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Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed Profile

Dog Breed profiles

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Profile

Bernese Mountain Dog fact file

KC Group: Working
Size: Large 
Dogs: 64 - 70cm; bitches: 58 - 66cm
Dogs: 38 - 50kg; bitches: 36 - 48kg 
Average lifespan:
Eight years 
Good with children?: Yes
Exercise requirement: Moderate
Good guard dogs?: Yes
Moulting level: High
Grooming: Moderate
Jet black, with rich red markings on cheeks, over eyes, on all four legs, and on chest. White markings, in a cross shape on the chest and a symmetrical marking on the head
Jogging partner: No


The Bernese is known to be susceptible to some genetic disorders, including:

  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Elbow dysplasia.
  • Cancer.

Hip and elbow dysplasia affect the stability of the hip and elbow joints.

The breed appears to have a higher than average mortality rate from cancer.

But while their lack of longevity is well known, in general Bernese enjoy happy and comfortable lives.

Health tests

The Bernese Mountain Dog is listed under the Kennel Club hip dysplasia scheme. The average hip score for the breed is 15 (each hip is scored individually, then the two figures added together to give the dog’s final hip score). Breeders are strongly advised to only breed from dogs with scores well below this figure.

The Bernese is also listed under the Kennel Club elbow dysplasia scheme.

To get an elbow score, each elbow is tested and given a score between 0 and 3 (0 being the best and 3 the most severe); the highest being taken as the score for that dog. Breeders should only breed from dogs with a score of 0 or 1.

A breeder should be able to provide documentation proving that the relevant health tests have been done.


  • Loyal and affectionate.
  • Calm and relaxed, not noisy.
  • Sociable — enjoys company of people and other dogs.
  • Self-confident and good natured.


  • A devoted family dog who is excellent with children.
  • Relishes human company and does not enjoy being left alone for long periods.
  • The Bernese enjoys exercise but doesn’t need lots of long walks. An hour a day is recommended for an adult dog.
  • Due to the size of an adult Bernese, a large home is advisable. As always, ensure your garden is secure.
  • Enjoys most doggy disciplines.


  • Bernese are naturally eager to please.
  • The breed has a reputation for not being particularly intelligent, but these dogs are very responsive to treat-based reward training and rapid progress can be made.

General care

  • A Bernese will need a 30-minute brush each week at least to maintain his coat. He also sheds pretty constantly!
  • This is a fast-growing breed so rest is just as important to your puppy as exercise, to ease pressure on growing joints.


  • Excellent family dog.
  • Easy to train.
  • Can partake in many dog activities.


  • Short life expectancy.
  • Can be expensive to buy and care for.

Did you know?

  • The origin of the breed can be traced to the Romans’ invasion of Switzerland, where army guard dogs mated with local flock guarders.
  • Membership of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Great Britain is open to anyone — even those without a dog.
  • Bernese were bred to pull carts all day, and carting is a popular sport with Bernese owners, with many events taking place each year. Special obstacle courses allow the dogs to show off their draughting abilities, often with owners in traditional Swiss outfits.