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Bernese mountain dog laying in a field

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Working group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 20-30 inches (from the shoulder)
  • Weight — 75-115 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Thick and long, with textured waves
  • Coat color — Black, white, and rust. Puppies generally have the same coat characteristics and a pink nose that can fade to brown or black.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 7-9 years
  • Temperament — Affectionate, hardworking, loyal, and family-friendly
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Switzerland

Bernese mountain dog fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Bernese Mountain Dogs Moose or Bear. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Bernese Mountain Dogs love Luna, then Stella.

  • Protected by their long double coats, Bernese mountain dogs thrive in cold weather.
  • Also called Berners, these working dogs were known for hauling, livestock protection, and as all-around farm dogs.
  • This breed is especially great for homes with cats, children, and other dogs, acting as friendly companions and family members.
Bernese mountain dog on the beach

Bernese mountain dog temperament and characteristics

These hardworking dogs are extraordinarily intelligent and have a lot of love to give. Berners are one of the most kindhearted and affectionate breeds, making them excellent dogs for homes with children and other people or animals. They love to romp and play any game that requires physical or mental engagement.

Bernese mountain dogs are known guardians and are fiercely loyal to their owners. While good-natured, they will defend their home and pet parents from any perceived threat. However, they are still known to be kind to strangers if there’s no stress or volatility involved in the interaction.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, strong breed instantly recognizable by its striking tri-colored coat. According to the AKC breed standard, the breed’s colors are a tri-color pattern of black, rust, and white. The rust color should appear in small patches on each side of the neck and chest. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common ground color for the Bernese Mountain Dog is (25%) jet black.

Common Bernese mountain dog health problems

Despite a relatively short lifespan, Bernese mountain dogs are generally healthy pups. However, they are predisposed to a few genetic conditions. Remaining aware of these and investing in preventative medicine can help your Bernese mountain dog to have a higher overall quality of life.

  1. Seizures. Bernese mountain dogs can be prone to seizures. They may be either primary (with cause) or idiopathic (without diagnosable cause).
  2. Allergies. Food or seasonal allergies can affect your Berner, and they can begin from birth. Your veterinarian can help you identify underlying causes and make a plan to manage your pup’s care.
  3. Cancer. Bernese mountain dogs can be prone to certain cancers such as lymphoma or malignant histiocytosis. Preventative pre-screening for cancer can help detect the disease early and inform possible treatment options.
  4. Cataracts. Like other working breeds, Bernese mountain dogs can be prone to cataracts. Surgery or other intervention might be needed to preserve your furry friend’s eyesight.
  5. Hip dysplasia. As a large breed, Berners’ joints undergo a lot of stress, which can eventually lead to hip dysplasia developing later in life.

Cost of caring for a Bernese mountain dog

The average cost of caring for a Bernese mountain dog varies depending on its unique medical and physical profile. Medical bills, food, and toys all come at a cost. On average, pet parents can expect to pay anywhere between $3,000-$4,000 in the first year, and about $1,000 every year after that.

Health insurance can be a great way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and give you the gift of extra savings if you sign up early with your Bernese mountain dog puppy. You might also choose to invest in a pet savings account as a flexible alternative for any unexpected pet bills.

Young Bernese mountain dog

History of the Bernese mountain dog 

Bernese mountain dogs were brought to the Swiss Alps by members of the Roman Empire, a rich history over 2,000 years old. Locals began to train and breed Bernese mountain dog puppies for work and support on their farms. The dogs became known throughout Berne, Switzerland as a strong and hardy breed, appreciated for their ability to tow and haul. Locals would use them similarly to modern-day horses and wagons, strapping carts to their backs to ferry goods between locations.

After the launch of machinery on local farms in the early 1900s, the breed nearly disappeared as they were no longer considered necessary. Thankfully, many different clubs popped up, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, to preserve the bloodline and breed standards while educating the public. Today, Berners are swift and sweet companion dogs that love a good cuddle and some hands-on play. They once again serve the role of loyal companions for thousands of families.

Caring for your Bernese mountain dog 

We get it — caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. First, you’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. This will help to keep them as safe as possible during your time together. Next, you’ll want to make your list and check it twice for all your important puppy-proofing to-dos, and consider preparing in advance for teething.

Lastly, you might want to research FidoAlert. We know how important your furry friend is to you, which is why FidoAlert can be a great free way to track their whereabouts. The service provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case the worst happens.

