Bounding through snowy Swiss Alps, one can imagine a Bernese mountain dog puppy having the time of their lives in a cooler climate. With a beautiful dark coat and distinctive facial markings, these mountain dogs were historically seen on the pastures of Switzerland, helping farmers tend to their cattle.
Historically, these large dogs made their keep by guarding farms against predators, herding cattle, and famously pulling carts many times their own weight. In the agricultural region of Berne, Switzerland, Bernese mountain dogs helped farmers with the two main exports of that region: chocolate and cheese.
Dipping in popularity in the late 1800s, Professor Albert Heim created a Swiss breed dog club in 1907, and soon enough Bernese Mountain Dogs made their way to the UK a to become an instant hit. Berners have a sweet and affectionate nature, so it’s no wonder this breed has won many awards at the Westminster Dog Show.
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are adorable balls of fluff, and grow up to be sweet and loyal companions. Here’s everything you need to know about raising a larger-than-life mountain dog.
|Size||Medium to Large. Male adult Bernese Mountain Dogs weigh between 36-52kg (80-115lbs) and are 63-70cm (25-27.5in) tall. Females are 32-43kg (70-95lbs) and are 58-66cm (23-26in) tall.|
|Breed Characteristics||The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed with a tri-colour coat—black, white and golden brown. They are a muscular breed with dark brown eyes, a straight muzzle, and a black nose. Their coat is thick, with a large, bushy tail.|
|Temperament||Though generally indoor dogs, Bernese mountain dogs have moderate energy and love being in the great outdoors with their humans. In the summer they sometimes have lower energy due to their thick coats. They’re great with families but sometimes have a tendency to herd (both humans and other animals!) from their long history of being a herding breed. They tend to be aloof with strangers.|
|Grooming and Health Needs||Bernese mountain dogs have a thick double coat and shed regularly, and more so during certain warmer times of the year. They’ll need a weekly to daily brushing session, as that will help remove loose hair and keep them cooler in the summer months.
Bernese mountain dogs are generally healthy, however, all larger breeds need to be checked regularly for signs of bloat, a sudden and potentially life-threatening condition.
|Training||Bernese mountain dogs are easy to train. They’re calm and confident and love making their owners proud. However, Berners can get their feelings hurt easily, so harsher training methods aren’t recommended—so make sure you stick to positive reinforcement training. Early socialisation and puppy obedience classes are a must, as larger dogs can cause anxiety towards other smaller animals.|
|Energy Level||Bernese mountain dogs are moderately energetic, preferring 20-30 minutes per day of daily exercise. They need room to roam, so having an outdoor fenced space is recommended, though they’ll primarily want to be inside next to you when you’re home.|
|Life Span||Bernese Mountain Dogs live between 7-10 years on average.|
Bernese mountain dog puppies love children but tend to attach themselves to one person at a time. They’re average guard dogs and can be quite intimidating when duty calls. Due to their size, energy level, and intelligence, Berners would do best in a larger house with a back garden so they can romp around with their favourite human! And if you can’t be around as much as you’d like to be, you can find a local sitter on Rover.com who offers dog boarding and can give your dog all the attention they deserve while you’re gone.
Whether to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or breeder that offers healthy, ethically-sourced Bernese Mountain Dog puppies.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get a Berner puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find a responsible breeder or are planning on adopting, prepare yourself for an energetic and friendly addition to your household.
Finding a Bernese Mountain Dog breeder
It may be surprising to know, but adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is possible. Most breed rescues report that a majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for them. This means that there may be many dogs and puppies out there that are looking for a new forever home.
The Kennel Club also has an excellent list of Berner rescues on their site.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs that have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find a Bernese mountain dog mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in. The Kennel Club also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
After you find the right Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.