The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working dog that had their origins in the farm areas of Switzerland, principally the Canton of Bern where most examples of the breed were concentrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are four breeds of Sennenhunde (mountain dog), the Appenzell, the Entlebuch,the Great Swiss Mountain Dog and the Bernese Mountain Dog, all sharing similar markings, the Bernese having a somewhat longer coat. They are a strong and sturdy farm dog that in their native country were used extensively for herding and also for draft work when carting milk to the local cheese factories or produce to the local markets. They were also watchdogs around the farm and the herds and this required a calm natured, self-confident dog, devoted to his home and his people.

Average Lifespan

Usually noted as 7 -10 years


Hip Displaysia and OCD of the elbow are problems screened for by breeders to select suitable breeding stock by using accredited AVA/ANKC hip and elbow reports given after xray examination of breeding stock.
Ecropian, Entropian, Elongated Soft Palette and Histiocytosis - a form of cancer that affects animals between the ages of 4 and 8 years are all conditions that breeders screen for to reduce the incidence of these problems.

Breed Personality/Characteristics/Temperament

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, sturdy working dog with striking black tan and white distinctive markings and the long double coat. They are a gentle and placid dog devoted to their family. Puppies and young dogs are often quite boisterous during their adolescent stage and for this reason they are often not recommended for famiilies with children under the age of 10 years. Bitches are distinctly more feminine in appearance with a less commanding demeanor. Dogs have a distinctly more masculine appearane with their more imposing size, bulkier body, broader head and especially coat development over the chest area. They are a slow maturing breed. They should never express agressive behaviour but are considered very good watchdogs as they usually bark to announce visitors arriving. Some Bernese may remain aloof to the attention of strangers.

Compatibility with other pets
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a wonderful reputation in this regard.




Listed below is the ANKC Breed Standard for the Bernese Mountain Dog
Kennel Club, London 1994

GENERAL APPEARANCE - Strong, sturdy working dog, active, alert, well boned, of striking colour.

CHARACTERISTICS - A multi purpose farm dog capable of draught work.  A kind and devoted family dog.  Slow to mature.

TEMPERAMENT - Self-confident, good natured, friendly and fearless.  Aggressiveness not to be tolerated.

HEAD AND SKULL - Strong with flat skull, very slight furrow, well defined stop; strong straight muzzle.  Lips slightly developed.

EYES - Dark brown, almond shaped, well fitting eyelids.

EARS - Medium sized; set high, triangular shaped, lying flat in repose, when alert brought slightly forward and raised at base.

MOUTH - Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

NECK - Strong, muscular and medium length.

FOREQUARTERS - Shoulders long, strong and sloping, with upper arm forming a distinct angle, flat lying, well muscled.  Forelegs straight from all sides.  Pasterns flexing slightly.

BODY - Compact rather than long.  Height to length 9:10.  Broad chest, good depth of brisket reaching at least to elbow.  Well ribbed; strong loins.  Firm, straight back.  Rump smoothly rounded.

HINDQUARTERS - Broad, strong and well muscled.  Stifles well bent.  Hock strong, well let down and turning neither in nor out.  Dewclaws to be removed.

FEET - Short, round and compact.

TAIL - Bushy, reaching just below hock.  Raised when alert or moving but never curled or carried over back.

GAIT/MOVEMENT - Stride reaching out well in front, following well through behind, balanced stride in all gaits.

COAT - Soft, silky with bright natural sheen, long, slightly wavy but should not curl when mature.

COLOUR - Jet black, with rich reddish brown on cheeks, over eyes, on all four legs and on chest.  Slight to medium sized symmetrical white head marking (blaze) and white chest marking (cross) are essential.  Preferred but not essential, white paws, white not reaching higher than pastern, white tip to tail.  A few white hairs at nape of neck, and white anal patch undesirable but tolerated.

Height: Dogs 64-70 cms (25-27½ ins)
Bitches 58-66 cms (23-26 ins)

FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Utility Group     A.N.K.C.  ©   January 1998

Australian National Kennel Council

Last Updated: 8/8/01

Last Updated (Friday, 02 September 2011 21:25)

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