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Bernese Mountain Dog

Feature image

The burley Bernese Mountain Dog looks like a tough outdoorsman but nothing could be further from the truth. These big dogs are docile giants that just love a cuddle and to live comfortably inside with their adoptive families.

If you are seeking a fun-loving and gentle dog that will be your favourite exercise buddy and children’s best friend, then consider taking a Bernese Mountain Dog on board.

Where I'm From

The Bernese Mountain Dog originates from the Swiss Alps where they were renowned as robust farm dogs, well regarded for their strength, property guarding skills and ability to drover dairy cattle from the farm to nearby grazing lands. Bernese Mountain Dogs are an ancient breed; thought to be the result of crossbreeding between local Swiss mountain dogs and Mastiff or Molosser-type dogs brought to the region by invading Romans 2000 years ago.

The dogs were recognised in Switzerland as a separate breed in the early 1900s and exported throughout Europe. Though the breed suffered near decimation during the war years, it subsequently faced resurgence with renewed exports to England and the United States. Bernese Mountain Dogs were not as well known in Australia though they are becoming more popular due to their family-friendly natures.

What I Look Like

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, heavy-set dog with a distinctive tricolour double coat of mostly jet black with white and rust colouring around the face, legs and chest. The white marking on their chest often resembles an upturned cross. With a medium-length, face-hugging ears and a doe-eyed expression, these big Berners are as lovable as a teddy bear.

How I Act

Bernese Mountain Dogs are well natured, docile dogs that make terrific family friendly pets. They are excellent and gentle with children over 10 but due to their size may accidently knock over young ones. Bernese Mountain Dogs are not solitary dogs and should be fully incorporated into active family life otherwise behavioural problems such as barking and digging could develop.

They're an intelligent breed that is easy to train. Socialisation and training should begin early in order to ensure that your Berner grows up to be a manageable pet. Bernese Mountain Dogs can be slow to mature so obedience training is especially important to implement before they reach a large size whilst retaining a potentially destructive puppy demeanour.

Bernese Mountain Dogs come from a line of working dogs. As such they require a decent amount of daily exercise of at least 30-60 minutes to stay in top condition.

Looking After Me

Bernese Mountain Dogs need to be fed a high-quality, dry dog food meal twice a day as per packaging instructions.

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a thick double coat that sheds, especially heavily in spring and autumn. To manage their moulting it is best to brush them a few times a week and bathe them every few months.

Whilst their thick coat will keep them snug and warm in winter, during the summer they can easily overheat. Make sure to only exercise your Berner in cooler morning and evening temperatures and provide them with a cool place to rest during the day. Also ensure they have bowls full of fresh water to drink and regulate their body temperature.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally healthy but unfortunately can be prone to a number of health issues, some claim a result of breeding from a small gene pool. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a higher incidence of death by cancer than other breeds with up to 50% of Berners dying of the disease, 20% more than the rest of the canine kingdom.

They also might suffer from bloat, arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, blood clotting problems as well as eye issues such as cataracts and progressive retinol atrophy (PRA).

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy’s parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Due to the poor preservation of the breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s lifespan is only 7-8 years, though with better breeding protocols now in place they have been known to live up to age 10.

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