When you look at the size and build of the Bernese mountain dog it is not hard to see why it makes a good working breed. Originally bred to drive cattle, the Bernese has had a varied history and it has been bred with a number of different dogs to come up with the breed standard that it follows today. Still known as a working dog, the Bernese is used by many owners as a working companion. But just what is the breed's job these days and are they just as well suited now for working as they were in the past?
Comparing the Bernese in History and in the Present
As mentioned earlier, originally the Bernese mountain dog was bred to herd cattle. This meant that the dog had to be energetic and athletic. They also had to have a fairly aggressive temperament as they were sometimes used as guard dogs by the Romans. This meant that they were bred into Mastiff type dogs and they were designed to be able to cope with really harsh weather. As time went on they started being used more for cart pulling. For this job they needed to be friendlier and they still needed to be able to cope with all weathers. This was because they were pulling the carts over the Alps and going from one village to another. They still needed to be athletic to do this as they could be walking for miles, but they also needed to be strong too. However when the 1800's arrived, people started to take more notice of the Saint Bernard. Obviously the Saint Bernard had more strength and it was preferred by most people over the Bernese as a working breed. So the Bernese mountain dog very nearly became extinct until one man named Herr Franz Schertenlieb came across one of the dogs and decided to breed from it. These days the Bernese is mainly used as a companion dog but it is also occasionally used for farm work and cart pulling too. Mainly with cart pulling today, the breed is used for fun and to take part in competitions. Very rarely is the Bernese used today for pulling carts professionally. They do not always make good guard dogs either as these days they are a lot friendlier. However, some farmers do still use them as guarding dogs; it is just not as widely known as it once was. The breed today is still suitable for working but its temperament does make it hard to train. Unless done from an early age, the Bernese can become fairly boisterous and uncontrollable. They have a tendency to think that they can do as they please and so this does make teaching them to work a lot harder than it used to be. Overall you could train your Bernese mountain dog to pull carts and watch over cattle. However generally these days they are much better suited to being a companion breed, rather than a working one.