Bernese Cattle Dog (Bernese Mountain Dog & Heeler): Info, Pics
|Height:||18 – 27 inches|
|Weight:||50 – 100 pounds|
|Lifespan:||7 – 11 years|
|Colors:||White, black, brown, fawn|
|Suitable for:||Active families, those looking for a unique yet affectionate dog|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, loving, easy to train, sensitive, energetic|
You’ll be hard-pressed to find two more distinctive-looking breeds than the Bernese Mountain Dog and Australian Cattle Dog. So, what happens when you mix the two? You get a distinctive-looking hybrid!
It’s hard to go into much more detail than that because this breed is so new, there’s not really a standard for how they should look yet. Some look like an even mix, while others clearly favor one or the other of their parents.
There’s not much that’s definitively known about this mix, but we’ll share everything we’ve learned with you in the guide below.
Bernese Cattle Dog Puppies — Before You Get One…
You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to Bernese Cattle Dog puppies. You may end up with one that looks just like a regular Bernese Mountain Dog or Australian Cattle Dog, or you could wind up with a sort of mix.
Their size can vary wildly from dog to dog as well. You may wind up with a lean, medium-sized pup, or you could end up raising a 100-pound monster. It’s hard to tell with any certainty simply from looking at them as puppies.
All this is to say, these dogs are best suited for those with a little bit of an adventurous spirit. If you’re dead-set on getting a dog that looks a particular way, this isn’t the breed for you. If, however, you’re willing to roll the dice a bit, these dogs will reward you many times over.
3 Little-Known Facts About Bernese Cattle Dogs
1. They Solve One of the Biggest Problems With Bernese Mountain Dogs
Berners are beautiful dogs, but they have one big problem: Years of inbreeding have left them incredibly prone to cancer, so many don’t live past 6 years old.
By introducing new DNA into the mix, you can have all the wonderful qualities that Berners bring to the table, but with a fraction of the health problems.
2. Little Is Known About These Dogs
Where did they come from? Who first bred them? The answers to these questions are hard to find. In fact, there’s a good chance that the first Bernese Cattle Dog was created quite by accident.
However, given the Berner’s health problems, it would make sense that aficionados of the breed would want to mix them with dogs that have few health issues. The Australian Cattle Dog would be a natural choice.
It’s not just good health that Aussies bring to the table, either. They bring brains, trainability, and a sizable dash of cuteness, so whoever first had the idea to mix these dogs certainly had their thinking caps on that day.
3. Both Parents Were Bred to Be Working Dogs
Bernese Mountain Dogs were originally bred to pull carts, protect livestock, and do whatever else needed to be done on farms in the Swiss Alps. As a result, they’re big, strong, and eager to work.
As you might’ve guessed from the name, Australian Cattle Dogs were bred to herd cattle in Australia. There’s a large amount of open space in Australia, and these dogs had to be ready to run all over it.
This means that regardless of which parent your Bernese Cattle Dog takes after, they’re likely to have a strong work ethic.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Bernese Cattle Dog 🧠
While many things are hard to predict about these dogs, their temperament and intelligence aren’t among them. That’s because both parents are fairly similar in those respects.
Both parents are commonly listed among the smartest dog breeds, so their offspring are almost certain to be geniuses. They’re also easy to train, and you shouldn’t have any problems ensuring obedience.
However, they need a job to do, so if you don’t tax their minds properly, you may set yourself up for behavioral problems. It’s best to keep them fatigued, or who knows what they might start using their big brains for. Luckily, it shouldn’t be anything too nefarious, as both parents are extremely gentle and sweet-natured. They’re not generally prone to aggression, and they love to spend time with people.
They’re extremely sensitive dogs, and they’ll react strongly to powerful emotions. That means they’ll be the first to comfort you if you’re sad, but they’ll likely give you a wide berth if you’ve lost your temper.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡
Bernese Cattle Dogs can make excellent family pets, as they love people of all ages. They’re generally protective of children, so you’ll need to socialize them to make sure nothing happens when you have guests over.
Also, just because they’re not prone to aggression around children doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave kids unsupervised around them. These dogs can get rambunctious, and they can easily bowl over a toddler while in the middle of a zoomie.
You may need to enlist the entire family into caring for one of these dogs too, as they have high energy levels. You’re less likely to deal with puppy fatigue if the job of tuckering them out is evenly divided among family members.
Despite their good nature, they can make excellent guard dogs, as nothing escapes their attention. They’re especially good watch dogs if they take after the Bernese Mountain Dog in a physical sense, as no one wants to mess with one of those giants.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽
There’s a good chance that they’ll get along with other pets. Both parent breeds are generally tolerant of other canines, although they may have a tendency to try to dominate their fellow dogs. This behavior can be mitigated by spaying or neutering your dog at the appropriate time, however.
Neither parent breed has an especially high prey drive, so cats and other small pets should be safe around them. It’s better if the dog has been socialized to accept them from a young age, though.
