Dog Breed Group: Working Dog
Life Span: 7-10 years
Weight: 80-115 pounds (male), 70-95 pounds (female)
Height: 25-27.5 inches (male), 23-26 inches (female)
Origin of Name: The Bernese Mountain Dog (German: Berner Sennenhund) is a large dog breed.
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The Burnsey Mountain Dog is one of four mountain-dog breeds that had long been at home in the canton of Bern, a vast agricultural area for dairy production needed for two of Switzerland's most profitable exports: chocolate and cheese. Even today, Bern's website tells us, "There are more than 12,000 farms spread across the valleys, hills and hilly areas of Canton.
The Berners earned their living by felling cattle, guarding the pharmacy from hunters, and serving gentle companions after a hard day's work. Perhaps their greatest claim to the fame of a working dog is that they have the ability to pull their own weight at times as drafting dogs, creating immense strength with their broad and muscular obstruction.
Despite the great utility of the breed in the days prior to mechanized farming and wrenching, burners numbers were declining by the late 1800s and the quality of leftover dogs left something to be desired. A painstaking effort was launched by Swiss fundamentalists to reverse the decline of the breed.
In 1907, a Swiss breed club was formed under the leadership of Professor Albert Heim, perhaps the most respected European dog man of his generation. Before long, the Berners were once again a favored farm dog, and they caught on as companions to the Swiss family.
The US history of the breed began in 1926, when a Kansas farmer imported a pair as all farm dogs. He caught on quickly, and AKC registered its first burner in 1937. Today, the sponsors of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America sponsored events to test and prepare the work potential of these majestic climbers.