I think Bernese Mountain dogs are absolutely beautiful to look at. But is this a breed that is suited to everyone? Let’s find out.
Bringing a dog into your home is a huge responsibility, requiring years of commitment. It therefore pays to do as much research as possible beforehand to make sure you have chosen the right breed for your family and your environment.
In this article, we will review 5 common pros and 5 pros that people need to be aware of before adopting a Bernese Mountain dog.
Table of Contents
5 Bernese Mountain Dog Pros
1. The Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament
You just have to look at a fully grown Berner to realise how strong this breed is. For that reason, people are often surprised by how gentle and lovable these dogs can be with their owners. Loyal by nature, they tend to be a one-family pet, preferring to ignore outsiders.
Bernese Mountain dogs can certainly fit the description of ‘companion dogs’.
“Berners get along with the entire family and are particularly gentle with children …”https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bernese-mountain-dog/
However, I would never leave children alone with any large dog, regardless of the breed.
2. Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Smart
The willingness of Bernese Mountain dogs to work with their master in obedience classes could be explained by their long working-dog history in Switzerland. In fact, their skills were so respected that they were imported into the States to work on farms in the 1920s.
Not only is this breed fit and strong, it is a breed that is considered to be very intelligent.
According to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America:
Berners are smart enough to manipulate their owners.The BMDCA
I think that says it all. You can expect to find your Berner readily responsive to directions in Obedience classes as well as a keen participant in Agility Courses.
3. Bernese Mountain Dogs Cam Be Protective
This breed is extremely strong. Their muscular appearance would make most intruders think twice I would imagine. This, along with their smarts, is probably one reason why they have often been trained as guard dogs. They have also been employed in search and rescue missions.
In fact, years ago, Berners were not only working dogs on Swiss farms, but they also protected the farm at night from any unwelcome visitors.
So their loveable loyalty along with their disdain of strangers, would bring out the protective instinct in most dogs of this breed.
4. Berners Are Easy to Train
The intelligence, so typical of this breed, makes training so very easy if not absolutely enjoyable.
I guess it is their loyalty that makes them so keen to please their master. For this reason, they pick up commands and preferred behaviour traits very quickly. In fact, if you take your Berner to the local obedience club, you are sure to glow with winning pride in no time.
But as is the case with all dog breeds, training needs to be consistent.
5. Search and Rescue
Now if you are in the field of working with rescue dogs, this characteristic is a real plus in this breed.
But for the average dog owner, the caring work ethic in this breed makes for a loyal, obedient, protective canine companion.
5 Bernese Mountain Dog Cons
1. Health Issues
You have probably already heard of the shorter lifespan so typical of this breed (something like 6 to 8 years on average). But you might be less familiar with underlying health issues that can, excuse the pun, dog this breed. And of course, these health issues along with the dog’s size and all be contributing factors to the shorter lifespan.
Some Berners might experience conditions such as:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- A type of cancer known as histiocytic sarcoma
- A digestive condition leading to excessive bloating
Do Bernese Mountain dogs drool?
The short answer is “It depends”. In other words, it is possible, but it depends on the Berner’s mouth. Most of these dogs are drool-free. However, some can have looser lips, lips that droop down, in which case some drooling might occur.
3. Bernese Mountain Dogs Do Shed
Berners are easily recognised by their tri colours: black, white and tan. This breed has what is known as a double coat. Thus, the top coat will be longer than the thicker undercoat. And yes, you can expect to see a reasonable amount of shedding, particularly during what is called the twice yearly shedding months.
As with all shedding breeds, routine brushing can make a huge difference. Armed with the right tools, you can endeavor to keep excessive shedding to a minimum. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider (affiliate links):
4. The Berner’s Weight Can Make Grooming Tricky
The Bernese Mountain dog is not usually a breed that needs clipping, unless around the paws and ears.
However, like all dog breeds, ears and toe nails need to be checked periodically.
If you are utilising the services of a professional groomer, then these tasks can be part of the grooming session.
Unless the yard surface is such that there is a natural wearing down of the nails, then trimming will need to be done before the nails become too long. You can do the nail clipping yourself, but if nervous, just ask your groomer to take care of it for you.
Because Bernese Mountain dogs typically shed, as mentioned in the previous section, a good brushing routine is required. That, along with the occasional bath, should help you to keep on top of that excessive hair.
One point to keep in mind here, however, is the sheer size of this breed. Size can impact on how well you can manage bathing etc. The male Berner can weigh anywhere between 80 and 115 pounds (36 to 52 kg). That’s a lot of weightlifting to do if your dog bath is off the ground. The female of course is a little lighter so you could expect a weight of around 70 to 95 pounds (32 to 43 kg). That’s still a heavy weight to lift.
Grooming Tools & Tips for Bernese Mountain Dogs
5. Not All Environments Are Suitable
It probably goes without saying that the mere size of this breed does rule out certain kinds of households. Measuring up to 27 inches at the shoulder, the Bernese needs a reasonable amount of space, not to mention exercise. A daily walk is a must.
A small yard would not be ideal for a Berner. Small areas are definitely not sufficient if that is the only exercise the dog can have.
Berners are certainly happy being inside with their adoptive family but they also love outdoor activities and definitely need exercise. In fact if you are into sports yourself, you will probably enjoy the challenges that come from working with your dog.
Hailing back to the Swiss canton of Bern, these so-named Bernese Mountain dogs are well used to very low temperatures. This begs the question then if very warm climates are ideal for this breed. And the answer would be “preferably not” unless there is some way of controlling temperatures and limiting exercise to the cooler periods of the day.
These dogs are not known to be big barkers unless, like all breeds, they are left to their own devices too often and thus become bored. They are known to dig so the yard needs to be quite secure and because of their height, the fence needs to be high enough to prevent escaping.
For additional information about this breed, check out the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America.