Ready for more? Here’s a quick guide to making your Bernese mountain dog feel right at home.


Bernese mountain dogs are a large and active breed. They’ll want to have ample room to run and play! Generally speaking, it’s best if your Bernese mountain pup has a large fenced-in yard or a lawn. Alternatively, if you live in a smaller place, you could make it work by taking your Bernese mountain dog to dog parks and community green belts several times a week.

This breed needs less exercise than you may think, mainly due to its lack of endurance in many cases. They’ll enjoy up to about an hour of daily exercise and might spend the rest of their outside playtime sunbathing or observing local wildlife. Don’t worry though — they can never get too much attention! Feel free to love on your pal for hours a day. They are sociable and attached and will love every second of it.

Bernese mountain dog running


Bernese mountain dogs can be difficult to groom due to their long hair, double coat, and thick, wavy locks. Knowing the landscape is crucial to having a successful cleaning experience, so consider taking the time to get to know your pet’s coat before that first wash.

Surprisingly, you’ll want to bathe your Bernese mountain pup once every three months. While this can seem like a long time for such a long-haired breed, it can be better for their coat in the long run. They have naturally-occurring oils that may be washed away with too-frequent baths.

Nail trimming and ear cleaning are once-a-month hygiene tasks, giving your pup the regular maintenance they need to thrive. Teeth brushing should also happen at least once every other day to keep gingivitis, plaque buildup, and bad breath at bay.

Diet and nutrition

Diet is key to maintaining your Bernese mountain dog’s health. As they are considerably larger than average, these dogs can put away between 4-6 cups of high-quality dog food per day. This number might change for senior dogs, puppies, and Berners with medical conditions or illnesses.

Consider investing in a dog food higher in lean proteins and considerably less fat-dense due to the sedentary nature of the Bernese mountain dog breed. Work with your vet to determine the best course of action before making changes in your dog’s diet. They can also offer you personalized recommendations about food sourcing, and feed amounts, and answer any questions you might have.

Training your Bernese mountain dog 

Bernese mountain dogs are smart, savvy, and incredibly eager to please, making them highly trainable under the right owner. Their gentle and good-tempered nature makes them receptive to feedback and incredibly resilient, which can help them to master new training skills quickly. We recommend that this process begins in puppyhood to give them the strongest foundation possible, although this can be done at any time.

Looking to get the most out of your next training session? Consider lots of positive reinforcement to meet your dog’s emotional need for 1:1 connection and support. This can look like clicker training, lots of treats and cuddles after a job well done, or verbal praise — offering your Bernese mountain dog a constant stream of attention and feedback.

Bernese mountain dog training

Breeds similar to the Bernese mountain dog 

Not quite sure that a Bernese mountain dog is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. St. Bernard. These special dogs are known for their sweet-tempered nature and are great family-friendly breeds, much like Berners. St. Bernards are strong and obedient, making them fantastic companions and protectors of the home.
  2. Great Pyrenees. Great Pyrenees pups are extremely patient and affectionate, sharing a similar temperament to that of a Bernese mountain dog. However, they are a bit more vocal and can shed more than your typical Berner.
  3. Mastiff. Mastiffs can grow to be significantly larger than Berners, but share common traits of family-friendliness and connection with their pet parents.

Frequently asked questions

How cuddly are Bernese mountain dogs?

These playful pups are always ready for a good cuddle! They love people and are extremely affectionate, reveling in all of the attention they can get. They are family-friendly and get along well with other animals in the home.

Why do Bernese mountain dogs sit on you?

Bernese mountain dogs are attention-seeking and enjoy emotionally connecting with others. If they are looking for some 1:1 input or simply feeling nervous, they may cuddle up on your feet or lap. Otherwise, they may do this when they are looking for a way to guard you in close quarters.

How smart are Bernese mountain dogs?

These special dogs are among the smartest possible, making them highly trainable and enjoyable to be around. Training should start as early as possible to leverage their talent and skill from the start.

What two breeds make a Bernese mountain dog?

Many believe that guard breeds, such as mastiffs, played an important role in establishing the Bernese mountain dog breed. These were frequent favorites of the Roman Empire about 2,000 or so years ago, which is when these large dogs came to be.

Are Bernese mountain dogs easy to train?

Due to their high intelligence and emotional connection, Bernese mountain dogs are considered easy to train by most — especially when treats or cuddles are involved!