Bernese Mountain Dogs: 14 Facts New Owners Should Not Ignore!

Bernese Mountain Dog

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You can never turn your back from the irresistible charm of a Bernese Mountain Dog.

I, for one, always get mesmerized by its color and demeanor. This dog breed comes with a distinctive tri-colored coat (black on most parts of their body, white on their chest, and rust-colored markings which accentuate their cheek and eyes) that you would immediately notice when you see them.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are also well-behaved and very affectionate, which makes it so easy for anyone to fall in love with them.

However, just like any other dog breeds, raising a Bernese Mountain dog also requires hard work and dedication.

You may know them as this big fluff ball who is smart and very sweet, but you also have to know their needs, their temperament, and what it’s really like to raise one.

Here are the facts that you should not ignore as a Bernese Mountain Dog owner.

1. Know where Bernese Mountain Dog comes from

How a dog behaves and what they are like are highly influenced by their nature; which is also why it is important that you, as an owner, know the history of the dog that you are getting- which, in this case, is a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Bernese Mountain dogs are a part of the quartet of Sennenhund breeds that are well known in Switzerland namely Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog), Appenzeller Sennenhund (Appenzeller Mountain Dog), Entlebucher Sennenhund (Entlebucher Mountain Dog) and the Berner Sennenhund (Bernese Mountain Dog).

They got the name from Berne, the place where this dog was developed, Senner, which means Alpine herdsmen and dairymen, and Hund, which means dog in German.

This dog breed originated from the Molosser dogs of the Romans, which are large mastiff-type dogs that drove and guarded cattle herds.

Bernese Mountain Dog is bred to be a farm dog who herds cattle, hauls milk, and protects the land and its owner.

Its breed was officially established in 1907 and recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937, some 30 years after under the working breed dog category.

However, this breed was first documented last 1884 as a part of the Swiss Stud Book and the breed standard was approved in 1887.

2. Know their Physical Nature

Bernese Mountain Dog Nature

Bernese Mountain dogs are adorable! However, if you are planning to get one and think, “Oh, I have a leash and a pet carrier that my previous Border Collie or American Pitbull Terrier owns, maybe I can use them for him,”, please don’t be so sure about that. Bernese Mountain dog is big from womb to tomb.

Their weight ranges from 38-50kg for males and 36-48kg for females and they can grow up to 64-70 cm for males and 58-66cm for females. (measuring from their withers)

Upon knowing this, you will already have a hint that this breed is best raised in spacious homes or a large backyard where they have space to move around.

The Bernie is also not advisable for homes with toddlers or little kids as they can unintentionally knock them over if left unsupervised because these dogs are usually unaware of how big and strong they are.

3. Health Problems

Bernese Mountain Dog health problems

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again- know the health problems that your dog might face way before even getting them!

The reasons for that are: knowing the potential diseases that they are predisposed to or at risk for having well, A. allows you to alter their diet and lifestyle so that to prevent them to acquire such illnesses, and B. give you time to save up for good pet insurance which will help you during emergencies.

It is known that stub-nosed breeds like Shih Tzus, Boxers, and Pugs are at risk of having respiratory problems; hound dog breeds like Basset Hound, Blood Hound, and Beagles are prone to ear infections; toy dog breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers are likely to acquire diseases such as tracheal collapse and heart disease; but the herding dog breeds are not an exemption from this.

Herding dog breeds like the Bernese Mountain dog may suffer from these health conditions:

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD):

CHD is a complex developmental disorder characterized by joint laxity and osteoarthritis in one or both coxofemoral (hip) joints (Lust, 1997). This disease is influenced by genetics, environmental and biomechanical factors.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Lameness (increases with activity or trauma)
  • Gait abnormalities
  • Hand & Limb muscle atrophy (shrinking of muscles)


  • Maintenance of optimum body weight
  • Lifelong dietary restriction
  • Reduced exercise


  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (for pain relief))
  • Food Supplements (green-lipped mussels and fish oil to strengthen the bones)
  • Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan supplements & injection
  • Acupuncture
  • Gold bead implantation

Elbow Dysplasia:

