Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics and Appearance

Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics

  • Apartment Living
  • Active Lifestyle
  • Watchdog Ability
  • Child Friendly
  • Dog Friendly
  • Cat Friendly
  • Shedding Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • Social Needs
  • Grooming needs
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Health Issues
  • Trainability
  • Adaptability
  • Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the most beautiful and favorite dog breeds in the whole world.  It is a large-sized dog and he is one of the four breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. They all have the same characteristic markings but only he has a long hair. Originally the Bernese Mountain Dog was used as a guard dog for escort and herd cattle in the prealpine regions and in the midland areas around Bern. Nowadays, the Bernese Mountain Dog is excellent family dog and companion thanks to his gentle temperament, beautiful appearance and great adaptability.

    Bernese Mountain Dog

    Origin: Switzerland.

    Utilization: Originally it was used as a guard-, draught-and cattle dog, nowadays it is a family and versatile working dog.

    FCI-Classification: Group 2. Pinscher and Schnauzer type Molossoid breeds Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs; Section 3. Swiss Cattle Dogs; Without working trial.

    General Appearance of Bernese Mountain Dog: Longhaired, tricolored, strong, harmonious and well balanced agile dog of above medium size. Bernese Mountain Dog has a beautiful appearance and gentle temperament.

    Body: compact.

    Important Proportions:

    • Height at withers: length of body (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock) is 9 : 10.
    • Ideal relation of height at withers and depth of chest is 2 : 1.

    Behaviour /Temperament: vigilant, fearless, self-confident and attentive; good-natured and devoted his owner; self-assured and peaceful towards strangers.

    Bernese Mountain Dog Appearance

    Head is balanced to general appearance of Bernese Mountain Dog, not too massive.

    Skull is little rounded in the front and in profile. Frontal furrow hardly marked.

    Stop: well defined, but without being too pronounced.

    Nose: black.

    Muzzle is strong and of medium length; nasal bridge is straight.

    Lips: close fitting; black color.

    Jaws/Teeth: strong, complete scissor bite (molars 3 (M3) are not taken into consideration). Pincer bite accepted.

    Eyes: dark brown, almond-shaped; eyelids are close fitting. Neither too deep-set nor prominent. Loose eyelids are faulty.

    Ears are medium-sized, set high, triangular in shape, slightly rounded at the tips; Ears hanging flat and close to the head in repose. The rear part of the set-on is raised while the front edge of the ear remains close to the head when the dog is alert.

    Neck is medium length, strong, muscular.

    Topline: from the neck running slightly downwards to the withers in a harmonious line, then running on straight and level.

    Back: firm, straight, level.

    Loins: broad, strong.

    Croup: smoothly rounded.

    Chest: broad and deep, reach to the elbows.

    Underline/belly: slightly rising from chest to hindquarters.

    Bernese Mountain Dog Adult

    Tail is bushy, reaching at least to the hocks; hanging straight down when at rest; carried level with back or slightly above when moving.

    Limbs with strong bones.


    Forequarters are straight, parallel and standing rather wide apart.

    Shoulders are long, strong and well laid back, forming a not too obtuse angle with the upper arm, well attached to the chest, well muscled.

    Upper arm long, set oblique.

    Elbows: close fitting; neither turned in nor out.

    Forearm: strong, straight.

    Pastern: seen from the side almost upright, firm; seen from the front in straight line with the forearm.

    Forefeet: short, roundish. Toes are well-knit and well-arched . Turned neither in nor out.  


    Hindquarters: straight and parallel.

    Upper thigh: long, broad, strong and well-muscled.

    Knee-joint: distinctly well bent.

    Lower thigh: long, oblique.

    Hock joint: strong, well angulated.

    Metatarsus: set almost vertically. Dewclaws must be removed (except in those countries where it is prohibited by law).

    Hind feet: slightly less arched than forefeet, turned neither in nor out.

    Gait / Movement: sound and balanced movement in all gaits covering a lot of ground; free stride reaching well out in front, with good drive from behind; at the trot, coming and going, legs moving forward in a straight line.

    Coat: hair is long, shining, straight or slightly wavy.

    Size of Bernese Mountain Dog

    Size of Bernese Mountain Dog:

    Height at withers

    • For dogs: 64-70 cm,  ideal size: 66-68 cm.
    • For bitches: 58-66 cm, ideal size: 60-63 cm.


    Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

    • Unsure behaviour.
    • Fine bones.
    • Irregular set of the incisors provided that the bite remains correct.
    • Absence of any other theeth than 2 PM1 (premolars 1); the M3 (molars 3) are not taken into consideration.
    Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy

    Disqualifying Faults:

    • Aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy.
    • Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
    • Split nose.
    • Undershot or overshot mouth, wry mouth.
    • One or two blue eyes (wall eye).
    • Entropion, ectropion.
    • Kinky tail, ring tail.
    • Short coat, double coat (Stockhaar).
    • Other than tricoloured coat.
    • Other main colour than black.


    N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

    • Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.
    Bernese Mountain Dog Characteristics

    Colour of Bernese Mountain Dog

    Jet black main colour with rich tan markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on all four legs and on the chest, and with white markings as follows:

    • Clean white symmetrical markings on the head: blaze extending towards the nose on both sides to a muzzle band; the blaze should not reach the tan markings above the eyes, and the white muzzle band should not extend beyond the corners of the mouth.
    • Moderately broad, unbroken white marking on throat and chest.
    • Desirable: white feet, white tip of tail.
    • Tolerated: small white patch on nape of neck, small white anal patch.
    Colour Bernese Mountain Dog

    Faults of Coat

    • Distinctly curly coat.
    • Faults of colour and markings
    • Absence of white on head
    • Blaze too large and/or muzzle band reaching noticeably beyond the corners of the mouth
    • White collar
    • Large white patch on nape of neck (maximum diameter more than 6 cm)
    • White anal patch (maximum size 6 cm)
    • White markings on forelegs reaching distinctly beyond half-way of pasterns (“boots”)
    • Disturbingly asymmetrical white markings on head and/or chest
    • Black ticks and stripes within the white on the chest
    • “Dirty” white (strong spots of pigmentation)
    • Black coat with a touch of brown or red.