The Great Bernese: A Complete Guide

A striking mix of the Bernese Mountain dog and the Great Pyrenees, the Great Bernese is a guaranteed head-turner.

The perfect choice for both single individuals as well as people with families and children, the Great Bernese has a range of fascinating traits that make it almost irresistible to have as a pet.

This guide will highlight these magnificent qualities of the Great Bernese. Additionally, it will also shed some light on the important factors that come into play when training and raising this breed, particularly for people who are eager to bring a Great Bernese puppy home.

In essence, the Great Bernese is a rare but remarkable cross between two distinctively large and solid dogs from different origins; while the mighty Bernese Mountain dog has Swiss roots, the brawny Great Pyrenees traces its origin to France.

In a few words, the Great Bernese can be described as a passionate family dog. It will thrive in an environment where it has developed strong bonds of love with its family.

Additionally, a sense of guardianship runs strong within the genes of this breed, which makes it a natural guard dog.

There are many reasons to get the Great Bernese and make it your new furry best friend.

However, getting a dog is still a huge decision attached with a lot of responsibilities.

Therefore, it is best to do your homework before hopping off to the nearest breeder and investing in a Great Bernese, which is where this guide comes into play.

Refer to this manual as a complete codebook of all the basic information, along with the dos and don’ts of owning and raising a Great Bernese.

The Great Bernese Puppies – Before You Buy…

The Great Bernese
The Great Bernese is a passionate family dog.

The first step of this journey that you are about to embark on is to test your existing knowledge of the Great Bernese. See how many of the following questions you can answer:

  • How much does a Great Bernese pup cost?
  • Where will I find good breeders for the Great Bernese breed?
  • Is my family, house, or lifestyle suitable for a Great Bernese?

Keep reading to find the answers to these questions.

What price are the Great Bernese puppies?

Depending on the breeder and the papers, a Great Bernese pup will cost you anything north of $250.

The average going rate for a Great Bernese puppy, along with a non-refundable initial deposit, is around $1600.

How to find reputable Great Bernese breeders?

Finding a reliable breeder, especially for a mixed breed like the Great Bernese, may seem like an ordeal, but it is not an impossible task.

As a start, you will need to shortlist some breeders who fulfill the prerequisites associated to all reputable breeders. This is to avoid getting in touch with dishonest breeders, for that is a headache in itself.

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The following are some indicators of a breeder’s reliability and authenticity:

  • Proof of health tests

A breeder who is concerned for the well-being of his/her dogs, and will want you to have no trouble with raising the pup will be eager to tell you the dog’s medical history.

All reputable breeders provide customers with proof that the mandatory health tests for both parents of the Great Bernese pup are carried out, and that both dogs have been cleared by a certified professional.

  • Relationship with dogs in the kennel

A good breeder will have a loving bond with the dogs in his/her kennel. Merely looking around the kennel will give you a fair idea of how the dogs are being treated.

If it seems to you that the breeder treats the puppies as products up for sale and is in a hurry to sell them to you, run far away from that breeder.

  • Meeting with the puppy’s parents

When you contact a breeder, ask to meet both parents of the puppy that you’re interested in.

Honest breeders will have nothing to hide, therefore will not hesitate to let you interact with the parents of the puppy.

The breeder also understands that in order for you to predict the kind of personality and looks that the puppy will develop, gauging the parent’s overall persona is the safest option.

  • Willingness to answer your questions

The genuine concern of the breeder will be evident in his or her attitude towards you.

You should be able to openly ask the breeder to clear any confusion that may arise, not just before buying the puppy but also after you have brought it home.

Reputable breeders are known for their mentoring, which is exactly what your breeder should be to you when they guide you through the process of buying and raising your Great Bernese pup.

3 Little-known facts about the Great Bernese puppies

The Great Bernese
The Great Bernese is a natural guard dog.
  • The Great Bernese is a one-man dog

The Great Bernese has a tendency to get overly attached to its owner, usually one person of the household.

The dog will constantly seek its owner’s love and attention. However, this does not mean that the Great Bernese doesn’t get along with other humans and animals.

  • They’re innately protective

The Great Bernese is inherently a territorial guard dog, a trait which forces it to be quite vocal when in suspicion.

