Bernese mountain dog facts for kids
These dogs are tricolour, which means their coat of fur is made up of three colors: black, white, and tan. They are gentle, loyal, and good with children. Bernese Mountain Dogs are very large dogs, weighing from 70 to 120 pounds (32 to 54 kilograms) as adults. They were first used to pull carts and worked as all-around farm dogs.
Like the other Sennenhunde, the Bernese mountain dog is a large, heavy dog with a distinctive tri-colored coat, black with white chest and rust colored markings above eyes, sides of mouth, front of legs, and a small amount around the white chest. An ideal of a perfectly marked individual gives the impression of a white horseshoe shape around the nose and a white “Swiss cross” on the chest, when viewed from the front. A “Swiss kiss” is a white mark located typically behind the neck, but may be a part of the neck. A full ring would not meet type standard. The AKC breed standard lists, as disqualifications, blue eye color, and any ground color other than black.
Height and weight ranges
Height at the withers is 24–28 in (61–71 cm) for males, while it is 22–26 in (56–66 cm) for females. Weight is 80–120 lb (35–55 kg) for males, while it is 70–110 lb (30–50 kg) for females.
Build and proportions
The Bernese mountain dog is slightly longer than it is tall, and it is highly muscular.
Other physical traits
The head of the Bernese mountain dog is flat on the top with a moderate stop, and the ears are medium-sized, triangular, set high, and rounded at the top. The teeth have a scissors bite. The legs of the Bernese are straight and strong, with round, arched toes. The dewclaws of the Bernese are often removed. Its bushy tail is carried low.
The breed standard for the Bernese mountain dog states that dogs should not be "aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy", but rather should be "good-natured", "self-assured", "placid towards strangers", and "docile". The temperament of individual dogs may vary, and not all examples of the breed have been bred carefully to follow the standard. All large breed dogs should be well socialized when they are puppies, and given regular training and activities throughout their lives.
Bernese are outdoor dogs at heart, though well-behaved in the house; they need activity and exercise, but do not have a great deal of endurance. They can move with amazing bursts of speed for their size when motivated. If they are sound (no problems with their hips, elbows, or other joints), they enjoy hiking and generally stick close to their people. Not being given the adequate amount of exercise may lead to barking and harassing in the Bernese.
Bernese mountain dogs are a breed that generally does well with children, as they are very affectionate. They are patient dogs that take well to children climbing over them. Though they have great energy, a Bernese will also be happy with a calm evening.
Bernese work well with other pets and around strangers. They are excellent guardians. They tend to bond with one owner, and are somewhat aloof and 'standoffish.'
Historically, in some locales at least, the breed was called a Dürrbachhund. The dogs have roots in the Roman Molosser breeds.
The breed was used as an all purpose farm dog for guarding property and to drive dairy cattle long distances from the farm to the alpine pastures. The type was originally called the Dürrbächler, for a small town (Dürrbach) where the large dogs were especially frequent. In the early 1900s, fanciers exhibited the few examples of the large dogs at shows in Berne, and in 1907 a few breeders from the Burgdorf region founded the first breed club, the Schweizerische Dürrbach-Klub, and wrote the first Standard which defined the dogs as a separate breed. By 1910, there were already 107 registered members of the breed. There is a photo of a working Bernese Mountain Dog, dated 1905 at the Fumee Fall rest area in Quinnesec, MI.
In the US, the Bernese Mountain Dog is growing in popularity, ranking in 32nd place by the American Kennel Club in 2013.
These dogs are very popular as family dogs in German-speaking countries, where they are among the most popular dog breeds (for example, the German Association of Dog Breeders listed the Bernese at the 11th rank per live births in 2014).
Compared to breeds of similar size as well as purebred dogs in general, the Bernese is one of the short-lived dog breeds. The average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog is approximately 7 to 8 years. Most other breeds of a similar size have median longevities of 10–11 years. In a 2004 UK survey, the longest-lived of 394 deceased Bernese Mountain Dogs died at the age of 15.2 years.
The Bernese's calm temperament makes them a natural for pulling small carts or wagons, a task they originally performed in Switzerland. With proper training they enjoy giving children rides in a cart or participating in a parade, such as the Conway, New Hampshire holiday parade. Regional Bernese clubs often offer carting workshops. Carting competitions are held for the breed.
On July 1, 2010, the Bernese Mountain Dog became eligible to compete in AKC Herding Events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Berners exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.
Bernese Mountain Dogs shed year-round, and the heaviest shedding is during seasonal changes. Usually the Bernese will only require a brushing once a week, with more in spring and fall, to keep its coat neat and reduce the amount of fur on the floor and furniture. The Bernese will only require a bath about once every couple of months or so, depending on how high its activity level is and how often it spends its time in the dirt.
Special attention should be paid to the ears of the Bernese Mountain Dog, as they can trap bacteria, dirt, and liquid. The risk of an ear infection drops with weekly ear cleanings using a veterinarian-recommended cleanser.
Notable Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Hercules is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's dog that he brought home from the Emmental region of Switzerland during a 2006 weeklong trip to discover his family's roots in the country.
- Sasha was a Bernese Mountain Dog that followed a goat off of a cliff and managed to survive the fall as well as three days on an ice shelf waiting for rescue.
- A Bernese Mountain Dog character named Shep was voiced by Carl Reiner in the 2003 movie Good Boy!
- The characters Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) in the 2012 TV series The New Normal own two Bernese Mountain Dogs named "Smelly" and "Harvey Milkbone".
- Hola, the titular dog in Martin Kihn's memoir Bad Dog: A Love Story, is a Bernese Mountain Dog.
- Ohly was a Bernese Mountain Dog who achieved notoriety in Canada after disappearing and then being found on Mount Seymour in a dangerous area known as "Suicide Gulley." Members of North Shore Rescue, a local mountain rescue team, tracked, located and rescued Ohly.
- Quincey von Wiesmadern, has appeared in various videos with Hansi Hinterseer, an Austrian singer, entertainer and former member of the Austrian Ski Team.
- Hannah is the real-life inspiration for the protagonist of children's books such as A Beach Day for Hannah and A Snow Day for Hannah by Linda Petrie Bunch.
- Argus and Fiona were two Bernese mountain dogs that were shot and killed when they entered a neighbor's yard. The neighbor who shot the dogs admits that he was overreacting. A Pennsylvania state law states that humans are free to kill animals attacking domestic animals. The man feared a possible attack on his sheep, who were in their fenced off grazing area. Attacks on a neighbor's farm had taken place and resulted in the death of several animals sometime the previous year, although the type of dog who ruthlessly attacked those animals was not a Bernese. However, since no attack was in progress at the time of the shooting, the shooter was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals and one count of recklessly endangering another person, the latter a result of there being a house within the possible line of fire. There were no residents at home at the time of the shooting. On September 11, 2013, the shooter was convicted on two counts of animal cruelty. He faces up to five years in jail for each count.
- Nico (2015), a recently adopted Bernese mountain dog, became a hero when he saved two people who were being swept out into the ocean by a California rip current.
- Bella saved owner Chris Larocque from burning house by pulling him. The owner had reduced mobility because he was suffering from injuries and says that he would have died without Bella's help.
Bernese mountain dog Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.