9 Reasons Not To Get a Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog (BMD) captures hearts with its stunning good looks, gentle giant personality, and impressive loyalty.  These majestic canines, hailing from the mountainous regions of Switzerland, were originally bred as working dogs, herding livestock and pulling carts.  Today, they are beloved family companions, known for their playful nature and devotion to their humans.

However, before welcoming a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life, it’s crucial to understand the breed’s needs and potential challenges. Owning a BMD is a significant commitment, and this article aims to shed light on some aspects that might not be readily apparent in those adorable puppy pictures.  If you’re considering bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your home, here are 9 reasons to carefully consider whether their lifestyle aligns with yours:

1. Glorious Coats, Grueling Grooming:

A Bernese Mountain Dog’s beauty comes with a price tag – a double coat that requires significant upkeep.  Their thick outer coat protects them from the elements, while the soft, dense undercoat provides warmth.  However, this luxurious fur translates to regular brushing (ideally daily) to prevent matting and maintain a healthy shine.  Professional grooming sessions every 4-6 weeks are also recommended, particularly during seasonal coat blowouts when they shed heavily.

Be prepared for tumbleweeds of fur, especially during shedding seasons. Regular vacuuming, lint rollers, and furniture covers might become your new normal.  If the thought of constant brushing and fur clean-up fills you with dread, a BMD might not be the right fit.

2. Energy Levels That Rival a Glacier:

Don’t be fooled by their gentle demeanor – Bernese Mountain Dogs are working dogs at heart.  Bred for tasks requiring stamina and strength, they possess an abundance of energy that needs a daily outlet.  Expect to dedicate at least an hour or more to walks, playtime, and mental stimulation to keep your BMD happy and well-behaved.

These athletic canines thrive on activities like hiking, jogging (once fully grown), and games that challenge their minds and bodies.  A bored Bernese Mountain Dog is a recipe for destructive behavior – chewed furniture, excessive barking, and digging are all potential consequences of pent-up energy.  If your lifestyle doesn’t allow for extensive daily exercise, consider a breed with lower energy requirements.

3. Size Matters (Especially in Small Spaces):

Bernese Mountain Dogs are big – we’re talking about majestic giants who can easily reach 100 pounds and stand over 2 feet tall at the shoulder.  While their size is part of their charm, it also presents challenges, particularly for those living in small apartments or cramped quarters.  Imagine navigating a narrow hallway with a playful BMD barreling towards you, or trying to share a loveseat with this gentle giant.

Their size can also translate to potential difficulties with furniture.  A playful nudge from a BMD could easily topple a flimsy end table, and their weight might put a strain on delicate chairs.  If your living space is limited, or you value a minimalist aesthetic with breakable furniture, a smaller breed might be a more practical choice.

4.  A Predisposition to Health Concerns:

Like most purebred dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to certain health issues.  Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint, is a common concern, causing pain and difficulty with movement.  Bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach twists, is another potential health risk.  Responsible breeding practices can help minimize these risks, but regular veterinary care and awareness of potential issues are crucial for BMD ownership.

Owning a large dog with potential health concerns comes with significant financial responsibility.  Veterinary bills, surgeries, and specialized care can add up quickly.  Before committing to a Bernese Mountain Dog, ensure you can afford potential medical expenses for the duration of their lifespan.

5. Stubborn Streak Meets Intelligence:

Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent creatures, eager to please their humans.  However, their intelligence can be coupled with a stubborn streak, requiring patience and consistent training.  Early socialization and positive reinforcement training methods are essential for shaping their behavior and preventing undesirable habits.  Their size and boisterous nature during puppyhood can make early socialization challenging, requiring owners who are comfortable handling a large, energetic dog.

Obedience training is not just about tricks; it’s about establishing communication and control.  A well-trained Bernese Mountain Dog is a joy to be around, but an untrained BMD can become a handful, especially with their impressive strength.  If you lack the time or patience for consistent training, a less-stubborn breed might be a better fit.

