Bernese Mountain Dog

Breed Summary

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking beauty, tri-colored, large dog. They are sturdy and well-balanced. Bernese are intelligent, strong, and agile enough to do the draft and droving work for which he was used in the mountainous regions of his origin. Their eyes are dark brown and slightly oval in shapes and ears are medium. Bernese male dogs appear masculine, while bitches are distinctly feminine.

Country of Origin: Switzerland

AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 22 of 196

AKC Classification: Working Group

UKC Classification: Guardian Dog

Exercise Requirements: 20-40 minutes/day

Height: Female: 23-26 inches.; Male: 25-27.5 inches.

Weight: Female: 70-95 lbs.; Male: 80-105 lbs.

Physical traits: Large, Heavy, Muscular, Strong

Coat: Length: Medium

Characteristics: Thick, straight

Colors: Tricolored: black with tan markings with white

Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate

Personality traits/Temperament: Good-Natured, Calm, Strong

Energy Level: Laid back

Tendency to Drool: Low

Tendency to Snore: Low

Tendency to Bark: Low

Tendency to Dig: Low

Social/Attention Needs: Moderate


Berners are plagued with health issues throughout their lives. Their life expectancy is 7 to 10 years. They have a much higher rate of fatal cancer than other breeds; in both U.S./Canada and UK surveys, nearly half of Bernese Mountain Dogs die of cancer, compared to about 27% of all dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs have unusually high mortality due to musculoskeletal causes like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament rupture were reported as the cause of death in 6% of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the UK. Some dogs can develop itchy skin conditions where baths with a high-quality dog shampoo and conditioner is recommended. Flea control is also essential. Responsible breeders need to screen their breeding stock for these health conditions.


The Bernese Mountain Dog depends on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared. Add a high-quality dog multivitamin to complete the nutritional circle. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so monitor your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Don’t give human foods that are not safe for them. Consult with your veterinarian for further advice.


Early socialization and obedience training are important for all dogs, but especially so for breeds as large as the Bernese Mountain Dog. Berners are intelligent and eager to please, so they are usually easy to train. They are also affectionate and openhearted; their feelings are easily hurt, and so they don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods. A Berner wants to be with his family, and undesirable behaviors can result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time.


Bernese Mountain Dogs require at least a half-hour of moderate exercise every day to stay healthy and live happily. While they are definitely meant to live indoors with their human family, Berners enjoy outdoor activities and make splendid companions on lengthy walks or hikes. Use paw balm daily to protect their feet. Outdoorsy owners often take their canine companions camping and backpacking. With proper training, they enjoy giving children rides in a cart or taking part in a parade, such as the Conway, New Hampshire holiday parade.

Fun Fact

In 1850, cheese plants started to open up, and producers wanted to move large shipments of food. These dogs eventually become delivery dogs that time.


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