The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of a group of four native Swiss working breeds, all of which have the same striking black, white and tan markings. The Bernese (Berner Sennenhund) is the second largest of that group and is the only one with a long coat – the others, The Grosse Schweizer Sennenhund (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog) is also a large dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher are smaller breeds but all have the same close lying short hair. The Bernese was, until recent years, the only one of this quartet to be found
in Great Britain.
Bernese were, and still are, used as general purpose farm dogs in their homeland of Switzerland and
beyond although in the UK they are invariable purchased as a household companion and family pet. Unlike some other Working breeds of dogs, Bernese do not have one single overriding instinct for a particular job, but were bred to be adaptable and biddable and therefore adaptable enough to be employed to do a variety of tasks. The Bernese can be an excellent watch dog, a strong draught dog very willing to pull small carts and wagons, a capable livestock drover, an attentive and loyal companion for the farmer when going about his chores and of course a fun-loving and trustworthy children’s playmate and pet.
The Bernese temperament is required to be very good. It is essential it should be so. Bernese should be friendly and tolerant of other dogs, livestock and children. They should not engage in hysterical behaviour or unnecessary barking. They should be intelligent and easy to train and possess a most definite sense of humour. Bernese need to be around people and thrive on human company, bonding very closely with members of `their` family. It is ESSENTIAL that Bernese live inside the house within a family environment where there is someone at home most of the time – they are NOT suited to being left alone all day or for extended, regular periods nor should they be left to spend a lot of their time living in a kennel.
Although named` Mountain Dog` the Bernese is not a giant breed like a St. Bernard or Pyrenean. Bernese can be better described as a large breed with a similar outline to a Golden Retriever but having an overall larger stature - bigger, much broader and heavier. Bernese are quick to grow but slow to mature, reaching their adult height by about 15 months old, but not reaching full physical nor mental maturity until at least three years old for a bitch and four years old for a male.
An adult Bernese male will ideally measure between 64 and 70 cms (25 – 27.5 inches) at the shoulder and could weigh anything within the range of 36 to 55 kilos (approx. 80 - 120 lbs).
An adult Bernese bitch will ideally measure between 58 and 66 cms (23 – 26 inches) at
the shoulder and could weigh anything within the range of 34 to 46 kilos (approx. 75 – 100 lbs).
(For comparison - a German Shepherd Dog [Alsatian] male should be approx. 64cms [25 inches] at the shoulder and a female approx. 58cms [23 inches] at the shoulder with a weight range of approx. 35 to 40 kilos or 77 to 85 lbs)
For their size, Bernese do not require a lot of exercise when compared to some other Working breeds of dogs, although adult Bernese should have the ability, mentality and stamina to ‘work’ actively all day if trained to do so and required to do so. When fully grown, Bernese will certainly enjoy a daily walk and free run and will most certainly want to join in the family activities and excursions. However, the ideal Bernese should not possess an obsessive need for constant stimulation and activity nor an inbuilt `drive`, for marathon jaunts every day and growing puppies need to be protected from the inevitable damage caused by over-exercise. Young Bernese under one year old should not be encouraged to be hyperactive nor allowed to become overtired, and care should be taken to prevent behaviour and avoid accidents which might cause distress and damage to the delicate, yet fast growing, skeleton of puppies.
Bernese should be a hardy breed and they generally like to spend some of their time out of doors PROVIDED they can still see and hear what is going on inside their home! Bernese like to sit – just SIT – in the garden and look at the sky and watch the birds, but shut the door and they definitely want to be back on the INSIDE with you! Bernese are definitely a breed who always prefer to know where you are and what you are doing – they do NOT want to miss out on knowing and being a part of what
is happening around them.
Bernese generally do not seem to worry about cold weather conditions but they should be protected
from weather extremes and should not be allowed to lie outside in wet or frosty weather. Some young Bernese love to splash and play in mud and puddles, whilst some others are much more clean living and HATE getting their paws wet or dirty! Even those Bernese who enjoy mud baths do not make good
kennel dogs – far from it – a Bernese will be very miserable if left alone or away from the house and
family It is essential that your Bernese should live as part of your family if you are to enjoy the full character, intelligence and devotion so natural to this breed.
The cost of buying a Bernese may vary somewhat and the cost is not directly linked to quality. Most breeders sell all the puppies in their litter for the same price regardless of whether they are male or female or wanted as a pet or show/breeding dog. Sometimes a breeder may have a puppy that has a major fault or physical defect which is usually reflected in a reduced price.
DO NOT ASSUME THAT A HIGHER PRICED PUPPY IS OF HIGHER QALITY - SOME PUPPY FARMERS, DOG DEALERS AND ALSO SOME GREEDY BREEDERS CHARGE VERY HIGH PRICES FOR VERY POORLY BRED AND POOR QUALITY BERNESE!
The average UK price in 2013 for a purebred, Kennel Club Registered Bernese Mountain Dog puppy bred by an established, experienced, reputable, specialist Bernese breeder is approx £1000 - £1400.
That price should include some initial insurance cover arranged by the breeder, plus a pedigree, diet and rearing advice, and the Kennel Club Registration Certificate which may be available at the time of collection or a written promise that it will be forwarded on.
Everyone planning on buying a Bernese Puppy is strongly advised to purchase Canine Insurance cover for Loss, Veterinary Fees and Third Party Liability.