Bernese Mountain Dog breed: from shepherd to perfect family dog

László Enikő

2023. November 14 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very good-natured and friendly companion. Thanks to his popularity, he now rests in the warmth of family homes instead of the cold Alpine mountains.


A really loyal, family-oriented breed. Free of aggression, so absolutely recommended for small children. His huge teddy bear stature hides an extremely sensitive, kind heart. Previously his main job was herding and pulling, but he also became known as a milk cart puller: he had no problem hauling up to 500 kilos of goods.

He used to pull milk wagons.


It comes from Bern in the Swiss Alps, hence its name. Of the four Alpine dog breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the most popular. It was formerly known as the Dürrbach dog, after a boarding house where dogs of this type were often found. He was bred to be a real working dog, which is still evident today, he loves to work. It is thought to be over 2000 years old, but was not officially registered as a breed until 1907.

It originally lived on farms where it was kept for herding and guarding, but it was also highly valued for its performance in draught work. Two dogs could pull a whole family on a cart. After the industrial revolution, there was no need for such work, people’s transport habits had changed and the Alpine shepherd dog no longer had to pull milk wagons. This put the breed in danger, but in the early 19th century it was rescued and registered, and its popularity rose again.

A popular family dog these days.

Breed standard

Its characteristic tricolour coat is long and black, interspersed with white and tan markings. When breeding, care should be taken to achieve as symmetrical a pattern as possible. Depending on sex, the weight ranges from 35 to 50 kg. Mares should ideally be 58-68 cm tall, but larger specimens may be found. The medium sized ears are triangular with slightly rounded tips and are close to the head. The eyes are almond-shaped and dark brown, the blue colour, however distinctive and beautiful, is a fault. His legs are extremely strong, muscular and his movements are balanced. The tail is covered with thick fur. Life expectancy 6-10 years.

For exhibitions, a more symmetrical design is ideal.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a fantastically kind, loving and loyal companion. Excellent dog for a family. He loves children, he is not aggressive at all. Therefore, he is only suitable for house patrol because of his large stature, but he is unlikely to catch an intruder in the neck. He likes to have something to do, to be occupied, but he also likes to relax on the terrace. He gets on well with other pets and will treat strangers exactly as his owner does. Consistent education is very important to him. He is a popular entrant in carting competitions to this day.

We talk a lot about how important it is to buy from responsible breeders, and if we can, we try to introduce you to such. Two litters of Bernese Mountain Dogs were born in the Jacks&Bears kennel in October, whose puppies are the offspring of award-winning parents. You can get detailed information about the little ones here.

Raising puppies correctly is very important.

Ideal environment

It is most at home in a garden house, because of its huge stature. A good companion for all ages. Likes to be the centre of attention, but never ostentatious. He is great with children and loves to play with them. He adapts to almost any lifestyle, whether it be relaxed or active. In the Swiss Alps, he has coped with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius, a typical winter breed who loves the cold. In summer, it has a harder time with the heat.

The Bernese Mountain Dog tolerates cold weather well.


The coat should never be clipped, but it should be combed regularly, preferably twice a week, which is something you should get him used to as a puppy. He sheds twice a year. His winter coat is much thicker and warmer than his lighter summer coat.

Common health problems

Cancers, which are typical of large dogs, are not unknown in the Bernese Mountain Dog. In summer, be sure to protect his black, furry head from heatstroke. Care should be taken to prevent obesity, but this can easily be avoided with proper exercise and feeding. Joint problems are relatively common. It is therefore important to always buy from a breeder who can screen out susceptible individuals.

Bernese shepherd dog large dog shepherd dogs species description

Related articles

More articles