The Bernese Mountain Dog: A Powerful and Majestic Breed


The Bernese Mountain Dog (known in Germany as the Berner Sennenhund) is a large breed of dog that has its roots in the Swiss mountains.

The name Sennenhund is derived from the German Senne (“alpine pasture”) and Hund (“dog”), as they accompanied the alpine herders and dairymen called Senn.

Berner (or Bernese in English) refers to the area of the breed’s origin, in the canton of Bern in Switzerland.

It is one of the 4 officially recognized varieties of Schweizer Laufhund (Switzerland’s native group of Scenthounds). Originally, there were 5 of them but the other one went extinct in 1909.

This mountain dog was originally kept as a general farm dog. Large Sennenhunds in the past were also used as draft animals, pulling carts.

By the end of the 19th century, many other working dogs were being imported to Switzerland, which brought the numbers of the Bernese down as workers began to use other types of dogs.

An effort was made by a group of people including Professor Albert Heim and Franz Schertenleib to preserve the breed. They went around finding what remaining dogs they could to stabilize the Bernese.

The breed was officially established in 1907. In 1937, the American Kennel Club recognized it as a member of the Working Group

Traits and Behavior

The personality of a Bernese Mountain Dog breed tends to be calm and observant at all times. It is suspicious towards guests, unusual sounds and abrupt changes in its territory - factors that can trigger aggressive behavior.

As often as not, it could function on its own without human guidance, making independent decisions while tending its pack. This initiative can make your dog so much harder to train and will require a lot of time and patience from its owner to turn it into a decent household pet.


As guardian dogs, they are prone to some annoying habits such as barking in the middle of the night as well as persistent digging, which can be related to trying to keep themselves warm or cool while working. This habit is more pronounced in males than their female counterparts.

Pet Care and Diseases

All canine breeds have the potential to display genetic health problems as they grow, just as all humans are at risk of acquiring a particular disease that runs in the family. Be sure to seek the help of a legitimate veterinarian who has enough experience in dealing with Bernese Mountain Dog to prevent the occurrence of such disease through screening and to ensure that your dog will always be in good health.

In these dogs, probable health concerns include Willebrand’s Disease (WD), hypomyelination, allergies, hypothyroidism, hepatocerebellar degeneration and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Although not all of these conditions can be screened for, many can.


The Bernese Mountain Dog has an attractive white medium-length fur that sheds dirt but also sheds hair. Brush its coat at least once a week to get rid of dead hair and to keep both skin and coat in tip-top shape.

Bathe the Bernese Mountain Dog only when it gets dirty or is needed, the rest is basic care. Trim the nails when your dog starts to scratch the floor or every few weeks. Brush the teeth frequently with vet-recommended pet toothpaste.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are not recommended for apartment life or in urban areas since they are relatively not active indoors. Provide him with a wide area outside the house where they can run and play. The front yard fence must be at least 5 feet tall.

Tip: Maintaining the weight of a Bernese Mountain Dog within its normal limits is one of the easiest ways to prolong his life.


The large, hardy, and sturdy Bernese Mountain Dog can easily manage work involving droving and draft as it has the right combination of agility, pace, and strength. It has a slightly long and square body but is not tall. Its slow trot is characteristic of its natural working gait, but its driving power is good.

The moderately long and thick coat is straight or slightly wavy, offering insulation from extremely cold weather. The dog’s striking tri-color blend (a jet black ground color with rich rust and clear white markings) and gentle expression make it affable.


General Information

The breed is expected to live for 6-8 years. A litter may consist of 1-14 puppies. Berner Sennenhund and Bernese Cattle Dog are among its few other names.

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to Bernese Mountain Dogs. Click this link:

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