Bernese Mountain Dog

FCI standard Nº 45

Origin
Switzerland
Translation
Mrs. Peggy Davis, revised by Elke Pepper
Group
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer type Molossoid breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle-Dogs
Section
Section 3 Swiss Cattle Dogs
Working
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Monday 26 July 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 25 March 2003
Last update
Monday 05 May 2003
En français, cette race se dit
Bouvier bernois
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Berner Sennenhund
En español, esta raza se dice
Boyero de Montaña Bernés
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Berner Sennenhond

Usage

Originally used as a guard-, draught-and cattle dog on farms in the Canton Bern, today also family dog and versatile working dog.

Brief historical summary

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a farm dog of ancestral origin which was used as a guard and draught dog and for driving cattle in the prealpine regions and in the midland areas around Bern. Originally he was named “Dürrbächler” according to the name of the hamlet and of the inn of Dürrbach, near Riggisberg in the Canton Bern where these long-haired tricoloured farm dogs were especially numerous. In 1902, 1904 and 1907 specimen of this breed had already been exhibited at dog shows, and in 1907 some breeders of the region of Burgdorf decided to promote the pure breeding of these dogs by founding the “Schweizerischer Dürrbach-Klub”, and fixing the characteristic traits of the breed.
In 1910, at a show in Burgdorf where many farmers of that region brought their Dürrbächler dogs to, already 107 specimen were shown. From that day onward this dog, renamed “Bernese Mountain Dog” following the example of the other breeds of Swiss Mountain Dogs, became rapidly appreciated all over Switzerland and in the neighbouring parts of Germany. Today the Bernese Mountain Dog is well known and appreciated all over the world as a family dog thanks to its striking tricoloured coat and its great adaptability.

General appearance

Longhaired, tricoloured, strong and agile working dog, of above medium size, with sturdily built limbs; harmonious and well balanced.

Important proportions

Height at withers : length of body (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock) = 9 : 10, rather compact than elongated.
Ideal relation of height at withers : depth of chest = 2 : 1.

Behaviour / temperament

Self-confident, attentive, vigilant, fearless in every day situations; good-natured and devoted to his own people, self-assured and placid towards strangers ; of medium temperament, docile.

Head

Cranial region

Head
Strong. In size balanced to general appearance, not too massive.
Skull
Viewed from the front and in profile little rounded. Frontal furrow hardly marked. 
Stop
Well defined, but without being too pronounced.

Facial region

Nose
Black.
Muzzle
Strong, of medium length.
Lips
Close fitting; black.
Nasal bridge
Nasal bridge straight.
Jaws and teeth
Strong, complete scissor bite (molars 3 (M3) are not taken into consideration). Pincer bite accepted.
Eyes
Dark brown, almond-shaped, with close fitting eyelids. Neither too deep-set nor prominent. Loose eyelids are faulty.
Ears
Medium-sized, set high, triangular in shape, slightly rounded at the tips, in repose hanging flat and close to the head. When alert, the rear part of the set-on is raised while the front edge of the ear remains close to the head.

Neck

Strong, muscular, of medium length.

Body

Topline
From the neck running slightly downwards to the withers in a harmonious line, then running on straight and level.
Back
Firm, straight and level.
Loin
Broad and strong; seen from above slightly less broad than the chest.
Croup
Smoothly rounded.
Chest
Broad and deep, reaching to the elbows; forechest distinctly developed; ribcage of wide-oval section extending as well back as possible.
Underline and belly
Slightly rising from chest to hindquarters.

Tail

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

Limbs

Strong bones.

Forequarters

Generality
Forelegs seen from the front straight and parallel, standing rather wide apart.
Shoulders
Shoulder blade 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; with well-knit, well-arched toes. Turned neither in nor out.

Hindquarters

Generality
Seen from the rear straight and parallel, not too close.
Upper thigh
Long, broad, strong and well muscled.
Lower thigh
Long and oblique.
Stifle
Distinctly well bent.
Metatarsus
Set almost vertically. Dewclaws to be removed (except in those countries where it is prohibited by law).
Hock
Strong, well angulated.
Hind feet
Slightly less arched than forefeet, turned neither in nor out.

Gait and 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
Long, shining, straight or slightly wavy.
Colour
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.

Size and weight

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 and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 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.
 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.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy.
 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.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• 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.

Bibliography

http://www.fci.be/

 

Detailed history

The Bernese Mountain Dog is the best known of the four Swiss Bouvier breeds. Used for centuries as an auxiliary by the Swiss alpine pastures, this large tricolor dog has also become, in Switzerland and abroad, a docile and seductive pet.

