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Arch Creek Animal Clinic
Call us today! 305-945-1223
Give us a call today! 305-945-1223

15372 W Dixie Hwy, 
North Miami Beach,
FL 33162

The Bernese Mountain Dog

December 1 2022

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.

Our Advice on The Bernese Mountain Dog in 2024

What is the Bernese Mountain Dog’s personality like?

The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its loyal, affectionate nature, particularly towards its human family. These dogs are noted for their patience with children, making them excellent family pets. While they can show a reserved demeanor around strangers, proper training and socialization can help them become more comfortable in various situations. Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy being active, particularly through activities like hiking but are equally content to relax at home once they’ve had their exercise. Each Bernese may have its unique personality quirks, but overall, they are gentle, loving giants.

How big do Bernese Mountain Dogs get?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, with males standing up to 28 inches tall and weighing as much as 120 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, reaching up to 26 inches in height and weighing around 100 pounds. Their substantial size reflects their strength and heritage as working dogs, but it also means they require ample space to live comfortably. Therefore, they are better suited to homes with more room to roam rather than small apartments.

What is the average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog?

The average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog is relatively short, typically ranging between 7 to 10 years. This shorter lifespan is partly due to their large size and predisposition to certain genetic health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as bloat. Ensuring they receive proper nutrition, regular veterinary care, and appropriate screening for health conditions can help maximize their quality of life. Despite their shorter life expectancy, Bernese Mountain Dogs make deeply loyal and affectionate companions throughout their lives.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs prone to any specific health problems?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health issues, notably hip and elbow dysplasia, which are common in large breeds. They also have a higher risk of developing bloat, a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Additionally, they can be susceptible to certain genetic conditions such as Von Willebrand’s Disease and cancers, including malignant histiocytosis. Regular health screenings, including hip, elbow, cardiac exams, and ophthalmologist evaluations, are crucial. If you’re in North Miami Beach, FL, our clinic offers these screenings and can provide tailored care to help manage and prevent these conditions in your Bernese Mountain Dog.

What kind of training and socialization do Bernese Mountain Dogs need?

Bernese Mountain Dogs require early, consistent training and socialization to harness their intelligence and manage their size. Positive reinforcement methods work best, fostering a cooperative spirit. Socialization should introduce them to various people, environments, and situations, helping to prevent shyness or aloofness with strangers. Given their size and strength, leash training is essential for safe handling. Training in basic obedience and manners ensures they become well-adjusted, confident adult dogs. Engaging their minds with interactive play and tasks keeps them happy and prevents boredom-related behaviors.

Do you have questions about dog care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in North Miami Beach, FL!