According to PDSA, elbow dysplasia is a painful hereditary condition that causes one or both elbows to develop abnormally. The radius, ulna, and humerus or dogs are usually affected in this condition. The symptoms of this disease usually appear between 5-18 months of age.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling and instability
  • Limping or stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen, puffy elbows


  • Selective breeding
  • Maintenance of optimum body weight
  • Controlled exercise


  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for pain relief)
  • Surgery (for severe cases)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a progressive condition where photoreceptors in the retina prematurely degenerate.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Reluctance to go outside at night
  • Reluctance to enter a dark room
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Tapetal reflection


  • Selective breeding


  • Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for PRA

Von Willebrand’s Disease:

The most common inherited bleeding disorder is caused by a deficiency in the amount of specific protein needed to help platelets form clots to seal wounds.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Epistaxis
  • Delayed blood clotting after injuries or castration
  • Anemia


  • Selective breeding


  • No current treatment


The proliferation of histiocytic cells (macrophages and myeloid dendritic cells which leads to abnormal cystic growth, sarcoma, or leukemia

Signs & Symptoms:

  •    Fever
  •    Lethargy
  • Poor Appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Prominent eyes


  • Selective breeding


  • Chemotherapeutic agents

Gastric Torsion:

Acute, life-threatening condition that primarily affects large and giant-breed dogs.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Enlarged or Tympanic abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Splenomegaly
  • Weak pulse
  • Tachycardia
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Dyspnea
  • Irregular heart rate


  • Selective breeding
  • Proper diet & exercise


  • Supportive care for patient stabilization
  • Surgical correction
  • Rapid fluid placement

4. How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs live?

How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs live

Answer: 7-10 years.

Bernese Mountain Dog gets along well with their family and even with children because of their gentle and loving personality.

This gentle giant is a precious gem in any lucky household that would take them in, but the only downside is compared to other dogs, they have a shorter life expectancy.

This dog breed lives for at least 7-10 years, with a proper diet and tender loving care. Now, don’t be sad if you think that you will not be spending time with it as long as you would want to, because the memories that you create with your Bernese Mountain dog could last a lifetime.

5. Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament

On the contrary, owners that I have previously talked to who owned this type of dog claims that this pet can be really shy and aloof around strangers.

Perhaps it is true that dogs are really flexible and they could adapt depending on how well they have been trained or the kind of environment they live in.

6. Do not Ignore their Diet

Bernese Mountain dog

A healthy Bernese Mountain dog, or any dog at that, doesn’t just grow into a healthy and happy dog in an instant.

I honestly don’t know if all dog owners share the same sentiment, but I would rather pay a hefty sum for quality food for my dog than drain my money to pay for medications that my dog might get from not getting enough vitamins and minerals from their diet.

With this, a good diet is a must if you would want to own a Bernese Mountain dog. They are indeed large dogs with a big appetite as well, so they are prone to obesity.

It is highly suggested that they are given a protein-rich diet with fiber and vitamins.

7. Importance of Training

The Bernese Mountain dogs are known for their large, muscular bodies. Their back is really broad and firm and their loins are strong.

If you have already taken care of a dog with a similar build, you would know that this type of dog demands proper training from the very start.

It is of essence that you ‘train them young’, as the infamous quote says. Bernese Mountain dogs are large dogs, but, just like all other large dogs, they do not have any idea of how energetic and destructive they can get.

Since their breed is originally created for helping in the farm, they are really designed to have high levels of energy throughout the day so that they can endure the physical demands of herding cattle and other basic tasks in the farm.

Now, even domesticated Bernese Mountain dogs still have the same kind of energy nowadays, so of course, if this energy is not spent and they get bored, they will tend to be destructive and would literally jump at your new TV or your favorite coffee table without knowing that they are already knocking down important furniture.

To solve this problem, start teaching your dog the basic tricks as early as 2 months. You can start from the touch command, where they will be rewarded with a treat or affection when they touch your palm with the tip of their hand, and eventually progress to more advanced tricks such as sit, stay, and place.

8. Bernese Mountain Dog Exercise needs

During puppyhood, the Bernese Mountain dogs have the highest energy levels, so they will be highly active around this time.

It is important that you give them a minimum of 90-minute exercise, whether it’s in the form of walking outside, playing with toys, or training their brain.

