The Bernese Mountain Dog descends from dogs in the Alps which accompanied Roman soldiers on their journeys through the mountains. Its ancestors were most likely large mastiff-type dogs, but dogs left as guardians at Roman outposts were also crossed with local herding dogs, resulting in the dog that we know today. It is one of the four breeds known as the Swiss Sennenhunde (the other three are the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller, and the Entlebucher). The breed was agile and strong which enabled it to navigate treacherous mountain passes and to cart the wares of merchants to the market.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is very social and extremely loyal to its family. It usually attaches itself to one member in particular. The Bernese Mountain Dog is eager to please and easy to train. He is intelligent and loving and makes an excellent family dog. These dogs may be slow to mature and remain puppy like for a while.
This dog enjoys the outdoors, especially in cold weather. It needs daily but moderate exercise, either a good hike or a walk on leash. It enjoys pulling. Although it can physically live outdoors in temperate to cold climates, it is so in tune with its human family that it cannot be relegated to life alone in the yard. Inside, it needs plenty of room to stretch out. Its coat needs brushing one or two times weekly, much more often when shedding. The Bernese life span is described by a Swiss expression: “Three years a young dog, three years a good dog and three years an old dog. All else is a gift from God.”
OFFICIAL BREED STANDARD
Self confident, good natured. Aggressiveness must not be tolerated. Slow to mature.
Above medium sized, strong, sturdy working dog, active, alert, well boned, of striking colour.
Head and Skull:
Strong with flat skull and slightly developed furrow, well defined stop, strong straight muzzle. Lips slightly developed.
Dark brown and almond-shaped, eyelids tight.
Medium sized ears, set high, triangular shaped, lying flat in repose, when alert brought slightly forward, and raised at the base.
Strong, muscular and of medium length.
Shoulders long, strong and sloping, with the upper arm forming a distinct angle, flat lying and well muscled. Appears straight from all sides.
Compact rather than long. Ratio height to length 9:10. Broad chest, with good depth of brisket, reaching at least to the elbow. Well-ribbed; strong loins. Back firm and straight. Rump smoothly rounded.
Quarters broad, strong and well-muscled. Stifles well bent. Hock strong, well let down and turning neither in nor out. Dew claws should be removed.
Short, round and compact.
Stride reaching out well in front, following well through behind, balanced stride in all gaits.
Bushy, reaching just below the hock; may be raised when dog alert or moving but never curled or carried above the level of the back.
Self confident, good natured, friendly and fearless.
Soft and silky with bright natural sheen, long and slightly wavy, but should not curl when mature.
Jet black, with rich reddish brown on the cheeks, over the eyes, on all four legs and on chest. Slight to medium sized symmetrical white head marking (blaze) and white chest marking (cross), are essential. Preferred but not essential, white paws, white not reaching higher than the pastern, white tip to tail. A few white hairs at nape of neck and white anal patch undesirable but tolerated.
Weight and Size:
Dogs: 64 – 70 cm (25 – 27.5 in) at the withers, preferred size 66 – 68 cm (26 – 26.7 in) Bitches: 58 – 66 cm (23 – 26 in) at the withers, preferred size 60 – 63 cm (23.5 – 25 in).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness of the fault should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.