Bernese Mountain Dog: Owner Discussion

Bernese Mountain Dog: Owner Discussion

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jun 09 2023


The Bernese Mountain Dog is a popular family dog worldwide, but before you decide to get one, it would be wise to learn as much as you can about them. You don’t want to get buyer’s remorse and find yourself in a situation where you cannot take care of your new dog. That is why we decided to offer a somewhat different perspective on these dogs.

We decided to talk to owners and breeders from across the globe to get the best possible information about the Bernese Mountain Dogs. Getting first-hand information will help you decide whether or not this is the ideal breed for you. Here is what we found out.

What kind of a pet is the Bernese Mountain Dog?

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a working breed. This is what you should expect of their character and behavior. However, breeders started diverging bloodlines, and many Berneses are now bred with the “pet” character in mind, so the temperament of each individual dog is influenced by different things. Some of those things are genetics, but others can be affected by training and socialization.

Not sure where and how to start socializing your dog? Check out this article: 8 Tips And Tricks - Puppy And Dog Socialization.

bernese in nature

These dogs are known as excellent family pets, and there is a good reason behind that. They are usually calm, agreeable, gentle, and loving dogs that love nothing more than spending time with their family. The thing that makes them such great family pets is their demeanor with children. They are incredibly gentle and affectionate towards them.

The Bernese Mountain Dogs will most likely have an adolescent phase that will cause them to act up a bit. This is not unique for this breed alone, and many breeds can be difficult when they hit puberty. You will need patience and consistency with your socialization and training when that phase inevitably hits.

Another great thing about these dogs is their overall friendliness. They are very friendly with other dogs, and Bernese owners haven’t told us about a single incident. Some dogs can even walk away if they smell trouble brewing.

bernese mountain dog running

Bernese Mountain Dog from the owners perspective

There are different ways to get to the info about the Bernese dogs, and it is nearly impossible to verify if that info is correct. That’s why we decided to talk to the community of the Bernese Mountain Dog owners and breeders that was kind enough to answer our questions, and they gifted us a bit of their time from their busy schedules.

Asking owners about their dogs

First, we spoke to Lisa from Belgium that has four Bernese Mountain Dogs at her home. This is what she told us after we asked about her dogs;

My dogs love to cuddle and spend time with me. They are incredibly loyal, and we treat them as full family members.”

We were curious about the level of energy these dogs have, so she said,

I could say that they are active. We walk every day between 3 and 12 miles, and dogs that aren’t active couldn’t do that. However, not all of BMDs are like that; like humans, some are lazy.

Since she said they are loyal, we asked about their behavior around strangers and other dogs; she said,

My dogs are loyal, and they are always by my side; one is like my shadow. Others are alert and bark when they see an intruder, but will never bite anyone; they just like to let me know someone is approaching.”

bernese mountain puppy

Next, we spoke to Esther from Holland, and we asked her about her two adorable dogs. She told us,

Noah is a six-year-old female, and she is just a big, easygoing, cuddly bear. Abbey is very active for a Bernese Mountain Dog. She is 3 years old and loves to run, search, and play.”

Getting information from owners is incredibly valuable, but we wanted to hear from someone who is breeding the Bernese Mountain Dog breed, so we got in touch with Serbia’s breeder.

Bernese Mountain Dog from a breeders perspective

Breeding a specific breed is a delicate process. Responsible breeders need to account for different things when choosing which dogs they will breed, and the goal should always be clear - developing the breed and producing healthy, stable puppies.

bernese dog in snow

We got in touch with Radosav from Serbia, who is involved with this breed for more than 25 years, so talking to a breeder with so much experience was a privilege. The first thing we asked him was - Why Bernese Mountain Dogs?

Beauty. The first thing I noticed about these dogs was their radiant beauty. After getting the first Bernese, I experienced first-handed the love they give us in every moment. The second thing that got me into breeding these dogs is their perfect character.”

We asked him about the challenges Bernese Mountain Dogs breeding presents, and he said,

Breeding any breed is not a simple task. Any good breeder will study the breed from the first standard to the modern-day dogs. To produce the best possible puppy, a breeder needs to know what characteristics they want to promote.”

We asked him about his breeding goals, and he gave an interesting answer;

I started studying the work of prof. Albert Heim, and followed his guidelines to get to where I am today. My main goal was to eradicate the genetic diseases, their locomotor system, temperament, and character. As a result, I managed to produce dogs that have a longer lifespan, excellent gait, and smooth movement.”

two bernese mountain dogs

Some unethical breeders decide to introduce other breeds to the bloodline they are breeding to achieve longer lifespans. Mr. Radosav said that an experienced breeder and a cynology judge should spot that immediately.

Potentially negative sides of owning a Bernese

All dog breeds come with a different side that some future owners might not be willing to take. The Bernese Mountain Dog is not an exception.

Some who are considering getting the BMD are drawn to their beautiful, fluffy coats but forget that such fluffy coats require quite a bit of maintenance. These dogs have thick, double coats that will shed a lot, so if you are thinking about becoming a Bernese owner, prepare to invest time in grooming and brushing your dog. 

Their coats are one of their most attractive qualities, but having a thick, double coat means they don’t do too well in hot climates. These dogs love cold weather, and they feel most at home in mountainous regions.

bernese mountain closeup

Possibly the biggest drawback when it comes to this breed is their short lifespan. We asked one of the owners about that, and she told us,

The biggest issue with my dogs is that they will not become very old.”

She shares our concerns, and the average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog is just 8-9 years.

This is one of the issues Radosav wanted to breed out the bloodline he is working on, and he claimed that his dogs have a lifespan of up to 12 years. Of course, claiming something like that is very optimistic, and breeders often try to achieve that by crossbreeding. It would undoubtedly be fascinating to learn how Radosav managed to “breed out” the breed’s short lifespan.

One potential problem is their growth spurt. They tend to grow rapidly, so future owners should be cautious not to overexercise their developing Bernese Mountain Dogs during that time.

bernese mountain closeup wet

One of the owners we were in touch with, Lisa, said,

The negative is that they lose a lot of hair; they should be brushed regularly. If you raise a Bernese, the first year, you have to pay close attention - they grow very fast, so make sure they grow comfortably. Don’t go for too long walks and be careful around stairs.”

Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to several health concerns, and you can read more about that here - full profile of the Bernese.

Getting a Bernese puppy

Bernese Mountain Dogs are an attractive family breed that could cost a lot to maintain. The potential vet bills and health problems should not be taken lightly. If you decide to go for one of these dogs, make sure you contact a reputable, responsible breeder with impeccable breeding practices.

The only way you can ensure you end up with a healthy Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is by getting it from a good breeder. Mind you; even that is not a guarantee. Nobody can guarantee their dogs will be 100% healthy, but it is the best possible way to ensure you end up with a healthy puppy.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo