7 Fun Facts About the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the most lovable, gentle tempered canine breeds of all. They have the well-earned reputation of being a gentle giant. There are many great aspects of this breed, plus they also have a colorful and interesting history. So, what is so great about these dogs? What is it that makes them so remarkable and has earned them a special place in the hearts of so many people? Well, let us take a closer look at the breed and learn some facts about their traits and history as well:

The Bernese Mountain Dog can be traced back 2,000 years:

The breed dates back two millennia to when the Romans crossed the Alps. With them, they brought the dogs whose descendants would later become the Bernese breed. Those Roman dogs were originally a cross between mastiff breeds and other large guard dogs. Some dogs were left along the way in various towns as the army progressed over the Alps.

This happened because puppies were born during the journey, and the soldiers did not have the time to raise and train them. They were great tempered and exceptionally large working dogs, so the townspeople gladly took them in. All four Swiss mountain dog breeds originated this way. What sets the Berner (an affectionate nickname for the breed) apart from the other 3 Swiss breeds is their long and super soft furry coats.

The breed at one time almost went extinct:

Around the turn of the 20th century, the breed was almost lost. This was due to the invention and wide availability of new modes of transportation. Luckily for us, two people saw the potential of these wonderful dogs and saved them from complete extinction. One of those people was Professor Albert Heim. This man improved their genetics, temperament, and size by breeding the few remaining specimens with the Newfoundland breed. The other was Franz Schertenleib, who preserved the breed and introduced them to the west, where they quickly became a registered AKC breed.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America was founded in 1968, with only 43 registered Berners on the books. Those 43 dogs have created the entire breed that we know and love today. But with such a shallow gene pool, they are susceptible to a few unfortunate health problems.

Bernese Mountain Dogs where once known as the Cheese Dogs:

Right around 1850, with the expansion of dairy farms and factories around their swiss homeland, the breed quickly became a favorite working dog. They were used to pull carts filled with dairy products – like milk and cheese – across the hills and mountains. The dogs would make the journeys from their owner’s farms higher up in the mountains down to the dairy factories in town. Bernese Mountain Dogs were all built perfectly for the job, and so they excelled at the new task.

This earned them the moniker of Cheese Dogs, and they were perfectly built for the job, in both physical size and temperament. They could be trusted not to startle and spill the carts or take off running while pulling a cheese cart behind them. Although, they were always aware of their surroundings because they are extra cautious and have been said to have eyes in the backs of their head.

Their major downside is their lifespan:

Unfortunately, they are not known for their longevity of life. Compared to other large dogs of the equivalent size, which often live upwards of 12 years, the Berners only have an average lifespan of about eight years. The interesting thing is that they are also slow to mature. So, they remain in the puppy phase for many years. This leads to them being extra playful, funny, and full of life for their shorter existence.

The breed loves to be jokers and will find ways to make the human(s) they choose to bond with laugh hysterically. Once they have found a behavior that gets their person to laugh, they will repeat the behavior endlessly. This breed was meant to create joy and laughter in humans, and they do a perfect job in that aspect. They were also meant to work and will gladly pull carts of camping supplies or children for hours.

Berners are now known as the ultimate gentle giants:

With their extremely agreeable and soft temperament, the breed has become the favorite companion dog for many families. They do, however, require a lot of love and attention, or they have a habit of displaying destructive behaviors. If a family is able and willing to give them the affection they deserve, then they are the softest, most kindhearted of all the large dog breeds.

They will quickly pick one human to bond with and will stick by their side through anything. Guarding, joking, and making them laugh, or just hiking/walking along the side of that human, no matter what they would never leave them behind. They will also adopt members of their human family as their own family. Once these bonds are created, they will supply endless hours of love, affection, and entertainment.

This breed is an interesting mix of emotions and slow maturity:

If a family has the time to devote to their dog, and are willing to be patient during training, then these dogs make the perfect household pet. The reason that extra patience is required to train them goes back to their slowness to mature. This slow mental growth applies to them learning proper behaviors sometimes as well, so they do require extra patience. An owner should be aware of this going in, so they do not get frustrated and angry with their Bernese Mountain dog.

This is because they are emotional beings, and they will quickly get their feelings hurt by anger directed at them. Berners want nothing more than to please their owners; it is just that they do not always know what is expected of them at certain times. But, if you have some treats to offer, and some love to give, when they do behave correctly, then they will eventually catch on and remember it forever.

The Breed Overall

In total, these gentle giants make the perfect family dog for the right type of family. You can not get one of these dogs and expect them to be happy on their own, day in and day out sitting at home. They will become very lonely and will show their emotions by misbehaving in a variety of ways. One of these bad behaviors is chewing on anything. There are even stories of Berners chewing off door frames when left alone too long. Another unruly behavior they act out with is digging. They will dig huge holes in the yard or try to get under a fence, or even worse yet; they will dig up carpet if stuck locked indoors day after day.

So, they require attentive owners to thrive and display their perfect loving and even-keeled temperament. When they live a fulfilled life, nothing can compare to the gentle giant nature they exude. They can be dream dogs for the right family or a nightmare for the wrong one. Just like most breeds, they need the right living situation to display all their best qualities and to bring out their good side. They do have one of the best good sides of all the giant breeds thought. Plus, they have the rare attribute of knowing their size and being gentle, even with small children. This is an important trait because these monsters can weigh in at 110 pounds or more.

If your family is a good fit for these lovable, affectionate, wonderful dogs, then getting a Berner is highly recommended. You will fall in love with the breed and will wonder what took you so long to discover your perfect companion pet.

1 thought on “7 Fun Facts About the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

  1. Kristina Greenwell

    I am so happy to say that my dog is FINALLY fully trained! I found out about this online dog training tool at TrainDogsOnline.org – it has been such a wonderful help in learning how to train my dog without ever leaving home. I learned so many great ways to teach my dog nearly every trick imaginable. Also, I can finally correct common behavioral issues, anywhere from potty-training to barking too much. It’s an actual man who’s a real dog trainer training his dog. He’s an expert so you can see his mannerisms and changes in his tone of voice… especially his body language. My dog behaves PERFECTLY now and picked up on these methods so fast. From what I understand, this will work on all dogs regardless of breed or age. Best of luck to you and your dog! Check out TrainDogsOnline.org – highly recommended!


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