Could You Live with the Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament?
While at first you may be intimidated by his size, the gentle Bernese Mountain Dog temperament will win you over. He is a sweet and gentle dog, and very loyal to his owner. He is particularly good around children, but I wouldn't recommend him for households with very young children. Of all the different dog temperaments you could have, that of the Berner is perfect for families but his sheer size can cause accidental injuries in small people.
These impressive dogs originated in Switzerland, where they worked around the farm herding sheep, pulling carts and guarding the farmer's property. The Bernese Mountain Dog still has that urge to work even when he is living in suburbia. If you can give him the opportunity to pull a cart either around your yard or at an organized carting event, he will be a happy dog.
In spite of his good nature, there are some things to watch with this breed of dog's temperament, which can lead to annoying behaviors.
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Being a large breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog temperament takes longer to mature. Puppies of any breed will usually try to jump up on you for cuddles, and your Berner is no exception. However, if he continues to do this as he grows, he will knock you over.
This is why you must train your Bernese Mountain Dog from puppyhood. Some of those cute puppy behaviors won't be pleasant when he is a fully grown adult. There just won't be room on the couch for both of you!
I recommend basic obedience training for any breed of dog, but particularly so for an intelligent breed such as this one. He will enjoy the mental challenge, and will be less likely to turn his mind to activities that won't please you.
Shy Bernese Temperament
This dog's temperament is naturally cautious and reserved, particularly with people he doesn't know. In extreme cases, he can become timid and suspicious. This is not desirable in any dog, but particularly not in one as large as a Berner. To avoid this, make sure you socialize your pup from a young age. Take him to meet people of all ages, and expose him to as many new experiences as you can during that formative period between 8 and 14 weeks of age.
Stubbornness and Dominance
I always relate young adult male dogs to human teenagers. They both can have a mind of their own, and be resistant to being told what to do. This is often the case with this particular dog temperament. Prevention is better than cure, and if you teach your Berner that you are the pack leader, then you are less likely to have to remind him of this when he is an adolescent. That doesn't mean you need to be harsh with him, just firm, fair and consistent.
Another male Bernese Mountain Dog temperament problem that may cause problems is the tendency to express dominance and even aggression towards other male dogs. Again, early socialization with dogs of all shapes, sizes and genders will help to prevent this.
The loyal Bernese Mountain Dog temperament means that your dog will bond very closely with you. He won't enjoy being left outside to his own devices; he wants to be with his family.
Some Berners develop separation anxiety and will become very stressed when left alone. To avoid this, crate train your puppy and teach him to enjoy spending time on his own. Provide him with interactive toys such as stuffed Kongs or Buster Cubes, and he won't be as anxious while you are out.
Digging can be an annoying part of many dog temperaments. The Berner breed was developed in a cold climate, and has a thick protective coat. If you live in a warm area, you can expect your Berner to dig down to cooler ground where he can lie down more comfortably.
You can protect your lawn and garden from his attentions by providing plenty of shade and cool water for him.
Although it sounds like this dog's temperament can cause many problems, that's not the case. In fact, their soft affectionate nature makes them very popular as therapy dogs. Any behavioral issues associated with your dog's temperament can be prevented by raising, socializing and training him correctly from the day you bring him home.
If you have time and space for a big dog that needs a lot of training while young, then the Bernese Mountain Dog temperament will bring a great deal of joy to your life.
Other Working Dogs
The Bernese Mountain Dog falls in the dog group known as the Working Group. Dogs in this group are strong, large, and excel at tasks such as rescue, pulling, and gauarding. It should come as no suprise to you that they are typically smart, resourceful, fast learners and make great companions. To decide if another breed might be a better fit for you, check out the temperaments of other dogs that fall in the Working Group:
- Bullmastiff temperament
- Boxer temperament
- Akita temperament
- Great Dane temperament
- Great Pyrenees temperament
- Alaskan Malamute temperament