Bernese Mountain Dog

Table of Contents

The Bernese Mountain Dog, originating from the Swiss Alps, is a large, striking breed known for its gentle and friendly nature. They have a distinctive tri-colored coat that’s long, silky, and predominantly black with white and rust markings. Standing 25-28 inches at the shoulder for males, they are robust and powerful, yet their expression is soft and affectionate.

In temperament, Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their loyalty, calmness, and affectionate nature, making them excellent family companions. They are particularly good with children and display a patient, gentle demeanor. This breed requires regular exercise and thrives on being involved in family activities, requiring consistent, positive training and socialization from a young age. Despite their large size, they have a moderate energy level and are adaptable to various living environments, provided they have enough space to move around comfortably.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

7 to 10 years


Extra Large

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

Bernese Mountain Dogs are best for families seeking a gentle, affectionate companion, as they are known for their patience and good nature with children. They thrive in environments where they can be involved in family activities and require space for regular exercise. Their friendly disposition makes them suitable for homes with ample space and for owners willing to commit to regular grooming and moderate exercise.

Bernese Mountain Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, affectionate breed known for its striking tri-colored coat and gentle, friendly temperament. They are intelligent, eager to please, and great with children, making them excellent family pets. Despite their size, they have a calm demeanor but require regular exercise and grooming to maintain their health and beautiful coat.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Bernese Mountain Dog boasts a majestic and sturdy appearance, characterized by its large size, strong build, and distinctive tri-colored coat of black, white, and rust. They have a gentle expression, with dark, almond-shaped eyes and a medium-length, silky coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its luster and health.

1. Ears
Their gently rounded, triangular ears hang close to the head when relaxed. When something catches the Berner’s attention, they bring their ears forward attentively.
2. Eyes
The Berner’s intelligent, oval-shaped eyes are typically brown. In rare cases, their eyes might be blue, but this is not standard.
3. Nose
The Bernese Mountain Dog’s nose is always black and prominently displayed on a straight snout.
4. Height
Male: 25-27.5 inches
Female: 23-26 inches
5. Coat Length
The Bernese Mountain Dog’s medium-length, thick, double coat can be wavy or straight, with a healthy shine.
6. Coat Color
Berners have a distinctive tri-colored coat (including the colors black, white and rust). They have white on their chest, muzzle and the tips of their tails. They sometimes have white on their feet, too.
7. Tail
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a bushy tail that they sometimes carry higher when alert. They carry their tails low when they’re relaxed.
8. Weight
Male: 80-115 lbs
Female: 70-95 lbs

Bernese Mountain Temperament

The Bernese Mountain Dog is renowned for its amiable and gentle temperament, making it a beloved companion for families. These dogs exude a warm and friendly demeanor, often showing an affinity for children with their patient and nurturing nature. Despite their large size, they are known for their calm and composed behavior indoors, embodying a serene presence that balances well with their robust stature. This breed thrives on companionship, preferring to be close to their human family members and often displaying signs of distress when left alone for extended periods.

Intelligent and eager to please, Bernese Mountain Dogs respond well to positive reinforcement training. They are not known for being overly assertive or aggressive, making them well-suited for first-time dog owners. However, due to their size and strength, early socialization and consistent training are important to ensure they are well-behaved and manageable. These dogs also exhibit a playful side, enjoying outdoor activities and being part of family outings. Their loyalty and affectionate nature make them not just pets, but integral members of the family unit.

In essence, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s temperament is characterized by its affection, loyalty, and gentleness, coupled with a desire to be an active participant in family life. Their amiable nature makes them excellent companions, while their intelligence and eagerness to learn make training a rewarding experience. This breed’s blend of serene disposition and playful energy makes them a cherished companion for those who can provide them with the love, attention, and activity they need.

