What is it?
Elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the structure around a dog’s elbow joint. Large breeds are most commonly affected, with some research showing up to 26.7% of Bernese mountain dogs suffer from this condition.
Elbow dysplasia is treatable in most cases, with a positive prognosis for a high-quality life after treatment. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to know the signs and seek prompt treatment so this condition does not lead to further injury or conditions like arthritis.
Limping, lameness of affected front limb, hopping, swaying, reduced activity, lethargy
Surgery is not suitable for all cases. Prompt treatment is key to avoiding arthritis or further injury
Bernese have quite a mellow temperament. They can get up to speed at playtime but enjoy relaxing for most of the day.
Despite their large size, these dogs are gentle and sweet. Combined with their overall calm demeanor, it’s easy for more timid owners such as children and seniors to get along with a Bernese.
Outward displays of affection are commonplace for this breed in the sweetest way possible. Your Bernese will not make it a secret that they love you, and they often extend this to new people they meet once introductions are complete.
Bernese have strong bonds with their family, likely inherited from their guardian instincts. Your Bernese will guard the family with their life, but they hate being alone for long.
Despite their gentle, loving nature, Bernese can be hesitant to meet strangers. Proper socialization for a Berner puppy is key to keeping these encounters smooth.
The Bernese has a medium-length double coat built to handle the harshest weather.
Unlike some other breeds, there’s a strict color standard of black, rust, and white for the Bernese mountain dog.
No, Bernese mountain dogs are not hypoallergenic since they shed and drool quite a bit.
Brushing once a week is best to keep your Berner’s thick coat clean and healthy. This becomes especially crucial during shedding season, when you may want to practice daily brushing. Bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental cleaning needs are standard.
Bernese mountain dogs are easy to train in general – they are both eager to please and intelligent. It’s imperative to start socializing your furry family member from a young age to ensure guardian instincts don’t make new encounters challenging.
Apartment living can be possible if sufficient outdoor space is available. Berners are calm once inside, but they need at least half an hour of exercise and room to explore, if not more.
Lifetime Care Cost:
Bernese: Breed Information Guide
The big, black eyes and gorgeous, fluffy coat of the Bernese mountain dog can be hard to resist, even for the most hardened dog owner.
There’s no doubt these beasts are beautiful, both inside and out. Berners have a temperament that has won the hearts of many for centuries.
However, there’s still a responsibility for any potential owner to consider all of the breed’s needs against their own, ensuring a Bernese mountain dog is the right fit for your fur family.
At Spot Pet Insurance, we’re here to help! We write breed guides just like this one for exactly that reason – helping set you up for pet parent success.
Today, our guide is all about the Bernese mountain dog.
Meet the Bernese mountain dog
Giant yet gentle, tough yet sweet, the Bernese is a guardian dog that loves its family loyally.
These tricolor pups are often favored for their temperament and low energy levels. As watchdogs, they may be a bit too sweet to fend off human threats, but their bark can be intimidating. Today, it’s more common to find them as domestic dogs rather than workers.
So is the Bernese mountain dog, also known as the Berner Sennenhund, right for you? Read on to find out!
Where does the Bernese mountain dog breed come from?
Bernese mountain dogs, as the name might imply, came from the mountainous region of Bern in Switzerland, although they also have their roots in Roman mastiffs. In this agricultural haven, Berners were bred and trained to work the farms and protect the land and livestock living there.
They’re closely related to a few other breeds, including the Greater Swiss mountain dog, the Appenzeller sennenhund, and the Entlebucher sennenhund, all from the Swiss Alps.
A brief scare in the 1800s saw this farm dog breed declining, but dedicated lovers of the Bernese mountain dog kept the breed strong. A breed club was formed by Professor Albert Heim in 1907 to preserve them.
By the 1900s, domestic life had become more common for the breed, but they still took up farm jobs frequently. By 1926, they were brought to America, where the breed would also thrive.
Today, Berners hold the #20 spot in popularity as of the American Kennel Club’s 2021 rankings, showing just how beloved they are!
