How Long Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Live? Everything You Should Know About the Bernese Mountain Dog’s Lifespan


A few breeds resemble a huge plush teddy bear quite like the Bernese Mountain Dog. In fact, many say that looking at a Bernese Mountain Dog — or a Berner, as they’re fondly called — is pretty much watching a big fluffy teddy bear come to life. From their beaming smiles to their breathtaking tri-colored coats and majestic stature, the Bernese Mountain Dog truly stands out.

The icing on the cake? They’re beautiful on the inside, too. 

A Bernese Mountain dog lying on green grass, the Bernese Mountain dog's lifespan is 7-10 years
(Photo Credit: David Floyd | Pexels)

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s temperament is described as calm and good-natured. Berners are sweet, affectionate, gentle, loyal, and snuggly pups who only ask for two things in return: love and cuddles. These amazing dogs — originally kept as farm dogs — trace their roots to Switzerland, specifically the Bern region of the Swiss Alps. Berners were viewed as valuable working dogs by farmers in Bern as they pulled carts amidst harsh weather and rugged terrains, protected livestock, and guarded farms. 

Thanks to their dense double coats, Bernese Mountain dogs are well-adapted to colder climates. The Berner loves to spend time with family members and can resort to destructive behaviors if left alone for a prolonged period. 

It may take a Bernese Mountain Dog 2–3 years to reach full maturity — both mental and physical maturity. In other words, this stunning breed matures slowly and thus has a longer goofy puppy stage. For this reason, it’s important to stay consistent with obedience training. 

If having a Berner as your canine companion is something that often crosses your mind, you’ve likely thought to yourself: “How long does a Bernese Mountain dog live?” Keep reading as we delve into all the facts you need to know about the Bernese Mountain dog’s average lifespan.

Here’s How Long Bernese Mountain Dogs Live On Average 

Close up of happy Bernese Mountain dog standing on green grass with mouth open, the Bernese Mountain dog' s lifespan is 7-10 years
(Photo Credit; Donovan Kelly | Pexels)

While they make incredible family pets, one downside of having a Berner is their woefully short lifespans. According to the American Kennel Club, the average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain dog is 7–10 years. 

Ever wondered, “Why do Bernese Mountain dogs have a short lifespan”? Well, here’s the thing: Berners are big dogs, and so their size is largely to blame. The larger the pup, the shorter its life expectancy. 

Unlike smaller breeds, large breeds like Bernese Mountain dogs age at a faster rate. As a result, Berners experience age-related wear and tear earlier in their lifetime, which contributes to their short lifespans. 

This isn’t to say that these large, fluffy goofballs can’t live beyond 7–10 years. It’s possible for a healthy Berner with a good quality of life to surpass their average lifespan. Interestingly, one of the longest-living Bernese Mountain dogs on record was a pup from the U.K. who passed away aged 15.2 years. 

Common Health Issues That Affect the Bernese Mountain Dog’s Lifespan 

Bernese Mountain dog lying on the grass with tongue out, the Bernese Mountain dog's lifespan is 7-10 years
(Photo Credit: Gregory Wolf | Pexels)

Like other dog breeds, Bernese Mountain dogs are predisposed to various health problems that significantly lower their lifespan. These common health factors include:

  1. Cancer 

Cancer is the leading cause of early death in Berners. Research shows the most common cancer in Bernese Mountain dogs is Histiocytosis, a rare form of cancer characterized by the abnormal build of immune cells known as histiocytes in different parts of the body. 

2. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to other large dog breeds, Bernese Mountain dogs are genetically prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is characterized by the abnormal development of a dog’s hip joint, whereas elbow dysplasia is associated with the abnormal development of elbow joints. Treatment options for hip or elbow Dysplasia vary depending on the condition’s severity. In most cases, though, surgery is required. 

3. Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)

Berners are prone to Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV), a severe form of bloat. GDV is a life-threatening condition common in deep-chested dog breeds like Bernese Mountain dogs. It is characterized by the twisting of a gas-filled stomach, which obstructs the supply of blood to surrounding organs. 

4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRV)

Bernese Mountain dogs are highly susceptible to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a hereditary eye disorder characterized by the degradation of the retina. PRA worsens over time if not medically addressed and can cause total blindness.

5. Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) 

Berners are genetically predisposed to Degenerative Myelopathy, a debilitating condition that affects the spinal cord and leads to the gradual paralysis of a dog’s hind legs. 

  • Von Willebrand Disease (VMD)

Last but not least, Bernese Mountain breeds are at an increased risk of developing Von Willebrand Disease, a hereditary blood clotting disorder. VMD is incurable but can be medically managed.

6 Tips to Prolong Your Bernese Mountain Dog’s Lifespan 

A Bernese Mountain dog lying on green grass, the Bernese Mountain dog's lifespan is 7-10 years
(Photo Credit: David Floyd | Pexels)

As a Bernese Mountain dog owner, you have great control over how long your dog lives. If you wish to see your Bernese live past their average lifespan, keep the following six tips in mind:

  • Prioritize regular vet check-ups, as this will help your vet catch any developing diseases earlier.
  • Ensure your Berner is on a healthy, balanced diet approved by your vet. In doing so, you’ll help them maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime, including during their senior years.
  • Make regular exercise and daily mental stimulation a priority 
  • Seek your vet’s recommendations on joint supplements to add to your Berner’s diet
  • If you choose to purchase instead of adopt, be sure to get your Berner from a reputable breeder. 
  • Strive to provide your dog with a comfortable, stress-free life. For instance, give them proper care and attention and prioritize regular grooming.

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