The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the very ancient dog breeds, which is estimated to be around 2,000 years old. This breed belongs to a group of four breeds that developed side-by-side in the Swiss Alps: Appenzeller Mountain Dog, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Great Swiss Mountain Dog and Bernese Mountain Dog.
All 4 breeds arose from the crossing of Molossians and Mastiffs, which the Romans brought with them when they invaded the Alps about 2000 years ago, with dogs of the universal type. They were used in various agricultural needs, in the protection and grazing of livestock. They were harnessed to small carts, and the hill tribes hunted and attacked each other.
In the future, four breeds developed that have a similar appearance, but still have a lot of distinctive features. For many hundreds of years, the Bernese Mountain Dog has been a loyal friend and helper to man. At the end of the 19th century, the number of farms in Switzerland dropped significantly, from 55% to 35%, which means that the need for these dogs also decreased.
However, in the late 18th century and early 19th century, many dog enthusiasts became concerned about preserving the existing population of local dogs, as their numbers were declining. The Berna Club for Dog Owners was founded in 1899 and primarily included the owners of the 4 local breeds mentioned above.
In 1902, an exhibition was held in the city of Ostermundigen, sponsored by this club. The show drew attention to local rock breeders from all over the world. In 1904, at the International Dog Show in Bern, the club sponsored a class of Swiss Shepherds – the Bernese Mountain Dog was also included in it. In the same year, the breed received the official status of the Swiss Kennel Club.
The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is a large dog with a lot of hair. The color is black with brown and white blotches. The physique is muscular, the chest is wide, the muzzle is elongated, the ears are medium in size, hanging down on the sides of the head. The tail is fluffy, long, not docked.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, kind dog that joins his family with all his heart. These dogs are very loyal, and try to help their owners in everything. Sometimes this is expressed in the fact that the dog just wants to be near you, since in many things it cannot help simply because it is a dog.
However, obviously, the genetic memory of previous generations, when the Bernese Mountain Dog was the first assistant of a Swiss villager, is making itself felt. The Bernese Mountain Dog can be used in different roles – as a guard dog, as a simple companion and friend for the whole family, in addition, it is great for children and can sometimes replace your nanny. Although, if the child is too small, remember that the Bernese Mountain Dog is large and can accidentally knock the child down.
She will always defend her family, strangers are perceived normally. Other pets are fine, but cats are best friends with at an early age. Keep in mind that these dogs love to bark and howl, especially if they live in a private house with their own yard. Therefore, during the parenting process, pay close attention to the undo commands so that you can silence your dog at the right time.
The Bernese Mountain Dog breed needs activity, training and, in general, physical activity, since they have a sufficiently high energy level and a strong body. They are shy, therefore they need early socialization. They are very smart, they perfectly understand the owner and the mood in the family.
The Bernese Mountain Dog loves various training, and even feels an inner need for them. Usually, there are no problems with the training of this breed, since they genetically possess obedience, curiosity, and a good memory. These dogs can be trained in various commands – it all depends on the owner’s wishes.
You can start with simple commands and gradually move on to more complex ones. Be sure to combine training with training using different types of physical activity. Since the dog has been used as a universal dog for many centuries, it has a tendency to different uses, and therefore, who your pet will become is entirely up to you.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has long hair, sheds, and needs to be brushed carefully twice a week. The nails should be trimmed about once a week, or slightly less often. The eyes are cleaned every day or as needed, and the ears should be cleaned once or twice a week. Bathe the dog 1-2 times a week.
Since the breed developed for a long time in limited conditions with a small number of individuals and inbreeding took place, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a low life expectancy (about 8 years) and a number of health problems. Namely:
- various forms of cancer – according to recent studies, they are quite common among the Bernese Mountain Dogs;
- elbow dysplasia;
- progressive retinal atrophy;
- portosystemic shunt;
- von Willebrand disease – a blood disorder that affects the clotting process;
- gastric torsion (popularly – volvulus).