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Bernese Shepherd

Do you have an affinity for large Swiss breeds? Then the Bernese Shepherd might be the perfect fit! These loyal guardians of mountainous terrain are strong, courageous, and devoted to their owners. They embody a combination of agility, intelligence, strength, and beauty that is unparalleled – it’s no wonder they make such devoted companions! When considering adding a Bernese Shepherd to your family home, there are many factors to consider from eligibility requirements to costs associated with owning this breed. Read on to discover why the unique qualities of this majestic canine will benefit you and your family in so many ways.

Bernese Shepherd
Bernese Shepherd

Bernese Shepherd Description

The Bernese Shepherd, also known as the Berner Sennenhund, is a large, powerful breed that originated in the Swiss Alps. Their majestic presence is further accentuated by their thick, lustrous coat of tri-colored fur – black, white, and rust – that is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. They are distinct for their expressive brown eyes, symmetrical markings, and their gentle yet confident demeanor. One of the most notable characteristics of a Bernese Shepherd is their work ethic. Historically, they were used as driving and draft dogs in Swiss farms and also assisted in herding cattle. Today, these dogs are known for their versatility and can be trained for a wide range of tasks including search and rescue, therapy work, and competitive obedience. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them an excellent choice for individuals or families who are willing to invest time in their training and socialization.

Bernese Shepherd Habitat

The Bernese Shepherd, coming from the mountainous regions of Switzerland, is well-adapted to live in both cold and temperate climates, thanks to its thick double coat. This breed is extremely versatile when it comes to the type of habitat they can thrive in, but they do best in environments where they have plenty of space to roam and exercise. While they can live in apartments if given sufficient daily exercise, they ideally suit homes with large, securely fenced yards where they can play and burn off energy. However, being a breed that forms a strong bond with its owners, the Bernese Shepherd prefers to live indoors with its family. In fact, they often struggle with being left outside alone for long periods. These dogs enjoy being part of family activities and being indoors allows them to be near their loved ones. Plus, despite their large size, they are known to be quite good house dogs, behaving calmly indoors and showing respect for your household items. Remember that the Bernese Shepherd fares best in cooler climates. Their thick, heavy coat protects them in harsh, snowy conditions, but can make them prone to overheating in hot weather. If you live in a region with high temperatures, make sure to provide them with plenty of shade and fresh water, and try to avoid rigorous exercise during the hottest parts of the day.

Bernese Shepherd Diet

The diet of a Bernese Shepherd is a key factor that contributes to its overall health and well-being. As a large breed, they require a nutrient-rich diet that caters to their specific needs. A balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals is essential for their growth, maintenance, and energy. Proteins are particularly important, as they aid in building and repairing body tissues, while carbohydrates provide the energy they need for their active lifestyle. Commercially prepared dog food, formulated specifically for large breeds, is a convenient and often preferred choice for feeding Bernese Shepherds. These feeds are typically balanced to provide all the necessary nutrients, and their quantities are adjusted to suit the breed’s size and activity level.

However, it’s important to choose high-quality brands that use wholesome, natural ingredients rather than cheap fillers and artificial additives. Also, keep in mind that the feeding requirements will change as your Bernese Shepherd progresses from a puppy to an adult and into its senior years. Always adjust portions and food type based on their age, weight, health status, and activity level. That being said, some Bernese Shepherd owners choose to feed their dogs a raw or home-cooked diet. This approach can offer more control over what your dog consumes and allows for the inclusion of fresh, unprocessed foods. If you’re considering this route, it’s essential to do thorough research or consult with a veterinarian or a pet nutrition expert to ensure that your dog’s diet is balanced and complete.

Bernese Shepherd Image
Bernese Shepherd Image

Bernese Shepherd Size

Bernese Shepherds are classified as a large breed of dog, known for their impressive size and strength. Adult males typically stand between 25 to 27.5 inches in height at the shoulder, whereas females are slightly smaller, usually measuring 23 to 26 inches. This significant size is a key feature of the breed, contributing to their ability to perform strenuous tasks and their historic role as working dogs on Swiss farms. In terms of weight, there is a noticeable difference between genders. Male Bernese Shepherds typically weigh between 80 to 115 pounds, while females generally weigh between 70 to 95 pounds. This weight is proportional to their height and is supported by their robust skeletal framework. A well-built Bernese Shepherd exhibits a harmonious blend of strength and agility, with a muscular body that is neither coarse nor lacking in substance.

Bernese Shepherd Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Bernese Shepherd ranges between 7 to 10 years, though some can live longer with proper care and health management. This lifespan is typical for a breed of its size, however, it is notably shorter when compared to other breeds. The longevity of the Bernese Shepherd is impacted by a variety of factors including genetics, diet, environment, and healthcare. Genetic predisposition plays a crucial role in determining the lifespan of a Bernese Shepherd. Unfortunately, the breed is prone to several health issues, including hip and elbow dysplasia, heart diseases, and some types of cancer. These health concerns can shorten the dog’s lifespan if not diagnosed and treated early. It’s important for potential Bernese Shepherd owners to source their dogs from reputable breeders who prioritize health and longevity in their breeding programs. Proper care and preventative healthcare can significantly enhance the quality and length of a Bernese Shepherd’s life. A balanced diet catered to their specific needs, regular exercise, routine vet checkups, and overall good care can help prevent health issues and improve their lifespan.

