The Bernese Mountain Dog is what we’ll look at next as part of our “Breeds 101” series.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is kind of like Fezzik in The Princess Bride – colossal, patient, and as kind and calm as they are vast.
Is it any wonder that they’re gaining rapidly in popularity, clocking in at No. 22 (out of 195) in the American Kennel Club‘s list of 2019 most popular dog breeds?
They are classified into the Working Group when it comes to dog shows, and are one of the easiest breeds to spot with their fuzzy double-layered tri-color coat.
And then, also, that they’re enormous doesn’t hurt, either. Female Berners stand around 23 to 26 inches at the withers (shoulders) and weigh around 70 to 95 pounds, while males stand around 25 to 27.5 inches and weigh anywhere from 80 to 115 pounds.
For a Working Group breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is fairly long-lived, with an expected lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
The AKC Breed Standard’s general overview is unusually succinct, consisting of a mere four sentences, saying in part that the ideal Bernese Mountain Dog is “sturdy and balanced. He is intelligent, strong and agile enough to do the draft and droving work for which he was used in the mountainous regions of his origin.”
Those “mountainous regions” were the Swiss Alps near the city of Bern, which is how the dog got its name. They were used as general-purpose farm dogs, protecting livestock and hauling sleds and wagons as necessary.
The first breed club was founded in Germany in 1907, and the breed was recognized by the AKC thirty years later.
They do best living as outdoor dogs, and shed constantly, meaning that a burshing would be helpful about once a week if possible. They get along extremely well with kids and other pets, which would make them excellent for farm families in rural areas.
A 2005 survey by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America reported that Berners have a much higher risk of cancer than most breeds, with about two-thirds of all Berners dying from the disease.
The internet’s most famous Bernese Mountain Dog is Bunsen the Science Dog, a Canadian social media star who is basically what happens if you put Bill Nye and Wishbone into a blender. He even has his own podcast, The Science Pawdcast.
Other famous Berners include the dogs of the Ireland President Michael Higgins and the Pittsburgh Steelers MVP quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
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