3 surprising things about the Bernese Mountain Dog breed
Updated: Dec 4, 2022
There are tons of great resources for breed research (American Kennel Club and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, for starters) if you are considering adding a Berner to your family. Even though we did our homework, there are a few things that have surprised us about Bert and Ernie!
It's easy to find breed profiles that talk about how Bernese Mountain Dogs are characteristically good-natured, intelligent, calm, and affectionate. A major personality trait that is missing from these lists is the Berner's excellent sense of humor! Bert and Ernie (and many of the other BMDs we have met) are just plain funny.
For Bert, this typically manifests in how he plays with toys and seeks attention. He'll often pull out six or eight or ten toys from his toybox, flinging and flailing them around one after another as though saying "Look at me! Play with me! Look how much fun I'm having!" Watching Bert and Ernie romp in the snow, one popping out from a hiding spot to surprise the other, is another time when the breed's cheeky sense of humor shines through. They certainly seem to understand when they are being silly and are major hams for the camera!
Seasonal Energy Changes
It's well-known that Berners love cold weather and snow as they harken back to their heritage in the Swiss Alps. Bert and Ernie like to spend as much time as possible in the snow; they'll lay outside for hours in our Minnesota winters if we let them!
But all our research hadn't prepared us for some of the other fluctuations that come with the season. Bert and Ernie have a lot more energy as the temperatures drop, and we find that they even eat a bit more as they are more active in the wintertime. Their stamina increases as the weather gets cooler and we're able to take longer hikes and walks than in the summertime.
Bear Paws and Backwards Glances
Bernese are often likened to bears because of their distinctive coloring (and size!), and this comparison is especially apt when considering how Berners use their paws! We'd never seen pups use their paws quite this way before we had Bert and Ernie, but they love to use their arms and paws to give special Berner hugs.
Ernie likes to throw a paw over Bert to keep him close or wrap an arm around a human leg in greeting. Bert prefers to use his bear paws to push himself up like a gopher or meerkat! This sweet tendency also comes with a warning - Berners use their paws like mitts and sometimes those paw pads are rough and scratchy after time outside!
Another uniquely Berner mannerism we've noticed is backwards glances. Bert and Ernie will often look up and back (so they are looking at you upside down) rather than turning their heads to the left or right. No idea why they do this, but maybe it's a function of always seeming to be sitting at (or on!) their humans' feet.