Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Protective Are Bernese Mountain Dogs? Berners’ Temperament Explained

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

woman walking two bernese mountain dog

How Protective Are Bernese Mountain Dogs? Berners’ Temperament Explained

If you’re looking for a strong yet friendly four-legged giant to join your family, the Bernese Mountain Dog will be a perfect pick. It’s one of the most loyal and compassionate breeds with a lovely personality. More than that, Bernese Mountain Dogs are protective, and you can rely on them to keep your household safe and sound. These dogs have been helping farmers scare predators off and pull heavy loads for thousands of years.

If you find a way to connect with a Bernese Mountain Dog, it will quickly turn into your best friend. But how protective are they? Let’s find out!

Bernese Mountain Dogs: Big, Tough, and Friendly

A beast with a loving heart: that’s the best way to describe the Bernese. They’re cute, well-built, and more intelligent than most animals on the planet. You’ll instantly recognize this breed by the beautiful tri-color coat (black, white, and rust). Just like the name suggests, these protective dogs are from Bern, a Swiss canton. But originally, they were brought into the country by the Romans. This happened more than 2,000 years ago. Trained to protect the cows and sheep in the mountains and to pull carts, they are fast, agile, and highly protective.

Is the Bernese Mountain Dog a Good Guard/Watchdog

Absolutely! Protective by nature, they risk their own lives to keep the owners from harm’s way. This dog’s bark is very loud: it will push most critters and burglars away. Plus, you’ll hear it even if you’ve got headphones on. One of the best things about Berners is that they don’t tend to bark when meeting new people. They might be provoked by a squirrel or cat, but that happens rarely.

So, you won’t have to be on “high alert” every time a guest arrives at your doorstep. The loud bark, aggressive stance, and large size turn the Bernese Mountain Dog into a wonderful guard dog. They won’t attack and bite the intruders immediately, as that’s not what they are trained for. That means little children, distant relatives, and even strangers will be safe around it.

little boy sits on a bench with a bernese mountain dog
Image By: IVASHstudio, Shutterstock

Can You Train Them to Be More Protective?

The short answer is yes, you can. Despite its size, this dog is highly active and tough. It doesn’t get tired quickly and can handle a challenge. More importantly, the Bernese is easy to train. Easygoing and willing to please the owner, Bernese puppies are one of the most commonly trainable watchdogs. They are hardworking and happy to follow commands.

Treat them for good behavior, and you’ll be amazed by the results! The Bernese Cattle Dogs grow big, but they mature more slowly than many dog breeds. So, don’t be surprised by their “childish” behavior; instead, make sure to show them lots of low and give praise. And one more thing: they usually create a strong bond with one person (while being friendly to others).

Does Age Matter?

Just like any other breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is best to be trained at a young age. This way, it will take less effort to turn them into a top-class protector. Experience also matters, of course. That’s why middle-aged Berners that have been in training since they were pups make for superior guard dogs. Older dogs, in turn, are less active and get tired sooner.

Keeping the pet healthy also matters. If it has an injured leg, it will be much harder for it to chase after someone. Obesity won’t make the dog run faster, either. So, keep your Bernese Mountain Dog well-fed (but don’t let it gain extra weight) and make frequent vet visits a part of your routine.

man petting a bernese mountain dog puppy
Image By: Oleg Mitkevych, Shutterstock

Are Berners Friendly or Aggressive?

Affectionate, cheerful, and generally happy to meet new people and animals (including cats), the Swiss Mountain Dog is a friendly doggo. They rarely bark at strangers (unless provoked). However, they do have a deep and loud bark. Berners never show signs of aggression towards people that they know and love. The highlight of their day is spending time with the owners.

So, if you’re a big fan of camping trips or hikes, take your Bernese Mountain Dog along for the ride. That said, these watchdogs also like to stay inside and guard the house that way. Intelligent and strong, they pose no threat to children. But, given its size and weight, this breed might not be perfect for elderly people or little kids simply because they require a fair amount of strength to manage.

Should a First-Time Owner Pick a Bernese Swiss Dog?

If you’ve never had a dog before and are wondering which breed to pick, the BMD will be a great choice. As mentioned, it’s friendly, loyal, and highly protective. This pet is not overly aggressive, though, which makes it ideal for a first-time owner. It won’t be hard to create a strong bond with this pup. Obedient, intelligent, and big fans of outdoor activities, Berners are a blast to have around!

A quick note: if you have children in the house, it’s your responsibility to teach them how to interact with the dog. While they are, indeed, kind and patient, this large animal doesn’t enjoy it when its coat is constantly pulled or when someone tries to “ride” it like a horse. They’re highly sensitive to loud sounds, too.

bernese mountain dog sitting outdoors
Image By: Kristesoro, Shutterstock

Caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog: A Quick Guide

To survive the harsh climate of the Swiss Mountains, these dogs have thick coats. And, to keep it in prime condition, it’s recommended to groom the coat twice a month. Brushing, in turn, should be done daily. Berners shed heavily twice a year during the season (spring and fall). The process doesn’t ever stop, really!

The nails require care as well. To help your furry bud stay active and agile, you’ll have to trim their nails. Otherwise, it will be hard (or even painful) for it to run and climb. Also, to keep it in shape, make sure the Bernese Mountain Dog walks, runs, or hikes for 30–60 minutes daily. This is important: due to the thickness of its coat, this breed is quick to overheat.

Here are some more recommendations on how to keep your Bernese Dog safe and healthy:

  • The Swiss Mountain Dogs are quick to gain weight. So, be mindful when feeding them kitchen scraps.
  • A good balance between exercise and high-quality dry food is the key to a healthy Bernese.
  • Consider buying toys to keep the dog busy if it’s an avid chewer and likes to “feed” on chargers and shoes.
  • These dogs prefer cold climates. So, an air conditioner is a must. They also like to play in the snow.
  • Let the Berners play outside. That will expand their lifespan and keep them happy.
  • Have the pet tested and vaccinated (if need be) at least once in six months.
  • Bathe them once in 2–3 months; use dry shampoo in between the baths.
  • Don’t forget to brush your teeth along with the coat.


Loyal, friendly, and with charm for days, the Bernese Mountain Dog has so much to give to the right owner! First, they will keep you entertained and cheer you up when you’re feeling down. Secondly, as natural guardians, they will protect your family, friends, and land from perpetrators. Larger and heavier than most dog breeds, this dog has a brave, loving heart.

They won’t run away in the face of danger and are always willing to risk their own life for the ones they care about. So, take proper care of your furry friend, keep them well-fed, and learn how to treat common health issues. In return, you’ll get yourself a faithful, protective, and highly energetic personal bodyguard!

Featured Image Credit: tugol, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.