I had a Bernese Mountain dog once…

Bernese Mountain Dogs

Mookie lived to be 16, which is about twice the expected life span of a Berner.  Why am I writing this?  Just because I know there are folks out there that may be considering getting a Berner and are curious about them.  This came up recently as a co-worker of mine was in that situation.  He knew they were lovable dogs but he has a toddler so was a bit concerned.  He also knew I have quite a bit of experience, so asked me about them.  As luck would have it, I could relate a few experiences.

We found Mookie in the desert, tied to the front porch of an abandoned house.  With no water.  We were just driving by and noticed him and to this day I wonder at what kind of person could do that to any dog or animal at all, let alone one that was so ridiculously cute.  We took him home, introduced him to our pack and he was promptly chased two blocks down the road by our other dogs.  They were being playful, he was just downright scared.  It didn’t take long for him to realize he was in no danger, though, and they all became fast friends.

Mookie grew up fast – he was 100 pounds before we realized it and topped out at 120 at his heaviest. In spite of his size and weight, he was able to jump our back yard fence every Thursday and go around the lake to break into the neighbor’s trash cans.  He’d come back smelling of trash and we’d find him curled up on the back door rug, trying to look innocent.

We had one kid when we found Mookie and another came a long shortly thereafter so Mookie grew up in our house with two younglings who loved to play with dogs. He was always gentle, almost to a fault.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good with kids?

bernese-mountain-dog-cuteHow patient are Bernese Mountain dogs with kids?  Our son, too young to know any better at the time, was sitting on his best friend and poking a stick into his mouth…on Mookie’s tongue…saying  “ouch Mookie, ouch?”.  We noticed because we heard Mookie whining under the table but he didn’t get up and he didn’t snap.  He just laid there and took it.  Many dogs, I’m sure would have jumped and run away or possibly snapped or bitten but Mookie didn’t.  Since our son was literally laying on top of him, had Mookie gotten up, our son would have went flying – I think Mookie knew he could have hurt him so didn’t even get up.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good watchdogs?

I’d say no, not normally.  Except for being intimidating because of their size, somebody looking to break into a house may see them and move on down the road. However, if they get in the house, I would say that a Berner is pretty much worthless at that point.  They may trip over the dog…sprain an ankle maybe…probably the best you can hope for.  My wife and I were on vacation in Barbados, literally checking in at the resort when we got a call from our sister in law that was staying with the kids and watching the house.  She had taken the kids to school and came back to find the house broken into, every TV and other electronic device gone.  Mookie was laying in the doorway in his favorite spot, completely unharmed.  I’m not saying he laid there the whole time the house was being broken into, but then again, maybe.  No way to know.

I should throw a couple of caveats here:

  1. Any dog can be trained to be a decent watchdog or to raise an alarm.  I’m referring to the natural inclination of a dog to raise a ruckus in a situation like this.
  2. I think if the kids had been  home it would have been a different story.  Mookie loved the kids and I think if he felt they were in danger, he would have reacted differently.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs get along with other dogs?

Berner-playing-with-another-dogIf you adhere to the notion that all dogs that live together form a pack (and why wouldn’t you?), then you have to understand that a Berner, regardless of it’s size, has no interest in being the pack leader.  Of course, again, there will be exceptions.  Mookie fit right in with our pack.  At the time we had a Schnauzer who was the undisputed pack leader (little shit that he was), two red dobermans, and a cat.  Our pack quite small at the time by comparison to what it later became).  There was never even the hint of a scuffle and it was a common site to see Mookie saying with any or all of the above mentioned friends, slumbering the day away.   Mookie outlived a lot of the earlier friends, and later we adopted a boxer, a pit bull, a dachshund and some red girl dog that was a mess…again, though, he always got along with them all.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good dogs to own?

Yes.