Golden Retriever VS Bernese Mountain Dog – Decision-Making Comparison

Getting a dog is all fun and games till you have to decide what breed you should get, for most dog lovers it’s quite a situation.

I love adopting dogs but it can be really heartbreaking when you have to choose just one because all I am thinking about is that I want to take them all with me, and one of the toughest decisions I had to make was between a golden retriever and a Bernese mountain dog. 

A Quick Golden Retriever vs Bernese Mountain Dog Comparison Table

DogGolden retrieverBernese mountain dog
Weight 55 – 75 Pounds 70 – 115 Pounds 
Height21.5 – 24 inches 23 – 28 inches 
Lifespan 10 – 12 years 6 – 10 years 
Colors Light gold, golden, and dark goldBlack tan and white, black rust and white, and rust and white. 
Health 9/109/10
Grooming Needs7/108/10
Exercise Needs9/108/10
Shedding 7.5/109/10
Kid Friendliness 10/1010/10
Pet-friendliness 9/108/10
Protectiveness 5/107/10
Good for apartments MaybeNo 
Average puppy cost $1,000- $3,500 USD $1,000-$2,500 USD 
Popularity Ranking in the US422

Golden Retriever vs Bernese Mountain Dog

golden retriever vs bernese mountain dog

I am going to keep things as short, simple, and helpful as possible in this comparison. If you don’t have the time, you can skip right to the conclusion section to make your decision in seconds, but I highly recommend reading through the comparison to know what you are going to expect from both dogs.

If you are not even sure these two dogs are the finalists on your list, feel free to check out this Beagle VS Golden retriever comparison for even more options. Alright, let’s get to it then, shall we?

Golden retriever  

Size: 21.5 -24 inches

Weight: 55 – 75pounds 

Colors: light golden, golden, and dark golden

Coat Type: double-coated/coarse 

Golden retriever females are usually smaller than males, they have a beautiful flowing golden coat and brown or hazel eyes.

They usually have a brown nose and may have a pink nose in the winter, also known as winter noses.

Golden retrievers were developed in Scotland and were descended from the Russian sheepdogs.

There was a gentleman known as Lord Tweedmouth who bred all kinds of animals and he wanted a breed with the talent of retrieving the prey he hunts without eating the prey or affecting it but not just that, he also wanted the breed to be well-tempered at home, in other words, a well-mannered companion to accompany him wherever he goes.

So he bred tweed water spaniels and a red setter then he kept all the yellow puppies and gave away the others.

The English Kennel Club recognized the golden retriever in 1911 as a “yellow retriever” then in 1920 they changed the breed name to the golden retriever we all know and love.

Bernese mountain dog 

Size: 23 -28 inches

Weight: 70 – 115 pounds 

Colors: black tan and white, black rust and white, and rust and white.

Coat Type: double-coated/wavy

The Bernese mountain dog’s color may vary between these colors; black, rust,  black tan, black rust, and white.

They tend to have pink noses when they are puppies and it turns black when they grow old.

The Bernese mountain dog has a long back story, so let me try to sum it up for you.

The Bernese mountain dog was bred from the Molosser (an ancient dog that was brought by the Romans to the Alps).

They were developed in Switzerland and have been working on the farms there for more than 2,000 years till 1888 when the people needed strong dogs to pull the carts that are filled with goods, so in 1899 they founded a dog club where they included different purebred dogs and called it Berna.

Later in 1902 the dog club sponsored a show and people started to notice the mountain dog more and more and in two years the breed took a huge step in multiple events and after these events, people started calling them “Bernese” for the first time ever and in the same year the Swiss kennel Club recognized the Bernese mountain dog.

After world war 1 the first Bernese mountain dogs were exported to Holland then to the United States.


Golden retrievers and the Bernese mountain dog actually have a lot in common, they have the sweetest nature, they are known for their friendly and affectionate characters.

They are eager to please and have cheerful personalities, are incredibly loyal to their owners, and make the perfect companions.

