Lenin and I decided we wanted a friendly dog that would be good with kids, since we have lots of young nephews and cousins and we were concerned about how a dog would interact with them. Lenin also prefers larger dogs versus smaller ones, since he is afraid he might step on a small dog. So… initially we were looking at dogs like Golden Retrievers and Labradors. It wasn’t until a coworker of his suggested Bernese Mountain Dogs that we had even heard of the breed and started to consider them, but after that fated day, we looked them up and lo and behold, we found the breed we wanted.
Aside from being beautiful to look at, these dogs are known for being wonderful family pets. They love children, and love to be with their people. (They are not meant to be outside dogs. Your life IS their life!) They are on the bigger side, but contrary to popular belief, being big doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be apartment dogs. Actually they are fantastic apartment dogs because they rarely bark, and they have very calm temperaments. They aren’t hyper like smaller dogs tend to be, which can annoy neighbors and landlords. Picture a hummingbird, small and can never stop moving, constantly fluttering about. Now picture a slow, lumbering elephant – it’s just not in their nature to be running around like a mad man. The same can be said for these Berners. They are gentle giants. Walkers rather than runners (though don’t mistake this to mean they never get excited!).
As for cons? They have an incredible coat of fur, one that requires a bit more maintenance. They are also quite capable of being huge. They are working dogs that can be trained to pull carts, and recently we met a wonderful male name Sailor who was the size of a small pony! The breed is also very expensive, as you’ve heard. And unfortunately, the breed suffers a lot of health problems since it was so close to being extinct. An average lifespan of 7 years can be marred by hip problems, elbow problems, bloat, and cancer. All in all though, this was not enough for us to be deterred from the breed.
Personality was the most important to us, and this breed’s personality was everything that we wanted! Every Berner owner we talked to loved this breed and never went back after owning one. Every Berner we met was an absolute sweetie and we fell in love. We just knew that this dog was the one for us.
We also decided that we wanted a female Berner, mainly because of the size difference. I am a small person, so it would be very easy for a large dog like this to overtake me. The smaller the dog, the better of a chance I can handle it (though of course, puppy kindergarten and obedience training are key!). It also would put our landlord more at ease. Additionally, we’ve heard that females are less dominant and defiant, especially during those adolescent years, and as confident as we are that we will be good owners, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and we want to take it slow as first time trainers.