Swiss Canton of Bern is known as the home of four breeds of mountain dogs, including the Bernese Mountain Dog. Handsome, powerful, placid, and affectionate, there’s a lot to love about this breed.

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.

1. The Breed is ‘Versatile’

Bred in an agricultural region of Switzerland, Berners are all-around farm dogs, good at droving, drafting, herding, protecting the farmyard, and being wonderful family companions. 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.

2. Bernese Mountains Dogs are Majestic

This large, powerful dog has a beautiful, silky tri-color coat of black, white, and rust, with distinctive markings. Their dark eyes radiate intelligence.

Bernese Mountain Dog Puppies

3. This is a Cold-Weather Dog

Of course, they need to be indoors with their family, but they thrive on cold-weather outdoor activities and will happily join you for hikes, camping, backpacking, and a good romp in the snow. During the hot season, your berner may choose to stay indoors, especially if the house is cooler. Berners do not like the heat, so you need to be mindful of where your Berner is when the temperatures peak in the summer months. 

4. They Will Be Your Kids’ Best Friend

This breed is known for being particularly gentle and affectionate with children. They may even take it upon themself to watch over the family children, and they’re not rambunctious with them. However, given their size, they may be too much dog for very young kids.

5. Bernese Mountain Dogs Do Well in Dog Sports

This breed from the Working Group competes in a variety of activities. They excel at drafting/carting, but they also hold their own in  agility, obedience, herding, and conformation.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

6. They Have Heavy, Thick Coats 

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.

 If anyone in the family has allergies, this may not be the breed for you. Brushing them often helps reduce the amount of fur in the home. If you find it difficult to groom them yourself, you’ll need to find a good, local groomer and take them to be groomed properly.

7. Berners Really, Really Love their Family

One reason they’re so good at so many different jobs is because of their deep need to please their humans. A Bernese Mountain Dog is meant to live with you, not be kenneled or left outside. They want to be where you are. And, with their easy-going, affectionate temperament, you’ll want to be where they are.

8. 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.

9. Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Always Tri-colored 

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 a dark red or copper 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.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

10. Bernese Mountain Dogs Are a Dry Mouth 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.