Physical characteristics of the Bernese mountain dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a medium-large and well-proportioned dog. He is the only one among the Swiss Bouvier to have a mi long coat. The head is short and massive, the eyes dark, with a lively look. The ears, in the shape of “V”, fall on the sides of the skull. The limbs, robust and muscular, are perfectly poised. The tail is naturally drooping, covered with long hairs.
Hair: medium long.
Color: black and tan with white spots on the chest, on the head and on the feet.
Size: 64 to 70 cm for the male and 58 to 66 cm for the female
Weight: 50 to 60 kg for the male and 40 to 45 kg for the female
Origins and history of Bernese mountain dog
Like all molossoids, their ancestor is the Tibetan Mastiff adopted by ancient Rome before spreading to Europe following the Roman legions. It is from this dog that the Swiss Shepherd Dog, defined as “refuge dog”, was developed, certainly at the origin of the current Cattle Dogs. More recent history has seen the spread of slightly different types depending on their geographic region.
Nature and skills of Bernese mountain dog
All Swiss cattle dogs have been grouped under this name for convenience, but in reality they have been used in multiple functions: from leading herds to guarding the house and sledding. Today, especially in their country, they are also used as guide dogs and as civil defense dogs. It is for this reason that they have been classified as utility dogs instead of being grouped with shepherds and other Cattle Dogs. He is calm, never unnecessarily aggressive, and very friendly. If he should not exercise the function of guardian (towards which he is very inclined), he shows himself kind to everyone. He has a fairly limited predatory instinct and it is likely that Swiss peasants have selected only dogs that do not attack chickens, cats or rabbits.
He is a big dog who loves his family, very affectionate and sticky, close to children, he knows how to be soft and patient with them. He loves his master and does not like prolonged loneliness, his education is quite easy.
Nature of mountain dog
This large Swiss teddy bear dog is very affectionate, he loves his whole family and can even be somewhat sticky towards his members.
This dog will love spending time with children to play (and keep an eye on their eyes).
The Bernese mountain dog puppies remaining young in his head for a very long time, the game will be for him a nice way to interiorize a possible too full of energy but above all to learn while having fun, if indeed the games offered are both fun and educational.
The force perfectly describes this big dog. Calm, poised, balanced and gentle, it is a perfect companion for young and old.
Be careful however, the mountain dog will need daily physical and mental stimulation to keep his character so peaceful.
Like many sheepdogs and herdsmen, his intelligence is remarkable. He will quickly understand what is expected of him, but his late maturity could somewhat hamper the total acquisition of certain learnings.
The Bouvier’s predation instinct is very limited, which makes him a rather sociable dog with other domestic species.
Fearful / wary of strangers:
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a fairly pronounced guard instinct and can therefore be suspicious of strangers. However, if he does not have to exercise the function of guardian and that he is not validated in this sense, he is nice to everyone.
His distrust will be reflected and the Bouvier will never attack, he will prefer to remain passive, while being dissuasive if necessary.
This rustic teddy bear dog, he does not appreciate being separated from his master. This makes him a dependent dog, even sticky vis-à-vis his social group. Very protective and loyal, he needs interaction and tenderness.
Behavior of Bernese mountain
The unwavering loyalty of this Swiss mountain dog to his social group makes him a dog that does not appreciate loneliness. He needs to be surrounded and given the affection he is looking for.
Easy to educate / obedient:
Like many sheepdogs and mountain dogs, this Swiss mountain dog has a good ability to concentrate and listen to its owner.
However, its maturity is late (2 to 3 years), it will be necessary to be patient and repeat the exercises many times so that they are fully acquired.
Education must be early, especially given the large size of this teddy bear which can weigh up to 60 kg for males!
It will therefore be essential to offer the Bernese mountain dog puppies a firm but gentle education at the same time, respectful of the principles of positive education and of the dog’s pace of learning.
Walking on a leash without pulling will be one of the lessons to be favored as soon as possible so that the walks are safe and pleasant for all.
The mountain dog has a serious and clear bark which will not hesitate to make reason in the event of intrusion on its familiar territory. However, it is clearly not his favorite communication tool.
Very close to his social group and endowed with a rather limited predation instinct, the mountain dog will not be a great runaway. He would prefer to stay with members of his social group.
The Mountain Dog does not like loneliness very much, it is not made to remain alone all day long without doing anything. In fact, it can be destructive in the event of impatience and boredom.
Greedy / gluttonous:
The great greediness of this Swiss mountain dog will be a definite advantage for education because the treats will be a rich source of motivation for him. Be careful all the same with excess.
Watch dog :
The Swiss herdsmen are used for multiple tasks, from the guarding of the herds to their management by way of the sled traction.