Both dogs are energetic but the Bernese mountain dog is less energetic than the Golden retriever just a little bit.

Golden retrievers are great with babies, kids, and other animals, all they want in their life is to spend all of their time with their owner whether it’s playtime, cuddling, watching a movie together, or even just laying down and staring at the ceiling together.

They are people pleasers and training them will be a piece of cake, however, socializing them is essential so they can behave properly in the house, outside, and with strangers as well.

The Bernese mountain dogs are a bit stubborn so training them will be harder than training the retriever.

However, they are better guard dogs but need proper training to bring up that trait in them because they are gentle, tolerant, and calm.

They are loyal and protective of their family but they are not aggressive at all and can be a little bit shy and that’s why they need early socialization.

Health and lifespan 

Golden retrievers are generally in good health but just like any breed, they are prone to some health issues, for example, Goldens are famous for their hip problems as they grow older and for getting cancer as seniors.

They may not get any of them but It’s better if you are well aware of the conditions that may occur in your pup.

So here are the most common ones:

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Cataracts 
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Elbow dysplasia 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Allergies 
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease 
  • Cancer 
  • Osteosarcoma 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Hemangiosarcoma 

Bernese mountain dogs are generally healthy as well but still can have some health problems due to wrong and irresponsible breeding or they may develop some of them without any reason so you should be aware of them because perhaps you can prevent some of these diseases.

So, here are the most common diseases in the Bernese mountain dog:

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy 
  • Panosteitis 
  • Portosystemic shunt 
  • Elbow dysplasia 
  • Cancer 
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Gastric torsion 

You should always see a health clearance that proves that the dog has been tested and cleared of these conditions before adopting or buying them. 

Nutritional Needs 

The nutritional needs of each dog depend more on the weight, height, level of activity, and age of the dog than the type of breed.

Golden retrievers need many things in their diets, for example, their diet should contain at least 30% of protein content, a healthy mix of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, and minerals such as sodium, zinc, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, carbohydrates, and between 12% and 18% of fat content. I have a full guide to golden retrievers foods here that you should definitely check.

The Bernese mountain dog needs 18% protein in their diets, plenty of omega-3, low levels of healthy fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

However, the diet of every dog is the most important thing in their life because their growth, development, and energy depend on it but like what I mentioned before it depends on certain things so it’s better if you consult their vet about their diet because the vet can give you some specific tips that depend on your dog needs and what can improve some things in their lives.

Grooming Needs & Shedding

Golden retrievers have a thick undercoat with a dense water-repellent outer coat, and they can have straight or wavy coats, they shed moderately in the summer and winter, and heavily in the fall and spring.

They need daily brushing to prevent any tangling and a bath at least once a month to keep them clean with a fresh, nice smell; however, don’t bathe them too often because it can damage their coat a little bit.

The Bernese mountain dog has a thick double coat, and they are quite the shedders but especially in the fall and spring.

You should brush them every day as well to reduce the shedding and prevent getting hair on everything in your house, you can bathe them every three months.

Here are some important tips that people usually forget about or avoid doing but can make a big difference, whether it’s the golden retriever or the Bernese mountain dog, brush their teeth every day to prevent gum diseases, tartar buildup, and bad breath.

Also, don’t forget to wipe their ears with a cotton ball to remove dirt and debris and check for any redness or bad odor because it’s an indicator of ear infection.

Trim their nails once or twice a month and pay attention to them if you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, they need trimming, when their nails are too long, it can actually cause them pain and discomfort. 

Exercise Needs 

Golden retrievers are one of the most energetic dogs ever and they need to be mentally and physically stimulated.

They need at least one hour of vigorous exercise to keep them calm at home because they may misbehave if they don’t get enough exercise.

The Bernese mountain dog needs a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, however, they are prone to heatstroke so make sure to only take them out for exercise when it’s in the early morning or in the evening. 

