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7 Reasons Why Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Ideal Family Dogs

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs make good family dogs? If you’re considering getting one, this will be one of your first questions. This article explains how these fluffy giants fit in with most families, their natural temperaments, and more.

bernese mountain dog family dog

7 Reasons Why Bernese Mountain Dogs Make Great Family Dogs

It should come as no surprise that there are a lot more positives than negatives when it comes to Berners.

Let’s start with why Bernese Mountain Dogs do in fact make excellent family dogs.

1. Calm Disposition

One of the key personality traits that most families point out is just how calm, relaxed, and “under control” their Berner is. This kind of calm temperament is what families love the most, especially those with kids around. To not get agitated or flustered when the kids are acting frantic is a big upside to these friendly giants.

2. Naturally Friendly

Due to their incredible size, many kids and even adults consider Berners to be slightly intimidating… This, however, is no reflection of their true personality. Berners are very friendly and naturally kind. This gives them a warm and loving personality that’s perfect for young children, and well, any household!

3. Protective Yet Not Aggressive

Another amazing trait about Bernese Mountain Dogs is that they are very protective, yet not aggressive. With their sheer size and lion-like growl, your family can sleep peacefully at night knowing you have a Bernese Mountain Dog downstairs. Berners were once used as watchdogs and had the role of protecting cattle from wild predators.

4. Excellent Companionship

Bernese Mountain Dogs weren’t only used as strong working dogs, they doubled up as family companion dogs at all other times. These big friendly giants often develop strong bonds and relationships between their owners and human-family. Having a companion/friend of this caliber is important for children in so many ways, and there may not be a better breed capable of doing it than a Berner.

5. Love To Appease

Berners have a thing for appeasing their owners and being the “goodest of boys”. Berners are intelligent, love to follow commands, be put to work, and well, do anything you want them to do! They are highly trainable and are considered one of the easier breeds to train, which is certainly a huge plus for busy parents.

6. Berners Love To Have Fun!

Another excellent trait of Bernese Mountain Dogs is how much they love to be a part of the action. Although they are calm by nature, this doesn’t mean they don’t like playtime and plenty of fun. This bodes well for when the kids want to play games and when you take them outside for their exercise. These calm giants are certainly not party poopers and love to be fully involved with any family activities.

7. All-Round Good Behavior

Last but certainly not least is the fact that Berners are very well behaved in general. And this can’t be said for most other breeds. As long as you meet his daily needs, provide sufficient exercise, training, stimulation, and attention, he’s going to reward you, your family, and especially your house, with good behavior only. This was one of the positive traits mentioned by all of the owners I asked.

You might also like:
Why Bernese Moutain Dogs Don’t Live That Long!
How Many Hours Can Berners Be Left Alone?

Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Great With Kids

What makes a family a family?… Kids! And this is one of the most important aspects affecting which breed you will ultimately go for.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are awesome with kids and even babies. They are incredibly friendly, gentle, and will understand the fragility of kids and babies. Still, a lot of caution must be taken due to their sheer size and strength, as it’s easy to knock over or overwhelm young children.

They have a natural role model and leadership sense about them and often assume the role of a big brother or sister for young kids. Which is great for any kid to have.

Their willingness to play, yet relaxed and calm demeanor also happens to be a perfect blend of temperament for young kids. When it’s time to be calm, your Berner will help facilitate that, and when it’s time to play, he’ll be right in the action. And kids generally love that.

All in all, they are great with kids. But as I mentioned in the beginning, due to their size, weight and strength it’s easy for them to cause accidents. And of course, training must be given by you to ensure their obedience and good behavior.

5 Things Families Should Know About Bernese Mountain Dogs

Although there are many positives, there are some things to know about Berners which might make them an unsuitable breed for some families.

The following points aren’t to be considered “negatives” but they are important to consider beforehand.

1) Berners Need A Lot Of Space

Bernese Mountain Dogs don’t often do well in apartments, especially properties without a yard. These dogs are true giants and they are significantly bigger than a typical dog most people are used to. Berners need to stretch their legs and can literally be too big to live in a small apartment.

After having conversations with several owners, they all mentioned the importance of having adequate amounts of space both inside your home and outside in your private yard. And to ensure your Berner remains happy and content, it’s only fair to get one if you have enough space.

2) Exercise Is Very Important

Although this breed is large and very relaxed, it certainly doesn’t put them in the “couch-potato” category. Berners need their fair share of exercise in order to remain at a healthy weight and to keep their bones, joints, and muscles working properly.

Many make the mistake of viewing this breed as mostly sedentary and therefore think they can get away with limited exercise. If your family is not ready or capable of providing sufficient amounts of exercise, at least 60 minutes per day, a Berner might not be an appropriate breed.

3) They Hate To Be Alone

Berners Mountain Dogs become quickly attached to their family members and expect them to be around most of the time. They do not do well when left alone and for some families with busy schedules, the household is left empty for several hours at a time. This would be a terrible situation for any Berner.

Separation anxiety, increased nervousness, disobedience, destructive behavior, and increased aloofness can all be the result when left alone too long, too often. This is a really important one to consider, so it’s worth reevaluating your family’s current routine.

4) Grooming!

If your family isn’t ready to enjoy dog hair on their clothes, this may be a big hurdle to overcome.

Berners have thick fluffy double coats, which is actually what makes them so beautiful to look at.

What happens, though, is that a lot of that hair will shed throughout the entire year.

This means floor-sweeping, daily brushing and a lot of general upkeep will be in store for the entire family. If everyone is aware of this beforehand and willing to help, it likely won’t be too much of an issue.

5) Health Issues and Short Life Expectancy

A sad reality of such a beautiful beast is that they are prone to health issues and many will not live as long as other dog breeds.

The life expectancy of Bernese Mountain Dogs is around 6-8 years. Which is significantly lower than many other popular breeds living to around 10-14 years.

This doesn’t mean to say every Berner passes away at this age and some do go on to live a little longer. This is a sad reality but is something you most certainly need to be aware of before getting one.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Good For Families?

Let’s run through a summary of the most noticeable points made throughout the article. I’ll highlight the positives and then the potential “obstacles” a Berner might bring to any family.

Reasons why Bernese Mountain Dogs are great for families:

Berners are very friendly and gentle
They love kids and can put up with their antics
Berners are calm and relaxed yet willing to play and have fun
Berners act as responsible and sensible role models to kids
Berners are very loyal and will protect their family
They make excellent watchdogs
Berners are eager to please their owners and therefore easy to train
All-round good behavior when trained

What owners should know first:

Berners need a lot of space
They will ideally need a private yard
Despite their size still require a lot of exercises
Will need daily brushing and will drop a lot of hair
Berners grow to be giant which is important to remember
Berners do not cope well spending time alone
Berners have a much shorter life expectancy than other dogs
Berners due to their size may develop health issues early on

Additional Reading:
Should Bernese Mountain Dogs Climb Stairs? (Important)
Tips For Safely Running With Your Berner

Will You Be Getting A Bernese Mountain Dog?

Please let me know your thoughts!

If you are considering getting one for your family, let me know what your thought process is and I will be willing to answer any questions you may have.

If you already own a Berner and have some points you would like to raise please do so and I will gladly add them to the article!

Thank you for reading!

Back to more Bernese Mountain Dog articles >>


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.