10 Incredible Bernese Mountain Dog Facts

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: August 15, 2022
Image Credit otsphoto/Shutterstock.com
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With their large size and thick coat, Bernese mountain dogs cut an imposing sight. These stunning dogs hail from the Swiss mountains, where they originally worked as farm dogs. Indeed, they are best known for their ability to work with livestock – both as cattle herding dogs and as protectors. But that’s not all there is to learn about this fascinating breed, so join us as we discover 10 incredible Bernese mountain dog facts!

1. Bernese Mountain Dog is One of Four Breeds of Sennehunds

Bernese mountain dogs originated in the Swiss Alps, and their lineage can be traced back approximately 2,000 years. Incredibly, they are one of only four breeds of Sennehund dogs. Sennehunds – also known as Swiss mountain dogs – are sturdy farm dogs from Switzerland. With weights of up to 115 pounds and standing between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder, Bernese mountain dogs are the second largest of the Sennehunds. Only the Greater Swiss mountain dog is larger, while the Appenzeller mountain dogs and the Entlebucher mountain dogs are smaller. Bernese mountain dogs are also further distinguished from the other breeds by their coat as they are the only ones of the four to have long hair.

2. Bernese Mountain Dogs can Pull Carts

One of the most incredible things about Bernese mountain dogs is that they are capable of pulling small carts. They are large and powerful dogs that are incredibly versatile and able to do a wide range of jobs. As farm dogs, one of their original jobs was to pull a cart carrying produce such as milk and cheese to market every week. Nowadays, people compete in “carting courses” and competitions with them.

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3. Bernese Mountain Dogs are Patient and Affectionate

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Despite their size, Bernese mountain dogs are very gentle and affectionate.

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Easily, one of the most attractive things about Bernese mountain dogs is their nature, as they are incredibly gentle and affectionate dogs. They are extremely intelligent and are eager to please which makes them easy to train. They are also very patient dogs which makes them great dogs for the whole family. Despite their large size, they are also considered to be one of the least aggressive breeds of dogs around.

4. Bernese Mountain Dogs Shed all Year Round

As we mentioned earlier, Bernese mountain dogs are the only Sennehund to have a long coat. In fact, they are renowned for their thick and silky coat which provides them with plenty of protection from the harsh mountain weather. This is because they have a double-layered coat. Dogs with a double-layer coat have a shorter cycle of hair growth than those with a single-layer coat. This results in them shedding all year round. However, although Bernese mountain dogs shed all year, they still shed more heavily twice a year – in the spring and the fall.

5. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a Short Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, the downside to owning a Bernese mountain dog is that it has a fairly short lifespan. Although many other dog breeds have a life expectancy that exceeds 10 years, Bernese mountain dogs only have a life expectancy of 6 to 8 years. Sadly, this short lifespan is because they often develop some health problems, with cancer being one of the most common. Other problems include hip and elbow dysplasia and various eye conditions.

6. Bernese Mountain Dogs Protect Livestock

one of the most incredible Bernese mountain dog facts is that they guard and protect livestock from predators
Bernese mountain dogs protect livestock from predators.

iStock.com/Marketa Vydrova

For centuries, Bernese mountain dogs have worked tirelessly alongside their owners on farms, and even today their main role is to guard livestock. With their calm yet independent nature, these dogs are perfect for the job and take their duties. In many cases, the dog lives with the livestock and patrols the fence line where they fend off predators such as stray dogs and wolves. Quite often, they even develop a bond with their flock of sheep or herd of goats or cattle as they are so dedicated to their job.

7. Bernese Mountain Dogs are Slow to Mature

All puppies are incredibly cute and adorable, especially when they’re still in that goofy, playful stage. Bernese mountain dogs are no exception, but owners of them get to enjoy that playful puppy stage for a bit longer. This is because Bernese mountain dogs are actually really slow to mature. They don’t reach their full adult size until they are 2 to 3 years old and – just like their bodies – it takes them a while to mature mentally. This means that as working dogs, it takes time for them to fully settle down and be mature enough to learn to work.

8. Bernese Mountain Dogs are always Tricolor

Biggest Dog Breeds_ Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain dogs are always tricolor with black being the main body color.

otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

One of the things that Bernese mountain dogs are best known for is their stunning coat. Amazingly, all Bernese mountain dogs (and all Sennehunds) are actually tri-color. Black is usually the predominant color with the other two colors being brown and white. Typically, they have black bodies with white chests, white around the nose, brown above the eyes, and around the mouth and front legs.

9. Bernese Mountain Dogs can have up to 14 Puppies

As they are such large dogs, Bernese mountain dogs are able to give birth to a lot of puppies too! Incredibly, they are capable of having up to 14 puppies in a single litter. Even their average litter size is 8 puppies, which is higher than the general average across other dog breeds.

10. Bernese Mountain Dogs are a Dry-Mouthed Breed

One of the inevitable things about owning a dog is having to deal with drool. However, despite their large jowls, Bernese mountain dogs don’t actually drool more than other dogs. This is because they are a dry-mouthed dog breed. But that’s not to say that they don’t drool at all, because they do. It just simply depends on the individual dog, the size and position of their lips as to just how much they actually slobber.

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About the Author

I have been writing professionally for several years with a focus on animals and wildlife. I love spending time in the outdoors and when not writing I can be found on the farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep, and pigs.

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