Burmese Mountain Dog: Asia's Famed Skunk Hunter


Overview

The handsome Burmese Mountain Dog is often confused with the fine Swiss farm dog called the Bernese Mountain Dog, but lives a very different life in its native Myanmar. They were bred by northern tribesmen to hunt the ubiquitous and troublesome local skunks and to protect their farms and livestock.

Lying In Wait

The dog lies in wait in the heavy undergrowth, patiently letting the skunks pass through a carefully chosen attack zone. The black and white markings on the face are perfect to confuse the skunks into thinking that they are among their own (see picture at right to see the close similarity), right up the moment when the Burmese Mountain Dog launches into the attack. On a hunt the rust colored fur helps the dog handler differentiate his dog from his prey. As the Burmese say, "If it has brown, don't shoot it down."

Magical Fur

Their lustrous fur is known to be self-cleaning. In the rare event that the skunk is able to spray a malodorous scent on them, Burmer fur sheds the scent with a mere rinsing, unlike any other dog on the planet.

Tree Climbing

Despite their stocky build, they are surprisingly quick and agile and this athleticism is very useful in the hunt. Burmers have been known to climb as much as 50 feet into trees in the northern Burmese jungles while giving chase to the arboreal Burmese Skunk, quite a feat for such a large canine.

Burmer As Family Dog

The Burmese Mountain Dog makes a great family dog, though their breeding as hunters can make it very difficult for them to share a house with cats (particularly black or black and white cats). They are intelligent, sensitive and responsive, gentle with children and usually calm once they reach adulthood. They can be easily trained, though the Burmer newbie should be warned that their tree climbing skills can lead to serious kitchen accidents if they start to think that the cabinets are full of treats for dogs rather than humans.

Shedding

If you have to ask whether they shed or not, this is probably the wrong breed for you. The thick coat all comes off 4 times a year, probably as an adaptation to rid lingering skunk smells when they come home from a hunt. It is a vast amount of fur and you can count on finding it in your car, your home, even your toothbrush. Owners report going out to dinner during a shedding period and having to apologize to the restaurateur for the cloud of mostly black fur left on their seat. So again, if you have to ask, you shouldn’t get one of these gorgeous critters.