Do they shed...
YES and quite a bit a couple of times a year. You and your vacuum will develop a great relationship, you will have new seasoning added to your food and your pillow will be fuzzy! You will even find little bits of love in your ice cubes!
Do they make good family pets... Yes if you have enough time to devote to them on their terms! Berners are a very people needy breed and are NOT a breed that can be left to their own devices in the back yard. They are NOT lawn ornaments and will become problomatic when treated as such!
What do they cost...
The average cost to obtain a puppy from a reputable breeder is between 2500-3500. Can you find one cheaper?? Absolutely BUT You will get exactly what you paid for when obtaining it. An inferrior bred puppy. Poor quality, shorter lived, more health issues, major temperament problems and usually lacking breed type. Most importantly you will have NO support from a breeder that is committed to you and your puppy for life with the knowledge to help you through all stages of their lives.
Puppy from none reputable breeder
Puppy from Reputable Breeder
See the difference between a well bred puppy
and one from a less than reputable breeder
What are the biggest problems within the breed... Cancer is the biggest problem this breed faces, but they are also known to have PRA, which is an eye concern causing premature blindness, heart issues and like most other large dogs, orthopedic concerns. Again, your breeder should be able to give you multiple generations of orthopedic information as well as ages and causes of death of many of the dogs within their pedigrees.
Are they good with kids... This is a question that will be answered and addressed differently by each breeder. MY answer is YES absolutely!! ALL my kids learned how to walk by holding onto a berner! They have all grown up with them and have gotten used to eating without looking for any stray hairs in their food!
Many breeders will not want to place puppies in home with small kids, especially young ones, but in all the years I have had this remarkable breed, I have never had one that didn't WANT to be with kids! Possibly because from the moment the pups are born their are kids in the whelping box with them!
Will they protect my family... Yes and No... they are not a guard dog or a breed that is going to bare their teeth at strangers, but they will bark. Well bred berners are not typically aggressive, however, they do have their own subtle way of protecting their family. Much more subtle ways such as placing themselve between you and a person they might perceive as a threat to you or your family. Will it go further than that? Depends on the individual dog and the circumstance I am sure.
How long do they live... The average life expectency is 7-9 years but your breeder should be able to tell you their average life span on their families of dogs. Some of us work very hard to have OLD dogs and make that our priority!
Can they tolerate heat... The long and short answer to this question is NO absoluely not. Anything much over 85 degrees can kill them pretty quickly if they have no shelter from the heat.
On the same note, extreme cold isnot preferable to them either. They originate in Berne Switzerland where the temperatures are mild all year, but cool is their preference.
Are they good with other animals... Usually, most berners are very social with other dogs and are pretty careful with smaller animals, however, there are some berners with a higher pray drive that I would not trust alone with other smaller animals. I would suggest you supervise your berner with other critters until you are confident with your dogs intentions!