Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog has been known to survive extraordinary situations. One Bernese Mountain Dog, by the name of Sasha, fell off of a cliff while following a goat. Not only did Sasha survive the fall, but he also was stranded on an ice shelf for three days before he could be rescued. In Canada a Bernese Mountain Dog by the name of Ohly disappeared into an area known as “Suicide Gulley”. Ohly survived “Suicide Gulley” until rescued by the North Shore Rescue group. An Austrian singer by the name of Quincey Von Weismadern has done several music videos with a Bernese Mountain Dog.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a large breed that is between 23 and 28 inches tall and weighing between 80 and 110 lbs. They are very muscular, strong and large enough to be a draft animal. As part of their farm dog duties they have been used to pull carts to market. In present day they have pulled carts full of kids in parades. Slobbering is not an issue with Bernese Mountain Dogs as they are a dry mouthed breed. It is very common to remove the dewclaws, as these can get caught on things and become irritated or infected.
Their coat is a silky double coat that makes them suited for the cold weather. Indeed this double coat can make them overheat easily and they do not do well in high temperature regions. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a distinct tri-colored pattern. The pattern is a black base with stark white on the chest and feet and muzzle. The white chest often resembles an inverted cross and is referred to as a “Swiss Kiss”. A rich rusty color is above the eyes on the cheeks and front legs with a touch on the sides of the Swiss Kiss and under the tail.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are working farm dogs that are not known for their endurance. Their large size and muscular build is why they have been used as draft animals. They are also used in herding cattle and as a watch dog. They have an affectionate and cheerful personality that is outgoing and welcoming of strangers. These dogs are slow to mature and can take 3 years to reach physical maturity. They have an average life expectancy of 7 years.
The average life span of this breed used to be 14 years, but with the rise in health problems their average life expectancy has shortened to just 7 years. They are extremely prone to cancer and about half of the Bernese Mountain Dogs die from some form of cancer. There are many cancer varieties that strike this breed. Only one variety, Histiocytic Sarcoma, appears to be inherited. This breed is also prone to osteochondritis, where the bone in the joints becomes inflamed and painful, and hip dysplasia. With proper testing both of these can be minimized in the blood lines. These dogs do need to have their ears cleaned weekly to prevent non-life threatening ear infections.
Bernese Mountain Dogs originated in the Swiss Alps. They are one of four Sennenhund type dogs and are also known by their German name Berner Sennenhund. The name Sennenhund translates to alpine pasture dog. This is significant as they were often used to help herd dairy cows into the alpine pastures of Switzerland. They originated from the specific area known as the Canton of Bern in the Swiss Alps. Locals to this area also know this breed by the name of Durrbachhund because they were frequently spotted in the town of Durrbach.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very friendly dog that is excellent with all members of the family. They are fabulous with children and have an abundance of patience. This breed is great for families that have small children who love to climb and crawl all over their dog. This breed is a companion breed that needs to feel like they are a part of the pack, so they need to be included in family activities. Their large size makes them a poor choice for apartment living; however, they do well with a large fenced yard. They love to go hiking and thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps keep prevent hip and elbow dysplasia and helps keep the breed healthy. Their natural gate is a slow trot; however, they can have a surprising abundance of speed for their size. Their double coat makes them a great pet for those living in areas with colder temperatures. They do not need to be bathed excessively, once every couple of months is generally all that is needed. This breed is known for shedding. During the seasonal shifts there will be an overabundance of shedding as they prepare for the new season. Regular grooming can help remove dead hair. Those looking to get a Bernese Mountain Dog need to consider the high mortality rate at a younger age.
The Bernese Mountain Dog should be placid around strangers and not show any signs of shyness. The only color scheme accepted is that of the standard tri-color scheme where there is a black base, stark white on the muzzle, chest and feet and rust brown above the eyes, along the sides of the mouth and on the front legs. Any color other than black as the base color is a disqualification. The coat should be silky and smooth without trimming. The eyes should be brown with tight eye lids. Blue eyes or inverted eye lids are a disqualification. Bernese Mountain Dogs should not be shy but be cheerful and outgoing. They should have a natural trotting gate but be able to pick up the pace and show bursts of speed when needed. The dewclaws are often removed.