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The Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the Swiss Alps and belongs to the group called Sennenhund or Swiss Mountain Dogs. It is known for its gorgeous jet-black coat that takes effort to groom. It is not suitable for apartment living because of its size and high exercise needs. It may be a large dog but it is recommended for first-time owners as long as they are committed to providing for its demanding grooming and exercise needs.
Has the Bernese Mountain Dog caught your attention? Here is a brief background of this attractive, multipurpose dog.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is believed to be a descendant of ancient herding breeds found at the Swiss Alps during the Roman times, including the Molasser. Called the Berner Sennenhund in German, it is part of the four-dog group called the Sennenhund (Swiss Mountain Dogs). The other three breeds are the Entlebucher (Entlebucher Mountain Dog), the Appenzeller (Appenzeller Mountain Dog), and the Grosser Schweizer (Great Swiss Mountain Dog). The four breeds were created in different communities in Switzerland to suit the specific needs of the people.
The first Bermese Mountain Dogs were taken outside Switzerland after World War I, to Holland and then to the US. In the 1930s, British breeders brought the breed to England. The progress of the breed outside its homeland had been disrupted by World War II but resumed in 1945. The breed is currently recognized by major pedigree registries including the American Kennel Club and The Kennel Club.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large attractive dog that has a sturdy and strong overall appearance. The second largest of the Sunnerhunds, it stands 58 to 70 centimetres at the withers and weighs 70 to 120 pounds. It has a similarity with the Golden Retriever, but heavier and stockier. It has a strong head with a flat skull, straight muzzle, strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite, and a strong muscular neck. It has dark brown, almond-shaped eyes and medium-size triangle ears. The breed’s body is compact, finished off with a bushy tail that reaches just below the hock.
What makes the Berner an eye catcher is its gleaming gorgeous coat. Its glistening jet-black colour is paired with a rich reddish-brown marking over the eyes, cheeks, chest and legs. Giving it a distinguished appearance is a nice white blaze and white marking on the chest. The coat is long, soft and silky, which is slightly wavy but not curly. It has moderate to high grooming needs because of heavy shedding and susceptibility for mats and tangles. Although the Bernese Mountain Dog does not need to be trimmed or clipped often, it needs frequent bathing especially if it spends a lot of time outdoors, and lots of brushing to retain their natural sheen. It sheds all year and heavier during spring and autumn, so more brushing should be done.
Pay specific attention to its ears, which are prone to bacteria build up and yeast infection. Also keep its nails short – clicking on a hard floor means they need trimming. Brush its teeth at least two times a week to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
A multipurpose dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog is intelligent, affectionate, and tolerant. It may be big in size but it is gentle and calm, making it an excellent pet for first-time owners as long as they can provide the time needed for exercise and grooming. It develops a strong bond with its owners and has patience with children. However, keep an eye on interactions to avoid accidents or becoming boisterous. It a joy to be around and can be slow to mature so be prepared for some silly and childish behaviour, which can be kept at bay with early training.
The breed loves being part of family activities and is best suited for homes that are never empty. There should always be someone to accompany the dog since it develops separation anxiety. It is not suited for small box apartments since this large breed needs ample space to move around. The Berner is a cooperative dog that is highly trainable. Take advantage of its strong ability to work and eager-to-please attitude for basic obedience and task-related trainings.
It is important to understand that breeds do have general characteristics but each dog is unique. Its overall disposition and intelligence are affected by environment, training and socialisation.
A typical serving for an adult Bernese Mountain Dog is 3 to 5 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. You have to take into consideration its age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism when it comes to quantity and frequency.
Typical calorie needs of adult Bernese Mountain Dog, weighing 95 pounds, per day:
Unfortunately, this dog is prone to quite a few health problems, which is why a diet rich in nutrients and amino acids is important. The best thing to do to reduce risks of medical issues especially cancer is to strengthen the immune system. Choose high quality brands for large dogs with limited ingredients yet packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The main ingredient should be animal meat and avoid processed grains since they are believed to contain carcinogens in dogs.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a breed known to suffer from a lot of health issues, with a relatively short lifespan of between 6 and 8 years. This does not mean that all Berners will have the same fate but is important to be aware if you are interested to own this breed. It is prone to developing cancer, bloat, Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Panosteitis, Von Willebrand's Disease, Portosystemic Shunt (PSS), and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).
As a large working breed with high energy, the Berner needs plenty of exercise throughout the day. At least 30 minutes of vigorous activities and play time at the backyard are needed. Mental stimulation is also important to be able to raise a well-rounded Berner. It is worthy to know that this breed is for cold climates and is prone to heat stroke. Avoid strenuous activities during hot weather and limit them to early mornings or evenings. Make sure that there are fans or air-conditioning to keep it cool.
Raising a dog can be costly so you have to be financially prepared. A well-bred Bernese Mountain Dog can cost between £500 and £1000; some will even be higher. With this dog’s popularity, some breeders produce low-quality Berners to take advantage of the demand. Make sure to only buy from reputable breeders and learn about the puppy’s health history.
Aside from basic equipment and toys that initially cost around £200, high quality food and treats for this large breed will cost as much as £70 per month. Routine veterinary costs can add up to £1,000 annually. However, health problems in the breed may contribute to costlier veterinary care especially if long term treatments are needed. This is the reason why you should also obtain pet insurance. Monthly costs are usually £50 for basic and £100 for lifetime coverage.
Are you sure the Bernese Mountain Dog is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Do you feel like a Bernese Mountain Dog is too much for you to handle? Try taking our Pet Finder to help you choose the best breed for you.
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