Bernese Shepherd Behavior

Bernese Shepherds are known for their friendly, patient, and gentle temperament, making them excellent family pets. They are especially good with children, often showing a protective and affectionate side towards them. Despite their large size, they have a calm disposition and are not typically aggressive. These dogs are eager to please and highly trainable, but they may exhibit a slightly stubborn streak if not properly motivated. Early socialization and obedience training are key to nurturing a well-behaved and respectful Bernese Shepherd. In addition to their positive traits, it’s important to note that Bernese Shepherds can be somewhat sensitive and don’t respond well to harsh training methods.

They thrive in an environment where they are treated as part of the family and given plenty of attention and interaction. These dogs are not suited for a solitary life in the backyard, as they can become bored and potentially destructive. They have a strong desire to be included in family activities and will enjoy accompanying their owners on walks, runs, or any outdoor adventures. While generally sociable and good-natured, some Bernese Shepherds can be reserved or wary around strangers. However, with proper socialization and exposure to a variety of people and situations, they can learn to be confident and comfortable in different environments.

Bernese Shepherd Picture
Bernese Shepherd Picture

Bernese Shepherd Speed

Bernese Shepherds, with their large and muscular structure, are indeed built for power rather than speed. Despite their size, however, they can still exhibit a reasonable turn of speed when the situation calls for it. Their running speed typically ranges from 15 to 20 miles per hour (mph) at a full sprint. This is a notable feat given their heavyweight and substantial physique. While they may not be the fastest dogs in comparison to certain smaller and more agile breeds, their speed capabilities are impressive for a dog their size. The speed of a Bernese Shepherd can be influenced by various factors. Younger, healthier dogs in the prime of their life tend to be faster than older dogs or puppies. Regular exercise and a balanced diet contribute to their overall fitness and endurance, potentially enhancing their speed over short distances. However, it’s important to remember that Bernese Shepherds are not naturally built for endurance running. Prolonged periods of high-speed running can be hard on their joints and cardiovascular system, so it’s advised to monitor their exercise intensity.

Bernese Shepherd Hunting

While the Bernese Shepherd is not traditionally bred for hunting, their intelligence, trainability, and keen senses can be adapted for hunting environments. They possess a strong work ethic, stemming from their historical roles as farm dogs and herd protection animals. Though not instinctively born to track and retrieve like some hunting-specific breeds, Bernese Shepherds can be trained to do so, given their remarkable adaptability and eagerness to please. However, it’s worth noting that the Bernese Shepherd’s large size and heavy build may limit its effectiveness in certain hunting scenarios. They may not be as nimble or quick as smaller hunting breeds, and their endurance for sustained, high-energy activities might be limited compared to hunting-specific breeds.

Nevertheless, for activities that require strength and a controlled pace, such as dragging games, Bernese Shepherds can prove to be incredibly useful. Despite these considerations, the Bernese Shepherd’s temperament and mental capacity make them a wonderful companion even in hunting situations. Their calm, focused demeanor, coupled with their protective instincts, can contribute greatly to a successful hunting experience. Even if they aren’t the primary hunters, their presence can provide comfort, protection, and camaraderie in the wilderness. Overall, while Bernese Shepherds may not be the top choice for a hunting dog, with appropriate training and expectations, they can certainly play a role in hunting activities.

Bernese Shepherd Facts
Bernese Shepherd Facts


In conclusion, Bernese Shepherds are a versatile and adaptable breed, suited to a variety of roles and environments. Their friendly and gentle temperament, combined with their protective instincts, make them excellent family pets and companions. While they may not be the fastest or most adept hunting dogs, their strength, work ethic, and trainability render them valuable in numerous situations. Regardless of their role, it’s crucial that Bernese Shepherds are given regular exercise, a balanced diet, and plenty of love and attention. Indeed, with the right care and training, Bernese Shepherds are loyal companions that bring joy, warmth, and security to many households.

Frequently Asked Question


Bernese Shepherds are large dogs that typically reach a height of 25 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 80 to 115 pounds. Males are generally larger than females.


Bernese Shepherds have an average lifespan of around 7 to 10 years. Proper care, diet, and regular exercise can contribute to their overall health and longevity.


Bernese Shepherds are better suited to cooler climates due to their thick double coat. They may struggle in very hot and humid conditions, so it’s important to provide them with shade and plenty of water in such environments.


Yes, Bernese Shepherds are known for their heavy shedding. They have a thick double coat that sheds year-round, with heavier shedding during seasonal changes. Regular grooming can help manage their shedding.


Socializing a Bernese Shepherd should start early in puppyhood and continue throughout their life. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to help them become well-adjusted and confident dogs.
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