Q&A – Bernese Mountain Dog
Is a Bernese Mountain Dog a suitable family dog?
Yes. Affectionately referred to as the Berner, the Bernese Mountain Dog is gentle, intelligent, affectionate, loyal, eager to please and generally good-mannered. His wonderful temperament and the fact that he is easy to train makes him a good choice as a family dog. He’ll do well with adults and children of all ages, but may not be a suitable choice for people who live in apartments or homes without large fenced yards for playing. Berners also need to live with their families rather than in outdoor kennels, and love to participate in family activities.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs shed a lot?
Yes. If there’s one significant downside to the Berner, it’s that he sheds quite a bit through the year, so be prepared to vacuum often. Shedding also increases during shedding seasons (spring and fall). Even so, brushing regularly will help reduce the amount of hair around the house, in addition to making his coat cleaner and more attractive.
What are the serious health problems that Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to?
The Bernese Mountain Dog has a small genetic foundation that leaves him susceptible to a number of health issues. This does not mean that all Berners will get these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them. The most common are
- Cancer (especially histiocytic sarcoma)
- Orthopedic diseases (including elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia)
The breed also tends to be susceptible to:
- heart disease
- eye conditions (such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy)
It is therefore advisable to inquire about genetic testing when purchasing a Berner so you can be confident that you are taking home a healthy dog.
What is the life expectancy of Bernese Mountain Dogs?
The life expectancy of Bernese Mountain Dogs is 6 to 8 years.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs make good guard dogs?
Not really. Berners were historically used as farm dogs, and one of their roles was to guard the farmyard from predators. However, because they are generally gentle and non-aggressive, they tend to be aloof rather than threatening when interacting with strangers. While a Berner may bark to warn strangers off, he is unlikely to bite or attack a stranger. As such, he is much better placed as a watch dog than a guard dog.