Bernese Mountain Dogs: The Gentle Giants

 Tuesday Oct 19,2021
By  Lancaster Puppies

Bernese Mountain Dogs are a large, beautiful breed with a sweet disposition. Originally bred to be farm dogs, they are now sought after as one of the most gentle companion dogs. 

History of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Lancaster Puppies' Bernese Mountain Dog breed spotlight infographic: kid friendly, affectionate, easily trained, good with other dogs, good at dog sports

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of four Swiss mountain dog breeds, along with the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. This area was essential in the dairy production necessary for Switzerland’s chocolate and cheese exports and features over 12,000 farms. Having a dog on the farm was a necessity to help with herding and guarding livestock, and Bernese Mountain Dogs were very popular in this region. They even served as drafting dogs with their muscular and sturdy build. 

Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs are still used in a working capacity but are more commonly seen as family dogs due to their gentle and sweet nature. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics

Appearance and Coat

Bernese Mountain Dogs are a large and sturdy breed. They stand approximately 23”-27.5” at the shoulder, and weigh 70-115 lbs. depending on their gender. 

They are most known for their beautiful tri-color coat that features black, white, and brown colorings. Their chests, paws, and faces are accented by white, and their legs and faces feature brown colorings. Their coat is wavy, dense, and sheds year round. They have gentle brown eyes that are full of life and very expressive. Females tend to be slimmer, and males are wider and more masculine. They stand tall and proud, which combined with their beautiful coat gives them a regal appearance. 


Bernese Mountain Dogs have one of the most desirable personalities in the dog world. They are intelligent, affectionate, and gentle. They are often included in lists of dog breeds that are best with children because of their gentle and playful nature. Their intelligence and calm nature make training a breeze, and they love learning tricks to please their owners. They can be hesitant around strangers, so early socialization with people is encouraged. They are protective of their families but do not get aggressive. 


Bernese Mountain Dogs are typically a healthy breed but should be screened for things like hip dysplasia, blood disorders, and retinal atrophy. Some health issues that Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to include:

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia: Canine Hip Dysplasia occurs when the head of the femur bone isn’t connecting with the hip socket correctly. This is hereditary in Bernese Mountain Dogs, and they should be screened as puppies so they can be treated as soon as possible. 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a hereditary condition that causes the retina to degenerate and can cause impaired vision and blindness. This can begin occurring as early as 3-4 months, but more commonly occurs around 3-5 years. 
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: Von Willebrand’s Disease is a hereditary blood clotting disorder that causes excessive bleeding even from the smallest cuts. There is no cure, but you can test your dog’s DNA to diagnose it. This diagnosis is especially important if your dog requires any type of surgery. 

While the Bernese Mountain Dog is typically healthy, they have a lower lifespan of 7-10 years. 

Caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog

A Bernese Mountain Dog’s Ideal Home

Did you know the Bernese Mountain Dog is one of four mountain dogs originating in Switzerland but the only one with long furBecause of their size and herding background, Bernese Mountain Dogs should live in a larger home with a fenced-in yard. They make great family dogs and are legendary for their ability to get along with children. They do not require as much physical activity as other large breeds but do best in an active household that enjoys walking and hiking. 

Training a Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent and calm which makes them very receptive to training. They are eager to please their owners, so positive reinforcement is a great tool during obedience training. Bernese Mountain Dogs love to show their affection, so training them not to jump up on people when they are puppies is encouraged. 


Bernese Mountain Dogs should receive at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to remain happy and healthy. They love outdoor activities and make great companions for hikes and long walks. They love playtime with their owners and make great playmates for children. 

Grooming and Hygiene

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a longer outer coat and a woolly undercoat. They shed a fair amount year-round, and it increases during shedding season. Their coat should be brushed weekly to prevent matting and to keep them looking their best. Like all breeds, their nails should be clipped regularly. 

Are you ready to bring home your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy? Browse puppies on Lancaster Puppies today!