Also, while they may not hunt smaller creatures, they’ll probably try to herd them. This is usually harmless, although it’s extremely annoying to the animal being herded. You may need to redirect your Bernese Cattle Dog when you see this behavior occurring.
Things to Know When Owning a Bernese Cattle Dog
Since Bernese Cattle Dogs are such a new breed, you’ll be something of a trailblazer when it comes to owning one. The fact is, there isn’t much information that’s specific to this breed, but the guidelines below should give you a general idea of what to expect.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
How much these dogs eat will vary greatly. Some members of the breed are huge, while others are medium-sized. However, given how active they all are, you should expect to spend a decent amount on kibble every month.
Regardless of your dog’s size, you should give them the highest-quality food you can afford. This means a high-protein kibble (preferably at least 25%). Just as important as the raw numbers are the ingredients that go into them, so avoid animal by-products, chemicals, and other additives.
These dogs can be prone to obesity, so try to make sure that every calorie counts. That means avoiding foods like wheat, corn, and soy, all of which will bulk your dog up without offering much in the way of nutrition in return.
Look for lean, high-quality meat as the first ingredient. Chicken, beef, fish, and lamb are most common, and all are good, but you may consider experimenting with more exotic meats like bison, venison, or even kangaroo. These will be more expensive, but they may have nutrients that other meats lack.
As for the rest of the ingredients, a good rule of thumb is that if it’s good for you, it’s probably good for your dog. Foods like cranberries, kelp, spinach, apples, broccoli, and the like are all good to see on the label.
Since both parent breeds are extremely active dogs, it’s likely that your Bernese Cattle Dog will be too. Expect to spend a fair amount of time exercising them — at least an hour a day.
However, the type of exercise will depend on your dog’s body composition. If it primarily takes after the Bernese Mountain Dog, you’ll want to limit the amount of high-impact activity your dog endures, as it’s hard on their already vulnerable joints. Activities like swimming are preferable to those that involve running and jumping.
You’ll have more leeway if your pup takes after the Australian Cattle Dog. In that case, activities like agility training can be a good way to tucker them out, as they’ll weigh less and therefore put less stress on their joints.
Given how smart these dogs are, it’s important to tax their brains as much as their bodies. Obedience training is good for this, as well as activities like hide and seek, playing with treat balls, etc.
If you don’t give these dogs enough exercise, they’ll likely allow their excess energy to go toward destructive activities like chewing and digging. So, if you value your yard and your stuff, it’s best to make sure they go to bed exhausted every day.
Bernese Cattle Dogs are both intelligent and eager to please, and that usually makes training a breeze. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously, though.
It’s critical to socialize them as puppies so they’re calm and confident in strange situations. This also makes them more likely to tolerate other dogs and similar animals.
Daily obedience training is also important. Not only does this tucker them out and keep them on their toes, but it also strengthens the bond between the two of you and ensures that they’re more likely to obey when it’s most important.
However, you can’t simply put them through the same exercises every day. They’re too smart for that — they’ll get bored, and then their obedience will start to flag. Try to mix it up and keep it interesting for them.
Luckily, that’s not difficult, as they can learn just about anything you care to teach them. If you put in the time and effort, you can have these dogs pulling off truly amazing tricks.
Like just about everything else with these dogs, their grooming requirements will depend on which parent they favor.
If they take after their Berner parents, they will have thick, dense coats that shed constantly. You’ll need to brush them thoroughly at least once a week and daily during their shedding seasons.
If they favor the Aussie side of their family, though, they’ll have short, bristly coats that don’t shed quite as much. You’ll still need to take a slicker brush to them regularly, but you can go longer between grooming sessions.
You shouldn’t need to bathe them often; in fact, you’ll probably be fine if you only do so when they’re visibly dirty. These dogs generally love the water, though, so they shouldn’t make it too difficult for you.
You need to inspect and clean their ears every week to prevent infection. Their teeth will need to be brushed regularly and their nails trimmed as needed.
Health and Conditions ❤️
Bernese Cattle Dogs are extremely prone to serious health issues, while Australian Cattle Dogs tend to be healthier. Their resulting mix usually lies somewhere in the middle.
There are a few notable health issues you should be aware of.
- Skin issues
- Ear infections
Male vs. Female
This breed is too young for us to be able to draw clear distinctions between the two genders. Males will usually be bigger, but size is far more reliant on which parent breed the dog takes after than it is the dog’s sex.
Similarly, differences in personality will be based more on the breed they favor than it will their gender.
Bernese Cattle Dogs make wonderful companions, as they’re smart, loyal, and affectionate. They’re a new breed, however, so tracking one down might be an issue — and even if you find one, there are no guarantees on how they will turn out.
There are a few things you need to be aware of, though. These dogs are smart and energetic, so you need to be able to stay on top of their training and make sure they’re tuckered out every day. Also, they may be prone to a few serious health issues.
Overall, though, these dogs take the best parts of both of their parent breeds and mix them into an adorable package. We can say with confidence that no matter how hard you have to work to find one, it will be well worth it in the end.
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Featured Image Credit By: Allison Gamble, Shutterstock