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Bernese Mountain Dog

The origin of the Bernese Mountain Dog is not exactly clear. However, it is believed they came from Roman Invaders and the dogs they brought with them 2000 years ago when they settled into Switzerland. The Mastiff was the Roman dog of choice and the Bernese is thought to be evolved from them. Paintings from the 18th century show a Bernese type of dog in them. By the end of the 19th century, many foreign dogs were being imported into Switzerland and there was a danger the native dogs would be lost. Franz Schertenleib and Professor Albert Hein worked to preserve the native breed by finding and stabilizing the Bernese Alpine Herdsman dog as a distinct breed. Originally called the Durrbachler, after a hamlet and an Inn of Durrbach in the Canton Bern, its name was changed to Bernese mountain dog when its popularity grew. (Following the example of the other Swiss breeds)

The Bernese spread across Switzerland then Germany. It didn’t take long to spread over Europe and finally in 1926 the Bernese reached the United States. In 1936 the AKC officially recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog.

The Bernese mountain dog is a great companion and pet. He stays playful longer than other breeds because it takes up to two years for them to fully mature. They are also used for tracking, herding, guarding, watchdog, search and rescue and carting.

Height: 25-27 in. Males 23-26 in. Females

Weight: 90-120 lbs. Males 80-105 lbs. Females

Size: Large

Lives: 10 years and under


  • Excellent with children
  • Easy to train
  • Relatively inactive indoors
  • Good for novice owners
  • Needs to be with people…not left in the back yard or in a kennel run
  • Not a barker
  • Friendly with other dogs
  • Low dominance
  • Generally good with other pets


  • Regular grooming needed
  • Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Not for apartment living
  • Vigorous exercise needed
  • Prefers cooler climates

Bernese Mountain Dog

Can be prone to: Hip and elbow dysphasia, bloat and eyelid problems and cancer
By: Linda Eastabrooks
Former AKC Breeder

Article updated 9/10/2012

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