The Bernese Mountain Dog is often described as a good-natured pet.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Breed name: Bernese Mountain Dog
Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
Height: 23 to 27.5 inches
Weight: 70 to 115 lbs
Having being recognised as a breed in 1937, the Bernese Mountain Dog has continued to grow in popularity over the past 80 years or so.
In fact, the American Kennel Club ranked the Bernese Mountain Dog as the 20th most popular breed in the United States of America in 2021.
Although the Bernese Mountain Dog was originally built for hard work on Swiss farms, their affectionate personalities and sweet nature means they can easily slot into family life.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is often described as a truly “all-around” dog.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the breed, examining Bernese Mountain Dog pros and cons.
So without further ado, let’s delve into all things BMD!
Bernese Mountain Dog Pros
Great family pets
Bernese Mountain Dogs can make excellent family pets thanks to their patient and sweet personalities. These majestic dogs can thrive in a family setting and will usually get along with everyone in the home, including other pets. The AKC write that Berners tend to be “particularly gentle with children” but will usually become “more attached to one lucky human”.
One Reddit user explained that her Bernese Mountain Dog Hilde fell in love with everyone and everything!
Great with kids, old people, timid dogs, aggressive dogs, tiny dogs, big dogs, cats, bunnies, puppies, babies… the list goes on. I don’t think she’s ever met another living thing that she hasn’t fallen in love with.
Moderate exercise needs
Unlike some other big dog breeds, Berners don’t require a lot of exercise. While it’s recommended that a Bernese Mountain Dog gets 60 minutes of exercise a day, they’ll often be fine if they get less. These versatile dogs will relish the chance to go on an adventure with you, whether it’s hiking in the hills or exploring lush forests. But Berners will be just as content to flop on the sofa and take a long nap!
A Berner owner shared her experience with her two-year old dog on Reddit.
My girl is 2, she’s never needed large amounts of exercise. Short walks are perfect, and she just likes laying out in the yard. Berners are very into their people and they just want to be around you.
Low prey drive
When researching the breed, we found numerous accounts from Berner owners that claimed these mountain dogs have a low prey drive when compared to other breeds. For instance, YouTube channel Fenrir Bernese Mountain Dog Show stated in in their video on this specific topic that Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t have a high prey drive but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t chase a small animal if it catches their attention.
They’re a very sociable and playful dog that much prefer to get on with animals that they come across. It’s very well known these dogs adore playing and entertaining their owners.
It’s at the owners discretion whether they decide to trust their Bernese Mountain Dog off leash in an area where there may be distractions. Of course, every Berner will be slightly different so the pet parents will need to make decisions based upon their knowledge of their dog.
Eager to please
Bernese Mountain Dogs are eager to please their owners, especially the person that they become most attached to in the family home. These large dogs are usually obedient and are just content to be by your side. The AKC’s description of the Bernese Mountain Dog references this point: “Berners are generally placid but are always up for a romp with the owner, whom they live to please”. They get four stars out of five on the organization’s website when it comes to trainability level and eagerness to please.
At this stage, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent. These smart canines are usually easy to train because they’re quick to pick up new commands and signals.
The infamous study on doggy IQ called The Intelligence Of Dogs ranked the Bernese Mountain Dog at number 22 on their list of smartest pups. In theory, they should understand new commands in 5 to 15 repetitions and obey the first command 85% of the time or better.
However, Bernese owners recommend training your mountain dog from puppyhood to lay down crucial ground rules. As they get bigger, an unruly Berner will be harder to control and more difficult to train.
Another Berner owner on Reddit shared her experience.
They’re very willing to please. We took him to puppy class and everything, but no more training besides that. Of course sit and stay is used a lot, but most of the time a ‘warning tone’ of voice is all it takes if he’s eyeing food on the counter or something.
Bernese Mountain Dog Cons
Bernese Mountain Dogs can grow to a height of 27.5 inches and weigh up to 115 pounds. If you’ve got a misbehaving Berner on your hands, life can be quite a challenge. Hence the importance of training them early! Some Berner owners found that these dogs can be boisterous and hard to control as puppies so life will only get more difficult into adulthood if you’ve got a poorly trained Bernese Mountain Dog.
Separation anxiety can affect any dog irrespective of breed or mix. It’ll usually manifest itself when an owner is about to leave or leaves the home. The symptoms of this chronic canine condition include barking, howling, whining, chewing or digging, and even defecating or urinating inside the home. Berners are no more susceptible to separation anxiety than any other breed and it’ll vary from dog to dog. But it’s something to consider and research before you bring your Bernese Mountain Dog home.
A Berner owner shared the extend of their pup’s separation anxiety.
My Berner when I am not home and someone else is, she will go in my room and sleep on my bed until i get home, and if she is totally alone she will chew up whatever has my scent on it and then cry until I come home. But when I am home she wont ever leave my side, and if I walk out of the room for a few minutes she will bark and cry until I come home.
Lots of shedding
If you’re looking for a low shedding dog but you’ve got your eyes set on a Bernese Mountain Dog, keep looking. These large dogs shed – a lot! They’ve got a double coat – a long, outer coat and a wooly undercoat. The AKC warn that Berners shed a fair amount all year long and you can expect the level of shedding to ramp up during shedding season. If you do some research online, you’ll find lots of Berner owners talking about their pup’s shedding being “out of control”. You can expect lots of long and stringy hair on your clothes, furniture and floor.
Expensive care costs
Bernese Mountain Dogs can cost anywhere from $1,500 and $3,000 depending on the breeder, the lineage and their location. Aside from the initial purchase price of your Berner, you’ll need to consider the month-to-month costs of these dogs. As gentle giants, they’ve got big appetites so their food can cost around $100 a month or more. In fact, some Bernese Mountain Dog owners attest to paying over $200 a month on their canine companion when pet insurance, food, toys, supplements and other care needs are taken into account.
Don’t like the heat
The hint is in the name! These dogs are used to fresher conditions in the mountains than the dry heat of the desert. Therefore, Bernese owners will need to be wary of allowing their Berner to exercise in warm temperatures to avoid overheating.
One Reddit user shared that their Bernese dog likes cool temperatures.
Hilde’s energy levels go way down in temps >70ºF, and she looks miserable. Luckily we live / travel in places that are usually cooler than that.
This is a point backed up by Kalli on the social media site.
You definitely can’t live somewhere where it’s too warm because they overheat very easily. I live in Minnesota and even the Summers here can be too much for my dog. My Bernese loves being out in the snow for hours and it would be unfair to put these furry beasts in a warm climate because they were meant for the cold.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years. These wonderful dogs are prone to some health problems, unfortunately. While the AKC describes Berners as generally healthy dogs, they advise that breeders screen for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, some cancers, and progressive retinal atrophy. They add that Bernese Mountain Dog owners should be able to spot the signs of bloat, which is a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition.