Bernese Mountain Dog (Berner): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners


The Bernese mountain dog is a large working dog breed from Switzerland with a tricolor, medium-length coat and a gentle expression. Brush thoroughly at least weekly to remove loose fur and prevent mats and tangles. They are fairly playful and energetic but not exhausting, and they can be protective however, not aggressive.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working

HEIGHT: 23 to 26 inches (female), 25 to 27.5 inches (male)

WEIGHT: 70 to 95 pounds (female), 80 to 115 pounds (male)

COAT: Thick, medium-length double coat

COAT COLOR: Black, rust, and white or black, tan, and white

LIFE SPAN: 7 to 10 years

TEMPERAMENT: Gentle, even-tempered, loyal


ORIGIN: Switzerland

Characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese mountain dogs typically have a good-natured personality. But the coat does shed a lot. With proper socialization, they could be open to meeting strangers and are quite affectionate with their families.

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingHigh

History of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese mountain dog originated in Switzerland around the city of Berne, for which it is named. Its ancestors came to the area thousands of years ago and descend from Roman mastiffs, among other dogs. Today, the Berner is one of four varieties of Swiss mountain dog, set apart by its longer and silkier coat. The other three varieties are the Greater Swiss mountain dog, the Entlebucher mountain dog, and the Appenzeller mountain dog.

In the 1800s, these dogs were used to drive livestock, guard farms, and pull heavy loads. They also were loving companions to their families. The breed declined in popularity toward the end of the 1800s due to machines replacing them in much of their work. However, that spurred clubs to form to preserve the breed and revive its popularity.

Berners arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s. And the American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1937. They’re now regularly one of the most popular dog breeds in the country.

Bernese Mountain Dog Care

Bernese mountain dogs require a moderate level of exercise, along with consistent training and socialization, to be happy and healthy dogs. Their grooming is fairly straightforward, though you should be prepared for lots of loose fur.


Berners have a moderate energy level, and they need space for their big bodies to move and play. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day, such as brisk walks, hikes, and games of fetch. Berners are quite athletic dogs and will compete in dog sports, such as obedience, agility, tracking, and carting. This will help to challenge them both mentally and physically.


The Berner has a double coat (a shorter undercoat paired with a longer outer coat), which repels dirt and debris nicely. Hallmarks of their temperament include their gentle nature and eagerness to please. Also called the Berner, these dogs can make for loyal and loving companions and are even typically good around children and other pets. Also, shedding will typically increase when the weather changes in the spring and fall, and daily brushings might be necessary to keep up with all the loose fur.

Bathe your dog roughly every month, depending on how dirty it gets. And check to see whether it needs a nail trim every month as well. Also, examine your canine’s ears weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Look for dirt, along with any redness, swelling, or smell in the ears.

Finally, many Bernese mountain dogs drool very little, but those with loose jowls can drool quite a bit. That slobber can end up on the dog, in the house, and on you. So if you have a drooler, keep a cleanup cloth on hand to prevent the drool from embedding in your dog’s fur.


Bernese mountain dogs are bright and eager to please, which helps to make training easy. Start basic obedience and socialization when your dog is a puppy. This especially important for such a large breed like a Berner, as adults are powerful and thus difficult to control if they haven’t learned their manners. Aim to expose your dog to different people, other animals, and various situations to boost its comfort and confidence.

Berners respond well to consistent and positive training techniques, such as clicker training. They are sensitive to harsh corrections and might shut down with such instruction.

Common Health Problems

Bernese mountain dogs have relatively short lifespans compared to many other breeds, which is something to take into consideration before deciding to bring one home. Like many breeds, the Berner is prone to certain hereditary conditions, including:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Blood disorders, including Von Willebrand’s disease, in which the blood doesn’t clot properly
  • Cancer
  • Progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative eye disease
  • Bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the stomach bloats and can twist-often from eating too quickly

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your dog, and select a quality, nutritionally balanced canine diet. Berner puppies especially will benefit from a diet made for large breeds. These diets contain the proper nutrition to encourage slow and steady growth to help prevent joint problems and other issues.

Most owners feed meals twice per day. Discuss the diet and quantity with your vet to ensure your dog is eating properly. And make sure treats and other extra food don’t lead to your dog overeating and becoming overweight. Excess weight can put a great deal of stress on these big dogs’ joints and lead to other health problems.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Bernese Mountain Dog

Check local animal shelters and breed-specific rescue organizations for a Berner in need of a home. If you’re looking for a breeder puppy, expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 on average, though this can vary depending on bloodline and other factors. For further information to help connect you with a Berner, check out:

  • Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America Breeder Referral
  • BMDCA Rescue Groups

Bernese Mountain Dog Overview


  • Excellent family pet
  • Loyal and devoted
  • Energetic but not exhausting


  • Relatively short life span due to hereditary diseases
  • Heavy shedder
  • Some slobber and drool a lot

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before you decide on a Bernese mountain dog, be sure to do plenty of research. Talk to other Berner owners, vets, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to find out more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, have a look at:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there-with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!


Are Bernese mountain dogs good family dogs?

With proper training and socialization, Bernese mountain dogs can be excellent family dogs. The breed is generally good with children and even other pets.

Are Bernese mountain dogs aggressive?

Bernese mountain dogs typically do not display aggression. They are generally gentle and even-tempered dogs, though they might become protective if they think the situation warrants it.

Are Bernese mountain dogs good apartment canines?

Berners might be able to live in a spacious apartment that gives them enough room to move and play. They aren’t excessive barkers and are typically good around strangers with proper training. However, it’s essential that they get out daily for exercise if they live in a small home.

By DogCareTips.Net

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