What are white, tan, and jet-black all over? That would be the Bernese Mountain Dog, a large dog breed that originated from the Alps of Switzerland. This hard-working breed was kept originally as farm dogs and companions of alpine herders and dairymen. To further understand this loyal dog breed, here are some tidbits of information of the Bernese Mountain Dog.
4 Things You Didn’t Know About Bernese Mountain Dog
These breed are also called Berner Sennenhund. “Berner” is Bernese in English and is derived from the area of the breed’s origin, Canton of Bern in Switzerland. “Senne” is a German term for alpine pasture while “Hund” is German for dog. Another name of these dogs is Dürrbachhunde, derived from a small town where they were frequently seen.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are famous for pulling carts for kids and parade purposes. The fondness of the dogs for this activity was that they were originally bred to pull wagons for farmers. Their calm temperament and large structure also made them suitable for cart pulling.
Unlike large working dog breeds such as the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dogs do not usually like water. Many owners mistake that their similarities to the aforementioned breeds make them good water dogs. The Bernese dogs actually do not even allow their legs to be wet, as they just do not like the feeling of it.
An alarming information regarding the Bernese Mountain Dog is that this breed have a short life span compared to other large and pure bred dogs similar to it. According to studies, the average life span of these dogs recently is between 7-8 years, far from their previous life span of 10-11 years. Cancer is thought to be the main cause of the breed’s shortened longevity and have higher rates of cancer fatality than other breeds.
Is A Bernese Mountain Dog For You?
If you live in a house with a large, fenced yard and would like to share this with a furry companion, then Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the best choice for you. These dogs require daily walks and play for at least half an hour per day and in return they will give you much love, politeness and devotion towards you and your whole family.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are big in size (around 25 inches height) and they have a very thick, black and brownish coat that requires daily care during their seasonal shedding. The breed is not that easy to train while they never respond well to harsh voices and hard-handed training. But of course with fairness, consistency and much praise the breed can learn herding, agility or tracking for example.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are excellent with children, but because of their big size, the best is if you never leave small children alone with the dog. The breed prefers to be the only pet in the family, because they do not get on well with other dogs and pets around them.
All in all, Bernese Mountain Dog is the best breed for big families with (older) children and a big yard to play, and in return they will be devoted to the family and will protect them in all cases in dangerous situations.
A Short History of Bernese Mountain Dogs
Not so long ago, the ancestor of today’s Bernese Mountain Dog spent all year guarding the yard – protecting sheep during summer and pulling milk carts from autumn to spring.
The inhabitants of the Swiss Alps would not let themselves keep such a huge pet unless it was useful on the farm throughout the year.
Due to practical reasons, villagers preferred to breed the dogs long-coated (therefore resistant to cold) and strong (to give the owners protection and help).
Today it is hard for us to imagine that Bernese Mountain Dogs were used to watch yards, but at the beginning it was one of their main tasks.
Nevertheless, they were only supposed to guard and not to defend.
Their task was to bark to warn off intruders and alert the hosts.
The posture of a Bernese Mountain Dog was supposed to deter potential attackers, but they were never brought up to be aggressive towards animals or people.
These dogs, guarding yards in the country, lived among other animals like cows, sheep, and poultry, and were therefore raised to be mild towards others.
This feature was cultivated by breeders later on, and today we can say that Bernese Mountain Dogs are “friends of the whole world.”
The ancestors of today’s Bernese Mountain Dogs reached the area of Switzerland with the Roman legions around the 1st century B.C. Their origin is uncertain, but it is probable that they descended from Roman Mastiffs crossed with sheepdogs.
They were living on Swiss mountain farms unrecognized until the end of the 19th century, when Professor Albert Heim and Franz Schertenlieb decided to rescue the breed and promote it.
The first official name was Dürrbachler (after a small village Dürrbach), but changed to Bernese Mountain Dog (for the canton of Berne) in 1908.
The breed was recognized by the Swiss Kennel Club in 1913. In the 1920s, Bernese Mountain Dogs arrived in America and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937.
Is Your Bernese Mountain Dog Cold?
As there are people who enjoy different seasons differently, it all really depends on their feeling of comfort.
European people may like to try out a less rainy and dark atmosphere and try someplace more sunny and warm or people living in icy conditions would crave for some tropical heat.
This comfort is also sought by canine companions however too much of anything is coined as bad.
Take the Bernese Mountain dog, they were developed in the Swiss Alps and used for pulling carts and farm dogs in the extreme cold.
With their dual coats they are insulated. But a few degrees below zero may prove too much for them.
One good sign to bring them inside is standing on three legs, alternating them and shivering.
To help help them avoid freezing even more outside, trim the hair on the paws so as not to accumulate ice and make it more uncomfortable for them. Keep them indoors after their shots for their resistance would be weak.
Bernese Mountain Dog Short Lifespan
It pains me to write this, but the Bernese is one of those big dog breeds that Shakespeare would not label as immortal.
On average the lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog is 7 years; so this is an important factor when considering buying one as a beloved family pet.
Although the coat and disposition shines through and through, the Bernese is cannot be labeled as a very healthy breed.
Apart from having a high food bill, veterinary bills may also skyrocket, since this breed is susceptible to getting certain illnesses.
Hip and elbow Dysplasia plagues this breed, while bloating, several types of cancer and kidney problems have also been known to develop.
Progressive retinal atrophy – an eye disease that causes blindness- is becoming a problem as well with this huge and lovable dog.
Due to its heavy coat, the Bernese may suffer in hot climates if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors in summer make sure you have enough shade and loads of fresh water for your Bernese.
Take care of your Bernese. He will love you all the more for it…