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History of the Bernese Mountain Dog

One of 4 varieties of Swiss Mountain Dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the only variety that possesses a long, silky coat. A hardy dog that thrives in cold weather, the "Berner's" intelligence, strength and agility helped him perform the drafting and droving work in the mountainous region where he originated. Today, this versatile breed participates in conformation, obedience, carting, agility, tracking, herding and therapy work. Like the other Swiss breeds, they are tri-colored, with patches of black, rust and white.


Bernese Mountain Dogs (Berner Sennenhund) originated in Switzerland and are named for the Canton of Bern. Historically, Berners were used as general purpose farm dogs. Their large, sturdy frames and calm, confident temperaments made them ideal for pulling carts to market, driving dairy cattle, watching the farm and acting as companions to farmers.

Farm dogs by heritage, Berners need a moderate amount of exercise as well as consistent obedience training. As a double-coated breed, they also tend to shed, and so require regular brushing. Their gentle, easygoing manner and the need to be close to their people makes them a good fit for families.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are not a long-lived breed. The average life span is 7 years. They have a number of issues that contribute to the shortness of the life span, including various forms of cancer. For this reason, we encourage anyone searching for a Bernese puppy to do their best to find a responsible breeder who has worked hard to produce puppies that have the best chance of living a long full life.

Here are some resources to learn more about health issues in the Bernese Mountain Dog breed:

BMDCA health page


Bernerpedia health overview


Health links by condition

The Right Breed for You?

Learn More About Health Issues

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