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Bernese Mountain Dog: Everything You Need to Know

Mira Gibson

Powerful, sturdy, and majestic, the Bernese Mountain Dog loves life and loves to please his owner. This breed has a highly affectionate nature and gets along well with children and other domestic animals. As a “working breed,” this dog does best when accompanying his human during outside chores, work, and adventures. He thrives in cold weather and does not like being cooped up inside with nothing to do for long stretches.

The Bernese Mountain Dog came onto the scene in the Swiss Alps of Switzerland in the late 1800s, and by 1912 the breed was officially established and recognized. Originally, this breed was developed to accompany alpine herders and dairymen in the Swiss Alps to cart their goods across the terrain. Soon the breed’s duties expanded so that the Bernese were also being used as general farming dogs that kept a lookout for predators and prevented members of the herded livestock from wandering off.

Today, the Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent domestic companion for people and families with children who lead active, outdoorsy lifestyles, as this dog breed appreciates fresh air and freedom. That being said, an interesting quirk is that Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t have the highest athletic endurance. This means that even though they love being outside, they might not make the best long distance jogging partner. A long hike or walk is preferred. 

An adorable adult Bernese Mountain Dog sits between his owner's feet while they're outside in the grass on a rainy day.

TRAINING

The Bernese Mountain Dog is considered a large breed dog. All dogs must be properly trained as puppies, but this becomes especially important for large breed dogs so that they don’t accidentally injure or harm someone through disobedience. Bernese Mountain Dogs, also referred to as “Berners” for short, are intelligent and eager to please, which helps the training process throughout their puppyhood. 

Berners have very sensitive feelings, so when training your puppy, please avoid harsh corrections and harsh training methods. Positive reinforcement training practices will go much further with your Berner than using punishments and negative reinforcements. Your Bernese Mountain Dog has a big heart and wants to always feel like you both are on the same side, so be sure to make him feel loved and accepted even when he makes mistakes during the training process.

EXERCISE

As we touched upon very briefly at the beginning of this blog, the Bernese Mountain Dog breed loves being outdoors but doesn’t have the highest athletic endurance. Your Berner isn’t going to want to be outside all day, and if they are, you won’t find him sprinting the whole time. Your Berner will be happy with no less than 30 minutes of exercise, and you’ll probably discover that he’s happiest if he can go on a long walk or hike with you each day that takes about an hour. 

He’s a cold-weather breed and he’ll like being outside, but this doesn’t mean he’s an outdoor dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog must live indoors and be able to be a true companion to you. If you happen to be outside for hours doing chores or building a swing set for the kids, you’ll notice that your Berner will make himself useful by watching over your work and keeping an eye on the kids. 

The biggest tip to keep in mind as you care for your Berner is that you should never let a day go by without providing your dog with at least 30 minutes of exercise outside. Even if the weather is terrible, your Berner needs to run around and enjoy the fresh air.  

A handsome Bernese Mountain Dog stands in the forest on a nice autumn day.

LIFE EXPECTANCY

This majestic and compassionate dog is sadly the shortest-lived of all breeds. The average life expectancy of the Bernese Mountain dog is 8 to 9 years, but many Bernese pass away after only 6 years. Though there have been a handful of reported cases where a Bernese lived to be as old as 15 years.

GROOMING

Due to the Bernese Mountain Dog being a cold-weather breed, they are prone to heavy shedding and tend to shed year-round. The heaviest shedding occurs during season changes, and especially throughout the summer if it becomes hot. For the majority of the time, brushing your Bernese once a week will be enough to manage the fur shedding, but you might have to increase this to once a day during the summer if you live in a warm climate. 

If your Bernese spends a lot of time outside, then his grooming requirements will go up due to his thick fur. In this case, you’ll need to brush dirt and debris out of his fur, and bath him regularly. Taking him to a professional groomer may be a better option for Bernese owners who don’t have the time to bath and groom their active dogs themselves. 

As part of the Bernese’s regular grooming routine, you’ll also  have to check his ears for trapped dirt, bacteria, and liquid. Bernese are more at risk for ear infections than other breeds due to their thick fur and floppy ears. You can reduce your Bernese’s risk of an ear infection by cleaning his ears weekly and following your vet’s instructions for grooming and cleaning your dog.

A beautiful close up of a Bernese Mountain dog's face shows this dog breed's unique markings of white, brown, and black.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The best advice PuppyBuddy can give you as you raise your Bernese Mountain Dog is to love your Berner as unconditionally as he loves you. Your Berner is ready, willing, and able to accompany you on all your indoor and outdoor activities. And if you foresee you’ll have less time for your dog due to temporary circumstances, then we recommend that you hire a dog sitter, dog walker, or ask a trusted friend or family member to spend time with your Berner and walk him. 

Are you ready to take home a Bernese Mountain Dog? PuppyBuddy has this adorable breed available for you to take home. Stop in our Boca Raton location to meet your fur-ever Berner!