Understanding the Bernese Mountain Dog’s Gentle Nature

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, tri-colored dog breed that is known for its gentle nature and loving personality. These dogs are often referred to as gentle giants because of their large size and their kind and compassionate disposition. Berners are intelligent, eager to please, and make excellent companions for families with children.

History of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog originated in the Swiss Alps, where it was used as a working dog for centuries. These dogs were bred to help farmers with herding livestock, pulling carts, and guarding their homes. Berners are known for their hardiness and their ability to work in cold weather.

Origin of the Breed

The exact origin of the Bernese Mountain Dog is unknown, but it is believed that they descended from mastiff-type dogs brought to Switzerland by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. These dogs were then crossed with local flock-guarding breeds, resulting in the Bernese Mountain Dog we know today.

During the 19th century, the breed almost became extinct due to the introduction of other working dog breeds. However, a group of dedicated breeders worked to preserve the Bernese Mountain Dog, and it eventually gained popularity as a family pet in the 20th century.

Working Heritage

As mentioned earlier, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a strong working heritage. They were originally bred to assist farmers in the Swiss Alps, where they would pull carts, herd livestock, and guard their owner’s property. This background has given them a strong work ethic and a desire to please their owners.

Even though they are now primarily kept as companion animals, many Berners still possess these working instincts and can excel in activities such as obedience, agility, and tracking.

Temperament of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Berners are gentle, affectionate, and loyal dogs. They are patient with children and enjoy being around people. These dogs are also intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. However, Berners can be shy with strangers and may need some socialization to help them become more comfortable around new people.

Gentle Giants

One of the most well-known traits of the Bernese Mountain Dog is its gentle nature. Despite their large size, these dogs are incredibly gentle and patient, especially with children. They have a calm and laid-back demeanor, which makes them great family pets.

Their gentle nature also extends to other animals, and they can get along well with other dogs and even cats if properly introduced and socialized from a young age.

Loyal Companions

Berners are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners. They form strong bonds with their families and will do anything to protect them. This loyalty also means that they can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of love and attention.

These dogs thrive on human companionship and do not do well when left alone for extended periods. They are happiest when they are by their owner’s side, whether it’s going for a walk or just lounging on the couch.

Intelligent and Trainable

Bernese Mountain Dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques and enjoy learning new things. However, they can have a stubborn streak, so consistent and patient training is necessary.

It’s essential to start training your Berner from a young age to establish good behaviors and prevent any potential behavioral issues. Early socialization is also crucial to help them become comfortable with different people, animals, and environments.

Personality of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Berners are playful and energetic dogs, but they also enjoy relaxing at home with their families. These dogs are not known for being barkers, but they may bark to alert their owners to strangers or danger. Understanding their personality can help you provide the best care for your Bernese Mountain Dog.

Playful and Energetic

Despite their large size, Berners have a playful and energetic nature. They love to play and have fun with their families, whether it’s chasing a ball in the backyard or going for a hike in the mountains. However, they are not hyperactive dogs and will happily relax at home after getting enough exercise.

It’s essential to provide them with regular physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Without proper exercise, they can become bored and destructive.

Calm and Relaxed

While Berners do have an energetic side, they also have a calm and relaxed demeanor. They are content to lounge around the house with their families and make great cuddle buddies. This laid-back attitude makes them an excellent choice for families with children, as they can handle the chaos and noise of a busy household.

However, it’s important to note that Berners are not suitable for apartment living due to their large size and need for space to move around.

Protective Instincts

As mentioned earlier, Berners have a strong protective instinct towards their families. They will bark to alert their owners to any potential danger, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they are not aggressive dogs and will rarely act on their protective instincts unless necessary.

It’s crucial to socialize your Berner from a young age to prevent any potential aggression towards strangers or other animals.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health issues. It’s essential to be aware of these potential problems and take steps to prevent or manage them.

Some common health concerns for Berners include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus)
  • Cancer
  • Eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
  • Heart disease

To ensure your Berner stays healthy, it’s crucial to provide them with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and routine vet check-ups. It’s also essential to purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder who screens their breeding dogs for any potential health issues.

Grooming Needs

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a thick, double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition. They shed moderately throughout the year, with heavier shedding during seasonal changes. Here are some grooming tips for keeping your Berner’s coat healthy and looking its best:

  • Brush your dog’s coat at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.
  • During heavy shedding periods, use a deshedding tool to help remove excess hair.
  • Bathe your Berner as needed, but not too frequently as it can strip their coat of its natural oils.
  • Trim their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.
  • Clean their ears weekly to prevent ear infections.
  • Check their teeth and brush them regularly to maintain good oral hygiene.



The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle and loving breed that makes an excellent companion for families. They have a rich history as working dogs and have maintained their kind and compassionate nature throughout the years. With proper socialization, training, and care, these gentle giants can make a wonderful addition to any household.

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