Bernese Mountain Dog
Let's take a look at the Bernese Mountain Dog or "Berner", by the numbers.
By all measure, this is a large category breed. The male's height ranges from 24 to 28 inches or 61 to 71 cm. It's weight tends to range from 85 to 110 pounds or 38 to 50 kg. The female, on the other hand, typically stands between 23 to 27 inches or 58 to 69 cm., just very slightly smaller than the male. Her weight ranges from 80 to 105 pounds or 36 to 48 kg. Again, just slightly smaller.
You can expect this breed to survive approximately 6 to 8 years. There is some debate about this though. Originally, life expectancy was 10 to 12 years but due to health considerations, which we'll address later, the numbers were reduced. A relatively recent and credible study of the subject determined that the actual life expectancy of the Bernese Mountain Dog was 7.2 years.
The litter size is typically 8 pups although this can vary significantly, ranging to as high as 14 pups.
It should be no surprise that this breed can be traced to the mountain areas of Switzerland. In fact, their name is derived from the Canton or State of Switzerland called Bern. But it is speculated that their true origin dates to the Roman occupation of the region, thousands of years ago. From what is known of the breed's development, not much attention, if any was given to serious pure breeding until the early 1900's. It wasn't until the late 1930's that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The breed's coloring consists of basic black with brownish/rust colored cheeks, part of the chest, on all legs and under the tail. In addition, it has white on it's head, paws, chest and tail.
As mentioned earlier, this is a large dog, but can be very active and need regular exercise. Because of their size and temperament, small living quarters are not recommended. Give them space.
Their original use was for drafting, carting, tracking and general farm hand so the breed is conditioned to be useful. Mostly for this reason, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs to be with people without being left alone for long periods of time. It is also important, as with most dogs, that they come to know their owners as the alpha component in the relationship. They need a framework of clearly defined rules, conveyed early in their training process, which in turn, produces a cheerful and well balanced companion. Their intelligence can make the training must easier and effective as long as the owner is firm with the dog, without being overly dominant. This can also lead to a dog that is comfortable with young children and other animals for that matter. A caution is that no child should be left alone with a dog or any animal capable of harm; just common sense.
The breed suffers from ailments associated with most larger dogs, such a dysplasia in various parts of the body (hips particularly), some arthritis and allergies. Cancer seems to have become a particular problem for the breed, to the extent of shortening it's lifespan and sadly, taking some quite early in their lives.
The Berner is a shedder and seasonally heavy so regular grooming is not only a great bonding exercise but will lessen the shedding issue or at least make it easier to deal with.
With respect to the bonding experience with the Bernese Mountain Dog, this breed has an upbeat personality that requires a relationship with it's owner that is firm but loving. Positive re-enforcement, within clear boundaries, lots of room to run and play combined with long walks and regular grooming will ensure that you will enjoy a wonderful companion for many years.
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