Bernese Mountain Dogs (also known as Berners) have become very popular over the last decade. This Swiss breed dates back to the 14th century, and although they were initially bred for farm work, Berners can be affectionate family pets. If you are thinking about adopting a Bernese mountain dog, you might be concerned about shedding.
It’s important that you know what to expect before you welcome one of these fluffy pups into your home. This article takes a deep dive into the Berners, their shedding habits, type of coat, and what it’ll take to keep your new fluffy friend well-groomed. But first, we answer the most important question.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed? Yes, Berners shed. They are big dogs with long, thick fur. Berners generally shed throughout the year, but they also go through a seasonal ‘coat blow’ in spring and just before winter. During the excessive shedding season, you will need to brush your pup daily to reduce the fur they drop.
With their stunning good looks and good-natured personality, Berners make excellent canine companions. But Berners are heavy shedders, and dealing with the tumbleweeds of fur your canine friend is bound to leave throughout your home is no fun, especially if you are allergy-sensitive. Berners are heavy shedding pups.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t keep shedding under control. Are you looking for ways to minimize your Berner’s shedding and keep your home free of fur and dander? We have the answers you are looking for, including Berners’ shedding habits, triggers, and ways to stay on top of the shedding.
How Much Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Shed?
At this point, we already know that this particular breed can shed. The question is, how much do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed precisely? A lot. As stated previously in the article, Berners are heavy shedders. In fact, the Bernese mountain dog is in AKC’s list of top 21 most shedding breeds in the canine world. Being a Berner parent means you can expect a fair amount of fur to clean up, especially in spring and just before winter when they ‘blow their coat.’ This is obviously bad news for owners who suffer from canine allergies. However, there are ways to minimize the shedding, and we’ll talk more about that later in the article.
Why Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Shed?
Compared to other domestic canines, the shedding level of a Bernese mountain dog is quite high. So, why do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed so much? Well, there are several reasons for that. First off, the Berner is a pretty big pup (80-110 pounds average). This means they have a larger surface area, hence more fur to shed. Secondly, Berners have a lot of hair. They have thick, long, and characteristically straight fur. Because their fur is longer, their shedding is far more noticeable than other high shedding breeds, including the German Shepherd. Lastly, Berners are double-coated, which means they have two layers of fur, an undercoat and an outer coat. This means that there’s more hair to shed. All these factors collectively contribute to Berner’s heavy shedding.
Shedding Seasons and Frequency
When do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed the most? A Berner’s shedding intensifies in the spring and late fall (just before winter). During these two distinct periods, Bernese Mountain Dogs are said to be ‘blowing their coat’ to make room for one that’s more adapted to the upcoming season. The fur will get on your carpets, furniture, and possibly even your food during this period. This natural cycle of shedding regulates body temperature with changing seasons. During the spring shedding season, your pup is changing to a much lighter summer fur, and this is when you’ll see the most shedding. During fall, your Berner is changing to a thicker winter coat. The shedding is relatively moderate this time around since there is not much to shed in the first place.
Unhealthy shedding is common among all canine breeds, including Bernese Mountain Dogs. In fact, Berners are particularly prone to unhealthy shedding due to their size and thick fur. If you are familiar with your Berner’s shedding patterns, it’s easy to notice when your Berner is shedding more than normal. So, did your Berner start shedding extensively outside of the heavy shedding season? There are several reasons why your pup may be shedding more than usual. This includes:
- Parasitic infestation such as fleas and mites
- Poor diet
Skin conditions, such as skin allergies, can also make your Berner shed more than usual. It’s not uncommon for pups to have an allergic reaction to a new canine shampoo or treat. In some cases, excessive shedding is caused by an underlying medical condition. While it’s not very common, serious health issues such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and cancer can lead to extensive fur loss. Watch out for additional symptoms or a change in your Berner’s behavior. For instance, you may notice that your dog’s energy levels have decreased in addition to increased shedding, in which case you should consult a vet immediately.
What Type of Coat Does a Bernese Mountain Dog Have?
Bernese Mountain Dogs have two-layered coats because they were bred to withstand harsh climates. It’s one of the reasons why they shed a lot. They have an outercoat and an undercoat. The outercoat (topcoat) has long hair, which gives the breed a fluffy look. It is designed to repel dirt and protect the dog from moisture. The undercoat is shorter and has a wool-like texture, and can be long and thick around the neck and ears. It protects the canine from heat and cold. Their coats generally have black fur mixed with white and tan when it comes to color combination.
