The Bernese Mountain Dog: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet


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Bernese Mountain Dogs are very attractive dogs with tricolour markings and thick coats, which look cuddly and stay puppyish for a long time. They aren't as big as some of the dogs featured on this page, but still look larger than life. They were developed as general purpose farm dogs, carrying out duties such as herding, guarding and even pulling heavy burdens.

They can learn herding, but tend not to perform as well as the more specialized herding breeds. They need a skilled trainer, since they learn fast, but they are sensitive dogs and can sometimes get confused and anxious if they are not trained patiently. 

Like many dogs which have been used for livestock guarding, Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to bond well with their owners, and can be a little reserved with people they don't know. Socialization with people of all ages and appearances is especially important for any large breed dog, though Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally very patient and tolerant with children. They also tend to get on well with other dogs and cats living in their household, though again socialization is important. They can be quite barky, which is good if you want a watchdog, not so good if the dog is left outside unattended and the neighbours complain!

 They shed a lot in spring time, and to a lesser extent in the autumn. The big problem with these dogs, however, is their vulnerability to cancer and hip dysplasia, so it is important to check the health record of the parents of any Bernese Mountain Dog pup you are interested in buying. Many of these dogs die young due to cancer, which reduces average life expectancy.


This book is a very good guide to the breed, covering its history, general care, training, and health issues. It's well written, and funny in parts, and will bring nods of recognition from Bernese Mountain Dog owners.