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Tell me about Bernese Mountain Dogs

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 4:47pm PST 
What's a normal temperament? How are they with other dogs, small animals, strangers? Is separation anxiety a concern, or do most do alright being left alone during normal working hours? What kind of exercise requirements do they have?

I know health is a big issue with Berners. Are there breeders with long lived lines that would give one a good chance of getting a dog that would live to be 10+ yrs old?
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 7:32pm PST 
I have only known one Berner really well and she was lovely. cloud 9

Friendly with strangers, good with kids, and I don't remember any problems with chasing cats or squirrel or her even having much interest in deer or coyotes. No health issues that I can remember either.

She passed away at the ripe old age of 13, which is pretty ancient for a Berner.
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 10:10pm PST 
A normal temperament for a Berner is confident and alert. They are goofy and have an amazing sense of humor. They are easy to train, intelligent and sensitive. They tend to be velcro dogs and like to be near you, or touching you, or laying on you all the time. They are totally devoted to their family. It is normal for them to be aloof with strangers (not shy though) although many love everyone and are total attention seekers. Please note the difference between aloof and shy in the breed. Aloofness is normal but they will willingly accept a stranger petting them, some just don't seek out the attention of strangers. Shyness, on the other hand, is a serious fault in the breed and is very different than being aloof. There have been some temperament issues cropping up in the breed, so it is very important not to let breeders make excuses for the temperaments of their dogs.

They are generally good with small animals and with children. They are naturally gentle (once they get past puppyhood). With strangers, they can be aloof or total love bugs. They will warn you of strangers on your property though but are generally accepting once they have been introduced. They are historically farm dogs so have a background in being a watchdog and are very aware of what is going on in the neighborhood. Some are big barkers but most are not. All are alert barkers though.

I have never had an issue with separation anxiety and have not heard too much of it in the breed. It can be present in those with the really shy temperaments though, but a normal self confident Berner should not have any trouble with being alone during normal working hours. They are a breed that needs to be with its family and they will not fair well being left along a lot or kenneled or left in the yard most of the time.

Although Berners can be very laid back, they still need exercise to keep them mentally satisfied and fit. They have a tendency to become overweight, so exercise is important to their overall being. Usually an off leash romp everyday will satisfy their requirements and keep them happy in the house. Of course, they are always happy to have more exercise, as they can be quite athletic, as long as they don't get overheated.

Longevity is a major concern in the breed. I don't think there is any breeder out there that can guarantee your dog will live 10+ years but there are lines of dogs with longevity higher than the breed average. Choosing a breeder that keeps good litter stats and who has a history of longevity in her pedigrees is important to finding a dog that will have a nice, long life.
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 11:03am PST 
Sounds like the Berner you knew was just about perfect, Rexy!

Thank for all the info, Bosley! They do sound like they would be a good match for the person I have in mind (not me, although I do think they're gorgeous!). The dog would definitely come from a good breeder, to hopefully increase longevity as much as possible. He won't be getting another dog of any kind for a few years yet, so nothing is written in stone, but if you happen to know some breeders with healthy lines, I'd love to check them out, either here or in a PM.
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 11:24am PST 
I love Berners, such great dogs. They tend to have a lot of sense, by that I mean they're not only smart, but they're also capable of discernment. They make excellent watch dogs. My mom lives in a quiet dead-end neighborhood. Our friend the Berner that we know well hangs out on his porch most of the day, keeping an eye on the street. He lets his people know if anything is out of the ordinary, but he never over-reacts or over-alerts. If a stranger walks down the street, he'll just quietly get up and position himself between where the kids are playing and where the stranger is walking. He has a way of being calmly imposing, no one is getting by him and he doesn't need to make a fuss about it.

I've met several others; all of had really nice, stable temperaments. They've been wonderful with even small children and didn't go after small animals. I can't think of much in the way of a downside besides health and longevity which you already know about. As with any dog, breed and breeder research is a must. And if your friend is looking for a puppy, my goodness but Berners have got to be the cutest puppies going. cloud 9
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Taggert

Semper Vorax
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 12:23pm PST 
The n-laws have a berner named Nanna. When they say a breed is sensitive, that means a chicken. Loud noises, yelling, intense household activity, uncertainty, major changes, general discord or strife, and so forth are very stressful for this dog. It is important that you not stress your dog. This breed is prone to cancer, and stress causes inflammation reactions that can really harm your dog over time.

