Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally considered to be one of the sweetest and friendliest dog breeds.
They are affectionate and faithful companions and excel as loving family pets.
Playful, and often goofy, they enjoy every moment spent with their family, especially with kids.
However, they have working-dog origins and among other jobs, their task was to guard and protect family, livestock, and property.
This often included fending off wild and dangerous animals, and other potential impostors.
Even though they are rarely in these roles anymore, this leads potential owners to wonder whether some of those instincts have survived and are Bernese Mountain Dogs Aggressive.
In addition, Berners are extremely large dogs, and any potential aggressive behavior may cause a lot of issues for the owner.
Below, you’ll learn if the natural protectiveness of this breed ever leads to aggressiveness and what you can do to prevent such behavior.
Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Aggressive?
Berners are often described as one of the least aggressive breeds. They’re gentle, good-natured, playful, loyal, and kind.
Still, they do have strong protective instincts.
Rarely, their instinct to protect their family and territory can grow into overprotectiveness and make them a bit aggressive.
Just like any other breed, an individual dog can have a temperament that is somewhat different than the standard.
Any display of aggressiveness in Berners has a lot to do with the owner and failure to socialize their dog on time.
Proper socialization significantly reduces the risk of your Berner growing up to be aggressive.
This is especially important with younger dogs as they can occasionally be too territorial and hostile towards other dogs.
Additionally, some behaviors that owners interpret as aggressive are actually rather harmless.
Barking, growling, or snapping the teeth are more often a sign of frustration or boredom than a display of aggression.
Why Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Behave Aggressively?
As I previously said, Bernese Mountain Dogs very rarely express aggression.
But, when they do, it can be for several different reasons.
Old Habits Die Hard
Although they’re rarely called up for such duties nowadays, Berners served as protectors for centuries.
However, some of the natural instincts have been bred out to create more friendly family dogs.
Nevertheless, Bernese Mountain Dogs are still very protective of their family and property.
If they feel that there’s a real danger to their owners, they may become over-vigilant and express aggression towards a perceived threat.
In addition, some Berners can be overprotective when it comes to their territory or possessions.
Unless they’re trained to respect boundaries and that the protection is unnecessary, they may behave aggressively towards anyone approaching the territory they see as theirs or their food and toys.
Fear Can Induce Aggression
Like most other breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be aggressive out of fear.
If they think that they’re in danger, they may feel the need to defend themselves and behave aggressively.
Most dogs, including Berners, when they feel fear, will choose avoidance instead of aggression.
However, when trapped, they may go with the “defense is the best offense” approach. A lot of fear-based aggressive behaviors have roots in previous bad experiences.
A Dog may have suffered abuse from the previous owner, had a bad experience with other dogs, or didn’t go through proper socialization.
Age, Health, and Sex
Aggression often occurs due to natural causes. Younger Bernese Mountain Dogs sometimes can act aggressively towards other young dogs.
This is particularly the case with male Berners.
On the other hand, as the dog ages, it may develop certain health issues causing pain which can lead to aggressive behavior.
Also, impaired sight or hearing that often comes with age, may make every approach by humans or animals more sudden and therefore more frightening, causing aggression.
Proper Care Goes a Long Way
The biggest responsibility for the dog’s behavior lies with the owner.
Starting socialization and training on time can go a blown way in developing a kind and friendly dog and suppressing any potential aggression.
Furthermore, Bernese Mountain dogs demand a lot of attention and are very active and playful.
If they’re not mentally and physically stimulated, engaged in family activities, and given enough exercise, they may easily start to become bored and frustrated.
This often results in them expressing some kinds of aggressive behavior, such as growling, or excessive barking.
How do You Stop a Bernese Mountain Dog from Being Aggressive?
If your Berner starts to behave aggressively, there are some steps you can take to stop it or prevent it in the first place.
The key is to establish your dominance and leadership in the household.
This way, the dog will understand that you, as a leader, are in charge of protecting the family and won’t feel the need to be aggressive.
Furthermore, try to reduce the stress in the dog’s environment as much as possible.
Avoid confrontation in front of your Berner as they’re very sensitive and can react aggressively to the negative atmosphere around them.
Even as a puppy, the dog should be socialized and exposed to other dogs and strange people.
This will make them much more friendly and less shy towards other people and animals.
Also, early and proper training regime will ensure that the dog is obedient and make controlling the aggression easier.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are certainly not a perfect fit for every owner.
They are huge, require a lot of space, can shed a lot, and demand a fair amount of grooming and care.
Likewise, they need a lot of attention and the owner has to invest a lot of time in joint activities with the dog.
However, the potential aggressiveness of your Berner should be the least of your worries.
The aggressive behavior of this breed is extremely rare and more an exception than a rule.
Even though they are rather protective of their own, they almost never engage in any kind of aggressive actions.
With proper socialization, training, and care, your Bernese Mountain Dogs will almost certainly be friendly, playful, and full of love.