Originating from large district in Switzerland, “Berne”, the Bernese was typically used as a farm / herding / drafting dog in his native country. Today due to his even tempered and endearing personality he is now favoured across the world as a much loved family pet. The Bernese still often proves himself at obedience, agility and drafting.

Owning a Bernese is like owning a “people magnet”. Once you have one you will be stopped continually by passersby wishing to pat and ask questions about the magnificent dog you have on the end of your lead. At first he will be noticed for his size and striking appearance. His shiny black coat with flashy tan and white markings is a sight to behold. On closer scrutiny his temperament should live up to his look and his friendly and outgoing disposition immediately captures the hearts of those around him. Many who indulge in one Bernese companion cannot stop at one. This is a breed that will TOTALLY CAPTIVATE you.

It is important to realise that a Bernese is typically a large dog. They are not as large as breeds such as the Saint Bernard or the Newfoundland but they are generally larger than a Golden Retriever. The Bernese standard calls for the dogs to be between 58 centimetres (at the shoulder) for the smallest bitch to 70 centimetres for the largest dog and variations in between. Their weight range is in the order of 36 – 50kg for bitches and 42 – 60kg for dogs.

The Bernese is not a long lived breed with the typical age averaging at about 8 to 10 years. Yes some have lived to over 13 years, while others have passed on as early as 4 years. The breed can be affected by a variety of Cancers and this is one reason why they don’t have such long life spans.

Bernese (like many breeds - particularly large breeds) can be prone to orthopaedic problems like Hip Dysplasia, three different elbow diseases and the occasional shoulder concern. These problems are said to be hereditary but can also be brought on by an accident or the environment in which a pup is raised (i.e. too strenuous exercise, too much protein in the diet, pup being kept too heavy in weight etc.) Luckily in Australia and the World responsible breeders are appropriately screening their dogs to omit any affected dogs from their breeding programs to try and curb the occurrence of the above problems.

ANKC Bernese Mountain Dog Standard

  • General Appearance: Strong, sturdy working dog, active, alert, well boned, of striking colour.
  • Characteristics: A multi purpose farm dog capable of draught work. A kind and devoted family dog. Slow to mature.
  • Temperament: Self-confident, good natured, friendly and fearless. Aggressiveness not to be tolerated
  • Head And Skull: Strong with flat skull, very slight furrow, well defined stop; strong straight muzzle. Lips slightly developed.
  • Eyes: Dark brown, almond shaped, well fitting eyelids.
  • Ears: Medium sized; set high, triangular shaped, lying flat in repose, when alert brought slightly forward and raised at base.
  • Mouth: Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws
  • Neck: Strong, muscular and medium length.
  • Forequarters: Shoulders long, strong and sloping, with upper arm forming a distinct angle, flat lying, well muscled. Forelegs straight from all sides. Pasterns flexing slightly.
  • Body: Compact rather than long. Height to length 9:10. Broad chest, good depth of brisket reaching at least to elbow. Well ribbed; strong loins. Firm, straight back. Rump smoothly rounded.
  • Hindquarters: Broad, strong and well muscled. Stifles well bent. Hock strong, well let down and turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws to be removed.Feet:Short, round and compact.
  • Tail: Bushy, reaching just below hock. Raised when alert or moving but never curled or carried over back.
  • Gait/Movement: Stride reaching out well in front, following well through behind, balanced stride in all gaits.
  • Coat: Soft, silky with bright natural sheen, long, slightly wavy but should not curl when mature.
  • Colour: Jet black, with rich reddish brown on cheeks, over eyes, on all four legs and on chest. Slight to medium sized symmetrical white head marking (blaze) and white chest marking (cross) are essential. Preferred but not essential, white paws, white not reaching higher than pastern, white tip to tail. A few white hairs at nape of neck, and white anal patch undesirable but tolerated.
  • Sizes: Height: Dogs 64-70 cms (25-27.5 ins) Bitches 58-66 cms (23-26 ins)
  • 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.
  • Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.