Congratulations on your new
Berner owners across the country welcome you to the joys of Berner companionship. Friendship and helpful information are only a click away: www.bmdca.org
Bernese Mountain Dogs (Berner Sennenhund) are
from Switzerland and named for the Canton of Bern. Historically, Berners were used as general purpose farm dogs. Their large, sturdy frames and their calm, confident temperaments made them ideal for pulling carts to market, driving dairy cattle, watching the farm, and being farmers’ companions.
General Appearance and Size
Bernese are striking, tri-colored, large dogs. They are intelligent, strong and agile enough to do the draft and droving work for which they were used. Measured at the withers, males should be 25 to 27 1⁄2 inches and females 23 to 26 inches. Properly structured males generally weigh 90-120 pounds and females 75-105 pounds. Overweight should be avoided.
The proper temperament of Bernese is confident, alert and good natured, never sharp or shy. With the training essential for ownership of any large working breed, Bernese are generally gentle, easygoing, and tolerant with children and other animals. As with any large dog, supervision is recommended with small children. Bernese prefer to be close to their people and activities, whether inside or out.
If kept isolated, behavior problems such as barking or digging will likely develop. They may be aloof with strangers. Berners should not be shy or aggressive. Temperament is inherited, but can be influenced, both positively and negatively, by environment, experiences, and training. If you experience temperament or behavior problems with your Berner, please seek professional advice.
As the puppy’s owner, you play a critical role in providing a secure and stimulating environment to help the dog reach its full potential. The best approach is to be patient, kind, understanding, and positive. Read more about puppy development to ensure you are shaping
a well-rounded dog. All Bernese should be exposed
to a wide variety of people, places, and other animals, especially in their first year of life.
A well-mannered dog is a pleasure and the owner’s responsibility. Basic training is a necessity for all dogs
and especially for large breeds such as the Bernese. A puppy kindergarten/socialization class between four and six months of age is recommended, followed by a basic obedience program before the dog’s first birthday. Positive training methods are recommended for this breed.
Puppies need regular supervised exercise in a safe, dog friendly outside area to maintain healthy muscle tone
and condition. Activities should be based on the puppy’s physical condition and individual exercise capabilities. Exercise should never be forced (like jogging or extended rough playing). Avoid unsupervised exercise and play with older or larger dogs which could easily injure a puppy.
Bernese and Diet
There are many diet options. First ask your pup’s breeder. Additional sources to help you decide what is best for you and your pup are other Berner owners, either local or via internet discussion lists.
A low to moderate-protein diet will keep a growing Berner’s development slow and steady. Rapid growth
is not desirable as it places greater strain on immature muscles and tendons that must support a large boned pup. Adult Berners are usually fed twice a day to reduce the chance of bloat. Avoid hard exercise immediately before or after meals.
Bernese are farm dogs by heritage and need exercise
to stay mentally and physically fit. Small fenced
yards should be viewed as a place of convenience and safety but not as a place for adequate exercise for this moderately active breed. Plan a minimum of 30 minutes of moderately active exercise daily.
Basic grooming should provide care for ears, nails,
coat, and teeth. Bernese are a double-coated breed, and shedding is considerable. Regular brushing will help. A periodic bath and frequent brushing will maintain a neat appearance. Some people prefer to trim the feet and ears occasionally.