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Berner Dane: The Gentle Giant Mix of Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog - PawSafe

Berner Dane: The Gentle Giant Mix of Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Berner Dane

The Berner Dane is a perfect blend of the gentle giant Great Dane and the sturdy, dependable Bernese Mountain Dog. This mixed breed combines the best traits of its parents, offering a unique option for dog lovers who admire large breeds. You get a playful companion in the Great Dane’s notable size and a loyal friend in the Bernese Mountain Dog’s warm demeanor.

As a hybrid dog, the Berner Dane inherits a friendly nature that makes it an excellent fit for families. They tend to be protective like the Great Pyrenees, yet approachable and affectionate thanks to their Bernese Mountain Dog lineage. This mix is designed to thrive in your home, bringing joy and companionship to your daily life.

Due to their size, the Berner Dane requires space to move and play. Your house and yard should accommodate their exercise needs. With the right care and attention, this mixed breed not only becomes a cherished family member but also adapts well to various living environments, always ready to offer love and loyalty.

Historical Background

The Bernese Mountain Dog, hailing from Switzerland, carries a heritage of being a versatile working dog, critical to the farming communities of the Swiss Alps. This breed’s lineage has been preserved due to their invaluable contributions as draft animals and companions.

Breeding Purpose

Breeders combined the Bernese Mountain Dog with the Great Dane to create the Berner Dane — infusing the gentle temperament of the Bernese with the impressive stature of the Great Dane. While this mix isn’t formally recognized, those interested in similar mixes might look into a Golden Mountain Dog, a blend of Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog traits.

Modern Popularity

The Berner Dane has risen in popularity among dog enthusiasts for its mild disposition and striking appearance. Though not as widespread as its parent breeds, the mix has found favor for its companionable nature and potential as a family dog. Its association with breeds of considerable size and endurance indicates a lineage suitable for active owners who can accommodate large breeds.

Typical Traits of Berner Dane?

close up of great Berner Dane dog looking at the camera blurred background

The Berner Dane combines the gentle giant stature of the Great Dane with the sturdy, strong frame of the Bernese Mountain Dog. You’ll find this breed to be affectionate and loyal, with a coat that showcases the distinct colors inherited from both parent breeds.

Berner Dane Size Potential?

When you’re considering the size of a Berner Dane, think big. They tend to weigh between 100 to 200 pounds (45 to 90 kilograms) and can stand at an impressive 24 to 28 inches (61 to 71 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. Remember, they don’t always know their size, so get ready for a large lapdog experience.

Coat and Colors

You’ll admire a Berner Dane’s coat which can come in black, white, brown, and sometimes a beautiful rust hue. The fur is typically medium length and can be straight or wavy. Are they hypoallergenic? No, they’re not, and they do shed, especially seasonally. So keep that vacuum handy and embrace the fur!

Distinctive Traits

The Berner Dane is easy to recognize with their generous size borrowed from the Great Dane and the tricolor coat pattern often seen in Bernese Mountain Dogs. Their big, brown eyes are expressive, and their long, bushy tail usually wags a friendly hello. While their coat color is eye-catching – with a base of black, white, and brown markings – it’s their gentle temperament that makes them a true family companion. Keep in mind, their size might need some extra space in your home and car.

Temperament and Behavior Of the Berner Dane

In discussing the Berner Dane, you’ll find that their temperament is a blend of the gentle nature of the Bernese Mountain Dog and the confident presence of the Great Dane. They tend to be affectionate and protective, making them suitable for families.

Personality Traits

Your Berner Dane is likely to display a calm and loving demeanor. They inherit the gentle traits of the Bernese Mountain Dog, making them child-friendly companions. At the same time, they can exhibit the Great Dane’s confident and protective nature, especially when they sense their family needs them.

Family and Social Life

The Berner Dane tends to thrive in a family setting. They are known to be affectionate and enjoy playing with family members. To keep your dog well-mannered, it’s important to start socialization early. They are generally good with children and other pets, especially when introduced properly.

Behavioral Tendencies

While typically calm, the Berner Dane can be active and enjoys periods of playtime and exercise. They might show a stubborn streak, characteristic of both parent breeds, so consistent training is key. The Berner Dane can be loving and wants to be involved in family activities, but also needs its own space to relax and recharge.

Exercise Needs for Berner Dane?

When considering the exercise needs for your Berner Dane, prioritize low-impact activities that protect their developing joints — a must to reduce the risk of arthritis as they get older. This crossbreed combines the heft of the Great Dane with the sturdiness of the Bernese Mountain Dog, making it crucial to find a balance in their exercise routine.

Your Daily Exercise Regimen Should Ensure:

  • Long Walks – A steady, brisk walk is essential for their cardiovascular health and helps keep their muscles toned.
  • Swimming –  A fantastic form of exercise that minimizes joint stress and satisfies their exercise needs.