6. Not Cut Out for City Living (Unless You Have a Big Backyard):

While Bernese Mountain Dogs can adapt to various living situations, their high energy levels and need for space make them less than ideal for apartment living.  Imagine a dog bred for herding livestock and pulling carts confined to a small apartment.  The lack of space for exercise and exploration can lead to frustration, boredom, and destructive behavior.  Additionally, their tendency to bark, especially when bored or left alone, can quickly turn into noise complaints from neighbors in close quarters.

However, if you have a spacious backyard with secure fencing, apartment living becomes a more viable option.  The outdoor space allows them to expend their energy, explore, and fulfill some of their natural instincts.  Remember, even with a backyard, daily walks and playtime are still crucial for their physical and mental well-being.

7. Shorter Bernese Mountain Dogs Lifespan

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a relatively short lifespan compared to smaller breeds, averaging 8-10 years.  While this might seem like a long time, it’s important to remember that welcoming a dog into your life is a long-term commitment.  These are not “starter dogs” you can easily rehome once their puppy cuteness fades.  Owning a large dog comes with significant financial responsibility for food, vet care, training, and potential emergencies.

Are you prepared for the emotional and financial commitment of caring for a large dog for its entire life?  Consider your lifestyle – do you plan on moving in the next few years?  Will you have the time and energy to dedicate to a dog even during busy periods of your life?  If you’re unsure about your long-term commitment, it’s best to wait before bringing a Bernese Mountain Dog into your home.

8. Loyalty and Love, Not Guard Dogs:

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families.  However, they are not typically considered guard dogs.  While they might bark at unfamiliar sounds or people, their gentle nature and desire to please make them less than ideal for guarding property.  If your primary concern is home security, breeds specifically bred for guarding might be a better choice.

That being said, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be excellent watchdogs, alerting you to potential intruders with their barks.  Their size can also act as a deterrent, but their primary instinct is not to attack.  If you value a dog for companionship and loyalty rather than protection, a Bernese Mountain Dog can be a wonderful choice.

9. The Barking Blues:

Bernese Mountain Dogs, like many other breeds, can be vocal.  They might bark at unfamiliar sights or sounds, when left alone for extended periods, or simply out of boredom.  While some barking is natural, excessive barking can become a nuisance to yourself and your neighbors.  Consistent training and addressing the underlying causes of barking (boredom, separation anxiety) are crucial for managing this behavior.

Living in close quarters, especially apartments, can exacerbate barking issues.  The confined space amplifies the sound, and neighbors might be less tolerant.  If you live in a noise-restricted environment or lead a busy lifestyle that necessitates leaving your dog alone for extended periods, a less vocal breed might be a better fit.

The Joyful Flip Side: Why Bernese Mountain Dogs Can Be Wonderful Companions

Besides the above potential downsides, it’s important to remember that these challenges can be outweighed by the immense joy and companionship they bring.  For the right owner, a Bernese Mountain Dog can be a loyal, loving, and playful addition to the family.

Here’s a glimpse into the positive side of BMD ownership:

  • Unwavering Loyalty and Affection: Bernese Mountain Dogs form strong bonds with their families, showering them with love and affection. Their gentle nature makes them excellent companions for children and adults alike.
  • Playful Personalities: Despite their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs retain a playful spirit well into adulthood. They enjoy games of fetch, walks in the park, and any activity that allows them to bond with their humans.
  • Adaptability (with Boundaries): While they have specific needs, Bernese Mountain Dogs can adapt to various living situations, as long as their exercise requirements are met. They can thrive in spacious homes with backyards or active families who enjoy outdoor adventures.
  • Stunning Beauty and Gentle Demeanor: There’s no denying the majestic beauty of a Bernese Mountain Dog. Their tri-colored coats and gentle demeanor make them a joy to behold and a conversation starter wherever they go.

The Final Decision: Are You Ready for a Bernese Mountain Dog?

Before welcoming a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life, carefully consider your lifestyle and living situation.  Do you have the time, energy, and space to accommodate their needs for exercise, grooming, and training?