What Were Bernese Mountain Dogs Bred For?

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Bernese Mountain Dogs, also known as Berners, are large and sturdy dogs that originated from the Swiss Alps. They are known for their friendly and affectionate personalities, and their striking tri-color coat of black, white, and rust. But what were Bernese Mountain Dogs bred for? Let’s delve into the history and purpose of this beloved breed.

The Origins of Bernese Mountain Dogs

The Bernese Mountain Dog is believed to have originated in the Swiss canton of Bern, hence their name. They were originally bred as working dogs, tasked with herding livestock and pulling carts filled with milk and cheese to the market. They were also used as watchdogs, as their size and strength made them formidable protectors of their families and their flocks.

While the exact origins of the breed are unknown, it is believed that Bernese Mountain Dogs are descended from mastiff-type dogs that were brought to Switzerland by Roman soldiers. These dogs were then bred with local farm dogs to create the Bernese Mountain Dog we know today.

The Working Purpose of Bernese Mountain Dogs

Bernese Mountain Dogs were primarily bred as working dogs, and they excel in a variety of tasks. Here are some of the main jobs they were bred for:

Herding Livestock

Bernese Mountain Dogs were used to herd cattle and sheep in the Swiss Alps. Their size and strength allowed them to move large herds of livestock, and their gentle nature made them well-suited to working with other animals.

Despite their herding instincts, Bernese Mountain Dogs can also be trained to live with a variety of other pets, including cats and smaller dogs.

Pulling Carts

Bernese Mountain Dogs were also used to pull carts filled with milk and cheese to the market. Their strength and endurance made them ideal for this task, and they were often seen on the roads of Switzerland pulling carts behind them.

Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs can still be trained to pull carts, and they are often seen in parades and other events pulling wagons or carts filled with children.

Guarding Property

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their loyalty and protective nature. They were often used as watchdogs, tasked with guarding their families and their flocks from predators and other threats.

While they are gentle with their families, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be wary of strangers, making them excellent guard dogs.

The Personality of Bernese Mountain Dogs

While Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred for working purposes, they are also known for their friendly and affectionate personalities. They are gentle and patient with children, and they thrive on human companionship.

Despite their large size, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sensitive and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. They do best when they are given plenty of attention and exercise.

The Health of Bernese Mountain Dogs

As with all breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs include:


Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to several types of cancer, including mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma, and lymphoma. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help catch these cancers early.


Bernese Mountain Dogs can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, which can cause pain and mobility issues. Regular exercise and weight management can help reduce the risk of dysplasia.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are at risk for bloat, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. Feeding multiple smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding exercise immediately after eating can help reduce the risk of bloat.


Bernese Mountain Dogs were originally bred as working dogs, tasked with herding livestock, pulling carts, and guarding their families. Today, they are beloved family pets known for their gentle nature and striking appearance. While they can be prone to certain health issues, with proper care and attention, Bernese Mountain Dogs can live long and happy lives.

What Were Bernese Mountain Dogs Bred For?Source: bing.com
Bernese Mountain Dog Herding SheepSource: bing.com
Bernese Mountain Dog Pulling CartSource: bing.com
Bernese Mountain Dog Guarding A FamilySource: bing.com
Bernese Mountain Dog Snuggling With A ChildSource: bing.com
Bernese Mountain Dog At The VetSource: bing.com

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Van Hellen

Being a dog parent has never felt this good. Here at Wheaten Dogs, finding the best essentials for your dog is our top concern. My mission is to provide information and latest updates, especially about best dog products, to dog owners and lovers alike.

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