Today a popular family dog and companion, the Bernese Mountain Dog was originally a general farm dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog, called in German the Berner Sennenhund, is a large-sized breed of dog, one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. Berner (or Bernese in English) refers to the area of the breed’s origin, the canton of Bern, Switzerland. Historically, Berners worked alongside alpine herders and dairymen called Senn, guarding flocks and pulling milk carts to market.
The breed was officially established in 1907. Since 1937, the American Kennel Club has recognized it as a member of the Working Group. The breed is known for its tri-color coat and adaptability.
Breed standards are created by various parent breed clubs and then accepted officially by international bodies (American Kennel Club and Federation Cynologique) that govern purebred dog matters. Standards describe the ideal expression of the breed and include a breed's purpose, appearance, temperament and structure. Standards define qualities that set one breed apart from every other breed.
The American Kennel Club offers a wonderful visual tour of the standard for the Bernese Mountain Dog. The latest version of the Berner standard was approved by the AKC 2/10/90.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking tri-colored large dog. He is sturdy and balanced. He is intelligent, strong and agile enough to do the draft and droving work for which he was used in the mountainous regions of his origin. Dogs appear masculine, while bitches are distinctly feminine.
The temperament is self-confident, alert and good natured, never sharp or shy. The Bernese Mountain Dog should stand steady, though may remain aloof to the attentions of strangers.
Measured at the withers dogs are 25 to 27-1/2 inches, bitches are 23 to 26 inches. Though appearing square, Bernese Mountain Dogs are slightly longer in body than they are tall. Sturdy bone is of great importance. The body is full.
The coat is thick, moderately long and slightly wavy or straight. It has a bright natural sheen. Extremely curly or extremely dull-looking coats are undesirable. The Bernese Mountain Dog is shown in natural coat and undue trimming is to be discouraged.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is tri-colored. The ground color is jet black. The markings are rich rust and clear white. Symmetry of markings is desired. Rust appears over each eye, on the cheeks reaching to at least the comer of the mouth, on each side of the chest, on all four legs, and under the tail. There is a white blaze and muzzle band. A white marking on the chest typically forms an inverted cross. The tip of the tail is white...
Our club is committed to improving and protecting the Bernese Mountain Dog now and in the future. We are fighting to keep our dogs out of puppy mills and pet stores. To that end we provide a list of the breeders in our club who follow an approved code of ethics (PDF). And we point you to information about the true cost and commitment of being owned by a Bernese Mountain Dog.
Please exercise patience if you are interested in purchasing a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. You may have to wait four-to-six months for a puppy from a reputable breeder – longer if you want one from a particular breeder. However, selecting an ethical breeder will greatly increase your chances of getting a healthy, orthopedically stable, and happy Berner. Ethical breeders adhere to a code of ethics, belong to a local Bernese Mountain Dog club, and want to build an ongoing relationship with you for the life of the dog
We offer a great tools to help you become an informed buyer and to guide you to a conscientious breeder. Our free puppy packet (PDF) will equip you to
We have generated a list of breeders who are members of the BMDCO and/or our sister club, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Greater Seattle (BMDCGS). These breeders have met certain qualifications and follow a defined code of conduct. It is important to know that we do not endorse, inspect, guarantee or otherwise approve any particular breeder(s). This list is offered to you as an additional tool to help you get the quality puppy you desire.
Warning! Be wary of Bernese Mountain Dog puppies being sold without the mother present. The more popular this breed becomes, the more we see brokers importing puppies from Eastern Europe, where the economies are still recovering from the fall of the Soviet Union. The pups are bought cheaply and sold here in the States for large profits. Very few of these poor puppies are in good health. Even fewer have been cared for properly. They are frequently shipped wholesale before being fully weaned. They are stressed and neglected from the get go, and then treated inhumanely on their journey to America.
In addition, please be cautious about puppies easily available through ads in the newspaper, dog publications or Internet. At times reputable breeders use these mediums to help with public education and find good homes for future litters. Unfortunately, it is more often true that a puppy available on demand without careful screening is being sold by a foreign or domestic puppy mill or is the product of a backyard breeder who isn't able to find enough homes for their recent litter.
Watch for no AKC registration. Lack of documentation often signals that the puppy was imported. (Please know that AKC registration isn't a guarantee of a quality dog either. Always research the breeder.)
The Berner Garde Foundation maintains an online database where breeders and owners record health information about their dogs. Before buying a puppy, double-check to confirm that the breeder you've chosen does genetic testing on their breeding dogs. While you’re at it, verify that their breeding dogs have good hips and elbows.
Ask the breeder for the registered names of the parents of the puppy you are considering. You can then research them and their family lines for free. If you don’t find them on Berner Garde, you can bet you are dealing with a disreputable breeder.