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Great bernese mountain dog
The great bernese mountain dog is a breed of dog originally bred for herding, tracking and hunting, but now also popular as a family pet. There is no official registration body for the breed. The German Shepherd Group does not recognise the great bernese mountain dog as a separate breed, though other organisations, such as the American Kennel Club and The Kennel Club, classify the breed as "other herding breeds".
In Germany and Austria, the great bernese mountain dog is also called the great german shepherd dog, and in South Africa, it is called the great kopfskelder dog. In England, it is known as the berner.
The great bernese mountain dog's origins are uncertain, but the breed was bred to hunt game in the Alps and Pyrenees, so it is likely that these mountain regions were its breeding grounds. It is not known when the breed was developed, or when it left its mountainous home, but it was being bred in France in the 1700s, and was being brought to America by the 1800s. The first great bernese mountain dog was imported to America in 1848, and the first breed standard was published in the USA in 1895.
Although the great bernese mountain dog was not recognised as a separate breed until the early 1990s, some organisations, such as The American Kennel Club, have recognised the great bernese mountain dog as "other herding breeds", which is usually listed as German Shepherd Dog. In England, it was recognised as a "minor herding breed" in 1984, though it was not an official breed until 2004.
The great bernese mountain dog is a large, medium-sized dog, with a stocky build and strong muscular legs, and an overall sturdy appearance. It has a medium-length, thick coat with a long, thick coat on its underside. The coat's colours vary, with white, black and yellow and brown, with various shades and combinations of black, brown, white and gold being the most common. They weigh approximately between, and stand between at the withers.
The great bernese mountain dog has a broad, muscular chest with deep lungs that are ideally suited for running and climbing. Its short, strong legs are ideally suited for its heavy-footed herding or tracking duties. The breed has a strong jaw and broad, short muzzle. The great bernese mountain dog has a long, broad skull and large, round, wide-set, bright, intelligent eyes. The breed is usually very intelligent and alert, but should be taught to be calm and quiet when it is not needed, and to accept being left alone for long periods.
Coat and colour
The coat is usually short and thick, with a slightly wavy, tumbling hair. It is usually slightly longer in winter than in summer, and is often shorter on the underside of the body than the top.
Colours are usually black, white, brown, or combinations of black and white, brown, and occasionally gold. White should be bright and the dog's hair should be clear, and white does not come in a puffy form, it is a colour that is actually on the coat, rather than just an undertone. The white colour can be either puffy, or more of a creamy appearance, with the hair having a soft, silky feel. The white colour is considered by many breeders to be the most attractive of the colours.
The colour of a great bernese mountain dog's ears should be a solid black, although they can also be a pale yellow, which is considered a shade of black. The colour of the eyes should be dark brown, or black, and they should be set wide apart. There is a genetic variation in eye colour within the breed.
The great bernese mountain dog is a versatile working dog, ideally suited to herding or tracking work. It is a friendly, playful and active breed, though it can also be very reserved and aloof, and will become very nervous when working with unfamiliar or aggressive dogs. It will also need firm, but not heavy-handed, training from its owner or handler. It can have a dominant and aloof attitude, and should always be trained not to chase, bite, or intimidate other dogs, particularly when it is young.
Because the great bernese mountain dog is naturally good with children and has the right temperament for a working dog, it has been widely accepted as a family dog. It is suitable for apartment living, and it can be kept either as a companion or as a working dog.
In the wild, the bernese mountain dog was used as a mountain dog, and is now used to chase and herd animals in a similar way. It is a courageous, confident and brave breed that is ready to take on almost any situation with its owner or handler.
Health and grooming
The great bernese mountain dog is a relatively healthy breed, with a low rate of congenital defects, and an average lifespan of 12–14 years. The breed's longevity is also largely influenced by its breed standard, which includes a relatively low requirement for the breed to have health issues.
The great bernese mountain dog's coat should be groomed regularly, although short-haired dogs do not need to be groomed as often as long-haired dogs. The coat should not be allowed to get too long or too short, and it is recommended that a coat should be trimmed every three to four weeks to prevent mats, which can be uncomfortable to the dog and to the dog owner. The coat should also be kept free of dirt and dander, to prevent allergies and irritations.
The breed's ears should be cleaned and regularly checked for ear infections, and should be checked for signs of inflammation or infection, and any lumps or tumours. Their eyes should be cleaned and checked regularly, as their eyes can sometimes be affected by allergies or infections.
The coat of the great bernese mountain dog should be free of mats, as they are uncomfortable