The Bernese Mountain Dog (Berner Sennenhund in German), is a large-sized dog breed. It is one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. The name Sennenhund is derived from the German words Senne, for “alpine pasture”, and Hund for “dog”. They were named this as they accompanied alpine herders and dairymen who were called Senn. Berner (Bernese in English), and refers to the area of the breed’s origin, canton of Bern, in Switzerland. The breed was originally kept as general farm dogs, and Large Sennehunde in the past were used as draft animals to pull carts. They were used to guard property, and to drive cattle long distances from the farm to the alpine pastures.
The Bernese Mountain Dog stands 25-27.5 inches tall at the withers for males and 23-26 inches for the females. The Male weighs between 80-120 pounds and the female is between 75-100 pounds. The breed is highly muscular and is slightly longer than its tail. The head of this dog is flat on top and has a moderate stop. The ears are medium-sized, set high, rounded at the top, and triangular in shape. The legs of this dog are straight, strong, with round, arched toes. His bushy tail is carried low, and the teeth have a scissors bite. This breeds coat is a distinctive tri-color, black with a white chest. There are rust colored markings above his eyes, sides of his mouth, the front of his legs, and a small amount around the white chest.
The standards for this breed’s personality says it should be “good natured”, “docile”, “placid towards strangers”, and “self-assured”. This breed, as with all large dog breeds, should have early socialization training, and be given regular training throughout its lifetime. Though they are well behaved in the house, this dog is an outside dog at heart. Because of this they need regular exercise and activities, however they do not have great endurance. If the Bernese is not given adequate exercise he may bark often and become harassing towards others. This is an affectionate breed and generally do well with children. They also fare well around other pets and strangers.
The life expectancy of the Bernese is about 7-8 years. The leading cause of death in this breed is Cancer. Some other medical problems associated with the breed include arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament rupture. Inherited medical problems within this breed include, malignant histiocytosis, hypomyelinogenesis, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, hypoadrenocorticism, and histiocytic sarcoma.