It's a heartbreak breed for a reason. They are just the most beautiful dogs inside and out, but they have short lives(6-8 years) and devastating diseases(cancer, cancer, cancer, early arthritis, and tendon and joint disoders). The attitude of Nanna is almost zen-like. Happy, contented, willing to please, her favorite ativities are running around their 3 acre property and being scritched under the chin, behind the ears and across a vast belly while you are holding her paw. She never stops smiling. Berners are a dog that does their best to be harmonious in life with just a pinch of spice. Also, they're great big lap dogs.

When I say spice, they can be naughty. Nanna is a notorious counter surfer. If we don't lock up the butter, Nanna has herself a high-fat snack. If we don't get the food off of the dinner table, Nanna gets extra helpings of steak. She waits and watches the humans until nobody is watching, and mind you this could be a matter of seconds, they sneak up on silent paws and get what they want. Last night for example, 3 tri-tip steaks and a chicken breast were on a plate after dinner. She chose the moment where literally everyone was in the room and had their back turned. We didn't notice until an hour later that there was no meat on that plate. Very sneaky and very cunning and very quiet for their size, so watch out. She also likes to bully their airedale outside by nipping at her heels when they're chasing a ball together.

With Berners you will deal with weekly sprained or bruised ankles, hocks, elbows, toes and stifles. they're active outside and docile inside, but they'e easy to train. You might have fun carting together. A berner would be very happy doing yardwork with you, with a cart while you weed and mow it can haul your waste, and walk with you and next to you while you're doing your chores. A berner is a squire's dog. Gentlemanly, aristocratic, capable of high activity, but mostly laid back and biddable.

Groom them weekly. they need a brushing with a slicker brush, and you need to care for their ears and pants because they will get horrendous mats around behind the ears and on the back legs. Everywhere else never usually gets messy. Pick burrs and foxtails when you find them. that sort of normal thing.
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 1:28pm PST 
Taggert, sensitivity in this breed does not mean "chicken". This is not correct breed temperament. They should be confident in all situations. Sensitive refers more to training them - they do not respond well to harsh verbal or physical corrections - they get their feelings hurt easily. They should however, not be sensitive to noise, movement, household changes, etc. They should not stress easily.

As someone who has lots of exeperience in the breed, I'm not sure what you mean when you say be ready for weekly spraining or bruising of hocks, stifles,elbows, etc? I have never had an issue and with this and my dogs are very active. I have in fact never heard of this, ever. They are athletic dogs so not really prone to clumsiness. Correctly structured dogs of any breed should not have issues with weekly sprains or injuries. If this is happening, there is something underlying in the individual dog, most likely problems with structure.

Yes, without the proper training they will counter surf. They love food and will find opportunity to help themselves if allowed.

Cancer is what shortens the lifespan of this breed but they really don't have any higher rates of joint disease or arthritis than any other breed the same size provided they are from responsible breeders doing health testing.

Onyx, I will p-mail you with some breeder information that you can pass along to your friend.
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 4:45pm PST 
Thanks again! I do think fear of loud noises, being very easily stressed, ect. aren't really desirable traits in any breed that I know of. I'm sure the propensity toward that is stronger in some breeds than others, but I would hope any good breeder would be steering away from that.

It's actually my brother that I think might do well with this breed. He currently has a Golden but she's getting up there, and he'll want another dog after she's gone. Being good with kids is a definite plus since I think he'll be having some eventually. He works all day but exercises his dog in the morning and evening, so a breed that needs some exercise but not tons and tons should be a good fit.

They are absolutely adorable puppies. I would have to fly out and visit if he got one cloud 9
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"Selli"

The Muddy- Princess
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 13, '12 5:07pm PST 
My sister had Goldens and switched to a Berner. She liked the idea that they were bigger than Goldens as she wanted a big cuddly bear of a dog. She also likes the idea that they do not need the exercise that a Golden does. She is very happy with her boy but has yet to deal with the fact that they have a relatively short life span. My brother-in-law missed his Goldens though, primarily the degree of bidability...they really can't walk their boy off-leash while the Goldens naturally wanted to stay with them.

Their Golden has focal seizures related to food allergies, so his diet is very limited, but they have managed to eliminate his seizures. I have also known other Berners with allergy issues.
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Sat Aug 18, '12 12:21pm PST 
I recently met a Berner at my agility class and I think it's worth it to note she mentioned that seizures and epilepsy does happen with the breed. She did also state that she neutered him and he hasn't had one for two years. Something about the hormones possible inciting it? I can't remember if she said the breeders were very good about isolating that (I might be confusing it with the red berners, ha! She also made mention of that.)

But man, these guys are great. He was a lovebug, sweet and gentle and so poised. Very good with all the other dogs in our class that day. It was funny, his name was Weaver, and so they can't tell him to 'weave' when he does the weave poles.

So the command is "Wiggle!" laugh out loud
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