Bernese Mountain Dog History and Breed Characteristics
The Bernese Mountain Dog made his first appearance in the UK in the mid 1930s but did not become established until the 1970s. He made a terrific impact in the decades following his re-introduction with his glorious coal black, rich tan and white coat, together with a relaxed and good-natured approach to life.
The Bernese Mountain Dog developed in Switzerland as a draught dog, used by the weavers of the city of Berne to draw carts and a pet Bernese, properly introduced, will still enjoy pulling a light cart. The Bernese Mountain Dog developed with the Roman invasion of Central Europe some 2,000 years ago when they brought with them mastiff-type breeds as guards. These would have bred with the indigenous pastoral breeds and eventually the striking type that is the forerunner of the present Bernese Mountain Dog evolved and an agreed standard developed. The Swiss Bernese Mountain Dog breed club was established in 1907 and the Bernese was given Championship status in the UK in 1977.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is of considerable substance, the dogs up to about 70cm in height, but broadly built with a lot of strength in the forequarters and weighing as much as 100lbs, with plenty of bone. Because of their size and the considerable amount of growth they make in a fairly short period great care should be taken with their rearing. A responsible breeder will give you clear guidelines and diet advice and these should be adhered to. Be careful about stress being placed on growing joints; do not let them jump out of 4WD (SUV) – try and train them to a ramp from an early age as the concussion from jumping puts a lot of strain on their fronts.
They are susceptible to Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia and this should be kept in mind during their growing period. Breeding animals should be screened under the KC Schemes and you should be shown evidence that they have good enough scores. A distressingly high percentage develop cancerous tumours, and this is probably one breed where veterinary insurance is more or less essential.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a single coat pattern, the refinements are the size and amount of white. There should be slight to medium blaze on the head and a cross on the chest. White paws and a tip to the tail are preferred but not essential.
They are a wonderful family dog but do need a firm hand; during puberty bitches can become a little spooky, but this passes. As a large dog it should be remembered that what is engaging behaviour in a puppy is totally unacceptable in an adult; lead training should begin early and good behaviour enforced and any mouthiness gently but firmly discouraged. The Bernese is biddable and easily trained, so make clear what your expectations are, insist on his adhering to them and be consistent.
The coat is fairly easy except when they are moulting when a thorough daily groom is essential; boiled linseed oil in the feed will really bring out the shine in his dramatic coat. A slicker brush or rake is useful during the moulting period, otherwise a pin brush will keep him smart.
- BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG CLUB OF GB
- BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG CLUB OF SCOTLAND Mrs Wilson 01698 860298
- NORTHERN BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG CLUB Mr Ratcliffe 01204 578775
- SOUTHERN BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG CLUB Mrs I Soper 01825 872251
Rescue and Rehoming
In the unfortunate event you need to re-home your dog, or you are looking to give a home to an older dog, contact the Breed Clubs for their assistance. It is always wise to speak to people who are expert in the breed so you can get the best possible help.