Having said that, aggression not a characteristic associated to the Great Bernese.

  • They shed quite a lot
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The Great Bernese is a furry canine that will shed most of the time. Seasonal shedding is even heavier than year-round shedding.

Therefore, regular and thorough brushing is imperative for the upkeep of the dog, especially to prevent tangling and painful matting of their long fur.

Having said that, the Great Bernese does not need to be bathed too frequently, with only occasional baths sufficing to keep the dog clean.

Physical Traits of the Great Bernese

The Great Bernese has a large, intimidating build curtained by a long, thick fur coat.

How big is a full-grown Great Bernese?

The Great Bernese is a large-sized dog with an overpowering presence.

The average full-grown dog of this breed will weigh as much as 70 to 115 pounds.

These dogs stand proudly at 24 to 28 inches tall.

What is the life expectancy of the Great Bernese?

The average expected a lifespan of a Great Bernese is 7 to 12 years, which is slightly higher than that either of its parent breeds.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Great Bernese

The Great Bernese
The Great Bernese is a well-mannered pet.

The behavioural characteristics of the Great Bernese depend largely on the personalities of the parent dogs.

Owing to its genes, the Great Bernese is a calm dog that showcases a cool, mellow demeanor, inherited more from the Bernese Mountain dog and the Great Pyrenees.

The Great Bernese is an exceptionally smart dog. In addition to that, it is patient and hardworking, making it a devoted companion to its owner.

This mixed breed is not known to be aggressive but is notorious for devoting itself to one member of the family whom it considers to be its owner.

Having said that, the Great Bernese will not shy away from establishing relationships with other humans, children or pets.

In fact, the guardian qualities of this hybrid make it the perfect playmate for children, although interactions between your pet and small children should be supervised to ensure that no mishaps occur due to the large size of the Great Bernese.

The dog does have a stubborn, independent streak within its personality.

Therefore, owners need to establish their role as the alpha of the house before the Great Bernese starts to impose its dominance over the members of the house.

The Great Bernese is an intuitive dog that will be reserved around unfamiliar faces but is a suitable pet to have in multi-pet households.

Moreover, this is a playful dog that will enjoy time in the cool outdoors rather than staying indoors, though it is adaptable to both lifestyles. Within the house, this dog will often be found lazing around next to its “person”.

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The Great Bernese Diet

Considering the size of the Great Bernese, it is understandable that this dog will require a substantial amount of food throughout the day.

It is up to you to decide what kind of diet you want to keep your pet on; a raw food diet, a premium kibble diet, or a homemade diet.

Whatever you feed your pet should amount to 4 cups of food portioned into several meals throughout the day.

You can expect a monthly expenditure of roughly $80 to $90 on the Great Bernese’s diet.

How much Exercise does a Great Bernese need?

The parents of the Great Bernese were strictly bred for herding on mountainous terrain. Therefore, this is a dog that inherently prefers playing out in open spaces rather than in a restricted indoor environment.

The Great Bernese is quite an energetic dog and will thus need to engage in daily physical activities to use up that energy.

Apart from daily walks of at least a good thirty minutes, allow your pet ample playtime in a dog park or an enclosed yard. The dog will appreciate outdoor activities like long hikes in cold climates.

Inside the house, the Great Bernese will enjoy playtime with kids, where it will pull them around in a cart or engage in other games with young children.

Apart from that, guarding its family by lounging right beside them is an indoor “activity” that the Great Bernese will find quite satisfying.

The Great Bernese Health and Conditions

Although it is a hardy breed, being a hybrid the Great Bernese is genetically predisposed to certain health issues.

Amongst these, major concerns include bloating, joint conditions, Addison’s disease, histiocytosis, and meningitis.

Other illnesses that the Great Bernese may be at risk of inheriting include kidney problems, eye problems (like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy), epilepsy, entropion, and cerebellar abiotrophy, though these constitute minor concerns.

Some occasional health examinations that may need to be carried out include biopsy, blood and urine tests, ocular exam, skin and hair examination, electrocardiogram, and other internal imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

In addition to that, since the Great Bernese has a dense fur coat made for cold climates, it is not suitable for living in places with hot climates.

