Whenever new breeds of a specific animal are introduced, you run the risk of losing that original breed completely. This was the case with the Bernese Mountain Dog a century or more ago. In fact, many Swiss breeds were being pushed completely out of existence because of new dogs being brought to the Swiss Mountain region. Several people recognized the situation before it was too late and took steps to maintain some pure breeds from several different groups. The Bernese Mountain Dog apparently originated in the Swiss Mountains, though there is little documentation or proof of the exact steps taken to arrive at the breed.
It's named for the Berne canton of Switzerland where the breed was once very common. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working dog. This canine has been used for a variety of chores, including pulling small carts and working in search and rescue situations. However, it seems that the most common demands on these dogs has been as a protector and herding dog. Their keen smelling ability makes them adept at hunting down predators that could harm a flock. One interesting point about the coloration of this dog is that it tends to be very symmetrical.
The base of the coat is black and typically covers the majority of the dog's body. But there will be a white blaze on the Bernese Mountain Dog's chest with additional rust-colored markings - and those on the left and right sides will match. The American Kennel Club recognizes the breed, but will disqualify a Bernese Mountain Dog for having blue eyes.
Though originally bred to be working dogs, these canines are incredibly adept at several things. For example, their intelligence, willingness to please and ability to learn new things makes them popular as obedience dogs. Those same traits make them excellent as family pets. They may try to herd your children, but they'll also be fiercely protective of them. The Bernese Mountain Dog tends to bond completely with his people, whether that's a single person or an entire family. One thing to remember about these dogs is that their loyalty tends to run very deep.
Once they've bonded with you, it will be very difficult for them to ever love another family if you should not be able to keep them. The Bernese Mountain Dog bonds for life and expects the same from your family. That's not to say that these dogs will be snappish with strangers. If they are socialized well as puppies, they tend to be very accepting of new people and even animals. Remember they were initially bred for herding and needed to be accepting of new animals brought into the flock. If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog that's already approaching adulthood, you may be relieved at the thought that he's soon going to have less energy to burn off.
Don't get your hopes up. Most accounts indicate that these dogs tend to take longer to mature and may retain many of those energetic traits of puppyhood for some time.
For more information on Bernese Mountain Dogs and other Popular, and not-so-popular breeds of dogs, visit The Working Dog Directory