Bernese Mountain Dog Overview

Dog Breed:
Bernese Mountain Dog
Breed Group:
Working Group
Aloof, intelligent, dignified, loving, watchful
Males= 25 to 27.5 inches Females= 23 to 26 inches
Males= 80 to 115 pounds Females= 70 to 95 pounds
Life Span:
7-10 years
Coat Colors:
Any variation of black, brown, and white
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Families with some previous dog experience
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs
Mixed Breeds:

Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Known by the affectionate nickname “Berner”

  • Has a beautiful tri-coloured coat

  • Enjoys a lengthy puppyhood

The Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed often lovingly referred to as a “Berner,” is a large breed dog of solid construction. Easy to spot with its distinctive tri-coloured coat and unique splash of white across the chest which resembles the “Swiss cross,” the Bernese Mountain Dog is a working breed with the strength and stamina to fulfil its role as a herder or draft dog in its native Switzerland. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog once played a prominent role in farming communities where the breed was at home assisting with such tasks as cattle driving, cart hauling, and even providing protection for the home, hearth, and family. The ideal Bernese Mountain Dog should be good natured and in possession of a strong work ethic. 

A breed known for its exceptional temperament, the Bernese Mountain Dog bonds deeply with its family and eagerly expresses its love and loyalty. The breed takes great pleasure in working with its owner in team events and is a delight to train. The Bernese Mountain Dog has a natural zest for life that is part of its charm. 

Though the Bernese Mountain Dog is laidback at times, the breed can also be very playful and comical. They enjoy the company of children and get along well with other family pets. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a breed with relatively high activity requirements and will not thrive in an apartment setting. A home with a securely fenced yard is best for this happy breed. 

A large breed dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog takes a long time to reach full maturity. This means dealing with a dog of a large size that still behaves like a puppy until the dog reaches nearly two years of age. 

The one unfortunate thing about Bernese Mountain Dogs is that they are prone to a number of health problems that can shorten their life expectancy. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed History

  • Developed in Bern, Switzerland

  • Its original purpose was driving cattle, pulling carts, and providing protection

  • Descended from the Molosser of the Romans


The Bernese Mountain Dog’s heritage traces to Switzerland. This dog type is but one of several breeds that originated in an area known was Bern. Bern was an agricultural center in Switzerland that played a vital role in the production of adequate dairy to deal with the demand for the country’s two most important commodities: cheese and chocolate. 

Bernese Mountain Dogs worked on the dairy farms driving cattle and providing protection against common predators. They were also beloved family companions that relished a close relationship with their owners. One of their greatest strengths is their natural talent for pulling extremely heavy loads; many which were far in excess of their own body mass. 

As farming chores became the job of modern machinery, the Bernese Mountain Dog found itself without a job to do. In the 19th century, the breed was in danger of extinction. Aficionados of the breed in Switzerland made a concerted attempt to help preserve the breed. 

A breed club was organized by Professor Albert Heim in the year 1907. In short order, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s popularity began to soar once again. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog was brought to the United States in 1926. 

It is believed that the Bernese Mountain Dog is a descendant of the Molosser, a dog breed favoured by the Romans.  The breed is one of four “mountain” dogs; the other four being the Appenzeller Sennenhund, the Entlebucher Sennenhund, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the Berner Sennenhund or Bernese Mountain Dog. The Romans are credited with the development of the dog we know and love today. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Size & Weight

  • Males stand 25” to 27.5” and weigh between 80 and 115 pounds

  • Females stand 23” to 26” and weight from 70 to 95 pounds

  • Families must be prepared for the added expense that comes with owning a large breed dog


The adult male Bernese Mountain Dog can stand from 25” to 27.5” at the shoulder and weighs between 80 and 115 pounds. By comparison, female Berners may reach heights of 23” to 26” and can weigh between 70 and 95 pounds. 

A large breed dog, potential puppy owners must be prepared for the added expenses associated with a breed of this size. Costs are higher for supplies and care for large breed dogs. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Personality & Temperament

  • Gentle and loving

  • Excellent with children

  • Will not thrive in an apartment


The Bernese Mountain Dog displays a gentle and loving disposition. The breed possesses a high intellect and is a joy to train due its good work ethic and desire to please. By nature, the breed is patient, laidback, and kind. They thrive in the company of their family and are exceptionally gentle and affectionate with children. 

Berners are a very loyal breed that are drawn to keeping a careful watch over their family. The breed is not prone to bouts of aggression though they are generally uninterested in strangers and will approach them with distrust. To help the Bernese Mountain Dog to more readily accept new people, it is important to socialize the dog early and often to novel experiences. 

