountain dogs are prone to several diseases you may need to look out for, such as:
Multiple types of cancer can beset this breed, shortening the victim’s lifespan. This deadly disease needs to be treated immediately. You need to watch for signs of swelling, sores, bleeding, troubled breathing, or difficulty during elimination.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Even though this disease is not life-threatening, it is extremely painful for your dog. Hip or elbow dysplasia is a degenerative disease that affects the joints, leading to arthritis or limping. Seeing signs of pain and discomfort can help diagnose and treat the problem earlier. However, this disease is not always apparent and requires an X-ray for confirmation.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) complex (bloat)
This grave, life-threatening disease is prevalent in large dogs like the Bernese Mountain breed. Also known as bloat, this deadly ailment calls for immediate medical attention to prevent death. This condition affects the stomach as excess air becomes trapped, stopping the blood flow to the heart. That leads to alarmingly low blood pressure and eventually death.
You can prevent this disease by feeding smaller portions to your dog. If you suspect your dog is suffering from bloating, check for signs like abnormally increased salivation, retching without vomiting, restlessness, depression, lethargy, weakness, and a rapid heart rate. Immediately take your dog to the vet if your dog shows any of these symptoms.
This condition involves limping in dogs, which eventually dies down on its own. It happens in young puppies, about 5 to 12 months old, and stops without long-term side effects. It is important to provide considerable rest and high-quality food to your furry friend to help ease the pain and assist in healing.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
This blood disorder has no cure and can only be controlled through various treatments. It disturbs the blood clotting process, and symptoms include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from surgery, during heat cycles or after whelping, and blood in the stool.
Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)
In this disease, the blood flows past the liver, preventing it from cleaning the blood. This ailment requires surgery and manifests in various ways, including abnormal brain function, low appetite, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), intermittent gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract problems, drug intolerance, and linear growth failure.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA affects your canine’s eyes, slowly progressing into partial or complete vision loss. Most dogs can be trained to adapt to their surroundings even after going blind. Other serious and minor conditions that can attack your mountain dog include:
- Aseptic meningitis
- Sub-aortic stenosis
Ensuring your dog’s safety and health is a big responsibility that can only be made possible with professional help. If you believe your dog is suffering from any diseases mentioned above that require immediate treatment, visit your vet as soon as possible. The sturdy and alert Bernese Mountain dogs are a worthy addition to any home. Their beauty, friendliness, and loyalty make every challenge trivial in caring for these large dogs. As long as you feed them a balanced, nutritional diet and provide plenty of socializing and exercise, these faithful dogs will have a quality life by your side!
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