Commonly called “Berners,” Bernese Mountain dogs are gentle giants of the dog world. These dogs are friendly and good-natured, but they also have a strong work ethic that can be harnessed into just about any job. While they’re not suitable for small living spaces due to their size, they make fabulous family dogs, even stepping up to the role of babysitter.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is unique in many ways. Here are 15 incredible facts about this dog.
The 15 Bernese Mountain Dog Facts
1. Bernese Mountain Dogs are “all-around” working dogs
The Bernese Mountain Dog may be the best all-around dog when it comes to talent. While the breed originated as a farm dog, they are well suited to mountainous terrain and search-and-rescue operations.
While they can herd and drive cattle, they have protective instincts that make them well-suited as livestock guardians. However, their friendly, gentle nature also makes them suitable as family pets and companion dogs.
2. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a tri-color coat with distinctive markings
Bernese Mountain Dogs are always tri-colored with distinctive markings in white, brown, and rust.
3. They are built to thrive in cold weather
As double-coated dogs, Berners thrive outside in cold weather. They will happily join you in whatever outdoor winter pursuits you do, including hiking, snowshoeing, or just playing in the snow.
4. Bernese Mountain Dogs love children
Not only does this breed love kids, but they also make fantastic babysitters. They are gentle, loving, and protective. Their size makes them imposing to outsiders, but their demeanor is non-threatening. They will happily warn off danger with their loud bark and stand their ground if needed.
5. They excel at dog sports
As a working breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs are naturally good at dog sports like carting, agility, herding, and obedience.
6. These dogs shed profusely
Unlike many other double-coated dog breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs shed year-round. They have a large amount of hair, so they aren’t suitable for people with allergies.
7. They have an intense desire to please their family
One of the reasons Bernese Mountain Dogs make such good pets is that they have a strong desire to please. These dogs want to live with you as part of the family. They’re so calm and cuddly, that you’ll want to take them with you everywhere you go.
8. Bernese Mountain Dogs originate from Switzerland
Bernese Mountain dogs come from a cross between a Swiss farm dog and a Mastiff-like breed left behind in Switzerland by Roman soldiers. This dog breed is ancient and dates back about 2,000 years.
The “Bernese” in this dog breed’s name comes from the city of Bern, Switzerland. This breed is one of four Sennenhunds (a German term for “alpine pasture dog”). The Sennenhunds of Switzerland include the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Of these four breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the only breed with long hair.
9. In the 1850s, Bernese Mountain Dogs were used as “cheese dogs.”
Bernese Mountain Dogs were used to pull carts of milk and cheese to deliver to customers. They pulled carts weighing up to 1,000 pounds, or 10 times their body weight. While these dogs are no longer used to pull carts of items for delivery, cart pulling is considered a dog sport. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America holds cart-pulling competitions every year for dogs to show off their strength and skill.
10. The St. Bernard once threatened the Bernese Mountain Dog’s extinction
The St. Bernard grew popular in Switzerland in the 1800s and threatened to wipe out Bernese Mountain Dogs. The Industrial Revolution meant less need for working dogs, so farmers chose companion breeds instead. Fortunately, a Swiss gentleman named Franz Schertenleib devoted his time to breeding and increasing the popularity of the Bernese.
11. Bernese Mountain Dogs are perpetual puppies
While they don’t technically remain puppies any longer than other dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs mature slowly. This means they’ll grow to adult size, but you’ll have a playful pet for many years. This also means they get into mischief as young adults!
12. Almost half of all Bernese Mountain Dogs will pass away from cancer
As purebred dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t free from health problems, including hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, and tumors. Cancer will be the cause of death for approximately half of all Berners. This fact is made worse by their already short lifespan.
Since Bernese Mountain Dogs only live 6–8 years, it’s important to be prepared for what’s to come.
13. They make good heroes
Bernese Mountain Dogs have frequently made headlines for their heroic acts. A Canadian Berner named Bella saved her owner from a house fire in 2013. In 2015, another Berner named Nico rescued two people from a rip tide in California. Izzy miraculously escaped from raging wildfires in California in 2017.
14. Bernese Mountain Dogs have large litters
The average Berner litter size is eight puppies. This is higher than average across dog breeds. Amazingly, some Bernese Mountain Dog litters can be as large as 14 puppies.
15. These dogs are dry-mouthed
Despite having large jowls, Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t drool much. They are referred to as a dry-mouthed breed.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are adorable, lovable, and affectionate dogs that want nothing more than to be part of the family. They’re up for anything, will tag along anywhere you go, and will even stand guard over your kids. What more could you ask for? There’s so much to love about this dog breed. Hopefully, these incredible facts have helped you learn more about them.
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