Bernese Mountain Dog


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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

7 to 10 years


Extra Large

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:




Coat Color:

Blue Ribbon

Best For

Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle giants with a calm demeanor and loyal nature. They're ideal family pets who thrive with moderate exercise and a hearty helping of love.

Bernese Mountain Dog Traits

Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament

Bernese Mountain Dogs have an affectionate temperament, making them great as a pet. Give your Berner lots of attention. This isn’t a dog who wants to be left alone in your yard outside. They might get bored and start barking at the birds to keep themselves entertained! Berners also love to explore, so take them with you on your adventures. And at the end of the day, they’ll love nothing more than to cuddle up with you, enjoying the quiet times as much as they enjoy playtime.

These dogs also are smart and eager to please. Bred to be working dogs, they thrive with structured games or sports. Although they’re not the high-energy type like a Border Collie or Jack Russell Terrier, they still need daily exercise to meet their energy level needs. They’ll love activities like carting, drafting, herding, agility sports or scent work.

Although the Bernese breed is a powerful, large dog, they’re also docile and sweet. They have a lot of patience and are known to be good with children. (As with any dog, children should be taught how to interact gently and respectfully with their furry friends.) Like many dogs, however, they might be cautious or shy around strangers or in new situations. That’s why it’s so important to socialize them as puppies. Because they’re big, they might forget their own strength, especially when they’re younger than 3 or 4 years old and feeling extra playful. So, it’s good to keep an eye on younger Berners when they’re with kids and babies or smaller pets like cats. But overall, they’re really quite calm and sweet-tempered.

How to Care for a Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese dogs are known for their patient, calm demeanor, but they still need a lot of socialization as puppies. You will be brushing them a lot, especially when the seasons change (spring and fall). Berners thrive with mental and physical exercises, so get them involved in daily walks, dog sports and other fun activities. Just remember, the Bernese breed’s thick coats can make hotter weather tough on them. If you live in a warmer climate, take them out during the cooler parts of the day and provide them with a lot of shade.

Bernese Mountain Dog Health

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years, but unfortunately, they’re prone to a number of health concerns. It’s good to know what these health issues are, so you can help your Berner live a longer, healthier life. Some of these health issues are genetic and can be avoided if the parent dogs are tested early. To ensure you get a healthy puppy, find a reputable breeder who carefully screens for health issues. Be sure to get a copy of the test results of the parents for any litter you’re considering. If you’re adopting your pup, make sure you get a copy of the vet’s wellness exam.

  • Cancer: As with many dogs, cancer can be an issue for Berners. For instance, Histiocytic sarcoma occurs with higher frequency in Bernese Mountain Dogs. This condition, which affects the cells of the immune system, is aggressive. Watch your Berner for signs of lethargy, loss of appetite or weight loss, and contact your veterinarian if you see anything unusual. At this time, this inherited cancer has no treatment options.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy: This is a neurological disease that affects the spinal cord, which slowly weakens, then paralyzes the back legs. There is no effective treatment at this time, but keeping your pup at a healthy weight and as active as long as possible may help slow the progress of the disease. Physical therapy can also help but won’t prevent it. If you notice anything unusual with your Berner, like lameness, visit your veterinarian.
  • Von Willebrand Disease: Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to von Willebrand’s disease, a bleeding disorder where the blood doesn’t clot properly. Your veterinarian can test your dog for this. It is a lifelong disease with no cure, so your vet may recommend a stress-free lifestyle for your pup and avoid activities where your dog may get bruised or scratched (playing with other pets, hikes, etc.). Your vet may also advise you to avoid giving your dog any medications that interferes with clotting.
  • Joint and Orthopedic Issues: As with many large breeds, Berners can develop hip and elbow dysplasia, along with other orthopedic issues. While dysplasia can’t be completely prevented, your veterinarian may recommend weight management, joint supplements, special diets, pain medications, physical therapy or even surgery to manage these conditions.
  • Eye Issues: Berners can develop eye issues ranging from cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) to entropion and ectropion. Both cataracts and PRA cause blindness but aren’t painful. Depending on your dog’s age and the severity of the cataracts, they can be removed through surgery. At this time, there is no treatment for PRA. Entropion and ectropion affect the way the eyelids roll in or out, and may be treated with medications or surgery.
  • Ear Infections: Bernese Mountain Dogs are predisposed to developing ear infections. Signs of an ear infection include head shaking, redness or swelling in the ear canal, itchiness or odor. You can help prevent ear infections by keeping the ears dry; be sure you thoroughly dry them after a bath or swim. If you suspect your pup has an ear infection, take them to the vet. Treatment often includes topical medications containing antibiotics, anti-fungal compounds and anti-inflammatory medications. With severe infections, oral medications are sometimes prescribed in addition.
  • Bloat/Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV): Deep-chested dogs like Berners are more likely to develop bloat and/or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Bloat occurs when the stomach expands with fluid, food or air. The stomach can then rotate and flip (GDV), constricting the blood vessels to the stomach and spleen, and leading to the sudden onset of life-threatening shock. GDV can quickly become fatal and requires immediate medical intervention.

