December 11th is International Mountain Day! Although many of our canine companions thrive in mountain environments, when it comes to mountain dogs, one pup stands head and shoulders above the rest … literally. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very good boy … and a very big boy. A veterinarian discusses this gentle giant 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 of the four that has silky fur. The pups take their collective name from the words ‘Senne,’ (Alpine pasture) and ‘Hund,’ (Hound or dog). They were originally farm dogs, accompanying dairymen and shepherds. They also sometimes helped their humans out by pulling carts. In fact, carting events are still on the agenda for many events hosted by Bernese Mountain Dog Clubs.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is descended from mastiffs Romans brought to Europe about 2000 years ago. In 1926, a Kansas farmer brought Fido to the US, where he immediately began winning hearts. The breed was officially recognized in 1912, and joined the ranks of the AKC in 1937.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are extremely loyal and affectionate with their humans. They’re also very patient with children, though they can be a bit aloof with strangers. That said, every pooch is different. Training and socialization are critical with big dogs, as is proper exercise. Many of these massive dogs enjoy hiking. However, once Fido has gotten his daily workouts in, he’s happy relaxing at home.
Fido has a big heart … and a body to match. 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 lap dogs, and they really aren’t a great match for apartment dwellers.
Like other big dogs, Fido does have some specific care needs. Good nutrition is very important, especially in puppyhood, during that big growth spurt. We recommend having your pooch screened for some specific things, such as hip and elbow evaluations, cardiac and ophthalmologist exams, and Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test. You’ll also need to be aware of the possibility of bloat, which is a risk in all large breeds. Ask your vet for specific recommendations and care tips.
Do you have questions about dog care? Contact us!