Are you considering adding a Bernese Mountain Dog to your family? As a working breed, many people assume Bernese Mountain Dogs must be high energy and need hours upon hours of outdoor exercise, but is this true…are Bernese Mountain Dogs high energy?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a low to moderate energy breed, just as happy walking or running around outside as laying around and resting inside. Bernese Mountain Dogs’ exercise needs are also low to moderate, meaning they need regular, but not excessive, physical and mental stimulation to maintain good health and to prevent unwanted behaviors.
In this article, we’ll discuss the energy levels of a Bernese Mountain Dog and how much exercise they need so you can determine if this breed is right for you and your lifestyle.
How Does a Bernese Mountain Dog’s Energy Level Compare to Other Breeds?
It can be difficult to generalize a breed’s energy levels since every dog has its own personality. That being said, certain breeds definitely have a tendency to be lazier or crazier than others.
If you don’t want a high-energy dog, you might be in the clear with a Bernese Mountain dog. Although these giant balls of fluff certainly need their fair share of playtime and exercise, their energy levels and needs are nowhere near the most energetic breeds, such as Border Collies and Siberian Huskies. This is partially due to their agreeable and overtly calm temperament.
While you’re bound to have some Bernese Mountain dogs that are on both sides of the energy spectrum, most will fall moderately in the middle. These medium energy pups enjoy lounging around indoors near their human companions as much as exploring the outdoors for limited periods.
They’re energetic enough that you’ll commonly see them on lists of “the most energetic dog breeds,” but the most accurate lists will have them in the top 20s, not the top 10s alongside Belgian Malinois and Australian Shepherds.
In fact, without enough motivation from their owners, many Bernese Mountain Dogs get the reputation as a breed of being lazy. To some, this might sound ideal to have a dog with moderate energy and a tendency for laziness, but it can also lead to health issues, such as your pup being overweight if they don’t get enough exercise.
How Much Exercise Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Need?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are hefty breeds that can weigh anywhere from 70 to 115 pounds, but what most owners don’t know is that this mass is sheer power this breed used to guard livestock and pull cartsful of farm products and tools in the cold climates of Switzerland.
Because of their origin, they are considered a “working breed,” so they need a decent amount of exercise to satiate this instinctual work drive.
On average, an adult Bernese Mountain Dog needs at least a half-hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. However, most experts and owners recommend the breed get two, if not three times, that amount of exercise to keep them in top physical condition and tire them out.
The most common ways owners tend to exercise their Bernese Mountain Dogs include:
- Moderate length walks
- Playing in a large yard with toys (ex. ball fetch or frisbee)
- Cart or sled pulling
- Agility courses
In addition to these activities, most Bernese Mountain Dogs like having regular access to the outdoors, especially when snow is involved, where they can wander around freely and find a nice spot to lay in the sun.
Mental stimulation is also important for any dog breed, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are no different. Providing them with puzzle toys, Kongs, and other sources of mental stimulation can be a great way to tire this big, fluffy breed out when they start getting bored.
The reason you want to avoid said boredom is because it can quickly lead to unwanted and even destructive behaviors, such as digging and chewing furniture and other household items. So, the more physically and mentally exhausted your Berner is, the better.
Things to Keep in Mind When Exercising Bernese Mountain Dogs
Exercising your Bernese Mountain Dog is essential to having a happy and healthy pup, but there are some things you should keep in mind when you do this for their safety and quality of life.
Their Thick Double Coat
One of the trademarks of a Bernese Mountain Dog is its thick, wavy, tri-colored coat. This double coat protected them while they worked in the cold mountains and fields of Switzerland, a place that, for the sake of this point, we’re going to assume you don’t live.
If you don’t live somewhere with frigid conditions year-round, you’ll want to be conscious of when you exercise your Bernese Mountain Dog and for how long. Because of their coat, exercise can be strenuous and even dangerous in hot climates, as the breed can easily overheat.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you exercise your Bernese Mountain Dog early in the morning or later at night when the weather is cooler.
Common Health Issues
Another factor you want to keep in mind when it comes to exercising your Berner is the common health issues this breed experiences. While there is, unfortunately, a relatively long list here, we’re going to focus on two issues, in particular.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
While hip and elbow dysplasia can occur in any dog breed, there are some that have a higher risk than others, the Bernese Mountain Dog being one of them.
This issue is more common in this breed because they are sizeable dogs that grow quickly. As a result, their bones change and expand substantially over a short period which could easily lead to hip and elbow dysplasia when overworked.
So, if you just got a new Berner puppy, you’ll want to be conscious not to over-exercise them, as this could exacerbate their genetic predisposition to this condition and increase their risks.
Proclivity for Obesity
After reading about some of the risks associated with exercising your Bernese Mountain Dog, you might decide you want to ere on the side of caution when it comes to your pup’s exercise. The fact that this breed is very even-keeled makes it easier to think you can skip out on a half-hour walk, but this is not the case.
The Bernese Mountain Dog also has a proclivity for obesity if it doesn’t exercise enough. Although there might be health conditions that can increase a dog’s risk of obesity, this is a condition almost solely lands squarely on an owner’s shoulder.
Usually, an obese dog is either overeating or has a poor diet and always lacks sufficient daily exercise. This could lead to several other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more that will severely diminish your dog’s quality of life.
Considering Bernese Mountain Dogs can weigh up to 115 pounds, they don’t need to get any bigger, so make sure you give them the 30-90 minutes of exercise they need every day.
As a breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs are fantastic family and companion dogs that have moderate energy levels and reasonable exercise needs. If you’re considering getting a Berner of your own, make sure you can fulfill their needs and that their energy levels and temperament are a match for your preferences and lifestyle.
Overall, they’re great breeds, but if you want a dog that you can take on a two-hour run every day, you might want to opt for a more active breed. However, if you enjoy a dog that loves cuddles and leisurely walks, the Berner is for you.