The Bernese Mountain Dog …… From BERNE in Switzerland
The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of a group of four Swiss Working Dogs known as Sennenhund.
(Swiss for Alpine Herdsman)
It is thought that their ancestors came over the Alps with the Romans and were used originally as cattle drovers.
Spreading through Switzerland, each community developed the type of dog that suited its particular needs, this is how four different types of Sennenhund were established.
In Switzerland they work driving cattle to and from the Alpine pastures, are used for search and rescue in avalanches, watch dogs for farms and pulling carts with dairy produce on to markets.
Used to working closely with their owners in this environment over the years, they are an ideal family dog, eager to take part in all activities.
They are a striking looking dog with a medium to long length black coat which has a natural sheen. A white muzzle and blaze, white cross type markings on the chest and usually some white on the paws and tail tip.
Between the black coat and white markings is a rich tan colour.
Height for the males around 64 to 70cms weight around 40 to 55kgs and for the bitches height is around 58 to 66cms and weight around 32kgs to 40kgs (rough guides).
Being a large breed, the Bernese is quite late to mature, usually reaching their full adult height by around 15 months. They can take another two or so years to reach full maturity.
The Bernese Mountain Dog loves to be with its owners in a family environment and does not thrive well being left outside in a kennel. They love to be with people and to be given affection and be part of the family, making them an ideal friendly family dog.
This said, they are quite happy to settle down quietly and are not constantly demanding attention from their owners. They are happy just to be there and watch you go about everyday household activities.
They enjoy playtime with you and enjoy “working” ie. Search and Retrieve games.
Bernese are good Watch dogs (not to be confused with guard dogs) and will let you know when visitors arrive. If you are happy with the situation then they will quickly settle back down.
Adult Bernese enjoy a stroll to the park, or depending on their fitness, a few kilometres are also enjoyed. If for some reason you cannot do this every day they will accept this as long as they can have some form of play time with you or a run around the garden.
Puppies – as with all large breeds, exercise needs to be light whilst your pup is growing so as not to damage their joints.
This consists of a good brushing once a week, which is an enjoyable bonding time with your dog, and a chance to check them over for grass seeds, check their teeth, ears & gums etc. Most Bernese are happy around water, so bath time can be part of a play situation, starting them off when young puppies using the garden hose on the shower position gently, on the lawn and or an old bath.
Bernese have an undercoat which needs to be brushed out periodically, and particularly when they are moulting.
This also helps to prevent doggy smell.
Coat shedding occurs with the bitch’s cycle usually twice a year and the males less frequently but in general they are not continually shedding.
As with many of the larger breed dogs, Bernese are prone to Hip & Elbow Dysplasia. Responsible Breeders always screen their potential breeding stock for H & E Dysplasia and will only breed from low scored stock.
Cancer of the major organs and or bones is another problem with the breed. Once again, Responsible Breeders will spend many years researching bloodlines in pursuit of good breeding stock.
It should be noted that there is no guarantee against these problems even then, but on a positive note it means that we are doing our best to reduce the known problems with the breed.
Many breeds of dogs have health issues of some sort.
The Bernese Mountain Dog, or “ Berner “, as they are affectionately called, are generally easy to train as they love to please their owners. They respond best to the softer approach of training, with treats and lots of praise.
They are sensitive dogs and love nothing better than to receive love and affection from their owners and in return they will give you lots of love & affection, loyalty & understanding, and precious companionship .
Lesmurdie, WA, Australia
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