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Bernese Mountain Dog

15 September 2023

Let’s talk about… Bernese Mountain Dogs: what are they?

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs, also known as Berners, are a Swiss breed with a rich history.
  • They were originally bred for working purposes, particularly as farm dogs in the Swiss Alps.
  • These dogs were highly valued for their strength, endurance, and versatility.
  • Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs are beloved companions and family pets known for their gentle nature and striking appearance.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs have a distinctive tri-color coat, featuring a combination of jet black, rust, and white markings. This beautiful coat, coupled with their friendly expression and charming personality, makes them highly recognizable and adored.
  • They have a sturdy and robust build, with males typically reaching a height of 64-70 cm and females measuring 58-66 cm.
  • In terms of weight, males usually weigh between 38 and 50 kg, while females weigh between 36 and 48 kg.
  • Berners typically enjoy a lifespan of 7 to 10 years, although some may live longer.
Bernese Mountain Dog  Exercise Needs 3/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 3/5

What is the temperament of Bernese Mountain Dogs like?

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their affectionate and gentle nature.
  • They are incredibly loyal and devoted to their families, often forming strong bonds with their human companions.
  • These dogs thrive on human interaction and are usually very good with children, making them wonderful family pets.
  • Although they are generally friendly towards strangers, they can be slightly reserved or cautious when encountering new people or situations.
  • Early socialisation is important to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and comfortable in various environments.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs have a calm and patient temperament, but they do require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them content and prevent boredom.
  • They are not known for excessive barking, but they may alert their family to anything unusual happening in their surroundings.
Barley, the Bernese Mountain Dog
Barley, the Bernese Mountain Dog

How much exercise do Bernese Mountain Dogs need?

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs have moderate exercise needs and benefit from daily physical activity. They typically require around 1 to 1.5 hours of exercise each day to keep them happy and healthy.
  • This can include walks, playtime in a securely fenced yard, or engaging in activities such as hiking or swimming.
  • It's important to note that Berners have a slower growth rate compared to some other breeds. As puppies, they should not be overexerted or subjected to intense exercise.
  • Shorter play sessions and controlled walks are suitable for their developing bodies.
  • Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate exercise routine for your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.
  • It's worth mentioning that Berners are sensitive to heat due to their thick coats, so it's crucial to avoid strenuous exercise during hot weather and provide them with ample shade and fresh water.
Ernie, the Bernese Mountain Dog
Ernie, the Bernese Mountain Dog

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs need a lot of grooming?

  • Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a long, thick double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition.
  • They have a dense undercoat and a longer outer coat that provides insulation and protection from the elements.
  • To keep their coat healthy and free from mats and tangles, they should be brushed at least two to three times a week.
  • During shedding seasons, which occur twice a year, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss.
  • Berners are known to be heavy shedders, so be prepared for some fur around your home. Regular brushing not only helps remove loose hair but also promotes good skin health and distributes natural oils throughout the coat.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Rio, the Bernese Mountain Dog
Rio, the Bernese Mountain Dog

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs easy to train?

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent and eager to please, which generally makes them receptive to training. However, they can also possess an independent streak, so consistent and patient training methods are essential.
  • Early socialisation and basic obedience training should begin from puppyhood to help them develop into well-mannered adults. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, work best with Berners as they respond well to encouragement and positive interactions.
  • It's worth noting that Bernese Mountain Dogs may have a slower learning pace compared to some other breeds, so patience and repetition are key.
  • Training sessions should be kept engaging and fun to maintain their interest and prevent boredom.
  • If you're unsure about training techniques or need assistance, consider enrolling in puppy classes or consulting with a professional dog trainer.
Ronin, the Bernese Mountain Dog
Ronin, the Bernese Mountain Dog

What do Bernese Mountain Dogs eat?

  • A balanced and high-quality diet is essential for the health and well-being of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Their diet should consist of a combination of high-quality commercial dog food.
  • Puppies require a specialised puppy food to support their growth and development.
  • It's recommended to feed them a specifically formulated large breed puppy diet until they reach around 18 months old.
  • In general puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day until 6 months old, when this can be reduced to twice daily.
  • Consult with your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist to determine the best feeding schedule and appropriate portions for your individual Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.
  • As adult dogs, Berners should be fed twice a day with a nutritious dog food formulated for their size, age, and activity level.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs healthy?

While Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally healthy, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. It's crucial for potential owners to be aware of these conditions and work closely with a reputable breeder who performs health screenings on their breeding dogs. Some common health concerns in Berners include:

Bones and Joints

  • Elbow Dysplasia - this condition is where there is an issue with how the bones fit together at the elbow joint
  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis


  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - this is when the retina of the eye breaks down, leading to blindness


  • Cruciate Disease - when a cruciate ligament of the knee is either partially or fully torn leading to discomfort and lameness
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) - this occurs when the stomach twists and gas and contents get trapped inside. It is a very serious condition and a vet should be contacted immediately!


  • Degenerative Myelopathy - a disease that causes nerves in the lower spine to not work properly

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any concerns about the health of your Bernese Mountain Dog or if you want to discuss further if a Berner is the right breed for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Bernese Mountain Dogs

BorrowMyDoggy has 599 Bernese Mountain Dog members.

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog's health, contact your local vet.

Large Working Dog Breeds

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Bernese Mountain Dog


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Great Pyrenees

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