General characteristics of the dog, versions of the breeding of the Bernese Mountain Dog, the origin of the name, its ancestors and their use, popularization and original name, recognition and position of the breed in the modern world. The Bernese Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog or Berner sennenhund is very similar to the other three types of its "brethren". It is a beautiful, large and strong breed. The powerful musculature is hidden under the fur. The head is not too big, but extremely powerful. Almond shaped brown eyes. The ears of the dog are medium and triangular. The coat is straight, wavy or mixed - tricolor. The base coat should always be black with white and red-orange markings.
Breeding versions of the Bernese Mountain Dog breed
It is extremely difficult to know the true origin of the Berner sennenhund, as it was bred long before the written notes about dog breeding appeared. An additional difficulty in compiling its accurate history is that this species was the working dog of farmers in geographically isolated areas. However, some of their ancestry can be traced. It is known that such dogs appeared in Switzerland, primarily in the area around Durrbach and Bern, and descended from the large Swiss mountain dog.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is closely related to three other Swiss breeds: the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. These 4 species are collectively known as sennenhunds or swiss mountain dogs. Also sometimes included in the family of their close relative, St. Bernard. There is significant disagreement among canine experts as to which types of Mountain Dogs are most closely related. Some are attributed to the mastiff / moloss group, and others to the lupolossoid and also to the pinscher / schnauzer. In fact, they probably relate to all 3 categories.
Although the exact details are highly disputed, the domestication of the dog (an ancestor of the Bernese Mountain Dog) was completed 14,000 years ago, making it the first species ever tamed by humans. Initially, these dogs, very similar to the Dingo, were used as hunters and guards. As agricultural life replaced hunting and gathering, people in the Middle East began to domesticate other animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle. These herds needed protection from predators such as wolves and bears.
In response to this need, the canines will also adapt to very large breeds of livestock. It is believed that these original herding or herding dogs were predominantly white in color. Over the centuries, agriculture has spread from the Fertile Crescent to all of Europe and Asia, and with it livestock and its caretakers. Four-legged helpers (predecessors of the Bernese Mountain Dogs) appeared throughout Europe, where their descendants were probably the first protectors of livestock before Roman times.
The Romans introduced new breeds, such as the Molossus, which largely replaced but did not eliminate the older species, as many survived in remote areas, remaining unchanged for centuries. These canines are called "lupomolossoid" to distinguish them from mastiffs. Among them, the most commonly classified are the Great Pyrenean Dog, the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog, the Kuvasa and the Tatar Sheepdog. Since the sennenhund has a number of similarities with these species, some experts put them in this group. However, if the modern four types, including the Bernese Mountain Dog, are descended from Lupolossoids, then of course they strongly overlap with other species.
Molossians were the main war dogs of the Roman army, who accompanied the legions of the entire empire. They eventually adapted to sheep breeding, livestock guarding and personal protection. Most experts believe the molosser was a mastiff, but others say these dogs looked more like a shepherd or even a greyhound. They gave their name to a whole group of dogs that are today known as mastiffs or mastiffs. Its members include the English Mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux and the American Bulldog. From 35 BC the Roman army began the conquest of the Alps, and the chronicles of that time indicate that in this process more than 40 separate tribes must be "pacified". They brought Molossians with them, as well as possibly another breed known as the Roman Droving Dog.
The Romans are said to have crossed their canines with the herding species in the Alps. This is the most widely held theory of the origin of the Bernese Mountain Dogs, and is in fact the most plausible. However, 4 sennenhund are significantly different from most members of the mastiff / molosser family.
Pinschers and Schnauzers have been kept by German-speaking farmers since time immemorial. These breeds, whose genes are shared by the Bernese Mountain Dogs, were primarily tasked with pest control, but also with the preservation of property and livestock. Although little is known about their origins, they have been found in all German-speaking lands and probably accompanied people from these territories on their migrations throughout Europe. As the Roman Empire weakened, Germanic tribes invaded and settled in areas previously controlled by Rome.
Switzerland was one such region and still has a large German-speaking population. It is quite possible that these settlers brought their own farm dogs with them when they arrived there and crossed them with existing local typical canines. As a result, Mountain Dogs likely share some Pinscher / Schnauzer ancestry and therefore have tricolor coats.
Origin of the Bernese Mountain Dog name, its ancestors and their uses
Swiss mountain dogs have evolved and have been indispensable helpers to the indigenous villagers for centuries. They became known as "Mountain Dogs", which translates to "Farmer's Dog". Since the Alps are so remote, these dogs were mostly bred in isolation. Initially, they were all similar in type. Most experts agree that the "greater swiss mountain dog" is the original form from which all other sennenhund types are derived.
The original purpose of this species was, most likely, the protection of livestock, but over the centuries, predators have become increasingly scarce. Swiss farmers also needed a large dog to bring their livestock to market, which these dogs, the predecessors of the Bernese Mountain Dogs, have excelled at. However, humans could not afford to keep such a large animal if it would only be used occasionally.
People of agricultural labor had a need for traction animals. The horses were not quite suitable for the highlands of the Alps and had difficulty finding enough food, especially in winter. Large canines are much more adapted for life in the region, and they have become the main draft animals, especially for small farmers. These ancestors of the Bernese Mountain Dogs pulled carts and wagons. They were bred to handle cattle and pull heavy loads, to be strong and powerful enough. Also, the dogs adapted well and quite confidently traveled to new places without difficulty.
Switzerland's main valleys are fairly isolated from each other, especially before the development of modern transport. As a result, many different species of Mountain Dog have evolved. They were all fairly similar and were used for similar purposes, but varied somewhat depending on the needs and preferences of the inhabitants of a particular area.At some point, dozens of identifiable sennenhund types emerged, although few have been uniquely named. Some types were localized, but others were found throughout the country, most notably the Great Swiss Mountain Dog.
