Boasting 2,000 year old ancestry that witnessed the Roman invasion, the Bernese Mountain Dog has its origins in the Swiss Mountains where it was traditionally utilised for the working purposes of herding, general farming and carting. The breed was also typically used as a watchdog in the Canton of Berne region and features in numerous paintings of the 18th century that associate the breed with such work. It is generally believed that the mastiff-type breeds, used by Caesar's troops to guard supplies, were selectively bred with native flock-guarders, thereby bringing the Bernese Mountain Dog into existence. Ever since, dogged efforts have been made to preserve the breed.
Considered one of the most beautiful breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog possesses a dense, tricolour coat in rich colour variations of black, white and rust. Besides this, the breed is recognised for its high-set triangular ears, strong, straight muzzle and proportionate body. A working dog by nature, the modern Bernese Mountain Dog is popularly employed in tracking and herding, search and rescue, competitive obedience, and guarding. Despite its inherent hunting and guarding instinct, the breed does not exercise a loud or incessant bark, but remains actively vigilant to change and threat.
A dog of impressive size and stature, the Bernese Mountain Dog weighs a healthy average of 34-40 kg for a female dog, and 50 kg for a male dog. The life expectancy of the breed is approximately 12 years, although there are great variations and this figure is entirely dependent on care shown. A great breed choice for compatibility with children, the Bernese Mountain Dog is gentle, obedient to instruction, companionable and playful, whilst being inherently protective of its family.
Generally a healthy and resilient breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is susceptible to a number of breed-specific health complaints, including cancer, mast-cell tumours, hip and elbow dysplasia and eyelid problems. Additionally, the breed is prone to easy weight gain, so feeding your dog human foods is not encouraged for this reason.
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I would recommend a Bernese to anyone who is firm but fair with their dogs and wants a wonderful pet who will do anything to please you. A true Bernese is an outgoing friendly soul who loves everyone and everything, when out and about they look so happy and are very tolerant of anything that happens. A good thing as often small children will run over to hug 'the bear'. Unfortunately Zara and her sister Ellie were used for breeding in an Irish puppy farm and as such are small for the breed and nervous characters. They are resilient and have come a very long way from huddling in the corner, jumping at every sound. we can now take them out into town, they don't love it but it's good for them to experience difficult situations and come through them well. You do need to get to grips with training a Bernese from an early age as they will want to rule you if given the chance, Properly trained they are a dream to walk, and will be happy with either 5 minutes round the block or a 12 mile marathon. The only downside to a Bernese is their length of life, an average of 8 years is not long, but we have had one who was almost 11.
Ellie was rescued with her sister from a puppy farm in Ireland. They were given up because they both had Entropian - inturned eyelids, and the 'owner' couldn't get as much money for the puppies as he wanted because they had the same condition. She is still a very nervous girl but no longer stands behind us when meeting people or tries to pull us back home the second she gets out of the front door. She had corrective surgery for her eye lids and now you would not know there had ever been an issue. There are several health concerns with Bernese and I would urge any potential owner to research carefully into the different breed lines. Some breeders out there are only interested in the money and not the fact that their dogs don't have very long lives for one reason or another. This is a lovely breed to own, they will love you unconditionally and are very eager to please their owners. I would recommend them to anyone as long as they don't mind a quick walk taking longer than planned, as you will often be stopped by people who love the good looks of a Bernese!