How to Care for a Bernese Mountain Dogby Jane Williams
The Bernese Mountain Dog traditionally worked on farms in Switzerland, performing such duties as herding livestock, guarding property and hauling small carts to market. A strong, hardy breed with an easygoing, friendly disposition, the Berner is often described as a gentle giant and fits well into families with children. His size can be a problem if he not trained properly, as he can unintentionally knock over small children or possessions. An intelligent breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog learns easily, but the training must be applied consistently to reinforce proper behavior.
Visit your veterinarian regularly. Put your Bernese Mountain Dog on a regular immunization schedule to keep him healthy. Watch for any changes in temperament, signs of swelling, or physical changes in your Berner. The breed is prone to a number of genetic diseases such as cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, and blood disorders. Regular visits to your veterinarian can help identify problems and allow you to discuss treatment options before a genetic problem progresses.
Brush your Bernese Mountain Dog often, both to prevent tangles and mats in his long, silky coat, and to keep it clean. Brush his coat daily during heavy shedding season to remove as much hair as possible and prevent it from coating your furniture and house.
Bathe your Berner as needed, usually every few months or after he's become dirty playing outside. Keep his coat clean with dry shampoo between baths. Trim his nails, or have them trimmed, at least once a month. Be careful to avoid cutting the quick. Check his ears every week, and cleanse them with ear cleaner and cotton balls to prevent inflammation or infections.
Calibrate your Berner's food level to his age, activity level and size. Give him between 3 and 5 cups of a quality dry food daily, split into two servings. Adjust the amount of food as needed to maintain proper weight. Run your hands down his sides and feel for his ribs. If you can easily feel them but can't see them, his weight is fine. Avoid feeding table scraps or too many treats.
Let your Bernese Mountain Dog spend time outside in a fenced yard every day, so he can play and burn off energy. Give him toys, train him, play with him, and take him for long walks daily. Like other working dog breeds, the Berner has high energy and requires large amounts of exercise to keep fit and healthy.
Items You Will Need
- Food and water dishes
- Dog shampoo
- Dog conditioner
- Nail clippers
- Ear cleaner
- Start grooming your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy as soon as he joins your family to accustom him to the procedure.
- Prevent the boredom that causes behavior such as digging or chewing by training your Bernese Mountain Dog as soon as possible, and by including him in as many family activities as possible.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog is bred to be a working dog, and would not be happy as an apartment dog. He thrives in a home with a fenced area that gives him ample room to run and play.
- The Berner's thick, long coat makes him better suited to colder climates and vulnerable to heat stroke in warmer locations. If you live in a warmer part of the country, keep your Bernese Mountain Dog inside during the summer and offer him lots of fresh, cool water.
- A Berner's joints do not fully form until he is 2 years old. To prevent damaging developing joints, do not allow your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy to jump, play or run on hard surfaces until he is mature..
- Although they generally are calm and good-natured dogs, the size of a Bernese Mountain Dog can be a hazard for young children and smaller animals. To prevent problems, supervise your Berner when he's around those who are smaller than himself, and train him appropriately.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog can suffer from multiple genetic diseases, and his lifespan is relatively short -- usually 6 to 8 years. Find your Berner puppy at a reputable breeder. Help him live the longest and best life possible by taking him to his veterinarian regularly and by feeding him high-quality dry dog food.
- Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Standard image by muro from Fotolia.com