History of the Breed

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG

 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working dog that had their origins in the farm areas of Switzerland, principally the Canton of Berne where most examples of the breed were concentrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are four breeds of Sennenhunde (mountain dog): the Appenzeller, the Entlebucher, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the Bernese Mountain Dog (Berner Sennenhunde). All share similar markings, however the Bernese have a somewhat longer coat. The Swiss name Berner Sennenhunde, refers to the canton of Berne, where the Bernese were developed, and to the Swiss stockman (the Senn or Senner) who drove the cattle to the Alps for summer mountain grazing. The dogs accompanied the Senner on such alpine journeys.

Fossilised remains of dogs, possibly Bernese Mountain Dogs, dating back to 3000 BC have been found in Switzerland. Some historians suggest that the Romans bought Mastiff type dogs to the region, which bred with native dogs, and this produced an early Bernese. Seventeenth century paintings depict a farm dog which looks very similar to a Bernese.

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Near the end of the nineteenth century, Swiss dog fanciers realised the many good qualities of the old native breeds. The Bernese we know today can be traced to the Durrbach region, south of Berne. The breed progressed steadily in Switzerland, where they have a history of farm work, guarding livestock, driving cattle and pulling carts. The carts were generally loaded with milk churns or cheese or any type of small load which the dogs could carry with ease to the local factories or markets.  They were also watchdogs for the farms and the farmers and this required a calm natured, self confident dog, devoted to his home and his people.

Since arriving in Australia, the Bernese have become wonderful family pets and have adapted easily into he Australian lifestyle.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are now valued in many countries as loyal companions, family pets, therapy dogs, watch dogs, and are starting to be seen more frequently in the show ring.