How to Care for a Bernese Mountain

Caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog involves regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness, consistent grooming to manage their thick, long coat, and plenty of social interaction, as they thrive on companionship. These dogs also benefit from early socialization and training to harness their intelligence and eagerness to please, and due to their large size, monitoring their diet and weight is crucial to prevent health issues.

Grooming a Bernese Mountain Dog requires regular attention due to their thick, long coat:

  1. Brushing: Frequent brushing, at least a few times a week, is necessary to prevent matting and to manage shedding. During shedding seasons, daily brushing may be required.

  2. Bathing: Bathe them as needed, typically every few months, using a dog-specific shampoo to keep their coat clean and maintain skin health.

  3. Nail Trimming: Regular nail trimming is important to prevent discomfort and maintain good foot health. Check and trim their nails every few weeks.

  4. Ear Cleaning: Clean their ears regularly to prevent wax buildup and infections, especially since they have pendant ears.

  5. Dental Care: Regular dental care, including teeth brushing and dental chews, is essential to prevent dental diseases.

  6. Paw Care: Check and clean their paws regularly, particularly after outdoor activities, to remove debris and prevent irritation.

Proper grooming not only keeps a Bernese Mountain Dog looking good but also promotes overall health and provides an opportunity to check for any signs of health issues.

Training a Bernese Mountain Dog effectively involves understanding their temperament and characteristics:

  1. Start Early: Begin training and socialization at a young age. Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent and learn quickly, but their large size makes early training essential for manageable behavior.

  2. Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques like treats, praise, and play. They respond well to a gentle approach and are eager to please, making harsh methods unnecessary and counterproductive.

  3. Consistency is Key: Consistency in commands and expectations helps them understand what is expected. Despite their laid-back nature, they need to understand boundaries and rules.

  4. Socialization: Extensive socialization is crucial for this breed. Expose them to different people, animals, and environments to develop a well-rounded temperament.

  5. Patience and Persistence: Training should be patient and persistent. While they are quick learners, they can sometimes be stubborn.

  6. Leash Training: Given their size and strength, effective leash training is important to ensure walks are enjoyable and safe.

  7. Mental Stimulation: Include mental stimulation in their training regimen, such as obedience training, puzzle toys, and problem-solving activities, to keep their minds active.

  8. Basic Commands: Focus on basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. These are essential for their safety and for managing their size in various settings.

Remember, every Bernese Mountain Dog is an individual, and training should be adapted to fit their unique personality and learning style. Regular, enjoyable training sessions will strengthen your bond and ensure a well-behaved companion.

Caring for the diet and nutrition of a Bernese Mountain Dog involves several important considerations:

  1. Balanced Diet: Provide a well-balanced diet suitable for large breeds. High-quality commercial dog food, specifically formulated for large breeds with appropriate protein and fat levels, is a good choice. Consult with a veterinarian to ensure the diet meets their nutritional needs.

  2. Portion Control: Monitor their food intake to prevent obesity, a common issue in large breeds. Follow feeding guidelines based on their age, weight, and activity level, adjusting portions as necessary.

  3. Consistent Feeding Schedule: Establish a regular feeding schedule, usually two meals a day for adult dogs, to aid in digestion and weight management.

  4. Treats in Moderation: Treats should be given sparingly and accounted for in their total calorie intake. Opt for healthy treat options.

  5. Fresh Water Availability: Ensure that fresh, clean water is available at all times.

  6. Special Dietary Needs: Be aware of any specific dietary requirements or sensitivities your Bernese Mountain Dog may have. Some may require special diets due to health issues or food allergies.

  7. Regular Weight Monitoring: Keep an eye on their weight and adjust their diet as needed. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help monitor their weight and overall health.

Each dog’s nutritional needs can vary, so it’s important to tailor their diet to their specific health status, activity level, and age. Regular consultations with a veterinarian can help ensure they are receiving optimal nutrition.

