The Snowy Pines Kids

A. Origin of the Breed
B. Breed Standard
C. Bernese Mountain Dog Resource List
D. Nutrition

A. Origin of the Breed

THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG - Source: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are working dogs having a long history in their Swiss homeland, where they are used as farm dogs, guarding and driving cattle and pulling milk carts. Their Swiss name, Berner Sennenhund, refers to the canton of Bern, where they were developed, and to the primary purpose for which they were used. A Senn or Senner is a man who takes the cattle to the Alps in the summer and stays with them milking them, caring for them, and making cheese. Thus, the Sennenhund is the dog taken along on the Alpine journeys. Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs are valued also as loyal companions, guard or watch dogs on farms and in the city, and avalanche dogs.

The breed apparently had its origins in the mastiff type dogs brought by the Romans when they came into Switzerland around two thousand years ago. The Roman dogs were used to guard and drive herds brought with the invaders. Over the centuries, since Roman times, these dogs remained as general purpose farmer's dogs. Around the beginning of this century the breed was nearly extinct, but some fanciers brought them from various isolated valleys in their home canton of Bern, and promoted the interest in these dogs. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1937. Bernese Mountain Dogs developed slowly here, receiving somewhat of a set back during World War II when importing of dogs was stopped. Since 1968 the breed has been promoted in this country by The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are striking in appearance, with a soft, long, shining black coat and highly characteristic markings of white blaze, chest, feet and tail tip, and rich reddish-brown "eyebrows", cheeks, and between the white and the black on the legs. Height ranges between 23 and 27 1/2 inches at the shoulder, and in weight these sturdily built dogs are usually between 80 and 110 pounds. Their long history and purpose as farmers' companions shows well in their good disposition, love of and devotion to their people, and ability to learn readily. They are not kennel or pack dogs, but rather prefer human companionship.

B. Breed Standard

THE BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG - Source: Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.
Revised 3/90

General Appearance: The Bernese Mountain Dog is a striking, tri-colored, large dog. He is sturdy and balanced. He is intelligent, strong and agile enough to do the draft and drovihg work for which he was used in the mountainous regions of his origin. Dogs appear masculine, while bitches are distinctly feminine.

Size, Proportion, Substance: Measured at the withers, dogs are 25 to 27 1/2 inches; bitches are 23 to 26 inches. Though appearing square, Bernese Mountain Dogs are slightly longer in body than they are tall. Sturdy bone is of great importance. The body is full.

Head: Expression is intelligent, animated and gentle. The eyes are dark brown and slightly oval in shape with close fitting eyelids. Inverted or everted eyelids are serious faults. Blue eye color is a disqualification. The ears are medium sized, set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip, and hang close to the head when in repose. When the Bernese Mountain Dog is alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base; the top of the ear is level with the top of the skull. The skull is flat on top and broad, with a slight furrow and a well-defined but not exaggerated stop. The muzzle is strong and straight. The nose is black. The lips are clean and, as the Bernese Mountain Dog is a dry mouthed breed, the flews are only slightly developed. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. An overshot or undershot bite is a serious fault. Dentition is complete.

Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is strong, muscular and of medium length. The topline is level from the withers to the croup. The chest is deep and capacious with well-sprung, but not barrel shaped, ribs and brisket reaching at least to the elbows. The back is broad and firm. The loin is strong. The croup is broad and smoothly rounded to the tail insertion. The tail is bushy. It should be carried low when in repose. An upward swirl is permissible when the dog is alert, but the tail may never curl or be carried over the back. The bones in the tail should feel straight and should reach to the hock joint or below. A kink in the tail is a fault.

ForeQuarters: The shoulders are moderately laid back, flat-lying, well-muscled and never loose. The legs are straight and strong and the elbows are well under the shoulder when the dog is standing. The pasterns slope very slightly, but are never weak. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet are round and compact with well-arched toes.

HindQuarters: The thighs are broad, strong and muscular. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight as viewed from the rear. Dewclaws should be removed. Feet are compact and turn neither in nor out.

Coat: The coat is thick. moderately long and slightly wavy or straight. It has a bright natural sheen. Extremely curly or extremely dull-looking coats are undesirable. The Bernese Mountain Dog is shown in natural coat and undue trimming is to be discouraged.

Color & Markings: The Bernese Mountain Dog is tri-colored. The ground color is jet black. The markings are rich rust and clear white. Symmetry of markings is desired. Rust appears over each eye, on the cheeks reaching to at least the comer of the mouth, on each side of the chest, on all four legs, and under the tail. There is a white blaze and muzzle bank. A white marking on the chest typically forms an inverted cross. The tip of the tail is white. White on the feet is desired but must not extend higher than the pasterns. Markings other than described are to be faulted in direct relationship tot he extent of the deviations. White legs or a white collar are serious faults. Any ground color other than black is a disqualification.

Gait: The natural working gait of the Bernese Mountain Dog is a slow trot. However, in keeping with his use in draft and droving work, he is capable of speed and agility. There is good reach in front. Powerful drive from the rear is transmitted through a level back. There is no wasted action. Front and rear legs on each side follow through in the same plane. At increased speed, legs tend to converge toward the center line.

Temperament: The temperament is self-confident, alert and good-natured, never sharp or shy. The Bernese Mountain Dog should stand steady, though may remain aloof to the attentions of strangers.

DisQualifications: Blue eye color. Any ground color other than black.

C. Bernese Mountain Dog Book Resource List

The Bernese Mountain Dog Today
Malcolm B. Willis

The Beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs
Diane Russ/Shirle Rogers

The New Bernese Mountain Dog
Sharon Smith

Bernese Mountain Dog (a Kennel Club Book)
Louise Harper

Bernese Mountain Dogs
Amy Christiansen

D. Nutrition

I believe in feeding my Bernese high quality kibble. I like my dogs to have kibble that is low in protein and low in fat. I feed my "spoiled" pooches kibble that contains a variety of meat and fish in the first ingredients and has a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

I choose to support dog food programs that have the best interest of dogs in mind, and that keep abreast of food research, making changes as necessary with findings in research, and have a proven track record of contributing to the long-term health of dogs. I continue to keep on top of advances in food research and products. Like humans, each dog has a unique internal make up and unique nutritional needs. Not all dogs do well on one particular type of food nor does one food work well over the lifetime of a dog. It is important to know the signs of nutrient depletion in animals and to be able to make the necessary adjustments to best meet the needs of the dog before it is too late. Dry / gray skin, brittle / dull coat, loss of energy, listless eyes, continual hot spots, wax build-up in ears and continual bladder infections are just a few of the signs of poor diet and food not working in the best interest of dogs.

Snowy Pines values that all dogs have unique dietary needs. I choose to rotate two or three quality kibbles throughout the year to best meet the needs of my dogs. I rotate high quality kibble with chicken and turkey, kibble of white fish, and those with beef and barley. My dogs have done well with food rotation. Each year I introduce one new food to our dogs. This helps me to have a "working" knowledge of quality foods on the market. This "working" knowledge allows me to better support my puppy families with food selection and food evaluation with regard to the individual needs of each Snowy Pines dog.

Snowy Pines welcomes all questions!

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