The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, strong, sturdy, agile dog. The dog is tricolor with symmetrical markings of black, rust and white. The base color of the dog is black. The dog has a white blaze on the chest and white on the head, toes and tip of the tail. Rust is on the cheeks reaching to the corners of the mouth, over each eye, on each side of the chest, on all four legs and underneath the tail. The weather-resistant coat is moderately long, thick and slightly wavy or straight.
These cheerful dogs love children. They are very intelligent, easy to train and are natural watchdogs, but not overly dominant. A friend for life. Self-confident, alert and good natured. Socialize well as a puppy. Slow to mature, acting like a puppy longer than most breeds. Rather friendly with strangers and are generally good with other pets and dogs. The Bernese needs to be with people and not confined to a backyard or a kennel! These dogs are very sensitive and should be trained firmly, but gently. Owners will only run into issues with this dog if they are not displaying a natural leadership towards the dog, treating him more like their baby and lacking in the knowledge as to what dogs instinctually need to be stable minded. Owners who fail to convince the dog that humans are alpha may find themselves with a totally different dog than what is described above. For a dog to feel secure they need to clearly know that rules so they can follow them, thriving in structure, along with a daily pack walk to satisfy their instinct to migrate. The Bernese Mountain Dog was bred for draft work and can be trained to pull a cart, wagon or sled.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large, fence-in yard. Because of their thick coats they are sensitive to the heat and would much rather be in cold temperatures. Daily to weekly brushing of the long thick coat is important, with extra care needed when the coat is shedding. Bathe or dry shampoo as necessary. This breed is a seasonal, heavy shedder.
The Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the Swiss mountains, Switzerland. Many 18th century paintings show dogs which looked just like the Bernese type dog. The breed was named for the Canton of Bern. They were working dogs particularly good at draft work, pulling carts to market. They also were used to drive dairy cattle, to watch over the farm and as a companion to the farmers. By the end of the 19th century many other working dogs were being imported to Switzerland, which brought the numbers of the Bernese down as workers began to use other types of dogs. Today the breed makes a wonderful companion and they still to this day enjoy whatever draft work you can find them. The breeds talents are tracking, herding, watch, guarding, search and rescue, carting and competitive obedience.