Grooming Advice

Grooming a Great Bernese is quite simple if you follow a strict schedule and adopt the right practices.

Since this dog has a very dense coat, you can expect heavy shedding around your house. To reduce this, regularly brush the coat of your Great Bernese and catch all the loose hair.

You can use a pin brush to remove loose hair from the topcoat. Besides this, use a slicker brush for brushing the undercoat of your Great Bernese.

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If you find any tangles or matted hair during brushing, use a mat rake to work through them. This is because the mat rake has sharpened teeth which can cut through the knotted hair.

However, first, try working through the tangles with your fingers and only use a mat rake if the tangles are too dense.

Moreover, bathing your Great Bernese too frequently can cause dry skin, which is why you are recommended to keep the baths to a minimum.

One bath per month is sufficient for this breed of dogs. In addition to this, regular trimming of the nails is also required for a Great Bernese.

You can use a canine nail clipper or a grinder for this purpose. You should be careful to only remove the last quarter inch of the nail of your dog.

If you clip more than that, it is likely to cause pain to your pet. The nails of your Great Bernese should be clipped every week due to their fast growth.

Also, use an ear cleaning product to regularly clean the ears of your dog to avoid any wax buildup or infection.

You can also use blunt scissors to trim the hair around the ears of your dog.

During summer, you can even shave the coat of your Great Bernese. However, make sure you do not shave the coat down to its skin which can cause sunburn.

Special Treats

Being the big dogs they are, the Great Bernese certainly have big appetites. Therefore, you’ll find he or she is happy to have treats of all kinds. If anything, you should be careful of how far you go with this!

These dogs put on weight easily, so you might want to wrap special treats and healthy treats into one big package.

One thing to keep in mind if you hand out treats like fresh-cooked chicken chunks are that it’s best not to have any seasoning involved. Keep salt, gravy and anything else at bay – it’s better for your pet in the long term.

If your Saint Bernese has a sweet tooth though, you’ll find that fruit can come to your rescue here. Fruits like strawberries and banana pieces are always appreciated by your dog, and good for them – but they’re pretty high in natural sugars too.

Many dog owners agree that the best bet here is to focus on treats like crunchy carrot sticks or cubes of melon, which are far lower in natural sugars, very hydrating, and packed with vitamins and a healthy balance of fibre.

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Even these ought to be handed over sparingly though. Dogs, even strong ones like this breed, aren’t designed to gobble down tons of plant-based foods, and their digestive systems don’t handle it well.

Nothing can be more endearing yet saddening than a big grumpy bear of a breed of a dog like this with a tummy ache!

My final thoughts on the Great Bernese

Now that we’ve gone over the specifics of the Great Bernese in detail, it is easy to narrow down exactly the kind of households that this breed is most suited for.

The Great Bernese will adapt easily to both an outdoor as well as an indoor life, though it will thrive in the former.

Therefore, large houses in rural or suburban areas will prove to be the most appropriate homes for the Great Bernese to run around in, owing to the simple fact that this is a large dog that will need a lot of open space to roam about.

Moreover, both single people, as well as people with large families and kids, will benefit largely from this breed.

Single individuals will find an intelligent and calm companion in the Great Bernese, loyal to its core, while families will appreciate its intuitiveness and affection towards children and other family members.

What could perhaps be the only downside of raising a Great Bernese is that this is a breed that is relatively difficult to train.

However, this is in no way a deal-breaker, for, with the right kind of firm, consistent training, the stubbornness of the dog can easily be mitigated and turned into boundless obedience.

To sum, the Great Bernese is a remarkable watchdog and its size is the best deterrent for intruders who can get easily intimidated by it.

This is not at all a hostile dog. In fact, its well-mannered nature and cool persona oozes a sense of comfort and calmness around the household.

So if you’re single, or married, or have children, or even have pets, rest assured that the Great Bernese will get along with anyone and will gel right into your lifestyle, leaving its mark as an important member of your family.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

OVERALL SUMMARY

7
Cost to Buy
9
Cuteness Level
9.5
Family Safety
9.5
Friendliness
6
Health Concerns
6
Life Span
2
Exercise Required
5
Food Required
OVERALL RATING 6.8 / 10

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