Dog Breed Spotlight: Bernese Mountain Dog

Bred for hundreds of years high up in the snowy Alps, this powerful dog was meant for work. These dogs stand as tall as a Labrador Retriever, but are usually 30% heaver. This extra muscle mass is essential for the heavy lifting that the Berner is used to. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome dog breed!

The cold snowy alps are home to this working farm dog. Except in Switzerland, you would call it by its German name: “Berner Sennenhund.” This literally means “pasture dog,” as this breed spent most of its time in the field helping out with farm chores. These powerful dogs were bred for dafting: pulling a cart behind them. Early in the mornings, they might trott out to the fields carrying a load of hay behind them for the horses’ breakfast. I can picture an old farmer getting up before dawn to walk the 6 miles to town;  a loyal berner at his side helping him carry his casks of cream and rounds of cheese to sell at the market.

bernese mountain dog

These dogs are incredibly strong. A berner can pull up to 10 times his body weight—about 1,000lbs. He is a fantastic family animal, and is gentle and is not aggressive towards other dogs or people. This is an excellent dog to take hiking, and can easily sport his own backpack full of supplies. Since they are accustomed to hard work, they need their fair share of exercise.

The Berner is one of four different kinds of “sennenhund,” but is the only one that sports its long silky coat—ideal for the cold weather of the Alps. This dog is characteristically black and white, with rust colored spotting around the eyes, muzzle, and legs.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a wonderful companion, but unfortunately its breed has some medical history. Berners usually don’t live as long as some dogs, their average lifespan is around 8 years. Also, they are genetically predisposed to certain cancers and hip dysplasia.

But, nevertheless, the berner is an incredibly happy dog who works hard and makes their owners proud. Every berner owner that I’ve seen absolutely loves their dog, and are just as devoted to their dogs as the dogs are to them.

Bernese Mountain Dogs In The News

Last April, a Bernese Mountain Dog fell about 100 feet into an abandoned quarry, and couldn’t climb out. When two men tried to rescue the dog, they themselves became stranded. It took 50 firemen and a hydraulics team to save both men and dog.[1]

…Similarly, a Berner named Ohly was lost in Vancouver Canada in freezing conditions for 2 weeks. After frantic searching, rescue operators began using a rescue helicopter to search for the missing dog—as it was too dangerous for people to be out on the icy mountain. Not only did they find the dog, who was alive and well (probably thanks to his strength and thick coat!), but public donations covered the cost of the helicopter![2]

A Bernese Mountain Dog Mix Needs Your Help!

adopt bernese mountain dog

Meet Reagan, a berner/shepherd mix who currently lives in North Carolina. Because of the shepherd in him, he won’t be as strong as his purebred cousins, but the extra genes may make him less susceptible to the health problems that are all too common in Bernese Mountain Dogs. Reagan spent most of his puppyhood chained outside, and is looking for a better life and someone to love. If you think you are a good candidate, here is the contact info that you’ll need:

Loving Pet Inn Adoptions, High Point, NC
(336) 393-0000
[email protected]

…I hope you learned a lot about this friendly, powerful breed. Comment below about your experiences with Bernese Mountain Dogs!

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