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17 Pros & Cons Of Owning A Bernese Mountain Dog

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By Nicole Cosgrove

bernese mountain dog sitting near the edge of the hill

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed of working dog that has its origins in the Swiss Alps. They are known for their friendly and loyal nature, as well as their impressive size and strength. While this breed can make a great companion for many, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before deciding if a Bernese Mountain Dog is the right match for you and your household.

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Pros and Cons

First, let’s look at some aspects of Bernese Mountain Dogs that can be considered both pros and cons depending on what you’re looking for.

1. They’re big dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are big dogs. Standing at 24-28 inches at the shoulder and weighing in anywhere from 70-120 pounds, they’re not a small breed by any means. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your living situation and what you’re looking for in a dog. If you live in an apartment, for example, a Bernese Mountain Dog might not be the best fit as they need plenty of space to run and play.

2. They’re working dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs were originally bred as working dogs, and their herding instincts are still very strong today. This means that they have a lot of energy and need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. If you’re looking for a low-key lapdog, a Bernese Mountain Dog is probably not the right breed for you.

3. They’re protective dogs.

As mentioned above, Bernese Mountain Dogs are very protective of their families and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe from harm. This instinct can sometimes lead to aggression towards strangers or other animals, so it’s important that you socialize your Bernese Mountain Dog from an early age so that they learn to trust people outside of the family unit.

bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: AnnCatrin Uppfeldt, Pixabay

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Pros of Bernese Mountain Dogs

Now, let’s look at the pros of owning a Bernese Mountain Dog.

4. They’re intelligent dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are very intelligent dogs, ranking near the top of the list of most intelligent breeds. This means that they’re easy to train but can also be stubborn if they don’t think you’re being fair. Training should be started early with Bernese Mountain Dogs to ensure that they grow into well-behaved adults.

5. They’re friendly dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for being friendly and good-natured, which makes them great family pets. They typically get along well with other animals and children, although their size can sometimes be intimidating to smaller creatures (and children). Socialization is important from an early age to help them learn how to interact appropriately with other animals and people.

6. They’re loyal dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are fiercely loyal to their families and will do anything to protect them from harm. However, this loyalty can sometimes manifest itself in aggression towards strangers, so again, it’s important to socialize your Bernese Mountain Dog from an early age so that they learn to trust people outside of the family unit.

7. They’re friendly and outgoing.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for being friendly and outgoing with people of all ages. This makes them great family dogs and a good match for households with children. They also get along well with other animals, making them a good fit for households with multiple pets.

bernese mountain dog running in the yard
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

8. They’re gentle and kind.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for being gentle and kind, making them excellent therapy dogs. They have a natural affinity for people, especially young children, and can provide comfort in situations where other breeds may not be suitable.

9. They’re great watchdogs.

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s size and strength make them excellent watchdogs. They’ll alert you to intruders with a bark, but generally won’t attack unless they feel that their family is in danger. Furthermore, Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent enough to understand that there are situations where barking isn’t necessary or appropriate.

10. They live long lives.

With proper care, Bernese Mountain Dogs can live up to 12 years or more. This is a relatively long lifespan for such a large breed and means that you can enjoy many years of companionship with your Bernese Mountain Dog.

11. They’re beautiful to behold.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a stunning breed, with its soft and shaggy coat and beautiful markings. They are an impressive sight to behold, and you’re sure to turn heads when you take your Berner out for a walk or outing. This gentle giant will earn admiration wherever they go!

Bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: david muscroft, Shutterstock

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Cons of Bernese Mountain Dogs

Here are some things you need to be aware of if you’re thinking about bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your home.

12. They’re prone to certain health issues.

Like many large breed dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye disorders, and bloat. Regular vet check-ups can help identify any potential problems early on, allowing for prompt treatment and prevention of further complications.

13. They’re expensive.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are not an inexpensive breed and may cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the breeder and date of birth. While you may find them at a shelter, you’re more likely to find adoptable Mountain Dogs from rescue societies that specialize in this breed. You’re most likely to obtain one through a breeder, so make sure you do your research to find a professional ethical breeder.

14. They have a lot of fur.

Bernese Mountain Dogs have thick, double-layered coats that need to be groomed regularly. They shed heavily twice a year and may need to be brushed every day during the shedding season to keep their coats looking healthy and clean.

15. They need lots of exercise.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is an active breed and needs plenty of exercise to stay healthy. They enjoy long walks or hikes, playtime in the yard or park, and activities like agility training. Without regular exercise they can become bored or destructive, so daily physical activity is a must for this breed.

16. They can be independent thinkers.

Berner’s are intelligent and independent thinkers. This can make them difficult to train, but it also means they can think for themselves and make decisions on their own. It’s important to provide consistent training from an early age if you want them to learn the rules of your household.

17. They need an experienced owner.

Because of their size and strength, Bernese Mountain Dogs are not suitable for novice pet owners. They require an experienced owner who is willing to invest the time in proper training, socialization, and exercise. The commitment that comes with owning a Bernese Mountain Dog is significant, but the rewards are immense. With patience, consistency, and love your Berner can become a loyal and loving member of the family.

bernese mountain dog sitting on carpet in living room
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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Tips for Choosing an Ethical, Professional Breeder

If you’ve decided to bring one of these dogs into your household, you should know that not all breeders are created equal and choosing one without doing your research could lead you to accidentally supporting a puppy mill, inexperienced backyard breeder, and in extreme cases, the illegal pet trade! An ethical breeder is one who breeds responsibly and puts the health and welfare of their animals first. Here are a few tips for choosing an ethical breeder:

  • Meet the breeder in person and ask to see where their Bernese Mountain Dogs live.
  • Look for a breeder who offers written guarantees, provides veterinary records, and is willing to answer any questions you have about the breed.
  • Make sure the breeding dogs are healthy and well-socialized.
  • Be wary of any breeder who insists on selling a puppy as soon as you inquire or requires payment upfront.
  • Look for breeders who do genetic testing, breed for the best traits, and follow breed standards. This is optional, especially if you aren’t interested in having a show dog or a dog with an elite pedigree.
  • Research the breeder online and check for reviews from other customers.
  • Ask for proof of health clearances on the parent dogs, such as hip and elbow dysplasia evaluations.

Avoiding Scams and Backyard Breeders

No matter where you live, there is always the risk of coming across a scam or backyard breeder. These are individuals who do not meet ethical standards and may be looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting buyers. Avoid any breeder that:

  • Attempts to sell puppies over the Internet or through classified ads before you’ve had a chance to meet the breeder or see the puppies.
  • Offers puppies that appear to be much younger than eight weeks of age.
  • Is unwilling to provide health records, paperwork, or registration information.
  • Advertises many different breeds and offers discounts on multiple litters at once.
  • Uses high-pressure sales tactics or tries to push you into a sale.
  • Offers shipping for a high upfront payment on a puppy you’ve only seen online
  • Offers a price that seems too good to be true.

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Every breed has its pros and cons! The trick is to find the right pet for your lifestyle. Though they may require a bit of extra care and attention due to their size and shedding tendencies, Bernese Mountain Dogs make great companions and are sure to bring you years of joy and happiness. Just make sure to watch out for shady breeders and online scams! And, as always, it’s better to adopt if you can!

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