You can take them for a walk, jog, run, hike, or even swimming, both breeds love participating in any activity with their owners, you should also make a schedule for them and include playtime in it.

Make sure to provide them with plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them entertained and busy, you can take them to obedience training, it will give them physical and mental exercise.


Training a golden retriever is not that challenging and if you are a first-time dog owner, getting a golden retriever is the right choice.

Golden retrievers want nothing more than to make their owners happy and they are quick learners so training them takes less time than most dogs.

However, it’s really recommended for all puppies to be early socialized and have obedience training.

The Bernese mountain dog is also easy to train but it’s not as easy as training a golden retriever, they are intelligent and eager to please but a little stubborn.

Make sure to always use positive reinforcement when you are training any pup, reward them when they are well-behaving or did a good job during the training, praise them in an upbeat voice, and give them their favorite treat.

Most dogs tend to bond with their owners during obedience training, so it’s really important for you to be present at that time.

As Family Dogs 

Golden retrievers are wonderful family dogs, they get along with everyone and love to be around kids because they can match each other’s energy.

There are some people that worry about their babies around dogs but both golden retrievers and the Bernese mountain dogs are extremely gentle around babies and goldens are quiet dogs so you don’t have to worry about their barking around the baby.

However, both breeds are large and can knock over kids by mistake so you have to pay attention to them and of course, you need to teach your kids some rules around the dog such as never try to ride them, not pull their tail, or ears, and not step on their tail because the dog may snap out of pain.

You should supervise any interactions between the kids and dogs to prevent any accidents, you should also let your kids participate in training the dog so they can have a better relationship.

The Bernese mountain dogs earned the name the gentle giant due to their sweet and gentle nature around kids and babies.

Both the golden retriever and the Bernese mountain dog get along well with other pets so if you are thinking of getting other pets in the future both breeds are suitable for you. 

As Guard Dogs 

I don’t wanna say that golden retrievers are bad as guard dogs but the truth is that they are terrible, they are too friendly, and can you imagine leaving them to guard your home and someone breaks in, they will kill them from the overload of cuteness I guess.

However, you can train them to alarm you when there is someone at the door but that is for them, they can’t attack someone, and training them to do so will just be against their nature.

The Bernese mountain dog is a decent guard dog, they will alarm you when something is off but they will not attack someone as well.

Both dogs are incredibly loyal to their owners so if their family is ever in danger they will protect them with their lives.  

Where to find them? 

You should check your local shelter or rescue groups first, you can take a pup home and make them the happiest they have ever been.

You can also get them from a breeder, the golden retriever will cost you about $1,000 to $3,500, and the Bernese mountain dog usually costs between $1,000 to $2,500. 

How to Choose between Golden Retrievers Vs the Bernese mountain dog? 

If you want a dog that can be your workout partner and match your energy, quiet and won’t bark as much as other dogs, the golden retriever will be perfect for you, if you want a guard dog that can protect you and your family, you should choose the Bernese mountain dog, and if you want a great family dog, both dogs are perfect for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are Golden Retrievers smarter than Bernese Mountain Dogs? 

Yes, golden retrievers are smarter than the Bernese mountain dogs, golden retrievers are ranked the 4th smartest dog breed, and the Bernese mountain dog is ranked the 27th, however, both dogs are smart and obedient, and quick learners, they both need early socialization.

Are golden retrievers better family dogs than Bernese mountain dogs?

No, goldens and the Bernese are equally good at being family dogs, they are both gentle, friendly, loyal, and affectionate, they get along with kids and other pets, and can well-behave around babies the only difference is that goldens are quieter than Bernese which makes them better around babies.

Is training golden retrievers easier than training the Bernese mountain dog?

Yes, training a golden retriever is easier than training a Bernese mountain dog, they are both eager to please, but golden retrievers are smarter and less stubborn than the Bernese mountain dog, however, both dogs are easy to train with the right methods.

Helpful Resources 

Bernese Mountain Dog

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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