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Hi, all! Hubby and I are planning to add a third dog this spring after our WGWL pup, Redy, turns two. Redy is just about where we want him to be with training (and I’m confident he will be by spring) and our older dog, Dala – a 5.5-year-old spayed female Great Dane – is a saint and our “nanny dog.” Husband and I both work within 5 minutes of home, have flexible schedules, a great trainer, a big fenced-in yard and dog run, etc. – so we’re comfortable with our decision to add dog number three (and, in fact, did have three dogs until our 10-year-old Kuvasz passed away a year ago).

Anyway, now we’re trying to choose a breed (and, ultimately, a breeder). After a LOT of research and discussion, we’ve narrowed it to two: the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Newfoundland. Do any of you GSD people have experience with either breed? Or thoughts as to which would be best for our household/could be a good "pack mate" with a GSD?

Here is more about us:

We’ve found that Dala and Redy both do best with dogs that respect their personal space and have good “doggy manners.” Neither is fond of our neighbor’s in-your-face Golden Retriever, for example, or of our friend’s mixed breed pup who insists on ALWAYS snuggling next to (or on) our Dane.

I like intelligent, drivey dogs and have always had working-line GSDs – the Dane, although she’s a wonderful goofy dog, is just SO stubborn and slow. Hubby, although he loves GSDs, is more inclined the the Dane personality: he's not keen to add a second high-energy high-drive dog to the household. We’re hoping for a middle ground: smart, trainable, good nerve and lots of confidence, able to go hiking and have a “job” but not as active as the GSD. We like a breed with a lot of personality (the Kuvasz, bless her, lacked in that department) and a confident, non-threatening dog that could succeed in therapy dog work at our local children's hospital.

Also, definitely a dog that respects our personal space and our other dogs', and isn't fawning all over us for attention all the time. (I love dogs, but geez -- I couldn't live with our neighbor's Golden Retriever and its constant demands for affection.)

Photos below of the pups in the barnyard area, and hanging out on the sofa in the house.

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Anyway, if you have any thoughts/experience with Berners or Newfs you’d like to share, we would LOVE to hear your thoughts and opinions as we try to choose the best breed for us! Thank you so much!

P.S. I should mention we’re also aware of the health problems that plague both breeds, and especially the Berner. We ensure our dogs through Trupanion and will ensure the newest pup as well :)
 

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I have always heard that newfoundlands are very similar to golden retrievers in temperament, but are slower and calmer. Less energy!! That said, I do not have personal experience with the breed.

I have known a few Bernese mountain dogs, and I LOVED them. Very calm and stable. While they were still playful, they were not go-go-go or in your face all the time. They do take longer to mature because they are so big and goofy, but they are great dogs when full grown and well trained. In my experience, they love their people, but they are not as clingy as golden retrievers are. I own a golden retriever. I'm not sure I could find another breed that's more clingy. And IME Bernese mountain dogs are more family oriented than all-people oriented. My golden treats strangers the exact same as she treats a family member. Extreme excitement. The Bernese mountain dogs I knew would say hello, then go on about their business.

I think either breed would do well with other dogs in your house, and I think either breed could easily learn to respect personal space. Both breeds are pretty calm.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much, Pytheis -- this is exactly the kind of insight we were hoping for :) The "more family oriented than all-people oriented" nature of the Berner that you've described is exactly the kind of dog that we want: nice with strangers, but more family-oriented than a "love everyone equally" kind of pup.

Thanks again!

I have always heard that newfoundlands are very similar to golden retrievers in temperament, but are slower and calmer. Less energy!! That said, I do not have personal experience with the breed.

I have known a few Bernese mountain dogs, and I LOVED them. Very calm and stable. While they were still playful, they were not go-go-go or in your face all the time. They do take longer to mature because they are so big and goofy, but they are great dogs when full grown and well trained. In my experience, they love their people, but they are not as clingy as golden retrievers are. I own a golden retriever. I'm not sure I could find another breed that's more clingy. And IME Bernese mountain dogs are more family oriented than all-people oriented. My golden treats strangers the exact same as she treats a family member. Extreme excitement. The Bernese mountain dogs I knew would say hello, then go on about their business.

