The breed standard for the Bernese Mountain Dog states that dogs should not be “aggressive, anxious or distinctly shy,” but rather should be “good natured,” “self-assured,” “placid towards strangers,” and “docile.” Temperament of individual dogs may vary, and not all examples of the breed have been carefully bred to follow the Standard. All large dogs should be well socialized when young, and given regular training and activities throughout their lives.
Bernese are outdoor dogs at heart, though well-behaved in the house; they need activity and exercise, but do not have a great deal of endurance. They can move with amazing bursts of speed for their size when motivated. If they are sound (no problems with their hips, elbows, or other joints) they enjoy hiking and generally stick close to their people.
The Bernese temperament is a strong point of the breed. They are affectionate, loyal, faithful, stable, intelligent, but sometimes shy. The majority of Bernese are friendly to people, and other dogs. They often get along well with other pets such as cats, horses, etc. They are trainable provided the owner is patient and consistent in training; Bernese need time to think things through. They do not respond well to harsh treatment, however Berners are willing and eager to please their master. Bernese love to be encouraged with praise and treats. The breed is sweet and good with children, despite their great size. Overall, they are stable in temperament, patient, and loving.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are slow to mature, and can display puppy-like tendencies up to 2 1/2 years of age.