Over 2,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Bernese Mountain Dogs were brought to Switzerland by the invading Roman soldiers. Although still to be found on farms of central Switzerland, by the end of last century the breed had degenerated to such an extent as to be unrecognisable.

The Bernese Mountain Dogs were mainly used as a drover’s dog and a watchdog in the farmyards in the Canton of Berne. Sufficient dogs of correct type remained for a rehabilitation program to be undertaken by fanciers and by 1907 a breed club was formed, and the breed found favour with many Swiss as a housepet and companion.


The Bernese is of striking colour – jet black with rich reddish brown on their legs, cheeks, spots over each eye and on either side of their white chest markings. A white blaze adorns the muzzle and forehead and it is desirable that the dogs have white feet, white tail tip, and that the white chest markings form a Swiss cross.


The Bernese is an extremely hardy, strong, sturdy and alert dog. They are self-confident, good natured, friendly and fearless but not aggressive. A kind and devoted family dog, it is essential that the Bernese Mountain Dog be made part of the family.

Average Lifespan

12 – 14 years

Grooming and care

The Bernese coat is medium length and silky with a slight wave and needs only a small amount of daily grooming.

Health concerns

For the latest research in breed-related problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs, visit the University of Sydney’s LIDA (Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals) website.

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