Description & History

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a native of the Berne region of Switzerland.

The breed, like all Swiss Mountain dogs, is descended from local sheepdogs and the Mastiff which accompanied the Roman legions on their conquest of Europe.

There are three other varieties of Swiss Mountain dogs: the Appenzell, the Entlebuch and the Great Swiss Mountain Dog.

The Appenzell is named after the canton and the town of Appenzell. They would herd cattle and also pull carts which transported buckets of milk from the dairies.

The Entlebuch, the smallest of the four breeds, comes from the valley of Entlebuch, which is in the canton of Berne.

The breed also worked in the region of Lucerne and was used as a farm dog - guarding and herding. The Entlebuch is born without a tail.

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog, largest of the mountain breeds, was used for general farm work. When the country was more agricultural than it is today, the breed was often used for light draught work - instead of horses - as well as for herding cattle and sheep. They would pull carts and help move small amounts of timber.

The Bernese were originally used for herding cattle and as guard dogs, but were later developed for draught work; they were engaged for light haulage duties by the weavers of Berne and by cheese makers who used them to collect milk from the mountain farms.

Nowadays, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sometimes harnessed to little wooden carts to enable them to give rides to small children.

Rosamund Walters.

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