If it is now rather rare to see a Bernese mountain dog driving a troop, it is however common today to still use the strong guard instinct of this big mountain dog to deter the possible intruders.
Despite his plush appearance, this imposing dog knows how to give voice when a stranger enters the property of his social group but remains a passive guard, only dissuasive.
The calm, gentleness and affection of the Bernese Mountain Dog is entirely compatible with a first adoption of a dog. Nevertheless, we must absolutely not neglect the early education work to put in place to avoid overflows, nor the significant need for expenditure of this large dog full of resources.
Living conditions of mountain dog
This dog can live in a house, but the ideal is that it has large spaces. It is important that his masters be very present with him.
Bernese mountain dog in apartment:
Even if this great Swiss mountain dog can adapt to a city life, in an apartment (only if the apartment is large enough to accommodate him comfortably), he will certainly prefer life in the open air. The confined places didn’t really cut him off.
Its thick coat gives it good protection and allows it to be able to live both outdoors and indoors. But beware, the Swiss Mountain Dog is not meant to be excluded from its social group. He will need his warm place in the home with his masters.
If he lives in an apartment, several long walks of a minimum of 30 minutes should be offered to him and games of occupations should be left to him during the day to keep him stimulated and active on a regular basis.
Need for exercise / sports:
Initially a working dog, this Swiss mountain dog retains a desire and a need to be physically stimulated on a daily basis.
He will therefore gladly accompany a sports master in his jogging shoes or on an agility field for example where he shows great flexibility.
Like many utility dogs, it is very important to offer daily exercise to the Bernese Mountain Dog, whether physical exercise (long walks, traction, agility), mental exercise (learning tricks, obey-rhythmically) or even olfactory exercise (tracking).
Travel / Ease of transportation:
The size of this Swiss giant unfortunately does not allow it to be taken everywhere easily.
But nothing is impossible, all the more so if the herdsman has a good education and is accustomed from a very young age to travel with his masters.
The Bernese Mountain Dog and Cats:
Anything but a predator, the Bernese Mountain Dog can get along with cats, if it has been used to their presence from an early age.
Socialization work will therefore have to be put in place at the Bernese mountain dog puppies so that cohabitation is possible.
Bernese Mountain Dog and Other dogs:
Little or not at all aggressive, of a rather passive nature, this large teddy dog will never seek confrontation with its conveners, even with the most daring dogs. He will remain detached or even ignorant in the face of possible provocations by the latter.
However, given the large size of this dog, socialization will be necessary to avoid any incident but also to keep some control over it.
The Bernese mountain dog puppies:
Particularly nice and friendly, this dog will be the perfect companion for a family with children.
If children’s attitudes bother him (howls, etc.), he will naturally withdraw.
Rules of life and security must however be put in place for cohabitation to be healthy and harmonious.
The Bernese Mountain Dog and the Elderly:
The nature of the Bernese Mountain Dog could be compatible with dynamic and available elderly people. On the other hand, the many spending needs of this big dog and especially its power cannot be assumed by sedentary elderly people.
Resistant / robust:
The mountain dog is a rustic dog and therefore quite robust in nature, it is however subject to several diseases. And, like many large dogs, it will be predisposed to certain physical problems, especially if one does not respect its condition, its growth and its morphology for various canine activities (traction, agility).
The heat will not be a problem as long as this Swiss mountain dog has access to continuous fresh water and a place in the shade to rest.
Withstands the cold:
The thick hair of the mountain dog as well as his great courage make him a dog very resistant to bad weather and sometimes extreme climatic conditions.
Tendency to gain weight:
This Swiss mountain dog is very greedy and if he does not have enough physical exercises, he could quickly gain weight.
It is therefore important to give him a daily ration adapted to his physical condition, to avoid giving him food between meals and above all to meet his need for expenditure.
Hip dysplasia Stomach dilation and torsion syndrome Ear infections Ectropion Histiocytosis: a cancer that affects around 20% of people of this breed
Grooming and maintenance
Despite his long and thick coat, a weekly brushing will be enough to keep his dress healthy.
Particular attention should also be paid to the care of his ears, which may suffer from infections due to their drooping shape.
The loss of Bouvier hair is quite impressive, especially during the two annual mounting periods: in the fall and in the spring.
Bernese mountain dog price
On average, it takes €1,300 to adopt a Bernese Mountain Dog registered with the LOF. The price will vary depending on the dog’s origins, age and sex. The tallest lines can be sold up to €1,900.
Regarding the monthly budget, it is estimated at around €70 / month including good quality kibble and the care necessary to keep this great Swiss Bouvier in good health.
Average life expectancy: around 8 years