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Bernese mountain dog as a pet, good or bad?

posted on 2017-03-26  07:15:14 By Michele Welton

The Bernese Mountain Dog is steady-tempered and easygoing.

However, his calmness and willingness to laze about doesn't mean he can be cooped up without exercise. Indeed, the Bernese loves getting out, especially in cool weather -- with his thick black coat, he doesn't do well in hot climates. Romping in the snow is a favorite form of recreation for this Alpine breed, and pulling carts and sleds is a wonderful source of exercise, especially if it involves children.

His attitude toward strangers varies from friendly to aloof, but a Bernese should remain poised and hold his ground. The most common temperament fault is excessive shyness, sometimes toward everyone, sometimes focused on one group of people, such as men with beards. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy needs lots of socialization so that his natural caution does not become timidity.

Most Bernese Mountain Dogs are peaceful and sociable with other animals, but some Bernese males are aggressive toward other male dogs

Responsive to obedience training in a slow, good-natured way, this sensitive breed should be handled kindly, with much praise and encouragement. However, they're not complete pushovers to train -- some can be a little bit hardheaded and dominant, especially males, and especially during adolescence.

There is great variability in size in this breed -- some individuals are medium/large and quite athletic, while others are huge and ponderous (especially males).

If you want a dog who...

  • Is large, heavy, and powerful
  • Has a thick furry coat that does well in cold climates
  • Is gentle-natured, polite, and non-aggressive
  • Is usually peaceful with other pets
  • Loves pulling carts and sleds and romping in cold weather
  • Is responsive to training in a slow, good-natured way

A Bernese Mountain Dog may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • A bulky dog who takes up a good amount of space in your house and car
  • Exuberant jumping when young, or when not exercised enough
  • "Separation anxiety" and destructiveness when left alone too much
  • Fearfulness or timidity in some lines, or when not socialized enough
  • Some stubbornness and/or dominance problems, especially in young males
  • More than average shedding
  • Potential for slobbering/drooling in individuals with loose jowls
  • High price tag
  • Serious health problems and a short lifespan

A Bernese Mountain Dog may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by

  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

More traits and characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog

If I was considering a Bernese Mountain Dog, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing sufficient exercise. Bernese Mountain Dogs definitely don't need or want jogging exercise, but they do need a decent-sized yard where they can romp about.
  2. Separation anxiety. Bernese Mountain Dogs need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing.
  3. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Bernese Mountain Dogs need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness, which is difficult to live with.
  4. Stronger temperament in some males. Some Bernese Mountain Dogs, particularly young males, are not pushovers to raise and train. Some are willful and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Some Bernese males are also dominant or aggressive toward other male dogs.
  5. Shedding. A big Yes! Bernese Mountain Dogs shed a goodly amount.
  6. Slobbering. Some Bernese Mountain Dogs, especially those with massive heads and loose jowls, slobber and drool, especially after eating and drinking.
  7. Serious health problems. The Bernese Mountain Dog has a wonderful personality, but their serious health problems are a major drawback that you must consider before committing to this breed. An alarming number of Bernese are crippled by hip and elbow dysplasia, or succumb to inherited cancer, heart disease, or epilepsy in middle age.

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