I think either breed would do well with other dogs in your house, and I think either breed could easily learn to respect personal space. Both breeds are pretty calm.
 

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It used to be Newfoundlands were plagued with health issues. As people moved away from them because of this, they went to bernese mountain dogs. Now bernese have a lot of issues. So really search for a good breeder.
My cousin has a high strung, difficult bernese. Not a dog that I would want in my house.
 

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Love Newfs. However the one we had when I was a child refused to let us kids go swimming, lol. I have photos of him playing tug with my Yorkie, and still have his collar. I remember him being kind of laid back but perfectly willing to participate in fun. Others I have known over the years were very family oriented, could be protective and were prone to fits of stubborn. They can be a bit clownish, not like Dane goofy but getting there. I've known a few that were quite independent. They adore children and are devoted to their families. Do be careful about breeder selection. BTW, love Danes, where did you get yours?
 

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HA! We'd heard stories of that -- about Newfs pulling kids in from the water ;) They seem like such awesome dogs. It's making the breed selection really difficult!

We purchased our Dane as a puppy from Linda Morelli of Moredanes in Lapeer, Michigan and couldn't be happier. Awesome temperament and zero health issues so far. She was our show dog for a while, but she's retired from the ring and loving the pet life :)

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. We really appreciate it!

Love Newfs. However the one we had when I was a child refused to let us kids go swimming, lol. I have photos of him playing tug with my Yorkie, and still have his collar. I remember him being kind of laid back but perfectly willing to participate in fun. Others I have known over the years were very family oriented, could be protective and were prone to fits of stubborn. They can be a bit clownish, not like Dane goofy but getting there. I've known a few that were quite independent. They adore children and are devoted to their families. Do be careful about breeder selection. BTW, love Danes, where did you get yours?
 

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Thanks so much, Cloudpump -- we really appreciate your thoughts! Do you happen to know where your cousin purchased her Bernese? Not specifically, but whether it was a show breeder/farm/BYB/etc.?

We've learned how tough it is to find a GOOD Berner breeder... We're leaning toward breeders who use their Berners as farm dogs -- cattle or sheep. Seems more true to their original purpose... but even those dogs have comparatively short lifespans (8-10 years). Of course we see it with GSDs too, but it's heartbreaking how popularity --> so many health issues.

Thank you again!

It used to be Newfoundlands were plagued with health issues. As people moved away from them because of this, they went to bernese mountain dogs. Now bernese have a lot of issues. So really search for a good breeder.
My cousin has a high strung, difficult bernese. Not a dog that I would want in my house.
 

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Newfies and Berners have oilier coats than the GSDs and can become pretty smelly. Check them out at conformation shows. Talk to breeders etc. They probably have more experience and insight than all of us together here. Depending on your GSD temperament it could work or not. I think a hyper GSD woud annoy a calm dog.
The few Bernese that I had in my class were kinda slow and not very interested in obedience work.
 

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Thanks so much, Cloudpump -- we really appreciate your thoughts! Do you happen to know where your cousin purchased her Bernese? Not specifically, but whether it was a show breeder/farm/BYB/etc.?

We've learned how tough it is to find a GOOD Berner breeder... We're leaning toward breeders who use their Berners as farm dogs -- cattle or sheep. Seems more true to their original purpose... but even those dogs have comparatively short lifespans (8-10 years). Of course we see it with GSDs too, but it's heartbreaking how popularity --> so many health issues.

Thank you again!
I can find out.
 

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#1 - Leonberger (I know I know but I couldn’t resist! They just seem like a happy medium for you guys)

#2 - Newfoundland (I’ve only known 2, half siblings from the same breeder, lovely laidback easy going family dogs but I only met them in their adult years. Both lived beyond 10, 1 with significant health issues... high maintenance in the grooming dept - I felt like they always had an odor, despite baths... could have been diet or ears.)

#3 - Bernie’s (I used to be a fan but now that I’ve been exposed to more of them, not so much. It could just be breeders in my area fulfilling a specific market, but they seem very golden in personality... and have become the “lab / golden / doodle alternative” in the county I encounter them. More sound and stable than Golden’s.... but still very silly and friendly. That said... I’ve only interacted with younger ones.)
 
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