Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Good Watchdogs or Guard Dogs?

The Bernese Mountain Dog will make a good watchdog and may make a good guard dog with the proper training. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed dog that thrives in colder weather, needs plenty of exercises, and is often an affectionate and loyal companion. The popularity of the Bernese Mountain Dog has increased in recent years. The following article will answer some common questions about the Bernese Mountain Dog; for example, do they make good watchdogs or guard dogs? Is the Bernese Mountain Dog a good dog for first-time owners? Is the Bernese Mountain Dog good with kids and other dogs? Finally, how long does the Bernese Mountain Dog live?

four berners

What is the difference between a watchdog and a guard dog?

A watchdog is a dog that will be aware of its surroundings and alert when new people or animals enter these surroundings. The chosen method of alert for most dogs is to bark. Most dogs are natural watchdogs. Many small dog breeds, including the chihuahua and Lhasa Apso, are excellent watchdogs. However, training may be needed if a watchdog often barks at non-threatening stimuli.  

A guard dog has always had some kind of training for its task. The guard dog is expected to alert when there is a threat and protect its humans. Guard dogs may be in training for years to ensure they only respond with aggression when signaled or under other specific circumstances. Guard dogs can be good family dogs as well but do require expert training so that they may fulfill both roles.

Does the Bernese Mountain Dog make a good watchdog?

Yes, the Bernese Mountain Dog can make a good watchdog. The breed is known for having a reasonably loud bark, making it difficult to ignore. The volume of the  Bernese Mountain Dog bark is sure to be intimidating to unwanted visitors.

 Conversely, the Bernese Mountain Dog is not known to be a high-strung barker, so your pup will likely alert you to strangers or the aggressive-looking squirrel, but be calm with new people who are welcomed into the house. The American Kennel Club rates the Bernese Mountain Dog as a breed that barks a medium amount, scoring the breed exactly midway between ‘only to alert’ and ‘very vocal.’  This may be the perfect balance for families looking to be alerted to the occasional unexpected visitor while enjoying a mostly peaceful existence.

Does the Bernese Mountain Dog make a good guard dog?

Although aggression is not a natural response for the breed, the Bernese Mountain dog can make a good guard dog. Guard dogs of any breed require training. This training creates boundaries for aggressive behavior and signals that let the dog know when they are needed to act as a guard. Any breed of dog should be assessed at every step of the training process. If there is any evidence the dog is not doing an excellent job following commands or has unreliable responses, the training should be stopped. Dogs who struggle to listen or consistently respond will not be good guard dogs.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is known to be intelligent and loyal, therefore, easy to train. The earlier your dog can be taught to respond to and obey commands; the better guard dog training will go. However, it is essential to remember that the Bernese Mountain Dog is also known to be sensitive. Therefore, using harsh corrections or punishments may derail training and decrease the bond between dog and trainer. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a good candidate for the type of guard dog that uses its large body size and loud bark to encourage an aggressor to flee. This type of guard dog is not trained to attack or bite. Instead, it is taught to behave aggressively without actually following through and biting anyone. This option can prevent accident bites to family members or bites to strangers that could result in lawsuits.

So if you’ve chosen the Bernese Mountain Dog for your family watchdog or guard dog, continue reading for some answers to other important questions about the Bernese Mountain Dog. 

Is the Bernese Mountain Dog good for first-time dog owners?

Yes, the Bernese Mountain Dog can be the perfect dog for first-time owners. Stanley Coren, canine intelligence researcher, ranked the Bernese Mountain Dog as the 27th most intelligent dog out of 138 breeds tested. The Bernese mountain dog scored high in obedience and working intelligence. The Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred as a multipurpose farm animals, so the Bernese Mountain Dog can quickly learn new tasks. In addition, with a bit of training, they can respond to and obey many commands.

Some words of caution for those first-time dog owners looking into adding a Bernese Mountain Dog to their family. The Bernese Mountain Dog is considered a large breed dog. Their weight ranges from 70-115lbs, and they are often two feet high, making them less than ideal candidates for studio apartments. The Bernese Mountain Dog is an energetic dog who would do best with a yard to explore and the opportunity to take walks at least once per day. Additionally, they are known to be gentle with children, but a dog of this size can easily knock small children over. 

Is the Bernese Mountain Dog good with kids?

Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs are known to be sweet and gentle. However, like any dog, it is essential owners help children understand how to interact and play with their new friend. Just because a dog is known to be gentle with children, this does not mean the Bernese Mountain Dog will have unlimited patience with hair pulling or being treated like a pony.

 As a puppy, the Bernese Mountain Dog can sometimes demonstrate their herding instincts by nipping at the heels of children. This behavior will most likely fade as the puppy grows up, but children should be taught how to respond without anger or fear.  

It has been reported some Bernese Mountain Dogs are sound sensitive. If your dog shows a desire to get some peace away from the clamor of children, they may be sound sensitive. If you notice this behavior, it will be important to provide your Bernese Mountain Dog with a quiet space to relax and escape the noise.

Is the Bernese Mountain Dog good with other dogs?

Yes, the Bernese Mountain Dog gets along well with other dogs. The breed is known to have an easy-going temperament and adapt to other animals well. Of course, like people, individual dogs will vary from one another. But if you are dreaming of trips to the dog park, the best way to ensure your puppy grows up into a friendly adult is to make sure they are socialized. Socialization should occur during a dog’s puppyhood and involves plenty of interaction with other dogs and people. If they learn how to greet and interact with other dogs early, the Bernese Mountain Dog will be able to enjoy the company of many canine friends.

As the Bernese Mountain dog grows, it is important owners are aware of their size. An adult could accidentally injure smaller dogs. Therefore, they should always be kept in the large breed areas of a dog park.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs need an animal companion?

bernese mountain dog and cat
Bernese Mountain Dog and a Cat

The Bernese Mountain Dog does not like to be alone, and an animal companion can be an excellent solution to this problem. If their humans must regularly leave them alone for more than a few hours, an animal companion is an excellent idea. Dogs or cats work well as companions. Dog breeds that may be good fits with the Bernese Mountain dog include other working dogs like the Border Collie, English Sheepdog, or the Australian Cattle Dog. These energetic breeds will make good playmates for your Bernese Mountain Dog.  

Bernese Mountain Dogs and cats have been known to get along well together. It is typical for all the people and animals residing in the home to become ‘family’ to the Bernese Mountain Dog quickly. 

Bernese Mountain Dog

How long does the Bernese Mountain Dog Live?

The Bernese Mountain dog has a relatively short lifespan of 7-10 years. This is a heartbreaking reality for those who love a Bernese Mountain Dog. The reason they experience such an abbreviated life is related to their cancer risk and some other conditions the breed is prone to developing. One study found over 45% of Bernese Mountain Dog deaths were due to cancer. 

The breed also suffers from susceptibility to hip dysplasia, arthritis, and ligament problems. When one or more of these conditions appear, it is very common for the pain to decrease the quality of life to the point where euthanasia is seriously considered.  

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a good candidate for a family watchdog or even a guard dog. They are intelligent, loyal, and physically intimidating. Not only will they be a protector, but they are good dogs for first-time dog owners and do well with children and other pets. For many, the Bernese Mountain Dog can be the ideal addition to their lives.