Perhaps you have seen these gentle giants hitched to a small cart and festooned with ribbons, or perhaps you have seen one trotting calmly beside his master. Or maybe you have yet to meet the wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog!
For breed lovers and novices alike the Bernese Mountain Dog makes an excellent companion and playmate. Coming from ancient Roman origins the Bernese is also a dog with a wealth of history. If you love big dogs, but require a gentle and temperate companion who loves children and adults alike, perhaps you should think about making friends with a Bernese Mountain Dog.
Go straight down to Bernese Mountain Dog Training information.
Records show that the first pair of Bernese Mountain Dogs was brought into the United States in 1926 by Isaac Scheiss, a Kansas farmer. However, he failed in his quest to register the dogs with the AKC. It wasn't until 1936, when Mr. Glen Shadow imported another pair, that the AKC finally officially recognized the breed.
The breed is also double coated, which means that the dog has both a soft and downy undercoat as well as a coarse and wiry outer coat. This means that the Bernese is well suited to the cold and snow, and loves to frolic outside in winter conditions. But this also means that the Bernese can easily become overheated in hot weather, and should stay inside on warm days. Also keep in mind that this double coat means a lot of shedding, especially when the seasons turn. If you hate dog hair then the Bernese may not be the right breed for you. The Bernese Mountain Dog is also a large breed, ranging from 85 to 165 pounds and measuring upwards of 2 feet tall at the withers. Make sure you have room both in your heart and your home for such a large dog!
Of course Bernese Mountain Dogs are very people oriented, which means that the breed does not do well when left alone for long periods of time. Bernese Mountain Dogs want, and need to be wherever their family is. This means that you cannot leave a Bernese in the backyard while you go watch TV; he will quickly become agitated and possibly destructive. Other tendencies of this people-centric breed include leaning and rubbing on family members, and becoming your second shadow. Canine separation anxiety can be a very real and pressing concern with the Bernese breed.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a moderately active breed. He isn't hyper, but because of his working background he does need some focused daily exercise for about 30 minutes. He also loves the outdoors, and makes an excellent hiking or camping companion.
Bernese Mountain Dogs also get along very well with most other animals, including other dogs and cats. As with any dog though it is important to make sure a puppy is well socialized and exposed to other pets in a positive environment.
The breed also suffers from a higher than usual occurrence of musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. In fact, one study found that almost 11% of Bernese Mountain Dogs had arthritis by the time they were 4 years old. Owners of the breed should be prepared to face a dog with possible joint problems at a very early age. However, comfortable bedding and ramps into a vehicle or other high places can help alleviate the pressure put on the dog's skeletal system, and sometimes medicines are prescribed as well.
The good news here is that many Bernese breeders are trying very hard to track the genes responsible for such problems and weed them out of the breed. Be sure to check with any potential breeders you may buy from, and ask them about any health problems present in the parents. Any good bernese mountain dog breeders will be more than happy to share health information on the puppies and their parents.
A couple simple things you can do to keep your Berner in tip-top shape is to provide plenty of exercise and a nutritious, well balanced dog food diet.
He must be given time to process new information, but he does catch on very quickly. It is also important to be sparing with punishment while training a Bernese, because they are so people oriented they react very badly to being scolded or punished. Instead try to work with positive reinforcement, because a Bernese loves nothing more than a pat on the head or a treat. Stay consistent and your Bernese will reward you with loyalty and obedience. I recommend employing the positive, non-violent and super effective clicker training techniques when training your Bernese.
It's important to remember that the Bernese is and always was a working dog. Originally the dog was used both to protect farms and to pull dog carts full of milk to neighboring farms and villages. Thus, the breed can be trained to fulfill many rolls, from cart dog to light herding to agility. Keeping your dog's mind occupied will make him a happier and healthier animal.
A couple of extra important training issues you will need to address with your Bernese puppy are:
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.