It has long been claimed that the Bernese Mountain Dog was a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff, who was established in Switzerland during the Roman conquest; • Caesar's armies took with them Tibetan Mastiff dogs; during barbarian invasions. The discovery, in the Roman military camp of Vindonissa, of a clay lamp on which was represented a long-haired dog with raised whip inevitably evoking the Bernese Mountain dog accrediting this hypothesis. In recent years, however, cynologists, not without caution, have pointed out that this vestige, as interesting as it was, did not allow to evaluate the size of the dog and even less to understand the reasons for such a reproduction.

In 1924, the discovery of skulls of dogs comparable to that of the Bernese (that is to say, 180 to 205 millimeters in length), in a lakeside village on the shores of Lake Zurich, would challenge everything by reinforcing the idea of ​​many scientists that these large dogs were likely from Switzerland. The Bernese Mountain Dog, without being able to be given a precise age, would in fact be a very old native race whose establishment was well before the Roman or barbaric conquests. Margret Bârtschi, specialist of the race, wrote: "The only sure thing to remember is that these dogs existed in our regions already four thousand years before J. -C. and that, at a time between 1000 and 600 BC, dogs of the size of the Bernese Mountain Dog were found here."

From these dogs of imposing size, the Swiss would proceed for several centuries to various crossings that would lead to the Bernese Mountain Dog that we know today. This development was closely linked to Swiss history since the Middle Ages, when the territories in the Prealps of the regions of Schwarzenburg, Emmental, Bern and Burgdorf were in the hands of the nobility and the clergy, who had distributed the land to the peasants. Thanks to the richness of the soil and to a political situation without great upheaval, the latter would gradually acquire a wealth without comparison with the living conditions of rural populations in other regions. This opulence, soon became legendary, attracted vagrants, beggars and mercenaries penniless, so that the inhabitants, fearing robbery or arson, selected dogs able to protect their property, that is to say, Bernese Mountain Dogs.

But, as the name of Bouvier indicates, these dogs would also prove to be excellent auxiliaries for the cowherds. Indeed, from the Middle Ages, a dominating place in the life of the community was occupied by the cattle farmers. Employed first by the nobles whose cattle they grazed on leased pastures, in the sixteenth century they became owners of the herds and were thus allowed to sell the products they harvested from the farm. When autumn came, they would go down to the valleys to shelter their herds, and with their dogs they would rent a place for the winter. Thus, the Bernese Mountain Dogs not only had to defend the men, they also had for mission to keep and protect the cattle in the stables.

The third and last task entrusted to the Bouvier Bernois was that of a dairy dog. In the middle of the nineteenth century, following the reputation enjoyed by Switzerland throughout Europe for the quality of its products, herds flourished considerably, and the cheese factories settled in the plains. The peasants then realized the important resources that their dogs could bring them; this is how they quickly taught them how to pull small carts to transport the cans of milk from the farm to the nearest cheese factory.

After this climax, the Bernese Mountain Dog soon experienced a sharp decline, with the industrialization of the country and the intensification of international trade during the second half of the nineteenth century. The reconversion of this dog became indispensable, under pain of disappearance. Unfortunately, if, like that of other European countries, the Swiss dog breed started to gain more and more followers, it would favor another type of dog, also Swiss and the Bernese region, the Saint Bernard , whose red or yellow marks attracted buyers more than the Bernese tricolor dress. More importantly, the multiple crosses of Bouviers Bernois with Leonbergs and Newfoundland, two breeds that were regularly imported into Switzerland, had the effect of impoverishing the herd.

It was not until 1899 and the creation of the first Swiss cynological association, called the Berna, that the Bernese Mountain Dog finally emerged from the shadows. In 1902, an event organized under the aegis of this dog-eating organization gathered more than 320 dogs of various breeds. She was commented on by a local newspaper: "This exhibition even included a test class. It was that of the Dürrbächlers (name that was given to the Bernese at the time), a type of dog that plays, in the canton of Bern, about the same role as that which plays, in the canton of Appenzell, the Bouvier of the same name. Two years later, under the aegis of a Bern restorer named Fritz Probst, a new exhibition bringing together 6 Bouviers Bernois was organized, which resulted in the inscription of the breed in the Swiss Book of Origins - and its official recognition, after Fritz Probst, appointed judge, awarded four prizes to the Bernese.

It was at this time, too, that Professor Heim of the Zurich Institute of Geology became interested in these dogs. A breeder from Newfoundland, he was conquered by the Swiss Bouvers, whose aptitudes he appreciated, and he began to increase their popularity while reinforcing their qualities. It was Professor Heim, in particular, who explained to breeders that these dogs should not have split truffles, a feature that some subjects presented at the beginning of the century and that many breeders wanted to encourage.

