Bernese mountain dogs were originally breed for drafting, carting and watchdogs.
They require a decent amount of exercise, since they are not apartment dogs. They love to go on long walks mostly in the winter or early evening summer walks to avoid the heat.
Heat stroke is a big issue on hot days. They need an airconditioned area, lots of water and to stay out of direct sunlight. This doesn't mean you can't take the BMD outside it just means that you must be very alert to the signs of heat stroke. BMDs tend to get runny diahhrea on these hot days, so we use slippery elm (herbal supplement) to correct this.
As for the temperament, they are incredible with other animals, people and children. They are gentle giants. The Bernese trade mark is "Shake a Paw". They are born shaking paws :)
BMD's have to be on you, with you or beside you at all times. Either in between your legs or sitting on your feet. This comes in handy when it's winter since they can act as "foot warmers".
BMD's can enjoy being a normal pet and loved all day, to them that is ideal, but it's not plausible.
BMD's do not like to be yelled at, because they are so sensitive and have such gentle souls. The best way of disipline is to startle them, either with a can of rocks or simply a tap on the snout. Kenneling them will only make it worse if you use this as your disipline source.
BMD's are extremely easy to train, they love treats and can be baited each time for every trick. Repetive training is not required, once they got it they've got it. Hand signals or snapping fingers are essential to gain attention. Teaching new tricks is best done after they calm down, no distractions and 5-10 minute training sessions daily will get optimal results. Anymore than that as a puppy is pointless as they have very small attention spans. As adults depending on the trick or command it may take more than 10 minutes daily, depending on your dog's ability and your methods.
BMD's are so eager to please you, they will do anything for a hug or pet. Sometimes they can be very persistant when wanting your attention, they nudge your arm until they recieve what they want.
Standard Breed of Bernese Mountain dogs
FCI-Standard N° 45 Origin: Switzerland Date of publication of the original valid standard 25.03.2003 Utilization: Originally used as a guard-, draught-and cattle dog on farms in the Canton Bern, today also family dog and versatile working dog. Clasification : Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer type-Molossoid breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle-Dogs. Section 3 Swiss Cattle Dogs. Without working trial.
Brief Historical Summary:
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a farm dog of ancestral origin which was used as a guard and draught dog and for driving cattle in the prealpine regions and in the midland areas around Bern. Originally he was named "Dürrbächler" according to the name of the hamlet and of the inn of Dürrbach, near Riggisberg in the Canton Bern where these long-haired tricoloured farm dogs were especially numerous. In 1902, 1904 and 1907 specimen of this breed had already been exhibited at dog shows, and in 1907 some breeders of the region of Burgdorf decided to promote the pure breeding of these dogs by founding the "Schweizerischer Dürrbach-Klub", and fixing the characteristic traits of the breed. In 1910, at a show in Burgdorf where many farmers of that region brought their Dürrbächler dogs to, already 107 specimen were shown. From that day onward this dog, renamed "Bernese Mountain Dog" following the example of the other breeds of Swiss Mountain Dogs, became rapidly appreciated all over Switzerland and in the neighbouring parts of Germany. Today the Bernese Mountain Dog is well known and appreciated all over the world as a family dog thanks to its striking tricoloured coat and its great adaptability.
General Appearance :Longhaired, tricoloured, strong and agile working dog, of above medium size, with sturdily built limbs; harmonious and well balanced.
Important Proportions : Height at withers : length of body (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock) = 9 : 10, rather compact than elongated. Ideal relation of height at withers : depth of chest = 2 : 1.
Behaviour and Temprament: Self-confident, attentive, vigilant, fearless in every day situations; good-natured and devoted to his own people, self-assured and placid towards strangers ; of medium temperament, docile. Head: Strong. In size balanced to general appearance, not too massive.
Skull: Viewed from the front and in profile little rounded. Frontal furrow hardly marked.. Stop: Well defined, but without being too pronounced.