Popularization and original name of the Bernese Mountain Dog
For the Swiss, technological progress was slow. The Sennenhunds remained the only available means of transporting goods throughout most of the territory until at least the 1870s. Eventually, the Industrial Revolution and the modern era came to even the most remote valleys of Switzerland. New technologies have contributed to the displacement of dogs. Unlike some other European countries, there were not many large organizations in this area to protect their native breeds.
After 1884, the first Swiss club for the St. Bernard was founded, which initially showed little interest in the sennenhund. By the early 1900s, most of the Swiss mountain dog species had already become extinct. For several years it was believed that only three survived, which became known as the bernese mountain dog, the appenzeller mountain dog, and the entlebucher mountain dog.
The most common and adapted type of mountain dog was the canines, especially found in the areas around the capital of Bern. They had a large, relatively long body and a tricolor coat pattern. Since these typical animals have been concentrated in the Dürrbach area for a long time, they were called durrbahhundy or durrbahlers. Around 1900, several Swiss dog lovers began to realize that if they didn't take action, an important part of their home country's history would disappear forever.
Two of the most prominent of these were the breeder Franz Schertenlib, and the famous geologist Albert Heim. These enthusiasts began to collect the remaining Durrmbahlers, the ancestors of the Bernese Mountain Dog, from the valleys around Bern. They first exhibited the breed at Swiss dog shows in 1902, 1904 and 1907. In 1907, the Schweizerische durrbach-klub was founded by several fans. The main goal of the organization was to preserve breeding data and to promote clean breeding of the few remaining durrbachler. Another important goal was to promote the breed and increase interest among Swiss canine lovers.
Attention in Switzerland to the Durrbachmacher grew slowly but steadily. By 1910, 107 animals were registered. A few years after the establishment of the Swiss Durrbach Club, the name of the variety was officially changed to Bernese Mountain Dog. This adjustment was made in accordance with the naming conventions of other local varieties, but also in order to emphasize the connection of the species with the Swiss capital.
Berner sennenhund became the most popular of the 4 sennenhund in Switzerland and the first to establish itself well outside of its home country. In retrospect, the efforts of the Schweizerische durrbach-klub, and then the Swiss Kennel Club, almost certainly saved the Bernese Mountain Dog and three of their other brethren from extinction. Between animal rights legislation, the introduction of new technologies and the devastating effects of World War I, these four species were essentially the only European breeds to survive in the 1920s.
The first records of bernese mountain dogs (this is how the species became known in English) appeared in America since 1926, when a farmer from Kansas named Isaac Sheiss imported a pair. Sheiss attempted to register his dogs with the American Kennel Club (AKC) but failed. The Swiss Kennel Club was apparently trying to help Mr. Shaes in his endeavors, probably because they wanted to promote and anchor their breed abroad.
The history of the recognition of the Bernese Mountain Dog
In 1936, Glen Thade from Louisiana brought in his own pair of pets named "Fridy V. Haslenbach" and "Quell v. Tiergarten ".Led by Mr Tenoy, a group of Bernese mountain dog lovers have again filed an appeal to the AKC for recognition of the breed. Their request was fully satisfied and these dogs were assigned to the "Working Group" in 1937. “Quell v. Tiergarten”became the first Bernese Mountain Dog registered with the AKC.
The breed in the United States grew very slowly until 1941, when World War II disrupted their importation. As Switzerland remained neutral in these hostilities, the species continued to grow in the country. After 1945, imports resumed and the number of representatives in America began to increase at a faster rate.
In 1948, the United Kennel Club (UKC) kept up with the AKC and received full recognition from the Bernese Mountain Dog as a member of the Guardian Dog group. By 1968, the population of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the United States had grown to the point that several breeders teamed up to form Bernese Mountain Dogs in America (BMDCA). The organization was intended to promote and protect the breed, as well as organize special events. In 1973 the BMDCA became the official AKC breed parent club.
The position of the dog Bernese Mountain Dog in the modern world
As noted for decades, the demand for berner sennenhund continued to increase. Unlike other varieties that have become popular as a result of appearances in films or with famous owners, the breed has won most of its lovers as a result of stories about them and personal contact. Wherever these dogs went, they gained new fans. By the late 1990s, the Bernese Mountain Dog was well established. In the 2000s, an interesting paradox emerged - a huge boom in the popularity of both tiny and giant canines. The Bernese Mountain Dog has also experienced massive growth in numbers. In 2010, she was ranked 39th out of 167th complete list.
The growing popularity of the Bernese Mountain Dog has caused some problems. Many newer breeders had less experience with dog breeding and less knowledge of the breed. These breeders usually produced inferior quality dogs and often unknowingly selected dogs with health problems. While the sheer size of the variety means they are not a sought-after choice for commercial breeders, some are more concerned with the potential profit than the quality of the animals they are raising.
Many hobbyists are concerned that the overall quality of the Bernese Mountain Dog has been compromised and that its life expectancy has dropped by 4-5 years over the past decade. Another serious problem is that an increasing number of individuals are acquired by people who are unable or unwilling to provide them with the necessary care and maintenance. As a result, more and more members of the species end up in animal shelters.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has been bred for centuries as a versatile working dog and is still capable of pulling huge loads to this day. Tug competitions have recently become popular for both the sennenhund and other large breeds. These dogs also competed very successfully in agility and obedience competitions. Recently, the berner sennenhund has become known as one of the most popular therapy dogs because it is beautiful and very gentle. For similar reasons, they are also successful in the show ring. However, most Bernese mountain dogs in the US and Europe are mostly companion dogs - a task they do just fine.
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