Is a Berner "Right" For You
If you are thinking about getting any dog, there are several major factors to think about, some of which apply particularly to Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Will your dog be allowed in the house, or will it be chained up outside? A Berner isolated in a yard is pretty much guaranteed to become a miserable, shy, 100 pound problem dog. Please keep in mind that the Bernese Mountain Dog has been bred not as a farm dog, but as a farmer's dog. Bred to be at his side as his companion -- in the house, around the yard, going to town in his truck, doing his errands, even lying quietly at his feet in a coffee shop.
Will you be able to provide daily exercise? A young dog with a lot of energy will blow off steam as it sees fit (eating the sofa, walking on the kitchen counters) if you do not channel it into more acceptable activities. Even if you have a big, fenced in yard, you will find that your dog won't run around playing fetch by itself.
Are you willing to go to dog school for the basics and read some dog training and behavior books? As the owner of a big dog, you have a responsibility to see that it is well behaved. There is always something new to learn about training a dog, especially if it is a breed you haven't trained before.
If this is to be a family dog, is everyone willing to accept responsibility for meeting the dog's needs? If the primary caregiver becomes unable to take care of the dog, will others pick up the slack? If this is to be a child's dog, what will happen if the child develops other interests or proves too irresponsible for a pet? We have seen more than a few dogs in our Rescue program who started out as "the husband's dog." When the majority of dog care ended up the responsibility of the unwilling wife, our club became the resource left with the task of trying to place an untrained, unsocialized, unwanted dog. We do not believe a dog is a disposable commodity. We'd prefer you to get goldfish, rather than a Berner, if you think you will get rid of it "if it doesn't work out."
Do you mind dog hair? Bernese shed more than the books lead you to believe. We call it Bernerfur and we all have at least one red velvet lint brush.
Want to take your dog jogging with you 365 days a year? Unless you live in the Northwest Territory of Canada, that won't be your Berner out there pounding the pavement with you. Many disappear into the basement in June, and only come out for meals or air conditioned car rides for the duration of the summer. They will also dig holes in your yard to get to cool earth. Flower beds are the easiest place to dig. Consider how you will react to this natural behavior of your dog.
Berners do very nicely in the obedience ring, they do well in agility, and some will even play Frisbee. But they do it mainly to please their owners, and in their own unique style. The average Berner should not be counted on to become a National Frisbee champion or a dog with an Obedience Trial Championship (OTCh). There are other breeds more suited for continuous performance at those levels.
Information and Resource Guide on this page provided courtesy of the Nashoba Valley Bernese Mountain Dog Club