On the Other Hand, it’s Important to Avoid:

  • High-Impact Activities – Anything that causes harsh impacts on their joints, such as jumping and running on hard surfaces, should be restricted. These activities could exacerbate joint problems, especially in large breeds prone to hip issues, as outlined in a study discussing hip-related clinical signs.
  • Repetitive Strain – Try to vary the activities to avoid repetitive movements that could lead to stress on their joints.

Incorporate these exercise guidelines into your routine to help your Berner Dane thrive while safeguarding their joint health. Always remember to consult with your veterinarian to tailor the exercise plan to your dog’s unique needs.

Health Issues in Berner Dane?

thirsty Berner Dane dog

When welcoming a Berner Dane into your life, awareness of potential health issues is crucial for their well-being. This breed may inherit health concerns common to Great Danes and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Common Conditions

Berner Dane can be prone to hip dysplasia, a painful condition where the hip joint does not fit properly, leading to arthritis. Similarly, elbow dysplasia affects the elbow joints. Both these dysplasias can cause mobility issues and pain. Regrettably, cancer is another serious concern with this mixed breed, such as osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, and mast cell tumors, a form of skin cancer. Histiocytic sarcoma, another cancer affecting tissues like joints and skin, is primarily found in Bernese Mountain Dogs, while systemic histiocytosis, a non-cancerous condition, can affect multiple organs.

Heart conditions are also prevalent; atrial fibrillation presents a risk of poor blood flow, and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) involves an enlarged heart that can fail to pump effectively. Other possible ailments include demodicosis, a type of mange, and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita, causing skin blisters.

Prevention and Care

To safeguard your Berner Dane’s health, regular veterinary check-ups are essential. For heart issues like atrial fibrillation and DCM, early detection and management are key to improving lifespan and quality of life understanding canine heart health. A balanced diet and controlled exercise can help manage weight, reducing strain on joints and mitigating dysplasia risks. Be alert for signs of gastric distress, as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat), a twisting of the stomach, requires immediate surgery and is particularly seen in Great Danes.

Skin conditions often respond to specific treatments, so report any skin abnormalities to your vet. Moreover, preventive measures like vaccinations and parasite control can protect against diseases such as leptospirosis. With conditions that are genetic like degenerative myelopathy, awareness can help with early identification and potential management strategies.

By staying informed and proactive, you can contribute significantly to your Berner Dane’s health and happiness.

Grooming Needs of Berner Dane?

Taking care of your Berner Dane’s coat is important. They are a mix of a Great Dane and a Bernese Mountain Dog, so their fur can be pretty unique. You can expect your Berner Dane to have a coat that can range from short like a Great Dane’s to the longer, thicker fur of a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Here’s what you need to do to keep your Berner Dane looking good and feeling comfortable:


Your pooch will need regular brushing. If they have short hair, once a week might be enough. But if their coat is long like a Bernese’s, you’ll need to brush them a few times a week to prevent tangles and mats.


Don’t bathe your Berner Dane too often – only when they’re really dirty. Too much bathing can dry out their skin. When it’s bath time, use a dog-friendly shampoo.

Nail Trimming

Keep an eye on their nails, and give them a trim when needed. Long nails can cause discomfort and even problems walking.

Ear Cleaning

Check their ears regularly and clean them to avoid infections. Use a gentle cleaner and follow the vet’s advice on this.

Teeth Brushing

Don’t forget their teeth. Brush them regularly with canine toothpaste to keep their mouth clean and healthy.

Remember, your Berner Dane might not love grooming at first, but with patience and regular practice, it can become a special bonding time for you both. Plus, it keeps them looking great and in tip-top health.

Trainability of Berner Dane?

a Berner Dane dog with trees at the background

When you’re looking to train a Berner Dane, understanding their intelligence and eagerness to please is crucial. They generally respond well to positive reinforcement and early socialization, which are key to shaping a well-behaved dog.

Training Techniques

Your Berner Dane is a mix of the Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog, breeds known for their intelligence. Positive reinforcement methods work best with them. This means you should reward your dog with treats, praise, or playtime when they follow a command or exhibit good behavior. Keep in mind that the Berner Dane can be sensitive, so it’s important to avoid harsh corrections. Instead, stay consistent with commands and use a patient, gentle approach to training.

  • Keep Training Sessions Short – Aim for 5-10 minutes to start, especially with puppies, as they have shorter attention spans.
  • Use Consistent Commands – To avoid confusion, always use the same words for each action you want your dog to learn.
  • Engage Their Minds – Challenge them with puzzles and obedience training that encourage mental stimulation.

Early Socialization

Socialization is just as important as obedience training. Start socializing your Berner Dane early by exposing them to different people, dogs, environments, and situations. This will help them grow into confident and calm adult dogs. Remember that your Berner Dane’s temperament is influenced both by genetics and experiences, so socialization should be positive and controlled.

  • Introduce New Experiences Gradually – Don’t overwhelm your puppy. Introduce new things one at a time.
  • Encourage Friendly Behavior –  Whenever your Berner Dane interacts well with others, give them plenty of praise.
  • Join Puppy Classes – These classes can be a great way to combine training and socialization with support from professionals.

