The Bernese Mountain Dog or "Berner Sennehund" is one of many Swiss breeds. They were used to pull carts of milk cans to market, guard the farm, and help drive cows to and from the mountain pastures. The breed almost went extinct at the end of the 19th century as machines and roads replaced their usefulness. However, people who fancied the breed attempted to save it, and in 1907 a specialty breed club was established in Switzerland.
Bernese can be very friendly as adults, but they also can be a little more discriminating about strangers compared to the Golden Retriever. They certainly will bark and warn you that there is somebody strange at your back door, or that a strange dog is on your property. They are not an attack dog, but a bit of wariness is part of the breed; they were used by the Swiss shepherd, or 'Sennun', to tell that something was wrong with the flock of sheep or herd of cattle.
My dogs are raised together and get along famously with each other and have great play behaviour. The Bernese is not known for being a pack dog but instead crave human companionship. They are quite happy staying at home with their families and watching over their property. While some other breeds are compelled to follow their nose, Bernese do not have to follow a scent and want to be near you all of the time. For Northern Ontario, or rural countryside, this makes them a great estate dog because they will warn you if you have a four legged intruder, and they don't feel compelled to charge off into the bush chasing the wildlife and getting themselves hurt.
Most important, however, is that they love to be CLOSE to you. They enjoy physical contact and are known to prod with their noses, paw at your leg to get your attention, walk between your legs and even sit on your lap.
This is the last breed you should buy to stick on a chain and ignore.
The Bernese do not live a long life, but their life with you is unforgettable. Some people say that their average life is no more than 6 - 8 years. Fortunately, we have only had a couple of our customer's dogs pass away before 4 years of age. We have produced many Bernese, so our juvenile cancers are well under 1% which is considered statistically insignificant. Most of my own personal dogs have lived 8 - 12 years of age, and we have had several of our dog customer's dogs live to 12 years of age. We do have some suggestions on how to hopefully help this longevity.
There is a common saying about the Bernese, that any amount of years with a Bernese is worth it. We feel that any Bernese that is healthy after 8.5 years is just a BIG bonus.