Life with a Bernese Mountain Dog called Archie

Life with a Bernese Mountain Dog

Susan Papazian and Archie. Photo: supplied

Originally bred in Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog also known as ‘Berner’ was a farm dog for guarding property and to drive dairy cattle long distances from the farm to the alpine pastures.  Winter is their favourite season particularly with their thick coat.

Susan Papazian is a talented portrait and travel photographer who also runs her own online travel business.  Susan lives in Sydney with her 17 month old Bernese Mountain Dog, Archie.  Susan shares her story about life with a Bernese Mountain Dog and a few tips for those considering getting this breed for their family.

Susan loves the Berner but warns this breed can grow to 50kg plus and they think they are lap dogs! 

Pets4Life: What is about the Bernese Mountain Dog breed that you love?

Susan: I was first introduced to a Bernese Mountain Dog a few years ago when I went to visit a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while. On arrival I was created by two magnificent dogs, Bernie and Billy. They came bounding towards the door like two bears. I instantly fell in love with them and knew  this is the dog I was going to get. Bernese Mountain Dogs, or known as ‘Berners’, have the most beautiful nature and temperament. They are people dogs and love the company of humans. Actually, they think they are humans! They are extremely loyal dogs, affectionate, eager to please and highly intelligent. They have such a happy go lucky attitude. Be warned however, they can grow to 50+ kgs in size and they think they are lap dogs lol.

Pets4Life: Tell us about your life with a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Life with a Bernese Mountain Dog in Sydney, Australia

Archie when he was a puppy. Photo: Susan Papazian

Susan: Archie Bear is my second Bernese. My first was my beautiful Romeo who sadly developed an immune illness and had to be put to rest at just over 3 years of age. This naturally left me devastated and soon after I got Archie. I can’t imagine my life without a dog, let alone a Berner.

Archie is the most loving and affectionate dog. He is 17 months old and has hit 54kgs! And yes, he is a lap dog. Archie is a sensitive dog and just loves to be around me and other members of my family. When I come home, he gets so excited that on a couple of occasions he has broken the window near the front door with his tail. I’ve had the window repairer in twice now 🙂 He is amazing with all dogs, large and small. His favourite hobby is swimming at the beach. Berners were bred as working farm dogs but they have adapted so well to the Aussie lifestyle. He is so loving and just loves human interaction. He attracts so much attention when we go for walks to our local cafe, he has such a large presence and people are just down to him.

Pets4Life: Is winter the best time of year for Archie considering his thick coat?

Susan: Berners have a magnificent long and shiny coat. As they are snow dogs, bred in Switzerland, winter is definitely their favourite season. They love the cooler weather, particularly with their thick coat. In the warmer months, some owners will clip their Berners. However, advice from my vet and groomer were to keep his long coat during summer, as their coat is protection against both the heat and cold.

Pets4Life: What are your tips for families thinking of getting a Berner? 

Susan: Berners are the perfect family dog. They are great with children. Like all dogs, they need training as their full size can be an issue with smaller children if they jump up to greet children. However, they are gentle dogs and very protective of their family. And if you have small children, grab a saddle and take the kids for a ‘ponie’ride lol. Berners, although large in size need daily exercise both for socialisation and to mange their weight. Being such a large dog, extra weight can put a lot of pressure on their joints. They are also known to shed a little so the occasional visit to the groomers to strip their undercoat is a great idea.

All dogs need mental and physical stimulus, otherwise be prepared for a few chewed shoes and beds! Many dogs can be prone to separation anxiety leading to a little destruction in the back yard, therefore, training is important from puppy stage.