The Bernese mountain dog is a type of Swiss mountain dog. It has a long, silky black coat with patches of rust and white. This breed is quick, agile and intelligent. Its distinguished breeding history as a farm dog makes it an ideal pet for obedience, tracking, herding and carting work.
Origin of the Breed
The Bernese mountain dog is named for the canton of Bern in Switzerland. In the Swiss language, the dog is known as the Berner Sennenhund. According to the American Kennel Club, an influential organization among dog breeders and dog show organizers in the United States, the ancestors of the Bernese mountain dog were brought to the area by ancient Roman soldiers who invaded Switzerland. The Romans used them to guard and drive herds of cattle.
Working in Switzerland
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the breed that became the Bernese mountain dog flourished in Switzerland. The dogs proved to be excellent at draft work and droving, pulling carts and making sure a farmer's herd of livestock went where it was supposed to. Farmers also used Bernese mountain dogs as watchdogs and hunting companions. Unfortunately, by the end of the 19th century, crossbreeding had made the Bernese Mountain Dog practically indistinguishable from other types of Swiss mountain dogs.
Revival of the Breed
In 1892, the Swiss dog breeder Franz Schertenleib started to breed pure Bernese mountain dogs again. The offspring he produced were popular with farmers and dog fanciers alike. Bernese mountain dogs were exhibited at Swiss dog shows throughout the first decade of the 20th century. The first club for owners of this breed was founded in Switzerland in 1907. In 1926, a farmer named Isaac Scheiss brought the first pair of Bernese mountain dogs to the United States.
Acceptance by the American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club recognized the Bernese Mountain Dog as an independent breed in 1937. Today, the Bernese mountain dog is widely shown at American Kennel Club events, where its long coat and tricolor patches cause it to stand out from the pack. A purebred Bernese mountain dog has a black nose and dark brown eyes.