If you are contemplating a Bernese Mountain Dog as your next family dog, you will certainly want to know if they are aggressive. Besides, these are huge dogs, after all! Are they good around children, other people, and other animals? Let’s find out!
So, are Bernese Mountain Dogs aggressive? Bernese Mountain Dogs are considered to be one of the least aggressive dogs towards humans. However, Bernese Mountain Dogs can sometimes be aggressive towards other male dogs. They also have strong protective instincts and may growl or bark if someone unfamiliar approaches your home, as they want to guard their families.
Despite their large size and their formidable presence, these dogs really do not have a reputation for aggression.
In fact, they are typically quite averse to it.
As we shall now see in the next section, as we explore this breed’s typical temperament when raised and cared for appropriately, of course.
We’ll then look at what can cause aggression in these dogs – they are animals, after all. And we’ll then finish up with preventing aggressive displays.
That way, if you do proceed to get one, you can ensure you can agree and contribute to the breed’s reputation as a non-aggressive one.
What Is The Typical Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament?
The typical Bernese Mountain Dog temperament is one of love, loyalty, and faithfulness. All shown through a calm, comforting presence.
These several facets make the Bernese Mountain Dog ideal as a family pet.
Let us explore other temperament characteristics to see why.
Bernese Are Usually Docile
Bernese are usually docile dogs who are self-confident and welcoming of strangers, even though they will bark to warn you if anyone approaches your house.
They are not known for being particularly aggressive or even anxious.
They will happily play with your children and then curl up with them in front of the fire for a snuggle.
Bernese are even good with small children, as they are gentle animals who are known for their kindness.
Bernese are also quite sturdy dogs who don’t mind a bit of rough play with your children.
Bernese Can Work Well With Other Pets
The Bernese Mountain Dog can get along very well with other pets, as they have a sociable personality.
These dogs are mostly companion animals, so they will get along with your other furry friends, as well as other dogs (females, in particular, see below).
Bernese do have a strong prey drive, but as long as you have socialized your puppy from an early age, he should get along well with other pets.
However, it’s worth noting that some Bernese have a stronger prey drive than others.
If you have tiny pets who haven’t been raised with your dog, take care not to leave your dog alone with them.
Get them used to each other so that your dog understands your other small pet is part of his family, too.
Bernese Enjoy A Challenge
If you want a working dog that will also be great with your children, Bernese are an excellent choice. These dogs have lots of energy and a strong drive to please their owners.
If you live on a farm and need a working dog, your Bernese will happily pitch in and do his share.
Bernese Mountain Dogs love to learn new things, so they enjoy meeting challenges.
Bernese were originally bred to help farmers haul around large carts filled with tools and supplies.
Your Bernese will look for jobs to do around the house if you can’t find him any!
He will love herding other animals, hauling items for you, and guarding your livestock – or your children.
Although they have good temperaments, you will still need to socialize and train your Bernese to get along peacefully with other people and animals.
Bernese Have A Sense of Humor
Dogs with a sense of humor are a joy to watch, and the Bernese has a telltale gleam in his eye that tells you he is an intelligent dog who is always thinking.
Bernese have been known to trick their owners by sneaking up behind their legs and waiting to be tripped over.
They also love stealing items such as shoes or keys – to them, it’s a very fun game.
Be careful if you prank your Bernese because he will love to get even with you afterward!
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Vicious?
A Bernese Mountain Dog is not naturally vicious and isn’t prone to nipping or biting people. As puppies, they will nip each other, as all dogs do. But once they leave puppyhood behind, provided you have trained them well, they will not tend to bite or show other signs of viciousness as adults.
The only time they may become a bit destructive is if they are left alone for long periods of time.
Bernese enjoy spending time with their people, so if you leave your dog to his own devices for too long, you could expect chewed-up household items.
The most aggressive behavior that a Bernese will usually display is if something unusual is going on in the house: particularly if a stranger approaches.
However, they will usually stick to growling and barking and are not known for attacking people or other animals.