Caring for the exercise needs of a Bernese Mountain Dog involves balancing their physical activity to maintain their health and well-being:

  1. Regular Exercise: Despite their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a moderate energy level. Daily walks, play sessions, and some free time in a secure area are important for their physical and mental health.

  2. Mental Stimulation: They are intelligent dogs and benefit from mental stimulation. Training exercises, interactive toys, and games that challenge their minds are beneficial.

  3. Avoid Overexertion: As a breed prone to joint issues like hip dysplasia, avoid high-impact activities, especially during their rapid growth phase as puppies.

  4. Outdoor Activities: They enjoy outdoor activities and can be good companions for hiking and other moderate outdoor sports, keeping in mind not to overexert them.

  5. Climate Consideration: With their thick coat, they can overheat in hot weather, so exercise should be adjusted accordingly. They are well-suited for cooler climates.

  6. Consistency: A consistent exercise routine helps maintain their physical health and manage potential behavioral issues.

  7. Socialization Through Exercise: Group walks or playdates with other dogs can be beneficial for socialization, but interactions should always be supervised.

Regular exercise tailored to their size and energy level is essential for keeping a Bernese Mountain Dog healthy and happy. It’s important to balance their need for physical activity with their risk of joint problems, providing them with a healthy and enjoyable exercise routine.

Creating an ideal environment for a Bernese Mountain Dog involves considering their specific breed needs:

  1. Spacious Living Area: While they are adaptable to various living situations, Bernese Mountain Dogs benefit from having enough space due to their large size. A home with a yard where they can roam and play is ideal.

  2. Indoor Family Time: They thrive on companionship and should live indoors with their family, not isolated outside. These dogs are happiest when they’re part of daily family activities.

  3. Regular Exercise: Ensure they have access to daily exercise, which is essential for their physical health and mental well-being. This includes walks, playtime, and opportunities to roam in a safe, enclosed area.

  4. Mental Enrichment: Provide mental stimulation through toys, training, and interactive games. Their intelligence means they enjoy and benefit from mental challenges.

  5. Climate Consideration: Their thick coat makes them well-suited for cooler climates. In warmer climates, provide them with a cool, shaded area and avoid excessive exercise in the heat to prevent overheating.

  6. Comfortable Resting Area: They should have a comfortable place inside the house to rest and sleep, away from drafts and too much noise.

  7. Safe and Secure Environment: Given their size and strength, a secure environment is important to prevent them from accidentally getting out and to protect them from hazards.

By considering these factors, you can create a living environment that caters to a Bernese Mountain Dog’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, ensuring they are a happy and healthy companion.

Bernese Mountain Health

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a generally healthy breed but is prone to certain health issues typical of large breeds. Being aware of these conditions can help in providing appropriate care:

  1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: This is a common genetic condition in large breeds where the hip or elbow joint doesn’t develop properly, which can lead to arthritis. Regular vet check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

  2. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): Like many large breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and twists. Owners should be aware of the symptoms and seek immediate veterinary care if they suspect bloat.

  3. Cancer: Unfortunately, this breed has a higher risk of certain types of cancer, including malignant histiocytosis, which is one of the leading causes of death in Bernese Mountain Dogs.

  4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An eye condition that can lead to blindness, regular eye exams are recommended to detect any problems early.

  5. Degenerative Myelopathy: A neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis. There is a genetic test available to identify carriers of the gene that causes this condition.

  6. Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding from minor injuries.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise are key in maintaining a Bernese Mountain Dog’s health. Being aware of these common health issues and seeking prompt veterinary care can help ensure a long, healthy life for these dogs.

