Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Protective? Read Before You Get One!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Bernese Mountain Dog outdoors

Tall, powerful, and built for work, the Bernese Mountain Dog is an eye-catching and majestic breed of dog with a lovable personality. They are working dogs who have a reputation of being friendly, lovable, and downright charming. But with their size and personality, are Bernese Mountain Dogs protective? The answer is yes! Bernese Mountain Dogs are very protective in nature.

All dogs have a natural inclination to protect their owners especially when they share a special bond. But what sets Bernese Mountain Dogs apart? What makes them so protective? Do they do well with families? Here, we answer all these questions and more!

Divider 5

The Protective Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are also known as Swiss Mountain Dogs, Bernese Cattle Dogs, and Berners for short. Berners are a large, imposing breed of dogs that can reach up to 30 inches in height and over 100 pounds in weight. They are strong working dogs with an intimidating physique. Despite these physical characteristics, Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally calm and friendly in nature!

The Bernese Mountain Dog has a very sociable and energetic temperament. They also have a very guardian-like personality, with a natural inclination to look after their owners, territory, and possessions. In times of danger, Berners are also known to show no hesitation in putting their own safety on the line for their owners.

This natural disposition paired with their size, strength, and caring personality make Bernese Mountain Dogs excellent protectors—especially in times of emergency.

Bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: david muscroft, Shutterstock

Why Are They So Protective?

From the canton of Bern in Switzerland, the breed’s naturally protective tendencies can be partly explained with their rich history. The Bernese Mountain Dog was one of the dog breeds brought to Switzerland by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. Due to their size and strength, they were utilized as all-around working dogs by the Swiss to aid in farm work, such as pulling carts, driving cattle, and protecting the farmland. The breed also served as a reliable alternative to horses for farmers who could not afford them.

Today, Berners are still being utilized by farmers around the world to pull heavy loads and herd cattle. The breed is still widely preferred over other breeds for its natural role as the protector of the farmland, cattle, and farmers’ families from predators. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s protective and guardian-like disposition have been recognized throughout history, even spanning all the way back to ancient times!

Are They Aggressive?

Although very protective, Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally not an aggressive breed, and it’s unlikely for them to exhibit aggressive tendencies. The average Berner is calm, friendly, and approachable if properly trained and socialized—a perfect embodiment of the term, “gentle giant”!

All dogs have the capability for aggression when put in a situation that calls for it. Despite their calm disposition, Berners still have the capability to be aggressive in response to danger. Their protective instincts keep them cautious and wary of unfamiliar people and animals. Like most other breeds, they can still exhibit aggressive behaviors, growl, and show their fangs when threatened.

Bernese Mountain Dogs’ protective inclination and aggressive tendencies are all dependent on their level of education through training, as well as their exposure to various situations through proper socialization.

bernese mountain dog puppy with owner outdoor
Image Credit: Oleg Mitkevych, Shutterstock

Do They Make Good Guard Dogs?

Because of their size, natural protective disposition, and high trainability, Berners can make great guard dogs, as they are known to put their own wellbeing on the line if they feel that their family is in danger.

However, while most guard dogs are agile and nimble, the Bernese Mountain Dogs are larger and heavier. This makes quick and sudden movements challenging, especially as they get older. While they are not considered as a top choice of guard dog breeds, they are still large, strong, and can still easily intimidate strangers and other animals to prevent conflict. Like other breeds, Berners’ performance as guard dogs heavily depends on their training, experience, age, and health.

They have to be properly trained as guard dogs at a young age to allow them to gain experience as they get older, like knowing how to properly detect and respond to danger and threats.

Age also plays a vital role in their ability to become guard dogs. As they age, moving becomes more challenging due to their body mass, making them more sluggish.

Finally, health plays a huge factor in their ability to protect. For instance, you can’t expect an injured Berner to stand and maintain an imposing posture, or an obese dog to deter a situation that requires a lot of running. A healthy diet and ample exercise are required to keep your Bernese Mountain Dogs fit, especially as guard dogs!

Bernese Mountain Dog standing by the lake
Image Credit: uppfeldt, Pixabay

Do They Make Good Family Dogs?

Bernese Mountain Dogs make excellent family dogs and will still do everything to protect their owners. They are gentle, affectionate, and love spending time with their family.

Berners love the attention and even work great with children, as they can handle children’s play and will exhibit their protective tendencies by watching over them whenever they’re around. They also do well with other animals, making them a good choice for multi-pet households.

Do They Need Training?

Like all dogs, they will need to undergo training and socialization at a young age to maximize their already calm and friendly temperament. They are big dogs, so house training is essential to prevent any damages in the household.

It is recommended to seek professional services if you wish to train your Bernese Mountain Dog as a guard dog, as they will need to undergo basic training to maximize their protective tendencies. Dog protection training programs may include early socialization, training in basic obedience, territory protection, and other skills needed for defense.

Bernese Mountain Dog in the snow
Image Credit: Andrea Wilkinson, Pixabay

Divider 5Conclusion

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle giant with an imposing physique and a natural guardian-like behavior. They are gentle, loving, and will protect their family if they sense danger. Selfless and caring, Berners will put their own safety on the line to protect their loved ones.

Whether you’re looking for a dog to play with your kids, watch over your family, or a giant furball friend with a charming personality, the Bernese Mountain Dog makes a great choice for all of the above!

Featured Image Credit: Andy Lyell, Unsplash

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database