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The Bernese Mountain Dog

December 1 2022
Did you know December 11th is International Mountain Day? While many of our canine companions thrive in mountain environments, when it comes to talking about mountain dogs, one pup stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very good boy … and a very big boy. A veterinarian discusses this giant pooch below.


The Bernese is one of four kinds of Swiss Mountain Dogs, or Sennenhunds, the others being the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Mountain Dog, and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Fido is the only one with silky fur. The pups take their collective name from the words ‘Senne,’ (Alpine pasture) and ‘Hund,’ (Hound or dog). They were originally farm dogs, accompanying dairymen and shepherds. They also sometimes helped out by pulling carts. In fact, carting events are still on the roster for many events hosted by Bernese Mountain Dog clubs.


Fido is descended from mastiffs Romans brought to Europe about 2000 years ago. In 1926, a Kansas farmer brought Bernese Mountain Dogs to the States, where they immediately began winning hearts. The breed was officially recognized in 1912, and joined the ranks of the AKC in 1937.


Fido has a big heart … and a body to match. Males can be 28 inches tall, and can weigh as much as 120 pounds, while females can be 26 inches tall and can weigh 100 pounds. Needless to say, these pups are not lapdogs, and probably aren’t the best match for apartment dwellers.


Like other big dogs, Fido does have some specific care needs. Good nutrition is crucial, especially in puppyhood, during that big growth spurt. We recommend having your pooch screened for some specific things: hip and elbow evaluations, cardiac and ophthalmologist exams, and Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test are all on the agenda. Be aware of the possibility of bloat, which is a risk in all large breeds. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are very loyal and affectionate with their humans. They’re also very patient with children, though they can be aloof with strangers. That said, every pooch is different. Training and socialization are critical with large dogs, as is proper exercise. Many of these guys enjoy hiking, but once they’ve gotten their daily workouts in, are happy relaxing at home. Do you have questions about dog care? Contact us!

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