It is highly suggested that aside from exercising them physically, you should also introduce them to puzzle toys which stimulate their brain.

It has been proven by numerous researchers that stimulating a puppy’s brain is a more effective way of consuming their energy than traditional physical activities.

As they grow into adulthood, their energy levels will slowly drop, but this doesn’t mean that you should not put in effort in exercising this dog.

It is still recommended to have at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to help build strong muscles and bones. It is of course better if they exercise for a full hour, but 30 minutes at the absolute minimum will still be helpful for their growth.

During adulthood, they are also very prone to obesity as their demand for food increases, so exercising regularly will help their bodies to be healthy and prevent obesity-related diseases.

When your Bernese Mountain dog reaches its senior years, a 30-minute exercise or less is advisable. It is still better for them to be as active as they can, as long as they are comfortable and pain-free.

As a responsible owner, it is important to be an advocate of your dog’s needs, so you should know when they can still continue with your afternoon walks or just enjoy each other’s company at home.

9. Find the Right Veterinarian

Finding the right veterinarian is one of the top things on my list before getting any breed of dog. A trusted and experienced veterinarian can be your Bernese Mountain dog’s lifesaver.

The problem with this is that finding the right veterinarian for your dog could be really hard.

Therefore, here is the list that you have to consider in choosing your dog’s future vet:

  1. Distance
  2. Office Hours
  3. Friend’s recommendation
  4. Staff
  5. Fees and Payment

Don’t choose a veterinarian who is too far from your house, or does not accept pet insurance because there will come a time when you have to rush your dog to the vet clinic in the middle of the night with only your keys in your pocket.

Trust me, I have done this before, and what saved my dog’s life is my trusted veterinarian. It is best if you ask a friend who has owned a similar breed before on the best veterinarian that they could recommend for you.

10. Don’t Ignore the Vaccines and Supplements

Bernese Mountain dogs as puppies need to complete their vaccines as soon as possible once they are under your care.

This alone will help them from acquiring infections and other viral diseases from other dogs.

However, if you want a healthy dog, start supplementing their diet with Vitamin C and Iron to make sure that they have a strong immune system.

As they get older, you may also add supplements such as organic turmeric powder for dogs, fish oil for their coat, supplements for joint health, and calcium to help strengthen their bones.

11. Grooming

If you have already seen a healthy Bernese Mountain dog, you would know that their beautiful black coat would shine under the sun’s light. They do have an undeniable gorgeous coat, but this requires a lot of maintenance.

This breed sheds moderately throughout the year, so it is important to brush them with a slicker brush every day.

You will also need to bring your dog to a groomer on a regular basis so that they can get rid of loose undercoats, mats, and tangled hair, trim or Dremel their nails and clean their ears to avoid infection.

12. Climate Preference

The Bernese Mountain dogs came from the Swiss Alpes and they have thick fur, so they are best suited in cooler climates.

However, this is not something that you should be extremely worried about when you want to get one but you live in a tropical place. Always remember that dogs easily adapt to their environment as long as they ease into it.

If you live in a place where it is humid and warm almost all days of the year, always see to it that your Bernese Mountain dog would stay in a nice and cool room in your house.

Also, make sure that they get lots of fluid to prevent dehydration. It is also helpful for them to drink iced water during hot summer days to prevent them from having a heatstroke.

13. Bernese Mountain Dog Price

The average price of a Bernese Mountain puppy ranges from $800-1200 USD in the United States and  £2000 – £2500.

Yes, they really aren’t that cheap if you would get them from breeders, but this price would guarantee you puppies that are bred in a professional and healthy way, and not from the puppy mills which is extremely abusive to dogs.

We still highly recommend that you adopt one because there might be a Bernese Mountain dog who is waiting in one of the shelters nearby who wishes to be with their fur-ever family.

14. Don’t Ignore the Fact that Your Dog Requires Love and Attention

If you are decided that you would get yourself your own Bernese Mountain dog, remember that it will take time and effort for them to grow according to the dog that you want them to be.

Play with them, take long walks with them, and shower them with all the love that you can give.

Raising a dog is not easy, but I promise you that you won’t regret it because trust me when I say that this dog’s heart is twice as big as its size!

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