Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

This breed is easy going and makes for an excellent family pet.
By: PawCulture Editors
Bernese Mountain Dog taking a break under a shady tree.

A descendant of the Roman Mastiffs, the Bernese Mountain Dog was originally bred to be a farm dog. Smart, strong, agile, calm and confident, the Bernese Mountain Dog is today a versatile worker.

Physical Characteristics

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and powerful dog breed. It has a big blocked head and dropped ears. Its tail, meanwhile, is long and bushy.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is usually black with orange and white markings.


The Bernese Mountain Dog has a long soft and silky coat.

Personality and Temperament




The Bernese Mountain Dog is easy going and loving to its human family. In fact, it is often considered a good dog for families with children.


The Bernese Mountain Dog can be a bit standoffish toward strangers. It also requires regular grooming.



The Bernese Mountain Dog fares well in the country or city, though it should be given plenty of space to stretch and run.


The Bernese Mountain Dog requires daily exercise.


The following conditions are commonly seen in Bernese Mountain Dogs:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Osetochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Malignant Histiocytosis

History and Background

The Bernese is famous for being the only Swiss mountain dog, or Sennenhunde, with a silky, long coat. Its true origin is often disputed, but some experts believe the dog’s history dates back to the time when the Romans invaded Switzerland, when native flock-guarding dogs and Roman mastiffs were interbred. This resulted in a strong dog, which could tolerate the harsh Alpine weather and be used as a drover, herder, draft dog, common farm dog, and flock guard.

There was little effort, however, to preserve the Bernese Mountain Dog as a breed, despite its versatility. The number of Bernese dogs were quickly diminishing by the late 19th century, when Professor Albert Heim, a geologist and dog fancier, began studying the Swiss dogs and identified the Bernese Mountain Dog as an individual type. Many of the remaining dogs were located in the valley region of the lower Swiss Alps.

Dr. Heim’s efforts ensured that the dogs were promoted across Switzerland and even Europe. The finest breeds were first seen in the Durrbach area, thus their original name was the Durrbachler. But as the breed began to spread to other regions, it was renamed the Bernese Mountain Dog.

The first Bernese Mountain Dog was introduced in the United States in 1926, later gaining recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1937.