How to Manage and Reduce Bernese Mountain Dogs Shedding?
When you have such a big doggy with an abundance of thick, long hair in your home, the constant presence of fur and dead skin flakes (dander) can be overwhelming. Berners shed a lot throughout the year but more so during their heavy shedding seasons in the spring and late fall. Fortunately, there are some tips and best practices you can use to manage your pup’s shedding and keep your pet well-groomed and your home free of canine hair. This includes proper grooming, diet, and bathing.
Bernese Mountain Dogs Grooming
An effective grooming routine is imperative for all double-coated dogs, particularly heavy shedders like the Bernese Mountain Dog. Without proper grooming, your Berner will drop more fur, and their undercoat will start to intertwine with their topcoat, creating tangles and knots in your pup’s fur. Regular brushing is one of the most effective ways to straighten your pup’s hair, get rid of any tangles or knots, and remove dead hair from their coat. Under normal circumstances, you should be brushing at least three times a week. You might want to increase the brushing frequency to daily during the heavy shedding seasons.
Due to Berner’s thick, long fur, we recommend using a longer pin brush to keep the undercoat and outercoat flowing and without any tangles. Using a long brush is the only way to reach the undercoat, where most of the dead hair is trapped, just waiting to fall out. There’s a wide range of brushes and de-shedding tools that you can use to get deeper into the undercoat and grab these fluffy old hairs to reduce shedding.
Bernese Mountain Dogs Diet
When it comes to helping your dog maintain healthy fur and minimize shedding, diet is the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit’ you can target as a Berner parent. We are what we eat, and this goes for dogs, too. A proper diet will reflect on the outside. This means that feeding your pup a healthy diet will result in healthier skin and stronger fur. Healthier coats shed less. All you have to do is ensure that your pooch is eating high-quality food rich in protein and other nutrients to strengthen their skin and fur from the inside out. Try to avoid feeding your Berner highly processed foods; it’s not good for canines either.
In addition to keeping your pup on a healthy diet, keeping them clean will also help reduce shedding. Therefore, you should bathe your Berner. Like brushing, bathing your pooch removes dead fur and helps minimize shedding. Regular baths are particularly important for Berners. Because of their characteristically long and thick fur, they are likely to develop a smell. Regularly bathing your pup ensures that they always smell fresh and clean. But be careful not to overdo it as it can irritate their skin. Bathing your Berner once per month should be enough.
There are a few other steps to improve skin health and reduce shedding. As discussed in the previous section, a healthful, balanced diet is key to a healthier, stronger coat. While most Berners should be able to get all the recommended nutrients from a healthy diet, others need a little boost. That’s where supplements come in. If your Berner has not responded to a change in diet vis-à-vis shedding and skin health, consider adding supplements to their diet. Omega 3 supplements, for instance, are known to increase overall skin and fur health dramatically. While supplements are usually safe, it can’t hurt to confirm this addition with a vet first.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Hypoallergenic?
No, Berners are not hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic is a term used to describe dogs that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people who have canine allergies. These reactions are triggered by dander (dead skin cells), saliva, and urine. And all these usually collect on fur and get released into the environment during shedding. Since Berners shed a lot, they are more likely to trigger allergic reactions among people with canine allergies.
Another reason Berners are not considered hypoallergenic is that they are quite prone to allergies. In humans, allergies make people sneeze, their noses run, and their eyes itch and become watery. When it comes to dogs, allergies make their skin itch. Itching leads to constant scratching, making your Berner shed even more fur than usual.
For those with severe allergies, I wouldn’t recommend this breed. Perhaps you should consider more hypoallergenic options such as the Poodle, Afghan Hound, American Hairless Terrier, Basenji, Irish Water Spaniel, and the Maltese, to name a few.
On the other hand, if you have mild allergies and are still interested in this breed, you can minimize shedding by regularly grooming your pup and feeding a proper diet. You can also reduce allergens in your home through thorough cleaning. Be sure to invest in a HEPA vacuum cleaner and air filter. Last but not least, talk with your doctor so they can prescribe some allergy medications to help manage symptoms.