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The Bernese Mountain Dog

December 1 2022

Did you know December 11th is International Mountain Day?Many of our canine friends originated in mountain environments! However, when it comes to mountain dogs, one breed stands head and shoulders above the rest … literally. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very good boy … and a very big boy. A veterinarian discusses this giant pooch below.


The Bernese is one of four types of Swiss Mountain Dogs, or Sennenhunds, the others being the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Appenzeller Mountain Dog. (Fun fact: Fido is the only one of the four with silky fur.) The pups take their collective group name from the words ‘Senne,’ (Alpine pasture) and ‘Hund,’ (Hound or dog). They were originally farm dogs, accompanying dairymen and shepherds. They also were known for pulling carts. In fact, carting events can still be found on the roster for events hosted by Bernese Mountain Dog clubs.


Fido was originally descended from mastiffs that the Romans brought over to Europe about 2000 years ago. In 1926, a Kansas farmer brought Bernese Mountain Dogs over to the US, where they immediately began winning fans. The breed was officially recognized in 1912, and joined the ranks of the AKC in 1937.


Bernese Mountain Dogs have huge hearts … and bodies to match. Boys can be 28 inches tall, and can weigh up to 120 pounds, while girls can be 26 inches tall and can weigh 100 pounds. Needless to say, these pups are not lapdogs! Fido probably isn’t the best match for apartment dwellers, either.


Like other large breeds, Fido does have some specific care needs. Good nutrition is crucial, especially during that big growth spurt that happens in puppyhood. We strongly recommend having your canine buddy screened for common problems. Hip and elbow evaluations, cardiac and ophthalmologist exams, and Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test are all on the agenda. You’ll also need to be aware of the possibility of bloat, which is a risk in all large breeds. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are very loyal and affectionate with their families. They’re also very patient with kids, though they can be somewhat aloof with strangers. That said, every pup is different. Training and socialization are critical with large dogs, as is proper exercise. Fido actually quite enjoys hiking, but will be happy relaxing at home after he’s gotten his workout in.

Do you have questions about dog care? Contact us!

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