Bernese Mountain Dog History

The Bernese Mountain Dogs find their origin in Switzerland, where they drove cattle and guarded farmlands in the canton of Bern. It’s rumored their early ancestors were brought to Switzerland by invading Roman soldiers thousands of years ago. The Berner Sennenhund, as they’re also called, was bred for a thick, insulated coat that could keep them warm even in the freezing cold weather of the Swiss Alps. Their black coat absorbs heat, further helping them thrive in more challenging, frigid weather.

They retired from farm life thanks to the industrial revolution. When their numbers diminished in the 1800s, Swiss breeders sought to build their numbers again with the help of Professor Albert Heim. Heim, a distinguished Swiss geologist, formed the official Swiss breed club. Because their history involves being bred to be farm dogs, they excel as drafting dogs (pulling carts) and guarding property.

A Kansas farmer brought the first two Berners to the United States in 1926, which helped speed up their popularity. The first Bernese Mountain Dog was registered with the AKC in 1937. It’s closely related to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, which wasn’t recognized by the AKC until 1995. There are four varieties of Swiss mountain dogs in total, but only Berners have a silky, longer coat.

So, where is the best place to find Bernese Mountain Dog puppies today? You can find a list of reputable Berner breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. Depending on the breeder, the average price for a Berner puppy could range from $800 to almost $2,000. Expect to pay more for a dog who has pedigree papers along with health and temperament screenings. You can also talk to Bernese Mountain Dog rescue organizations, ask your local animal shelter, or search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.


Do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed?

Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs shed. Most of the time, they need to be brushed about three to four times a week. But when the seasons change (spring and fall), you will increase that to multiple times a day to keep up with the shedding.

How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs live?

Bernese Mountain Dogs live 7 to 10 years. If you find a reputable breeder who screens for health issues, your healthy Berner can enjoy a longer lifespan.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs drool?

Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t typically drool a lot. However, if an individual Berner has looser jowls or lips that hang more, then they might drool more often.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good with cats?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are affectionate and easy-going, making them a great addition to households with pets, including cats. However, because they’re so large with puppyish energy, younger dogs might accidentally injure cats. You may need to monitor Berners when they’re with cats during their more playful years, up to about 4 years of age.

What are the most common Bernese mixes?

The most common Bernese Mountain Dog mixes are:

Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.


Top Takeaways

Bernese Mountain Dogs are affectionate dogs who will quickly become your best friend. They love having jobs to do, whether it’s pulling a cart or running through an agility course. But they’re in dog heaven when they get to play in the snow. Your Berner will thrive in an active household where you go on adventures during the day and relax together as a close-knit family at night.


Expert input provided by veterinarian Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM, who writes for Not a Bully and certified dog trainer Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by veterinarian Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

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Top Bernese Mountain Dog Names

These are the top Bernese Mountain Dog names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Luna
  • Willow
  • Lucy
  • Millie
  • Bella
  • Daisy
  • Molly
  • Bailey
  • Ruby
  • Stella

Male Names

  • Moose
  • Bear
  • Murphy
  • Cooper
  • Winston
  • Gus
  • Beau
  • Hank
  • Bernie
  • Koda