The Origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog

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Sophie & Mervyn enjoying the view from the  top of  Lady Bower, DerbyshireThe Bernese Mountain Dog originates from Switzerland and is one of four Swiss working dogs. Each of the four different breeds were named after the regions or cantons in which they were found but all have similar markings, with black coats, with white & tan markings.

The Entlebucher originated from the Entlebuch area of Switzerland and is the smallest of the group at 20 inches. It is of a similar build to the Rottweiler with a natural stump of tail and is short haired. To find out more about this breed please click here.

The Appenzeller originated from Appenzell in Switzerland and is a medium, short haired cattle dog of 23 inches. He has a distinctive curled tail. To find out more about this breed please click here.

The Greater Swiss is the tallest of the four at 28 inches and originated from Burgdoff. To find out more about this breed please click here.

The Bernese originated from the Berne canton in Switzerland. More widely used as a farm dog used for driving cattle to the alpine pastures, pulling carts taking the milk to the dairy and the wares to the market, but also used as an avalanche rescue dog. The Bernese is a loyal dog and would watch over the farm animals and the family ensuring all was well.

The Bernese is a quiet dog who is happy spending many hours a day dozing, in the hub of activity, keeping an eye on all that is happening around him, but is ready for action when required. Should you have any visitors, your Bernese will make you aware of their presence, be excited to greet them and then settle down again to doze. A Bernese isn't a yappy dog, only choosing to bark if there is a good reason.

The Bernese measures 23 - 27 inches at the withers with dogs measuring between 25 inches - 27 inches and bitches between 23 inches & 26 inches. Weighing in between 35kg - 55kg for dogs and 31kg - 45kg for bitches. The Bernese is a slowing maturing breed, reaching their full adult height by 15 months but not fully maturing until 2 or 3 years of age.

Bernese do not thrive in a kennel environment, much preferring to live in the family home. They also shouldn't be left for long periods of time and are not suited to households were both adults are in full time work. Many breeders won't sell you a puppy if it will be left alone for long periods of time. The Bernese is never happier than when it's working or being part of family life. Bernese are people watchers and are very good judges of character. They benefit from a good grounding in obedience from an early age, with a firm but kind handed approach taken from puppy hood. They love nothing better than to please their owners but don't take kindly to being shouted at.

Exercise should be limited during the first year when they're growing very rapidly. But they should be socialised as much as possible to ensure your Bernese grows up to be a confident dog which can be taken anywhere. They should not be allowed to bound downstairs, jump off furniture or out of cars, nor stand on their hind legs at gates, for all these things can be most damaging to their delicate fast growing bodies. It is also very important to ensure that you feed your Bernese a properly balanced diet, which will in turn promote a healthy dog. Many Bernese are fed a complete dry diet which changes as your Bernese grows though different levels of maturity. It is always best, though, to follow the advice of your Bernese breeder.

For more information please see our Book Review page for more information on the best books to read on our lovely breed or contact Philippa.

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