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Home > Dogs > How Smart Are Bernese Mountain Dogs? Where They Rank Compared to Other Breeds

How Smart Are Bernese Mountain Dogs? Where They Rank Compared to Other Breeds

human hand holding bernese mountain dogs paw

Bernese Mountain Dogs are big, gorgeous, loyal, and eager to please. They are also very calm and easygoing and have big hearts that match their size.

But are these dogs smart, and how smart are they?

The Bernese Mountain Dog ranks as the 27th most intelligent dog. While these canines aren’t as intelligent as German Shepherds, their agility and ability to understand commands make them some of the easiest dogs to train.

Read on to learn exactly how intelligent Bernese Mountain Dogs are based on the three standard dimensions of canine intelligence. Let’s dive in.


The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence is the natural ability of a dog to do what it was originally bred to do with little or no human intervention. Like most ancient dog breeds, the Berner was not bred primarily for companionship. As late as the 1800s, Berners were used in dairy farmyards as work dogs.

Bernese Mountain Dogs have immense strength and an incredible ability to follow instructions. They were originally used for transporting heavy loads and could pull up to 10 times their body weight. The dog was so good at its job that it would make deliveries without being accompanied by its owner!

Berners were also bred as herding and instinctive guard dogs. These dogs could instinctively round up livestock and drive them in the desired direction. While they are not an aggressive breed, the dogs can growl, bite, and even knock down strangers because of their instinct to guard and protect their families.

Bernese Mountain Dog
Image Credit: Othmar Sigrist, Pixabay

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Obedience & Working Intelligence

“Obedience and working intelligence” is the ability of a dog to learn quickly through obedience training and retain what it has mastered. Berners rise above the pack for being incredibly fast at understanding the connection between a verbal command and the actions that should follow.

Thanks to their natural desire to please their owners, these dogs are very cooperative during training sessions. They can master a new behavior with just a few repetitions. Be consistent in your commands for the best outcome, and only use positive training methods. Despite their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sensitive. Harsh or punitive training methods can make them stubborn and unresponsive to training.

Again, it is important to start training as soon as your dog turns four months old. Also, provide plenty of mentally stimulating toys to keep your furry friend’s brain sharp. The amount of effort and commitment you put into your dog’s training and mental stimulation can determine whether it reaches its full potential.

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Adaptive Intelligence

A dog’s adaptive intelligence is its ability to learn from its environment and past experiences. Berners excel in this sector and quickly warm their way into their owners’ hearts for being practical jokers.

For instance, your furry friend will be keen to master an action that elicits your laughter. After this, it will repeat the action severally to earn your attention and affection. The canine can also tell when you are about to leave and may hide your car keys to convince you to stay. It may also stand at the doorway, hoping you can go together.

The canine learns tricks faster than most dogs and can even decipher a command on the first attempt. However, what makes the Berners truly exceptional is their ability to communicate their needs better than the average dog.

bernese dog cuddling with his owner
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Why Is the Bernese Mountain Dog So Smart?

The Bernese Mountain Dog is intelligent because it was originally bred for farm work. Duties like protecting the flock, driving cattle, and guarding the farm require more than average IQ. The eagerness of the dog to please its owner is a bonus that makes it quick to follow commands.

Moreover, Bernese Mountain Dogs have outgoing personalities. They love lots of attention and affection, which makes them eager to learn new commands. The dogs are also keen, which sharpens their adaptive intelligence and allows them to communicate their needs better.

Cues Your Bernese Mountain Dog Is Smart

Interestingly, even dogs of the same breed are not equal in their cognitive skills and IQ levels. Here are three simple indicators that your gentle giant has a sharp brain.

1. It Remembers Commands Without Practice

Bernese Mountain Dogs learn new tricks with ease. They are super easy to train because it takes only a few lessons for the canine to understand and practice a command.

Moreover, Berners are exceptionally great at retaining their training. An easy way to know you have an intelligent furry friend is to test whether it remembers the commands you taught it months or even years ago. For instance, if you taught your dog how to “roll over” as a puppy, you can tell it is intelligent if it still knows how to do it as an adolescent.

woman doing obedience training with bernese dog
Image Credit: Kzenon, Shutterstock

2. It Knows What You Are Up To

If your dog can tell what you are up to, then it’s smart. An intelligent dog will master certain routines in the household. For instance, it might notice that you wear your socks, then your shoes before picking up your coat and leaving. It will begin to act hyper and super needy to convince you not to go or to take it with you when you start getting dressed up.

The intelligent nature of Berners also makes them manipulative. They learn from observation and master how to communicate their needs and get what they want. Your doggo will have a way of telling you to take it for a walk.

3. Your Pet Exhibits the Best Qualities of Berners

Bernese Mountain Dogs are natural work dogs and guardians of livestock. Genetically, these dogs exhibit outstanding levels of instinctive intelligence and excel at carting/drafting competitions.

Furthermore, these canines make good herding dogs. Their protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs that can turn aggressive to protect their family members. As a people pleaser, your dog will also want to ensure you always approve of what it’s doing.

If your furry friend shows these qualities and more, you bet it’s on a higher level of smartness than the average dog.


Final Thoughts

Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, pleasant, and very intelligent. Their instinctive intelligence makes them able to do many tasks while their obedience and working brainpower make them super easy to train. The dog’s adaptive learning ability also adds to its overall smartness.

If you have always wanted to own one of the smartest, calmest, and sweetest pups on the block, this dog breed will be an excellent choice. However, you must invest time and effort in training your pet to get the most out of it.

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Featured Image Credit: Vad-Len, Shutterstock

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