Golden Retriever vs. Bernese Mountain Dog (Which Dog Is Better?)

Getting a new dog is exciting, but before you can bring your new puppy home you’ll have to decide which breed of dog is the right one for you. It’s important to choose a dog that will fit your lifestyle, as your choice will affect your life for years to come. If you’re trying to choose between a Golden Retriever and a Bernese Mountain Dog, you’ll want to know how they compare. They’re both great breeds but which one is the best for you?

A Golden Retriever is better for active families that have the time and energy to give these high-energy dogs plenty of exercise. A Bernese Mountain Dog, however, is a better choice if you want a cold weather dog that is more laid back, and requires less activity. Both breeds are child and family-friendly.

Golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs have a lot in common, but they are different in a few key ways as well. In this Golden Retriever vs Bernese Mountain Dog article, I will give you tons of information about these two breeds, including aspects of their personalities and temperament, the overall care each dog requires, and which types of environments they thrive in.

Golden Retriever vs Bernese Mountain Dog

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AttributesGolden RetrieverBernese Mountain Dog
SizeMedium to largeLarge
Weight20-24″ tall
23-27.5″ tall
Life Expectancy10-12 years7-10 years
Double CoatedYesYes
Intelligence Rank#4#27
BarkingOccasionallyOccasionally, Loud
VigilanceMore RelaxedRelaxed but vigilant
TrainingEasy to trainEasy to train
Weather Tolerance45°F-90°F15°F-86°F

Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog: A Basic Overview

Most but not all Golden Retrievers love the water!
Golden Retrievers love the water!

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

Golden Retrievers, bred initially in Scotland in the 1800s, are the third most popular dog breed in the United States today. Goldens are a medium to large breed, weighing between 55-75 pounds, with a long, wavy, golden coat, and an average lifespan between 10 and 12 years. They make great family pets, require a moderate amount of grooming, and significant daily exercise. Golden retrievers love to run and swim!

Bernese Mountain Dogs are strong, good-natured canines, bred to work as farm dogs in Bern, Switzerland’s expansive agricultural region. While not as common as Golden retrievers, they too make great family dogs. They are an extra-large dog breed, with an adult male dog weighing up to 120 pounds! Unfortunately, in part due to their size, they only live for about 7 to 10 years. They have long, thick coats and trademark colors of black, white, and rust.

Personality and Temperament: Golden Retriever vs Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their ability to withstand cold temperatures.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their ability to withstand cold temperatures.

Whether you want a cheerful companion or a loyal protector, a dog’s personality might be the number one factor potential pet owners consider as they are choosing their new companion. Golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs are similar in terms of personality, each making loving and affectionate companions for individuals and families alike.

Golden Retriever Temperament

Golden retrievers are popular for a reason. They are easy to please and always happy to see their owners. This breed is known for being affectionate, friendly, energetic, and great with kids and other animals. Training is a breeze with these pups, especially if you start early because they so badly want to please their owners.

Recommended Reading: How Long it Takes To Train a Golden Retriever Puppy (Explained)

Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament

Bernese mountain dogs are also a really friendly, affectionate, and loyal breed. However, they are quite a bit less energetic than Golden retrievers, preferring to sleep on the couch while you read, than outside fetching a ball. They are pretty stubborn and independent dogs, and because of their massive size, it can be hard to convince them to do something they don’t want to do. Despite their large and imposing presence, they have a very sweet and calm temperament.

Exercise & Grooming Requirements (Bernese Mountain Dog & Golden Retriever)

All dogs require a certain amount of care, from regular grooming sessions to ensuring they get enough exercise. Both of these breeds require a moderate amount of maintenance, especially in the grooming department. However, if care is taken, cleaning up after these dogs is a breeze.

