The difference between Border Collies and Bernese Mountain Dogs

By Valdette Muller| April 17, 2015 | Blog

While dogs are known to be man’s best friend, many are also employees. Among the most well-known worker dogs are probably Border Collies. These dogs from Scottish and English descent are true workaholics and often credited to be the smartest dog breed.

However, the Border Collie has a Swiss colleague, the Bernese Mountain Dog, that is considered to be just as hard-working and intelligent as the Border Collies. If you dig a little deeper, you will find some significant differences between the breeds that make them more or less suitable for households’ needs. Here is the Shinga summary of the most important things you need to know about Border Collies and Bernese Mountain Dogs:

History and origin

Border Collie: Descendants from the Welsh Sheepdogs, Northern Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, and Scotch Collies the Border Collie was bred as sheepherding dogs. It is related to the Collie (think of Lassie-type dogs) but the two breeds should not be confused.

Bernese Mountain Dog: They are also called Berner Sennenhund and are thought to hail from Bern in Switzerland. They’re thought to have descended from mastiff-type dogs that arrived in Switzerland with Roman armies some 2,000 years ago where they interbred with local dogs and eventually became farm worker-dogs. They performed wide variety of activities like carting, guarding, herding, and search and rescue.

Physical characteristics

Border Collie: Medium-sized dogs that most often have black-and-white coats, although other colour combinations are also possible. All varieties have double coats, with a coarser outer coat and soft undercoat, which requires minimal grooming.

Bernese Mountain Dog: Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, strong, well-built, nimble dogs. Their beautifully tri-colour – black, rust and white – coats are moderately long and thick coat. They shed more than the Border Collies, but also require little grooming. Their thick coats make them unsuitable for warmer climates.


Border Collie: These dogs are highly intelligent and easy to train. They will make fairly good watchdogs and most definitely will alert owners of intruders. Their active, workaholic nature and intelligence sometimes make it difficult to keep him challenged. If not kept busy or challenged enough, they become bored and display in annoying behaviour, such as barking, digging, or chasing cars, shadows and their own tails. They need vigorous daily exercise and are not suited to apartment living. Border Collies form tight bonds with their family and want to be around them all the time. They are suitable as playmates for children and other pets.

Bernese Mountain Dog: While this breed is relatively inactive indoors, it’s not ideal for apartment life and will do best with at least a large, fenced-in yard. They are cheerful dogs who love children and adult dogs play very gently. They are natural watchdogs, but aggressive and their intelligence makes training a breeze. Like the Border Collies however, they need stimulation or they will develop undesirable behaviours.

Assertive yet gentle training is recommended for both breeds, as is early socialisation, to avoid boredom and subsequent misbehaving.


Border Collie: These dogs are hardy but like all dogs are predisposed to certain health conditions. Among these, Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is most common. Other potential ailments include epilepsy, allergies, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), Lens Luxation, Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

Bernese Mountain Dog: Bernese Mountain Dogs are most often plagued by Canine Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia, as well as Histiocytosis or Osteochrondritis Dissecans. They are also prone to bloating and gains weight easily, so do not overfeed them.

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