Originally bred as herders and protectors of farms, the Bernese mountain dog breed is a wonderful family pet and watchdog. “Berners,” as they’re known for short, are known for their incredible strength — the AKC says they can pull more than their own weight. (If you have no experience with sled dogs, drafting dogs or farm dogs, please check with your vet or trainer before you attempt any drafting or pulling).
The Berner is an indoor dog that needs about half an hour of exercise every day in order to stay healthy. The AKC says they are ideal companions for people who enjoy hiking and outdoor sports.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Bark a Lot?
Bernese mountain dogs are not known to be excessive barkers, but because of their size and guard-dog nature, their barks can be loud.
Bernese mountain dogs are, like most dogs, pack animals who prefer not to be alone. When left alone for long periods, the Berner can experience separation anxiety, which can lead to excessive barking as well as other bad behaviors.
If you’re going to leave your Berner alone for long periods of time, you might want to look into a dog-walking service or recruit a neighbor to check in on your dog during the day. A good walk before you head to work can also tire them out, so they’re less likely to feel anxiety and boredom, which can be two triggers for excessive barking.
We never advocate for preventing any dog from barking; barking is, after all, the way dogs communicate. Follow our train, treat, repeat approach to training your dog to stop barking on command.
Facts About Bernese Mountain Dogs
The Bernese mountain dog is one of four Swiss mountain dog breeds. The other three are the greater Swiss mountain dog, the Appenzeller mountain dog, and the Entlebucher mountain dog. Like most large and giant breeds, the Bernese mountain dog can be susceptible to joint issues like dysplasia as well as a gastrointestinal condition called “bloat.” Talk to your veterinarian about these conditions so you can learn to recognize the symptoms, as well as prevent them.
Size: Males range from 90 to 120 pounds, and female can weigh between 70 and 100 pounds
Life expectancy: Bernese mountain dogs life expectancy is between 7 and 10 years.
Coat: Their coats are mostly black with tan, brown and white markings. Their fur is medium to long in length and requires daily brushing.
AKC group: Working group
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Easy to Train? Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Good Dogs?
Bernese mountain dogs are big — weighing between 70 and 120 pounds — so you want to train this dog at an early age, if possible. Because the Bernese mountain dog has a working-dog background, they are eager to learn and please their owners and trainers. Take advantage of this dog’s good-natured temperament with daily walks, regular socialization with other dogs and children, and fun tricks like nose work and scent training.
Take care when rewarding the Berner with treats; this breed can be prone to excessive weight gain. Always defer to your veterinarian’s advice with regard to the best foods for the Bernese mountain dog’s diet.
The AKC notes that Berners are eager to please but they do not respond well to harsh corrections. This sensitive dog responds exceptionally well to positive reinforcement training. They also develop deep bonds with their owners, so they can take longer than average to adapt to new homes. Be patient if you adopt an adult Berner.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Need Grooming?
Yes, the Berner is a large dog with a double coat, so weekly brushing is important to keep them looking their best and to prevent matting and reduce shedding. Because of their size and strength, grooming a Bernese mountain dog might be better handled by professionals. Between grooms, though, plan to brush your Berner at least once a week.
Berners that don’t spend a lot of time outside on harder surfaces, which can naturally file down a dog’s nails, will need regular nail trims. They do well with a rotary-style nail grinder rather than nail clippers. Because of the dog’s size, the Berner’s nails might be tougher and therefore a little more painful especially when your scissor-style nail clippers become dull.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Shed?
Oh, do they shed. While their good demeanors, easy trainability, and innate watchfulness are the reasons Berners are excellent pets, the tradeoff is they shed a lot. They are seasonal shedders, so during these times, expect to do daily brushing. The rest of the year, a weekly brushing should do.
What If My Breed Is a Bernese Mountain Dogs Mix?
The Bernese mountain dog is a popular breed to mix with other breeds, including the ones listed below, especially for breeders who are looking to capitalize on the best of both breeds (low-shedding plus loyal protector, for example).
Here are some popular breed mixes of Bernese mountain dog …
- + Poodle = Bernedoodle
- + Golden retriever = golden mountain dog
- + German shepherd = Euro mountain sheparnese
- + Border collie = bordernese
- + Saint bernard = Saint Bernese
- + Newfoundland = Bernefie
- + Labrador retriever = Labernese
Resource Links for More Bernese Mountain Dogs Info
- Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA)
- BMDInfo.org (for breed information and breeders, as well as links to local clubs)
- BMDCA on Facebook