Golden Retriever Grooming

Golden retrievers are highly energetic dogs, requiring a lot of attention and exercise. They need at least two walks a day, at least 30 minutes each, to keep their energy levels at bay, and even more if you want to tire them out. You will also need to provide plenty of entertainment such as games, chew toys, and food puzzles like the StarMark Bob-A-Lot (Amazon) to keep them distracted from eating your shoes and furniture, especially as puppies.

Golden Retriever or Bernese Mountain Dog…this might help you decide!

While Golden retrievers don’t need to have regular appointments with a groomer, their coats will need to be brushed on a weekly basis, especially during the spring and fall months when they shed the most. Cleaning up after them can be a chore because of their moderate to heavy shedding. However, you will not have to worry about drooling with a Golden retriever as you will with some big dogs.

Recommended Reading: How to Take Care of Your Golden Retriever’s Coat: Step-by-Step

Bernese Mountain Dog Grooming

Bernese mountain dogs, on the other hand, are much more laid back. While they still require daily walks and exercise, they do not have nearly as much energy as their Golden retriever counterpart. But just like the Golden, they have quite a playful personality, so they will enjoy daily playtime and plenty of toys.

Because they were bred for cold weather working conditions in Switzerland, Bernese mountain dogs have a long, thick coat of fur and shed during the year’s warmer months, much like a Golden retriever. You will undoubtedly want to bathe and brush him regularly to avoid too much dog hair in your home. Like Golden retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs aren’t typically heavy droolers (like a Saint Bernard is).

Living & Home Environment (Golden vs Bernese Mountain Dog)

While Golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs have a lot of similarities, their preferred environment might be their most significant difference. A dog’s preferred living environment depends mainly on their activity levels, and where they were initially bred.

This section will go over the best type of environment for Golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs, including the house type, whether they get along with children and other pets, and the temperatures in which they thrive.

Golden Retriever at Home

Golden retrievers are adaptable to all different kinds of environments, although they thrive in homes with big yards and mild temperatures. However, you can rest assured that Golden retrievers can be happy in apartments and in homes with small yards, as long as they are getting plenty of outdoor exercise. While Golden retrievers do bark on occasion, they are generally not big barkers. Their ideal outside temperatures range from 45 to 90 degrees F.

Another great thing about Golden retrievers is that they typically get along well with other animals, thanks to their friendly personalities. While, of course, it depends on the individual dog and their previous life experiences, most Goldens will happily adjust to spending time with cats and other dogs. They are also great pets for active individuals and families with young children.

Recommended Reading: Do Golden Retrievers Bark a Lot? (What to Expect)

Watch Bailey the Golden Retriever meet Teddy, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, for the first time.

Bernese Mountain Dog at Home

Bernese mountain dogs have a much higher tolerance level for cold temperatures because of their origins near the Alps in Switzerland. However, like many domesticated breeds, they have adapted to living in most regions of the United States, thriving in temperatures between 15 and 86 degrees F. This is definitely not a hot climate dog! Because of their large size, Bernese mountain dogs tend to prefer a home with a medium to large yard, so they’ve got some room to move. They make decent guard dogs due to their imposing size, vigilance, and loud bark.

This breed also makes a great family pet, getting along well with children and other dogs. However, they tend to choose one human as their “favorite,” the person with which they have become the closest. One of the biggest differences between the two breeds is that Bernese mountain dogs do not require nearly as much exercise as a Golden retriever. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day (half that of a Golden retriever) will keep them happy and healthy. Therefore, they would be a good fit with a family that is not particularly active.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking about getting a dog, Golden retrievers and Bernese mountain dogs are both great choices. Each breeds makes excellent family pets, as they are loyal, playful, friendly, and intelligent. Bernese mountain dogs have a much more stubborn and independent personality, whereas Golden retrievers love to please their owners and are easy to train.

Your decision will come down to the energy level you want your dog to have and are able to maintain, as well as the living environment you can provide. Without a doubt, both dogs will make loving companions for their new families.

Compare Golden Retrievers to These Other Breeds


Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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