Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent, alert, and usually gentle dogs. However, although they are active dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not known for their endurance. Dog sports such as carting or drafting, herding, tracking, agility, rally and standard obedience as sport can help to provide physical and mental stimulation while helping the dog bond well with its family. Bernese Mountain Dogs also bond with people by being animal-assisted therapy dogs. Their reputation as a good family dog allows them to be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
The name "Bernese Mountain Dog" is a rough translation of the German "Berner Sennenhund," which literally means "Bernese Alpine herdsman's dog." The Bernese Mountain Dog was rescued from near extinction by Swiss cynologist Franz Schertenlieb in the late 1800's. The modern breed was developed from the dogs found in the countryside near Bern, Switzerland and they are only one of several Swiss breeds. The original Berner Sennenhund was an all-round farm dog used to guard the farm, drive the cows to and from their mountain pastures, and pull carts loaded with milk cans to the dairy. The Bernese Mountain Dog needs lots of human companionship and must be allowed regular interaction with the family. The breed is gentle, calm, affectionate and faithful and makes a great watch dog. They are also very good with children and other animals. The Bernese Mountain dog first came to the United States in 1926. A decade later, two more Bernese Mountain Dogs were imported from Switzerland. In 1937, these two dogs became the first of the breed to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.