How Come Bernese Mountain Dogs Have Short Lives?

Bernese Mountain Dogs, like many other large breeds, don’t live very long lives. They rarely live beyond eight years. Some reasons include genetics, cancer, and heart problems.

Mar 9, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
how come bernese mountain dogs have short lives

There are many cute and cuddly pups out there, but one of the most cuddly and cute is the Bernese Mountain Dog. Their gentle demeanor and striking appearance have captured many dog lovers’ hearts over the years.

These dog lovers, though, have had to come to the realization that these beloved dogs don't live as long as we all might wish. There are several reasons behind the Bernese Mountain Dogs' shorter lifespan. You can learn about these factors below.

Bernese Mountain Dogs Face Many Health Challenges

Bernese Mountain Dog Running on Grass Field
Image credit: Pexels

With their gentle nature and their mesmerizing coat, the captivating Bernese Mountain Dog has really endeared themselves to many people. This pup is a wonderful addition to any family, but they come with a very poignant reality.

These poor pups often struggle with shorter lifespans compared to other breeds because of the array of breed-specific health challenges that they face. Understanding the intricacies of these issues becomes very imperative for those who are either considering bringing one of these pups into their life or those who already know the joy of having one.

So, let’s look at some of the health issues that plague these poor pups to help you understand the complexity and dedication one will need. Many of the conditions below are manageable with regular vet visits. Others, however, are just a fact of life.

Common Health Issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs

Two Bernese Mountain Dogs Lying on Floor
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As noted, Bernese Mountain Dogs have some health concerns that can lead to a shortened lifespan. Some are breed-specific and result from genetics. Others are common among gentle giant breeds, like Great Danes. That said, potential pet parents of Bernese Mountain Dogs should be aware of:

Dislocated Joints

One of the most notable of these health concerns is the poor pup’s susceptibility to dislocated joints. This is particularly evident in conditions such as hip dysplasia.

Because they have a large and robust build, Bernese Mountain Dogs are predisposed to hip joint failures. This means that the hip joint fails to fit snugly into the socket and results in a lot of discomfort, as well as limited mobility. In the end, this will affect the dog's quality of life.

By limiting your dog’s mobility as they age and regularly taking them to the vet, you can reduce the likelihood of dislocated joints and the complications they bring.


Bernese Mountain Dog on Lawn
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Cancer sucks, whether it's in a human or your beloved pet. Unfortunately, these pups are prone to having certain types of cancer.

So, just like with every other health concern, understanding the signs of cancer could help you mitigate any issues. Ensuring your dog eats a balanced diet and gets exercise can help them stay healthy.

Heart Problems

Heart disease and other cardiac issues pose a common challenge for Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Make sure you pay attention to any adverse changes in your dog, so you can catch these problems early. For instance, if you notice that your dog struggles to catch their breath, this could mean the heart isn’t pumping enough blood. A vet can explain more.

Tips for Extending a Dog's Life

Bernese Mountain Dog Lying on Snow Covered Ground
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Every dog owner, whether their pup faces health challenges or not, should do everything possible to keep their dog healthy and happy. This includes:

Scheduling Regular Veterinary Checkups

Just like it's important for you to get a checkup, it's essential for your pup to get a checkup. This is especially true with this breed because having a comprehensive care plan in place is vital to identifying and managing potential health concerns early.

Routine examinations are crucial to scrutinize the dog's overall well-being, and that includes their cardiovascular system and their joint health as well. Having timely detection of these anomalies can help you create a proactive and effective health plan.

Offering a Balanced Diet

Bernese Mountain Dog Lying on Lounge Floor
Image credit: Pexels

Eating well is integral for your Bernese Mountain Dog's health. This means you need to craft a well-rounded and customized diet that is formulated for their specific needs.

A personalized approach will ensure that your beloved pet receives all of the most important nutrients, minerals, and vitamins for optimal health. This, in turn, promotes physical well-being and can help extend your pup's life.

Regularly Exercising Your Dog

If you're looking to create a more holistic plan for the well-being of your pup, then consistently exercising your dog is crucial. Make sure that you tailor that exercise routine to your dog’s size, age, and activity level. This may include walks around the neighborhood, swimming, and other low-impact activities.

Preventing Obesity

Bernese Mountain Dog on Green Grass Field
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There are a couple of things that can really agitate pre-existing joint issues and contribute to even more health problems, and one of the biggest is excessive weight. So, a meticulously managed diet is crucial to preventing obesity in your pet.

To do this, you may want to consult with your veterinarian so that you can find the appropriate mixture of exercise and diet for your Bernese Mountain Dog. They may recommend some protein-based diets or share some dog-friendly DIY recipes you can make.

Protecting Your Dog’s Teeth

Bernese Mountain Dog Lying on Ground
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One of the most often overlooked aspects of a pup's health is their dental health. Making regular brushing and dental checkups can be a potential lifesaver when it comes to staving off potential oral health issues.

These oral health issues could impact your dog’s general health and lifestyle. Just like with us, making sure you don't neglect your dog's dental hygiene can keep you from having to deal with various complications like gum disease and tooth decay. You want your pup to have a beautiful smile and be able to eat comfortably to maintain their health.

Ensure Your Dog Lives a Happy Life

Bernese Mountain Dog Sitting in Flower Field
Image credit: Pexels

Although Bernese Mountain dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan because of various health concerns, it’s not a death sentence. If you can understand the health challenges they face, it’ll help you create a better and more well-rounded care plan. For more information on keeping your dog healthy, talk to their vet, and be sure to ask some specific questions.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading