Bernese Mountain Dogs have large and sturdy frames with long, silky, tri-color coats. Their broad heads have furrowed brows, dark and friendly eyes, straight muzzles, dark noses and hanging ears. They have strong necks that slope down to deep chests, and their straight backs lead to bushy, low-hanging tails. Their long, sometimes wavy coats are black with white and brown markings. Overall, Bernese Mountain Dogs combine strength and agility with a keen watchfulness.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, gentle companions. As puppies, they may seem a little rambunctious. By adulthood they become mellower and more easygoing. They have a tough, working dog exterior, but they truly love being at home, surrounded by family and friends. They are wonderful companions to children and sometimes take other pets (even cats) under their care. Bernese Mountain Dogs also have a sweet sensitivity that is especially endearing.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are very loyal. They can become so attached to their masters that they have a hard time making the switch to a new family. Bernese are obedient, smart, curious and eager to please. They are dependable but levelheaded (non-aggressive) guardians.
Bernese love to hang out at home, but they need a vigorous walk every day. Due to their thick coats, they should not be pushed too hard on hot days. They can also get very busy in the yard.
A healthy Bernese Mountain Dog can live as long as 10 years, but the average age is 8. Common health issues include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and eye problems. Several years ago, the Bernese Mountain Club of America did a health survey that found cancer to be a major problem with the breed.
Grooming is fairly straightforward with this breed: Brush them daily or every few days, especially during their shedding seasons, which can be heavy.
The Bernese Mountain Dog—named after the Swiss state of Berne—is one of four standard Swiss mountain dogs. It is similar to the other three (the Appenzeller Sennenhund, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Entlebucher Sennenhund) except for its long, smooth coat. For centuries, these dogs have worked on farms in Switzerland, guarding property and pulling carts. They were introduced to the U.S. in the mid 1920s and have been popular pets and competitors ever since.