The exception would be small prey animals that they find outdoors, such as squirrels, rabbits, or unfamiliar cats.
Take extra care when taking your Bernese for a walk in nature, as your dog may be tempted to give chase to these animals.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Protective Of Their Owners?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are protective of their owners and the members of their extended family. They make excellent watchdogs because they will alert you with growling or barking if anyone comes near whom they don’t recognize.
Because these dogs love to please, though, be careful if you train your Bernese to be a fierce guard dog.
Like any dog, a Bernese can become quite aggressive towards strangers if he has been trained that way from puppyhood.
Mostly, though, these dogs love to cuddle you: they seem to think that despite their large size, they can comfortably fit on your lap!
What Can Make Bernese Mountain Dogs Aggressive?
The main causes of aggression in this breed are out of fear, or in response to illness or injury. Although aggressive displays are uncommon and only likely in response to unfavorable circumstances and as a last resort.
The biggest cause of aggression in Bernese Mountain Dogs is fear-based aggression.
Usually, your Bernese will be either friendly or, at worst, aloof towards strangers. They will, though, hold their ground if pushed.
Some dogs of this breed can be excessively shy, whether towards an individual or a group of people who share similar traits.
If your dog becomes afraid or anxious, that’s when he can begin to show signs of aggression.
An anxious dog is usually one that has not been properly socialized as a puppy.
Bernese are naturally cautious, but as long as you introduce them to other dogs and people from an early age, fear-based aggression shouldn’t be a problem.
Illness Or Injury
Another common cause of aggression – particularly if it comes on suddenly – is if your dog is unwell.
We all get extra grumpy if we are in pain, and dogs are no different.
If you suddenly notice your normally placid Bernese starting to growl, snap, flatten his ears, or show other signs of aggression, a vet visit may be your best bet.
You want to ensure your dog isn’t suffering from something he can’t tell you!
How To Prevent Aggression In Bernese Mountain Dogs
Start Socialization Early
You can take your Bernese to obedience training to help with socialization.
Bernese Mountain Dogs need lots of room to run and play – they don’t do well in apartments or smaller spaces.
Socialize them as early as possible, because otherwise, they could be shy around new people or animals.
Puppy classes are excellent for socialization because they offer your Bernese puppy the chance to get used to new sounds, obstacles, people, and dogs.
Your local vet can probably point you in the direction of a good puppy class for you and your dog.
Keep Your Dog Stimulated
Bernese Mountain Dogs do not do well if they’re bored. Like any working breed, they are happiest when they have a job to do.
You will need to work with your dog every day to help them maintain a healthy mental and physical well-being.
Being a friendly presence in the home isn’t always enough for many Bernese, so have them help you out where possible.
You may not have a farm with doggie jobs to do, so taking you on long walks each day can be essential to your dog’s continued good behavior and happiness.
Or have your Bernese have a go at hauling your small children on a sled – everyone will love it, including the dog!
Give Your Dog Attention When He Asks for It
If you ignore your Bernese when he wants your attention (even if it’s just to drool all over you), he may develop anxiety problems which can turn into aggressive behavior.
As much as they give, these dogs need to receive attention to stay healthy mentally.
Be Patient With Training
Your Bernese will be eager to please you, but because they are a confident breed, they can be slow to learn.
Bernese Mountain Dogs respond well to training that prioritizes positive reinforcement with treats and affection.
Like all dogs, Bernese should never be treated harshly.
Males, in particular, tend to want to be dominant.
If you use harsh words or gestures, you are likely to frighten your dog and make him anxious, which is not natural to this breed.
Be consistent and gentle, and you will reap the rewards of having a gentle giant that loves you and will defend you, snuggle with you, and play with you.
What more could you want from a family dog?
If you are looking for a larger-than-life dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog could very well be for you.
Large in stature, bold in personality.
All at the same time with a calm and docile presence.
And without an aggressive nature, they really do make for a great family dog.
Before you proceed, just consider all the costs involved, and of course, the responsibility and commitment of ownership!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.