Bernese Mountain Dog Information
Bernese Mountain Dogs give birth to an average of 8 puppies. They are considered to be an “extra-large” dog, with males growing to a maximum of 28 inches and females growing up to 27 inches. Males weigh in at 110 lbs., while the females weigh in around 105 lbs. A member of the Mastiff group, Bernese Mountain Dogs live roughly 6-8 years.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle giants at heart. These dogs are able to adapt to any kind of family environment. They get on well with children and other pets. Though they may bark at strangers initially, they do not show aggression. Instead, they behave in a reserved, watchful manner. As working farm dogs, they possess natural herding instincts that they are willing to put to good use-on children, adults, and even cats. They take their calling as a watchdog very seriously.
Bernese are very loyal and social dogs who crave human companionship. While this is a noble trait, it also means that these large dogs can be quite “needy.” These dogs live to please their masters, and require a great deal of time, attention, and affection. Like other dogs, if left alone for considerable time, the Bernese will form bad habits, such as mischief and destructiveness.
Bernese require loving, consistent, and patient training. While not as quick or sharp as other breeds, they are still relatively smart. Because they are so eager to please, they are responsive to training and positive rewards.
The Bernese Mountain dog enjoys spending time outdoors. As a mountain dog, they do not mind the cold and snow. However, they should not be left outdoors for long periods, as their main desire is to be with people. They do well on excursions off the leash, and do not necessarily need a fenced in yard once it is established that they will remain around the home.
Although the Bernese are working dogs, they do not like to exert a great deal of energy for long periods of time. In fact, they are described as somewhat lazy. While they enjoy going outside and exercising, they are only active for short bursts. They will play, but not as aggressively as other breeds. This is not a dog for an active family expecting a companion for long bike rides or runs. Calm and sedate, the Bernese is just as happy relaxing on the couch as it is attempting to play tug of war.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are described as an “extra large” breed. With 110 lbs. as the maximum weight, it is important to make sure they are well fed. A quality dry food is suggested, with several feedings per day based on weight.
These dogs have a thick, full coat of long hair that sheds heavily all year. Grooming and brushing will be frequent activities for the owners of a Bernese Mountain Dog. There is dense undercoat topped by a shiny, long, weather resistant outer coat. Shedding cannot be prevented, but regular brushing will help to keep it under control. The Bernese has a tendency toward mats and tangles, and these sometimes need to be trimmed out. However, it is not recommended that the dog is shaved or trimmed. The lengthy, natural coat is a part of the Bernese Mountain Dog’s appeal, and too much grooming can actually damage the fur. While clipping and trimming is not suggested, baths are. While not overly active, Bernese can still find their way into their share of mud, smelly plants, and other messes.
The Bernese Mountain Dog, like other dogs, will still require regular nail trimmings and teeth cleanings. Dewclaws, which are extra claws on the feet, should be removed when the dog is a puppy. These are not considered acceptable for show and there is also belief that they affect the dog’s joint health.
Health is a major concern for this particular breed. Although considered to be a hardy farm dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog actually has some underlying health concerns that owners should keep an eye on. This was a breed that was isolated for many years, resulting in a pure bloodline, but also some genetic ailments and other conditions. Reputable breeders and Bernese supporters are working hard to establish healthier bloodlines and guidelines for breeding, but there are still some things potential pet owners should be aware of.
To begin with, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a relatively short life expectancy of 6-8 years. There is also a genetic disposition towards cancer, as well as joint and hip ailments such as dysplasia or arthritis. Bloat, kidney disease, and assorted eye conditions are also a concern. Regular veterinary care and an awareness of these ailments is essential for the health of this breed.
Owning a Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is known to be one of the oldest working breeds, and this legacy, along with owning a Bernese, should not be taken lightly. It is important for potential owners to do thorough research to make sure they have the space and time to accommodate this noble breed. While the Bernese Mountain Dog is truly appealing and beautiful, it is important to assess whether or not its needs in regards to grooming, attention, health, and affection can be met.
For those who decide that the Bernese Mountain Dog will be the perfect pet, it is essential that they go through a licensed, reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to show records of the animal’s bloodlines and evidence that it is in good health.
Bernese Mountain Dogs also end up in shelters and pet rescue groups, simply because their owners were unaware of their potential health issues, the amount of time to care for them, or even their size. Despite this, adult Bernese still make wonderful pets and an excellent addition to the family. Because they bond quickly with people, are affectionate, and eager to please, it is worthwhile to provide a rescued or abandoned Bernese with a second chance.