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Bernese Mountain Dog

Country/Date of origin: Switzerland/100 BC

One of four tricolored dogs from the Swiss mountains, the Bernese is the only long-haired member of the quartet, and the only one of the four that is not a herding dog. They were bred in the area around Berne as a draft animal. Their primary job was to haul milk down the mountains to market but it is also a superb guard and will drove cattle when necessary. This dog of the mastiff family whose heavy coat is well suited to its mountain home is a descendent of dogs that invading Roman soldiers brought as livestock guards and drivers 2,000 years ago. This is the most popular of the four breeds.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Berner Sennenhund, Bear Cub

AKC Group: Working

Breed Club: The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America

Rescue Club: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Watchung, Contact for Pennsylvania: Margaret McMath, PO Box 567, Springwon, PA 18081, (610) 346-6355, email: [email protected]

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Body Type:

  • Have rather compact build for their size
  • Height: 23-27 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 87-90 pounds
  • The tail is of medium length and is carried low; it is not altered
  • The ears hang slightly forward and are held next to the face; they are not altered


  • A very dominant "take charge" animal, although pleasant to be around
  • Cautious with strangers
  • Loyal and steadfast; a serious nature is innate
  • Good with children
  • Does not fawn
  • Learns slowly but it retains what it is taught


  • Long and slightly wavy without being curly
  • It is exceptionally thick
  • Color is very important. There is only one permissible: jet-black, with deep tan or rust markings on all legs. A white blaze on the head extending between the eyes and a white chest marking known as a cross are essential. White paws are preferred
  • Moderate to heavy grooming needed
  • Seasonal shedding is heavy

Health Concerns:

  • Prone to hip dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Serious metabolic bone diseases
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • If used to guard cattle, the Berner is a tyrant, keeping all their charges in line with a firm paw

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