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The Bernese Mountain Dog

December 15 2022

Have you heard that December 11th is International Mountain Day? While many of our canine companions thrive in mountain environments, one pup stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to talking about mountain dogs. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very good boy … and a very big boy. A veterinarian discusses this giant pooch below.


The Bernese is one of four kinds of Swiss Mountain Dogs, or Sennenhunds, the others being the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Fido is the only one with silky fur. The pups take their collective name from the words ‘Senne,’ (Alpine pasture) and ‘Hund,’ (Hound or dog). They originally accompanied dairymen and shepherds as farm dogs. They also sometimes helped out by pulling carts. In fact, carting events are still on the roster for many events hosted by Bernese Mountain Dog clubs.


Fido descends from mastiffs Romans brought to Europe about 2000 years ago. A Kansas farmer brought Bernese Mountain Dogs to the States in 1926, where they immediately began winning hearts. The breed was officially recognized in 1912, and joined the ranks of the AKC in 1937.


Fido has a big heart to match that big body of his (or hers). Males can be 28 inches tall, and can weigh as much as 120 pounds, while females can be 26 inches tall and can weigh 100 pounds. Needless to say, these pups are not lapdogs, and probably wouldn’t do well as an apartment doggie.


Much like other big dogs, Fido does have some specific care needs. Good nutrition is crucial, especially in puppyhood, during that big growth spurt. We recommend having your pooch screened for some specific things: cardiac and ophthalmologist exams, hip and elbow evaluations, and Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test are all on the agenda. Be aware of the possibility of bloat. This is a risk in all large breeds. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are very affectionate and loyal with their humans. They’re also very patient with children, though they can be aloof with strangers. However, every pooch is different. Training and socialization are critical with large dogs, as is proper exercise. Many of these guys enjoy hiking, but are happy relaxing at home once they’ve gotten their daily workouts.

Do you have questions about dog care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in Fox Lake, IL!