Though the Bernese Mountain Dog is a wonderful family companion and is well-suited to life with children, it is important that all interactions between the dog and a child be carefully supervised. The breed is quite large and can easily accidentally knock over a child, potentially causing an injury or accident. 

Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy the company of other pets. They accept other animals quite readily into their home. For best results, it is always a good idea for any introductions between new housemates to occur in a neutral setting. 

In general, the Bernese Mountain Dog does not enjoy spending much time alone. Their thick double coat makes them well-suited to cold weather conditions. However, this breed is not a fan of extreme heat. 

A large breed dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs room to roam. Apartment living is not suitable for this dog type. A home with a securely fenced yard is best to meet the needs of this active breed. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Health & Grooming

  • Can be prone to health problems which adversely affect longevity

  • A profuse drooler

  • Sheds heavily


The Bernese Mountain Dog can be prone to a number of health conditions which can adversely affect the length of its life. Though many of these problems cannot be prevented, appropriate health screening can help breeders to identify potential health issues to be avoided. Among the problems that can plague the Bernese Mountain dogs are cancer, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, portosystemic shunt, Von Willebrand’s disease, panosteitis, and gastric torsion (bloat). 

As with many other mountain breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s coat is comprised of two layers: a topcoat and an undercoat. Bernese Mountain Dogs shed a lot. When they blow coat, an occurrence which transpires twice yearly, the amount of shed hair dramatically increases. To help keep shedding to a minimum, it is recommended that the Bernese Mountain Dog be brushed several times per week. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog requires regular nail trims. These should occur at least once per month to maintain optimal foot health. Regular dental care and ear cleaning is also an important part of the keeping this dog breed healthy and well. 

Bathing should occur on an as needed basis. 

The breed can be prone to weight gain If overfed. To prevent this from occurring, all food intake should be measured and carefully monitored. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a heavy drooler.

Bernese Mountain Dog Training

  • Loves to train and learn

  • Highly sensitive

  • Will wander if given opportunity


The Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed that is naturally aloof, benefits from early socialization and training classes. The breed enjoys working with its owner and is amenable to learning. An intelligent breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog can easily learn the basic obedience commands in as little as a month with concentrated effort and practice. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a highly sensitive pooch. Harsh words wound the spirit of this dog. For best results when training, positive reinforcement techniques based on praise and rewards are recommended. 

Bernese Mountain Dogs can be extremely mouthy and should be taught at a young age that nipping is not acceptable. This is best achieved through redirecting the dog’s mouth to something more appropriate such as a bone, toy, or ball whenever the dog attempts to nip or bite. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is highly prey-driven and will wander when given any opportunity to do so. For this reason, a securely fenced yard is an absolute must for this breed. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog can be quite vocal. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Exercise Requirements

  • Loves to train and learn

  • Highly sensitive

  • Will wander if given opportunity


The Bernese Mountain Dog has relatively high activity requirements and requires at least 30 minutes of daily activity to remain physically and mentally content. 

Berners particularly enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. However, this dog breed is very sensitive and should dwell inside with its family. 

Among the Bernese Mountain Dog’s favourite activities are hiking, jogging, camping, and walking. Bernese Mountain Dogs also excel at many different dog performance sports including carting, drafting, agility, herding, obedience, Rally, and even tracking. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very playful pooch that takes great pleasure in having fun with its family; whether it is in active pursuits or simply playing ball or fetch in the yard. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Adjustments should be made according to activity level


To ensure the Bernese Mountain Dog’s nutritional needs are properly met, it is always an excellent idea to consult the advice of a veterinarian. In general, the breed does exceptionally well on a high-quality diet that is properly balanced to meet the needs of a large breed dog

Puppies should eat a puppy food that is formulated with the needs of a large breed pup in mind. This type of food will help to support the puppy’s critical developmental periods. In like fashion, adult dogs should be fed an adult food which carefully addresses all of their unique needs. 

To determine how much food to feed the Bernese Mountain Dog, it is an excellent starting point to review the suggested serving sizes printed on the bag of food. This will serve as a guideline but must be adjusted to reflect the precise activity level of the dog. The dog’s appetite and weight can be helpful guides in identifying appropriate meal sizes and frequency

The Bernese Mountain Dog enjoys eating, so care must be taken that the dog does not become overweight

You may also be interested in:

Bernese Mountain Dog Rescue Groups


For more information about Bernese Mountain Dogs available for adoption near you, we recommend the following comprehensive resource:

Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America