The Bernese mountain dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937. Originating in Switzerland, this large breed was bred by farmers to pull milk carts and cattle driving. The Bernese is the only Swiss mountain dog breed with a long, silky coat, which is tri-colored in black, white and rust. The Bernese is a lover of cold weather, great for families and is very people-oriented, according to dog trainer Shannon Koffler. Depending on the sex of the dog, Bernese can range anywhere between 80 and 130 pounds as an adult, according to Koffler. Like any breed, this dog requires some special treatment, especially when it comes to grooming.
Feed the Bernese a high-quality food with low levels of protein between 18 and 26 percent, according to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Southeastern Wisconsin. Because this breed of dog is relatively laid-back, keep the fat content under 16 percent. Some owners feed their Bernese raw or homemade diets, while others opt for store-bought dog food. Between 3 and 6 cups of kibble should be given to the Bernese per serving, depending on the weight of the dog, according to Koffler.2
Take the Bernese for frequent, long walks. Bernese mountain dogs are not built for sprinting because of their large size and their tendency to develop hip and elbow dysplasia. These diseases can severely cripple the Bernese and affect them during younger years or later in life. The less stress put on the hips and elbows of the Bernese, the better.3
Brush the Bernese regularly. Because of their thick double-coat, Bernese mountain dogs require a thorough brushing at least once a week, if not every day. Use a regular bristle brush for daily grooming. The bristle brush should be pulled through the entire coat once or twice in the direction of hair growth for prevention of matting. The de-shedding brush should be used once a week to remove loose hair caught in the double-coat. Pull the de-shedding brush through the coat gently and in the direction of hair growth, removing the hair from the steel bristles as it is pulled out. When using the de-shedding brush, be careful not to scrape against the skin.4
Bathe the Bernese once a month using a moisturizing dog shampoo and coat conditioner. Conditioner is very important to prevent tangling and dulling of the coat. Begin by fully saturating the Bernese in water, making sure the dog is wet down to the skin. Massage the shampoo thoroughly, then rinse. Apply the coat conditioner and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse completely.5
Visit the vet for regular checkups. Bernese mountain dogs are susceptible to bloat, eye diseases and cancer. Be aware of health issues in the family of the Bernese, since many of these problems can occur because of genetics.