Bernese Mountain Breed Comparison and Consideration

When considering a Bernese Mountain Dog in comparison to other breeds, it’s important to understand their unique characteristics and how they might fit into your lifestyle. Here’s a brief comparison with some popular breeds:

Bernese Mountain Dog vs. Labrador Retrievers:

  • Labradors are more adaptable to various environments and have a higher energy level. They are known for their outgoing and friendly nature.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs, with their calm and gentle temperament, are better suited for families who prefer a more laid-back companion. They also require more grooming due to their long coat.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs. German Shepherds:

  • German Shepherds are highly active and typically used in working roles due to their high trainability and energy.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are more relaxed and suited to companionship roles, with lower energy levels but still requiring regular exercise.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs. Golden Retrievers:

  • Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly, easygoing nature and are generally more active and require more exercise.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are similar in their friendly disposition but are larger, have a thicker coat, and are more laid-back.

Bernese Mountain Dog vs. Saint Bernards:

  • Saint Bernards are larger and have a similar calm demeanor. They are both breeds with a history in the Swiss Alps.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs are more agile and have a longer lifespan compared to Saint Bernards.

Considerations for Choosing a Bernese Mountain Dog:

  • Ideal for families looking for a calm, affectionate dog that is good with children and other pets.
  • Requires space for exercise and is better suited for homes with yards.
  • Needs regular grooming due to their thick coat.
  • Owners should be aware of health issues specific to the breed, including a shorter lifespan than some other breeds.

In summary, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a loyal, gentle giant well-suited to families and those who can provide the space, exercise, and care they need. Their friendly nature and striking appearance make them a beloved breed, but potential owners should consider their grooming needs and health considerations.


Bernese Mountain Dogs generally have a shorter lifespan than some other large breeds, typically ranging from 7 to 10 years.

Due to their thick, long coat, they are not considered hypoallergenic and may not be the best choice for people with allergies.

Their thick coat is more suited to cooler climates, and they can struggle in hot weather. It’s important to provide them with shade, air conditioning, and fresh water during warm weather.

They require moderate exercise, like daily walks and playtime, to stay healthy and happy.

They are known for being intelligent and eager to please, which generally makes them easy to train. However, early socialization and consistent, positive training methods are important.

Due to their size and exercise needs, they are better suited to homes with more space, such as a house with a yard.

They are typically good with other pets, especially if raised with them, but like any dog, individual temperaments can vary.

They are prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, bloat, and cancer.

Yes, they shed quite a bit, especially during shedding seasons. Regular grooming is necessary to manage their shedding.

Top Takeaways

When considering a Bernese Mountain Dog, here are the top takeaways:

  1. Gentle and Affectionate: Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their calm, gentle, and affectionate nature, making them excellent family pets, particularly good with children.

  2. Large Size with Moderate Exercise Needs: They are a large breed requiring space to move comfortably, but their exercise needs are moderate, consisting of daily walks and playtime.

  3. Significant Grooming Requirements: Their thick, long coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and manage shedding, especially during seasonal changes.

  4. Friendly but Alert: While they are generally friendly and sociable, they can be alert and protective of their family, making them good companions but not typically aggressive watchdogs.

  5. Health Considerations: Potential owners should be aware of the breed’s health issues, including hip dysplasia, bloat, and a higher risk of certain cancers. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential.

  6. Shorter Lifespan for a Large Breed: Their lifespan is shorter compared to some large breeds, usually around 7 to 10 years.

  7. Training and Socialization: They are intelligent and respond well to training. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training are important for their well-being.

  8. Adaptable to Various Environments: While they thrive in homes with yards, they can adapt to different living environments if their exercise needs are met.

  9. Not Ideal for Hot Climates: Their thick coat makes them more suited to cooler climates, and they can struggle in hot weather.

  10. Companionable Nature: They thrive on companionship and do best in environments where they can be involved in family activities.

In summary, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a loving, gentle giant suitable for families and individuals who can meet their exercise, grooming, and health care needs. Their friendly demeanor and beautiful appearance make them a popular breed, but their size and potential health issues are important considerations for potential owners.

Top Bernese Mountain Names

These names capture various aspects of the Bernese Mountain Dog’s personality, from their strength and majesty to their gentle and companionable nature.

Female Names











Male Names











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