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Bernese Mountain Dogs(14 Posts)
So we're planning on getting a pup in the next 12 months. Our short list has a few breeds where we have really narrowed down and done our research. The only lifestyle questions we haven't managed to answer is with a bernese, how do they cope in summer in the UK? Heatwave wise we'd take all the precautions. But I'm talking generally when is sitting low-mid 20s and you're wanting to get outside to enjoy the good weather. We like to hike and they're rated as good hiking companions, but I'm concerned that they won't cope with the endurance of scaling a mountain (think the lakes, highlands, Snowdonia, breckon) in warmer weather. Does anyone have any experience? We'd generally be keeping them fit and active but as we don't have that terrain where we live, it'll be an ask on them to do this. We'd probably go away for weekends in the mountains more frequently than we do now if they could cope, so about 10 times a year, more if I can get experienced at winter mountaineering.
Also, how do they cope with being home alone? We have both dog walkers and a fantasic doggy day care near us for the days I don't work at home. It's more the shorter 2-4 hour stints, on occasion. We're both used to dogs that are easy and sleep all day, this will be our first berne and we're trying to go in to this eye wide open.
I'd suggest contacting a breeder and asking. I've seen our local Berners being walked at 9 in the morning in the summer, but beyond that, I know nothing.
We have two Bernese to be honest they don't cope in the heat. In the summer they go out exceptionally early and not again until quite late and get shorter walks instead of me or dh running with them. Our male is fine with being left however the female can't be left for more than 2 hours without getting distressed even with a dog walker coming in. As a result we had to play around with my hours at work and play on the kindness of my il's taking her when someone's out for too long.
One thing I will say is I wouldn't touch any breeder that hadn't fully health tested for VWD & DM.
If you’ve not already done so I’d recommend plenty of research into the breed’s lack of genetic diversity and the issues it has with various cancers.
The Institute of Canine Biology has an excellent analysis of the breed’s genetic status. The website of the BMD Vitality Project is also well worth a look.
Have you found a KC registered breeder? Your questions are showing that you’re really considering the dog’s welfare, which is great. I would ask the breeder.
In my experience you'll never know how a dog will cope alone until you get it, so you need to plan for all the eventualities. Mine was awful at being left when young, but he's 2 now and he's fine for a couple of hours.
I would plan for the worst eventuality - if you can't leave him alone, what will you do? Can a neighbour or family member sit with him, or can you take him with you?
A family member has had several. His have all been ok left at home, but do bark a lot (and *very loudly*) at passing strangers, postmen, etc so I would be cautious if you have neighbours close by who might complain.
They hate the heat. Also, you won't be doing long walks in puppy's first year at all bc their joints take time to develop.
They're quite puppyish behaviourally until about 3 - very bouncy, then calm down.
They think they're lap dogs ;)
Thanks everyone. We purposefully treked all the way across the country to crufts on the weekend to talk to experienced owners as we could pester! We've been given the details of the breed clubs to call to help find breeders. The Americans seem to rate them as good hiking/trail companions so I'm very hopeful, as for the non energetic times, I want a super cuddly companion.
Those of you that have said they hate the heat, what temperature would you say you tend to reduce outdoor activity? At the moment we go out in up to 26 degrees, and with any dog we'd bring this down to 23. Would you say your bernies are comfortable in low 20s?
We will be ensuring we are choosy to low hip scores in parents (more over than we might be if we weren't aiming for a more active lifestyle) and have been advised never lower that 7 on a single hip, Clear eyes and clear elbows as minimums. Thank you for highlighting the other available tests.
Our next door neighbour has had three in the 18 years we've lived here.
First one - very docile - lived to be 9
Second - lived to about 2 and was always ill.
Third - very lively - had a lot of health issues and died about 4.
Absolutely lovely, affectionate dogs. Didn't seem to need a lot of walking.
As for worst case: working will be doggy day care, if they don't suit the bigger one (NOT a kennel set up, more like a nursery school- with a pool!!) We will find and pay for a quieter day care in someone's home. The long term plan is to get two dogs, but we're staggering them by 18months if we do. Hopefully, at that point short periods of 1-2 hours will be ok. I am also very lucky to have a flexible company and amazing manager that means I can wfh in an emergency if necessary. If they have extreme separation anxiety that behaviourists can ease, then we will forgo even 1-2 hours as we need to. We are lucky that we could reduce our lifestyle significantly and go down to single income and find alternative employment that suits the dog in an extreme case. This sounds like it could be an exaggeration but we've been waiting 3 years to be able to be in a comfortable position to know that we can give a home to our dog no matter what. We are 100% dog people, and we are our future pup's family for life.
We were told they can be brought up to manage an active lifestyle if you start them slowly from 18 months, so we will take the time to build endurance.
I love Bernese mountain dogs. They are lovely. I would have one in a heartbeat BUT they are so very prone to health problems and the majority do not live very long. Of course there are always the outliers (I met one who was 13) but the ones in the neighbourhood have not lived terribly long lives, and a couple were beset with health problems from a young age.
I think 23 degrees on long walks is pushing it. Their fur is stupidly thick and it doesn't thin out much in summer.
They are lovely affectionate dogs and the ones I know aren't barkers
Bernese are very popular here in Canada, much more so than in the UK - I go hiking in the mountains most weekends with my dogs (Spaniels and Vizsla) and we meet a lot of Bernese on the trails. They're slow to mature though and you need to be careful not to overdo it with them up to around 2 years old. It gets hot here in Alberta in the summer and I don't hike with my dogs when it gets past about 24 degrees-ish, but as long as a Bernese is well conditioned they're perfectly capable of being great hiking companions. They're lovely natured dogs too and gorgeous to look at - I have a lot as clients and they're a lovely breed.