Facialregion Nose: clack Muzzle: Strong, of medium length; nasal bridge straight. Lips: Close fitting; black. Jaws/Teeth: Strong, complete scissor bite (molars 3 (M3) are not taken into consideration). Pincer bite accepted. Eyes: Dark brown, almond-shaped, with close fitting eyelids. Neither too deep-set nor prominent. Loose eyelids are faulty. Ears: Medium-sized, set high, triangular in shape, slightly rounded at the tips, in repose hanging flat and close to the head. When alert, the rear part of the set-on is raised while the front edge of the ear remains close to the head. Neck: Strong, muscular, of medium length
Body : Topline: From the neck running slightly downwards to the withers in a harmonious line, then running on straight and level. Back: Firm, straight and level. Loins: Broad and strong; seen from above slightly less broad than the chest. Croup: Smoothly rounded. Chest: Broad and deep, reaching to the elbows; forechest distinctly developed; ribcage of wide-oval section extending as well back as possible. Underline/belly: Slightly rising from chest to hindquarters. Tail: Bushy, reaching at least to the hocks; hanging straight down when at rest; carried level with back or slightly above when moving. Limbs: Strong bones. F Forelegs seen Forequar from the front straight and parallel, standing rather wide apart. Shoulders: Shoulder blade long, strong and well laid back, forming a not too obtuse angle with the upper arm, well attached to the chest, well muscled. Upper arm: Long, set oblique Elbows: Close fitting; neither turned in nor out. Forearm: Strong, straight a) forequarters correct, simple, normal width b) forequarters parallel, but set too narrowly main reason: Chest too narrow and too shallow. c) normal width of the front legs, feet converge cause: weak joints, thin, clearly at an early age, this type is light, different and very common. d) legs in the shape of the letter X reason: a narrow chest, elbows pushed through under the body, joints less strong, divergent feet. e) legs in the shape of the letter O reason: the elbows open, they tend to loosen, poor muscular shoulders, feet converge, too wide in the upper lot. Frequent defect. Pastern: Seen from the side almost upright, firm; seen from the front in straight line with the forearm Forefeet: Short, roundish; with well-knit, well-arched toes. Turned neither in nor out. Hindquarters: Seen from the rear straight and parallel, not too close. Upper thigh: Long, broad, strong and well muscled Stifle: Distinctly well bent Lower thigh : Long and oblique Hock joint : Strong, well angulated Metatarsus: Set almost vertically. Dewclaws to be removed (except in those countries where it is prohibited by law). Hind feet: Slightly less arched than forefeet, turned neither in nor out.
Gait/Movement: Sound and balanced movement in all gaits covering a lot of ground; free stride reaching well out in front, with good drive from behind; at the trot, coming and going, legs moving forward in a straight line. Coat Hair: Long, shining, straight or slightly wavy.
Colour: Jet black main colour with rich tan markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on all four legs and on the chest, and with white markings as follows : Clean white symmetrical markings on the head : blaze extending towards the nose on both sides to a muzzle band; the blaze should not reach the tan markings above the eyes, and the white muzzle band should not extend beyond the corners of the mouth.
Moderately broad, unbroken white marking on throat and chest.
Desirable : white feet, white tip of tail.
Tolerated : small white patch on nape of neck, small white anal patch.
Size: for dogs: Height at withers 64 - 70 cm. (ideal size 66 - 68 cm.) for bitches : Height at withers 58 - 66 cm. (ideal size 60 - 63 cm.) Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog Unsure behaviour
Irregular set of the incisors provided that the bite remains correct.
Absence of any other theeth than 2 PM1 (premolars 1); the M3 (molars 3) are not taken into consideration.
Coat: Distinctly curly coat
Faults of colour and markings :
- Absence of white on head
- Blaze too large and/or muzzle band reaching noticeably beyond the corners of the mouth.
Large white patch on nape of neck (maximum diameter more than 6 cm).
White anal patch (maximum size 6 cm).
White markings on forelegs reaching distinctly beyond half-way of pasterns ("boots").
Disturbingly asymmetrical white markings on head and/or chest.
Black ticks and stripes within the white on the chest.
"Dirty" white (strong spots of pigmentation).
Black coat with a touch of brown or red.
Aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy
Undershot or overshot mouth, wry mouth
One or two blue eyes (wall eye).
Kinky tail, ring tail.
Short coat, double coat (Stockhaar).
Other than tricoloured coat
Other main colour than black.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. The author is Margret Bäertschi. Characteristics of the breed developed in partnership Margret with Silvana Vogel Tedeschi.