The Bernese Mountain Dog is a sturdy, heavy dog with a beautiful, weather-resistant tricolor double coat of black with symmetrical markings of rust and white. The dog should have a white blaze on the chest, white on the head and toes, and rust markings over each eye, on the cheeks, on the sides of the chest, under the tail, and on each leg. The coat is moderately long and either straight or slightly wavy. The broad head has a slight furrow down the middle. The medium-sized triangular ears are pendant. The dark eyes have a gentle expression, and the nose is black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The body is compact with a wide, deep chest. The brisket should reach down to the elbow at least. The tail is long and bushy, carried low when in repose (a slight upward curve is permissible when the dog is alert). Dewclaws should be removed.
Although the exact origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog are unclear, this breed probably began as a farm dog in the Swiss mountains. Paintings from the end of the eighteenth century show the Bernese type. By the end of the nineteenth century, many foreign dogs were being imported to Switzerland, and there was a danger that the native breeds would be lost. Professor Albert Heim, Franz Schertenleib, and others led the effort to preserve native Swiss breeds by finding remaining specimens and stabilizing the Berner Sennenhund (Bernese Alpine Herdsman's Dog) as a distinct breed. The Bernese Mountain Dog was named after the Berne canton of Switzerland where the breed is widely known. The sturdy Bernese has been used for driving livestock, for draft work, and as a farm guardian. Because of his gentle, happy temperament, the Bernese Mountain Dog makes a fine family companion.