The Bernese Mountain Dog (berner) is a great family pet. They are a gentle breed that lives to please their owners. Once a berner decides that you are his/hers, they will show you a devotion that is second to none. They are eager to please and smart, therefore very easy to train. Berners live and breathe family, usually they pick one person in the family to claim as their own, they love everyone in the family, but this one person is their heart and soul. That person becomes their “alfa.” Bonding with a berner is easy because they are so laid back, happy-go-lucky and just want to me with you. They are “leaners” which means, not only do they want to be with you but being able to touch you brings them great comfort. For example, when I am just sitting down watching t.v. I usually have at least one dog that is leaning against me or laying at my feet (usually with a paw on my foot), I am the alfa, if I get up and go to the kitchen to cook a meal, they follow. They know that they can’t be under my feet while I am cooking, (although they occasionally still try) so they stake out a place in the kitchen where they can see me. This is a trait that I adore about them because their loyalty to me brings me as much joy as it does them. I never requested this from them it is just something that they have always done.
They are a very sensitive breed. All you need to do is show them that you are disappointed in their behavior, raise your voice or change your tone, and they are very sorry for whatever it is that made you unhappy. They often will come to you after being scolded and want your reassurance and affection; in this aspect they remind me of a child. And because they are sensitive, they often will be the first ones at your side if you are upset or not feeling well. I know that if I am upset, my dogs are right there, offering me hugs and kissing me to try to say, “it will be okay, Mom.” My strong, silent type
They do not tend to be guard dogs more like an alert dog. They going to let you know when someone new is there but then they will let you take it from there. They sound scary but their tail is wagging the whole time with the prospect of someone new being there to pet them and show them affection! But at least at my house, if I walked up to my house and heard my dogs barking from the inside, I would be scared of what was on the other side, lol.
They are also a very adaptable breed and by that I mean, if you are active, then your berner will be active, if you are not, then they will not be either. They are not a high energy dog; they do not require hours and hours of exercise. But if from the moment you get them, you run/walk with them, then this will be something that brings them joy, simply because it brings you joy and they are with you. However, if you are more like our family where our schedule is too hectic to go for a mile or two run every day, then your berner will adapt to your lifestyle and will not need that interaction to be happy. Let me give you a quick example. We lived in the country for several years and I had been walking a country block (4 miles) every day when I decided I was going to start bringing my dogs with me for company. I could still see my house when my berner laid down. On the flip side, there is a puppy (now grown) that was adopted by a family from the mountains where hikes are an everyday occurrence and he keeps up just fine. The point is, they will adapt to what they are shown and that will be just fine with them. Whatever brings you happiness brings them the same.
As stated earlier, berners are not a high energy dog, even the puppies. They get excited when you come home or have visitors but settle down quite easily. They are a great family dog as stated before and are very good with kids. They adore kids and are usually the type of dog where a child could lay on them and take a nap and you would see the dog smile from ear to ear. They are just absolutely amazing with children. They are also great with other animals. They are a very social breed and would rather have animal friends around then not. Cats, dogs, ferrets, etc. they get along with everyone and everything. If you do have another pet, it is usually the other animal that will have the issue with the berner because the berner is so laid back that they are just happy to have a friend. My grandma’s berner sleeps with their cat and my berners are afraid of my ferret because he jumps. I do not feel that either the cat or the ferret, are in any danger when my dogs are around.
The berner is a lap dog disguised as a 100+ pound dog. When you bring home your berner, they will want to sit on your lap, this does not change just because they get bigger. If you look through some of my pictures, you will see me (barely) on the couch with some of our dogs because I had Bowen (our St. Bernard puppy) on my lap and two of my berners wanted up there too. This happens often. Usually it starts with their head on your lap, pretty soon the front paw comes up and then next comes the hide leg and before you know it, they are sitting on your lap. You may laugh, but if you have had a berner, you know this is true! These are not the type of dog that you can leave outside and that will be happy with that, they want to be a part of your life!