By focusing on these training and socialization strategies, you’ll be on the right track to having a well-adjusted and obedient Berner Dane companion.

Best Diet for Berner Dane?

When you bring a Berner Dane puppy into your home, you’re welcoming a fast-growing, giant breed. Their dietary requirements are unique to ensure healthy development. You’ll need to carefully choose the right balance of nutrients, particularly when it comes to protein, fat, fiber, and minerals.

Kind of Food:

Fresh, minimally processed diets are top choices for your puppy, offering less risk of allergies and disease. Yet, ensure these are complete and balanced as per AAFCO guidelines, avoiding homemade diets which can cause imbalances. Premium kibbles are also beneficial if fresh food is out of reach, just watch out for the high processing of some canned foods.


Look for a guaranteed analysis on the label showing a protein content between 29-34%, fat around 11-16%, and fiber ranging from 2.4-5.6%. A correct calcium to phosphorus ratio (Ca ratio) is crucial for bone health, sitting ideally at 1.1:1 to 1.3:1. The label should list these percentages.

Caloric Intake:

Your giant breed puppy will thrive on a lower calorie diet, between 3,200 to 4,100 kcal/kg, to prevent rapid growth that could lead to joint issues. Avoid feeding small breed puppy food as it’s too calorie-dense for your gentle giant.

Growth and Health:

Obesity in puppies can lead to skeletal problems, so keep them lean with balanced portions and encourage gentle play. Remember, oversized portions can mean an excess of nutrients like calcium or phosphorus, while skimping on food can yield deficiencies.

Food designed specifically for giant breeds should be your go-to. These formulas prioritize the correct calcium and phosphorus levels, avoiding bone and joint disorders detailed in studies on canine nutrition. Supplements are unnecessary and potentially harmful — if the diet is right, their nutritional needs will be met.

Lastly, incorporate chelated zinc and a mix of omega fatty acids for their immune system, with a higher focus on DHA for cognitive development. Offering a variety of animal proteins like poultry, fish, and rabbit will support your Berner Dane’s growth and health. Avoid pork and be cautious with lamb and beef. Steer clear of high plant protein content unless advised by a vet for specific medical conditions.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be setting your Berner Dane up for a strong and healthy start to life.

Ideal Living Environment for Berner Dane?

When you’re considering bringing a Berner Dane into your home, space is key. These are large dogs, after all, a cross between the Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog, so they need room to stretch their long legs. Your Berner Dane will thrive in a home with a large yard where they can roam and play.

  • Space: A spacious environment is essential.
  • Herding: They may inherit herding instincts and appreciate open areas to emulate this behavior.
  • Exercise: Daily exercise is a must.

If you’re living in an apartment, it’s not the ideal setting for a Berner Dane. However, with enough daily outdoor exercise and mental stimulation, it can be manageable.

  • Apartments: Possible but challenging.
  • Exercise outside: Essential for apartment living.

This breed is notably good with families and children. They often become affectionate family dogs, loving the companionship and activities with their humans. Indoor living suits them well as long as they get their exercise and outdoor time during the day.

  • Families: Great companions for home life.
  • Children: Gentle and protective with kids.

Remember, your priority is to make sure your Berner Dane has enough space both indoors and outdoors to live happily. Keep things interactive, and you’ll have a loyal and joyful family dog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When you’re curious about the Berner Dane, a crossbreed between the Great Dane and the Bernese Mountain Dog, you probably have a bunch of questions. Here are some answers to questions frequently asked by potential owners like you.

How large can I expect a Bernese Dane mix to grow?

You can expect a Bernese Dane mix to be quite large given the size of its purebred parents. They can weigh anywhere from 70 to 115 pounds or more.

What’s the average lifespan of a Great Dane mix like the Berner Dane?

The lifespan of a Great Dane mix, including the Berner Dane, is generally around 7 to 10 years, which is a factor to consider when welcoming this loving pet into your home.

Are there common health concerns with Bernese Mountain Dog mixes?

Yes, Bernese Mountain Dog mixes like the Berner Dane can inherit health concerns from both parent breeds. These can include hip dysplasia, bloat, and certain cancers.

What’s the difference between a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mix and a Berner Dane?

The main difference between a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mix and a Berner Dane is their lineage. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mix is a purebred dog, while the Berner Dane is a mix of the Bernese Mountain dog and Great Dane.

Can you tell me if Bernese Dane puppies generally need special care?

Bernese Dane puppies, like all large breeds, need special care in terms of nutrition and joint health. It’s essential to monitor their growth and provide a balanced diet.

What are some traits of a Golden Mountain Dog compared to a Berner Dane?

A Golden Mountain Dog is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Bernese Mountain Dog, and it’s known for its friendly disposition. In contrast, the Berner Dane might inherit the Great Dane’s larger size and the Bernese Mountain Dog’s loyal nature.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.