What are the potential health issues for Bernese mountain dogs?
Berners have a tough, hardy constitution but can still be subject to certain health problems. Large breeds, in particular, are vulnerable to certain conditions, such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, certain eye conditions like progressive retinal atrophy, and bloat. Sadly, they have a relatively short lifespan.
Reputable breeders should also screen parents before breeding, and buyers should always ask for these tests to show their dog has not inherited known conditions.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America recommends a thorough list of tests, ranging from hip and elbow evaluations to eye tests and von Willebrand’s disease screenings.
Are Bernese mountain dogs affectionate with family?
Affection is the Berner’s middle name. These dogs are eager to please and show love to their family, who they will loyally protect and follow.
Bernese mountain dogs display affection fairly outwardly, including following you around, cuddling nearby, or playing with you.
They aren’t quite a velcro breed, but these family dogs do not enjoy being alone, so be prepared to return their affection with lots of love and attention of your own.
Are Bernese mountain dogs intelligent?
Yes, Berners are very smart! Working dogs typically need a solid intelligence to handle their jobs, and this breed is no exception.
Do Bernese mountain dogs do well with children?
For such a large breed, the Berner does exceptionally well with children. Berners are gentle, calm, and protective, making them perfect friends and guardians for children young and old.
As always, you should supervise any interaction between dogs and young children, especially since the Berner’s size could accidentally cause injury to small children, even though they wouldn’t intend to.
How are Bernese mountain dogs with strangers?
Despite being so friendly, Berners do have an aloof demeanor when meeting new humans in most cases. This can be easily managed with proper socialization, and most Berners have no issues once trained.
Do Bernese mountain dogs get along with other pets?
These mastiff-type dogs tend to get along easily with other pets, including cats, but once again, socialization is paramount. With controlled exposure to new environments and encounters, a Berner quickly warms up to other animals and forms friendly bonds.
How to be the best pet parent for a Bernese mountain dog
Berners adapt easily and get along with almost everyone they meet, which can make them a perfect dog for a wide variety of situations. As always, it's still essential for a pet parent to stay informed.
Check out our Spot Pet Insurance Blog for all the latest and most important info to help!
Let’s go over a few more aspects related to the Bernese mountain dog that you should know.
How much does a Bernese mountain dog cost?
Adoption fee: $675-1,995
First year: $3,580
Following years: $1,980
Basic training and behavior etiquette for your Bernese mountain dog
Berners are renowned for being easy to train! They are intelligent and eager to please, so you shouldn’t need to turn to punishment.
Use positive reinforcement and watch your bond with your Berner grow! Obedience training should also be core to their routine.
From there, you could give your Berner a job or enroll them in herding classes if you wish to get them some extra mental stimulation!
What types of foods should Bernese mountain dogs never eat?
There are certain human foods that all dog breeds should be kept away from due to toxicity, and Bernese mountain dogs are no exception. Dog foods made specifically for pups are generally a better option than people food. Here are some common human foods that can be harmful to dogs and should never be fed to them:
Exercising tips to keep your Bernese mountain dog staying fit and healthy
The exercise needs of a Bernese mountain dog are pretty high. At least half an hour of exercise each day (but ideally more) keeps the Bernese mountain dog happy and healthy. A bit of outdoor space to stretch their legs is ideal, but you shouldn’t let your Berner run off-leash in public or without secure fencing.
A Bernese mountain dog puppy or adult would also enjoy accompanying you on travel adventures, such as hiking! As long as this large dog breed is spending time with their human, they will likely be happy.
Bernese mountain dog life stages
Puppy: 0 - 3 years
Adult: 3 - 6 years
Senior: 6 years - end of life
Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed Information | American Kennel Club (AKC)
Bernese Mountain Dog Dog Breed Hypoallergenic, Health, and Life Span | PetMD
Canine Elbow Dysplasia | American College of Veterinary Surgeons | ACVS
Breed Statistics | Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
Socializing your dog | Animal Humane Society
Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2021 | American Kennel Club
Health Statement | Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America
Toxic and Dangerous Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat | WebMD