This breed can be traced back 2000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland, then known as Helvetia, being used as cattle drovers and guard dogs. The Roman mastiff-type dogs were probably crossed with flock-guarding dogs who could withstand the severe weather in the Alps and also served to soften their temperaments. Berner Sennenhunds where then used as cart-pullers to transport woven goods or dairy products from village to village. During the 1800's the breed had very nearly disappeared due to the interest in the St Bernard, and the lack of concentrated breeding programmes and it was not until the turn of this century that a Swiss cynologist, Herr Franz Schertenlieb, combed the countryside to find the last of these dogs. He did have some success around the Durrbach district of Berne and then a Zurich professor, Albert Heim joined up with him. Thanks to them, the Bernese Mountain Dog made a comeback. At first these dogs were known as either 'Gelbbackler' (yellow cheeks), 'Vierauger' (four eyes) or more commonly, 'Durrbachler'. As they now came from the whole area of Berne and not just Durrbach, in 1908 the club already formed changed their name to Berner Sennenhund. The Bernese had, by then, a huge following in Switzerland, the Continent and Scandinavia and was finally recognised in America in 1936. Canada followed suit in the 1970's but the breed still remains relatively rare in Great Britain.



Strikingly aristocratic, Berners are one of the most attractive of the Swiss working dogs with their gleaming black coats and illustrious markings. Their coats are soft and silky with a thick under-lay. They are strong, sturdy dogs with tremendous bone and power of the shoulders and long balanced strides. They reach their full adult height at about 15 months but can take another 2 or 3 years to reach full maturity.


Size Giant
Colour Bernese are always jet black with a white muzzle and blaze, white chest, white paws and white tail tips. A rich chestnut or tan colour separates the black and white on the legs and cheeks.
Coat Length Medium Long
Weight/Height Range Bitches measure between 58 to 66cms at the withers, dogs between 64 to 70cms. Both sexes weigh between 40 to 44kgs.

Bernese do suffer from health problems and screening of the parentage is a must. Guard against over-feeding, to help prevent bloat. Annual veterinary checkups are recommended. Do not exercise for 1-2 hrs after feeding to prevent gastric torsion.

Breed Classification Bernese Mountain Dogs belong to the working group and are used as companions, watchdogs and seen in the show-ring.

Feeding & Ownership


As puppies, it is imperative that you stick to the breeder's recommended diet sheet in order to prevent skeletal defects and bone and joint problems.


Food Cost More than $20



Berners are good-natured dogs who love to be included in all aspects of family life, making wonderful companions. They are affectionate, patient dogs and especially good with children, protecting them if necessary. They need to be with people and be given affection. They will bark to advise the arrival of visitors but will soon settle down again. Provided they have been introduced to cats and other household animals when young, they will always accept them. Some of them can be dominant with other dogs.


Intelligence Bernese are intelligent, willing to please and relatively easy to train to an acceptable level as long as this is done when they are young. Leaving it too late will result in a boisterous, uncontrollable dog who thinks he can do exactly as he pleases!
Energy Medium
Suitability for Children High
Tendency to Bark Low
Overall Exercise Requirement As puppies, exercise should be restricted to the garden for at least 4 to 5 months to allow the bones and joints to form properly. For the same reason, care should also be taken when there are stairs in the house. After the age of 6 months, progress to controlled walking on a collar and lead. After they are 1 year old, they can be allowed off the lead for free-running exercise. As adults, Bernese need a moderate amount of exercise, ranging between 1 to 5 Kmss a day depending on their level of fitness. They are very accommodating, however, and will accept if their exercise has to be curtailed for one reason or another.
Suitability as a Guard Dog Medium
Ease of Transportation Medium
Level of Aggression Medium
Other Animal Compatibility Medium



Daily grooming is a must to keep them tangle-free and to reduce the amount of shedding. The hair between the pads should be trimmed regularly.


Grooming Requirements Every Day
Amount of Hair Shed Heavy

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