Characteristics of Bernese Mastiffs

Bernese or mountain mastiffs are a cross between Bernese mountain dogs and mastiffs. Bernese mastiffs can boast the best of both worlds. Bernese mountain dogs are smart, swift herders with beautiful coloring, and mastiffs are loyal protectors with a heritage that dates back thousands of years.


History of the Breeds

The American Kennel Club first recognized the Bernese mountain dog breed in 1937. This dog comes from Switzerland and was originally used as a farm herder. Mastiffs enjoy a longer history as a breed, having been recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Evidence of the first mastiffs, which were used for hunting and protection, exist in ancient Babylonian reliefs from 2500 B.C.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese mountain dogs have long coats and distinctive coloring, with white on the chest, muzzle, forehead, tip of the tail and feet, and black on the head, back, tail and upper legs, with bronze highlights on the lower legs, chest, cheeks, beneath the tail and above each eye. The dog is known as confident and intelligent.


Mastiffs often display a light, sandy-colored body covered with shorter hair and with darker ears, eyes and muzzle. They have floppy ears and wrinkles above the eyes. A large dog, a mastiff also has a broad muzzle with drooping jowls. Friendliness and fearlessness characterize the breed.

The Hybrid

Bernese mastiffs inherit features from both Bernese mountain dogs and mastiffs. Their appearance and temperament depends on whether their parents were purebred and other intricacies of genetics. Some Bernese mastiffs lean toward mastiffs' typical coloring -- sandy with a dark muzzle -- while others have the striking coloring of Bernese mountain dogs. The body structure and coat length also depend on parentage.

By Amy Casebier

About the Author
Amy Casebier has worked in the journalism industry since 2007. She currently serves as a copy editor and page designer for a mid-sized daily newspaper. Casebier earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Hanover College in Indiana.