In 1907, supported by the specialized press, the breeders founded the Swiss Dog Club of Dürrbach for the improvement of the breed, which, the following year, was able to present to Professor Heim, who became an official judge, 22 Dürrbächlers . The eminent cynologist suggested then to baptize the Bouvier Bernois race, in order to insert it more easily into the family of Swiss Bouviers; Appenzell Bouvier, Entlebuch Bouvier and Swiss Grand Bouvier. But, wishing to keep the original name (Dürrbachler wanting to say dog ​​Durbbach, the name of a hamlet where these dogs were many), the breeders refused, and it was not until 1913 and the request of the Swiss Cynological Society that this name become definitive and official.

Until the late twenties, Professor Heim multiplied the meetings between breeders to standardize Bernese Mountain Dogs present in Switzerland, some dogs having, indeed, considerable size differences. Little by little, enthusiasts admire a variation of 6 centimeters - first from 62 to 68 cm, then, from 1975, from 64 to 70 cm - a variation which, according to Professor Heim, was of little importance. essential being the "natural" appearance of the animal.

When the standard was known to all and the control of the breeding rigorously organized, the Bouvier Bernois conquered many foreign cynophiles, and in particular French. Thus, there are today just over 500 subjects in France.

In addition to his duties with the flock, the Bernese Mountain Dog was once appreciated for its qualities of guardian. Today, his tranquil protector's looks make him sought out by many families as a pet dog. To successfully complete all these tasks, a dog must be balanced, and the Bernese Mountain Dog is almost naturally. Always keeping an eye on family members, he watches peacefully everything that happens around him. He naturally knows the limits of his territory, and the approach of a stranger is systematically indicated by a serious barking. When his master is present, the Bouvier Bernois accompanies the stranger to the house and stays around to observe the behavior of the newcomer.

The guard instinct is very pronounced. He will defend himself the property or property of his master if he considers that they are threatened. This provision can, of course, be reinforced by specialized training, in order to obtain the "defense dog" patent. However, you need to be vigilant because some exercises can cause or increase aggression in a poorly balanced subject. In addition, the Bernese Mountain Dog is not always a tender, unlike the image of affectionate teddy bear that is willingly lent. A French breeder, whose words were not to the taste of his peers, confided thus a few years ago that it was inadvisable to let a stranger approach the hand of the Bernese to caress him. Most often, the contact is very friendly, but sometimes some people do not like such familiarity. This is because the Bernese Mountain Dog has kept a whole personality, and it should not be confused with a stuffed animal proud, imposing and solid that has nothing of the purely decorative dog.

If the Bernese used to hunt neither chickens nor cats in the farmyard, it was because he had learned what was useful to his masters. The tolerance he showed was the result of a slow adaptation to his environment. It would be unrealistic to think that a Bernese Mountain Dog immersed in the city or semi-rural life of today can immediately adopt the same attitude. He needs to be educated, to learn in a few months what his ancestors have learned over the centuries. He will be able to remain quiet when he crosses another animal in the street or moderate his instincts of guard so as not to annoy the visitors of the family home.

To keep a Bernese Mountain dog in shape, the best attitude is to give him responsibilities. Indeed, the great availability of this animal leads him to appreciate any mission provided that it allows him to feel useful. This former dairy dog ​​is of course able to pull small carts to entertain children or to provide a service, such as carrying or bringing back an object, but it is not a dog sled.

Its robustness and its rusticity allow the Bouvier Bernois to live in the open air, if it has a niche that protects it from bad weather. But he must not remain too often alone, all day, in a kennel or tied to a chain. It needs a lot of space, and if one is not able to get it out frequently and for a long time, a garden is needed.

He needs to see his master, play with him, accompany him. If he suffers from loneliness, this dog will become from an early age abnormally suspicious, even aggressive. And even if he knows how to obey all the members of the family, he will hardly support the frequent changes of owners. With children, the Bernese Mountain Dog plays perfectly the role of protector. But it is advisable to acquire a dog of this size when it is very small because become adult, the Bouvier Bernois will have taken the habit of slowing down its rhythm in the presence of the child.

The hair of the Bouvier Bernois is very easy to maintain. Just brush it for ten minutes a day, especially if he lives outside most of the time. Well nourished and well maintained, it will prove a pleasant companion, especially since, since the late seventies, the breeders have been trying to make it more sociable than its ancestors of the beginning of the century. To this end, the Swiss Breed Club has introduced character examinations for subjects for breeding. The suspicious and fearful dogs who, in the farms of the past, were certainly excellent guardians but could now turn out to be troublesome, have thus almost totally disappeared, to the benefit of sociable and balanced animals their owners.

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