The handsome Bernese Mountain Dog Lifespan originates from the Alpine pastures of Switzerland, where they worked as farm dogs protecting property and driving cattle.

Revered for their striking tricolor coats and faithful demeanor, the Bernese Mountain Canine makes for a superb family friend when their exceptional requirements are met.

However, potential owners should understand the Bernese Mountain Dog’s relatively short lifespan compared to other breeds. This article provides factual insights plus proactive care guidelines to support your Bernese’s longevity.

Bernese Mountain Dog Lifespan: The Facts

Bernese Mountain Dogs are unfortunately predisposed to various hereditary health conditions that impact average lifespan. Here are the key facts:

  • Average Lifespan: 7-10 years
  • Leading Causes of Death: Cancer, old age
  • Above Average Health Risks: Cancer, bloat, joint dysplasia, skin issues, eye issues, cardiac disease

Why is the Bernese lifespan notably shorter than many other dog breeds that live 12-15+ years? Genetics play a predominant role.

Bernese Mountain Dog Adult Health Risk Overview

Health IssueDescriptionSigns
CancerLeading cause of premature deathLumps, swelling, reluctance moving
Elbow & Hip DysplasiaInherited malformed jointsLameness, stiffness, arthritis
BloatLife-threatening stomach twistingAttempts to vomit, swollen abdomen
AllergiesEnvironmental or food allergiesItchy skin, infections, hair loss

Responsible Bernese Mountain Dog breeders carefully screen their breeding stock for healthy structure, cancer risk, cardiac health and stable temperaments. They conduct various clearances proving their dogs free of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, inherited eye disease and deadly genetic issues.

Reputable breeders also proactively report all health testing to open health registries to support research identifying affected bloodlines. Still, no dog can be 100% guaranteed completely problem-free in a breed prone to cancer and aging related disease.

Behind the Bernese Lifespan: Genetic Connection

Why is the Bernese breed lifespan notably shorter than other dogs? Researchers have identified clear genetic ties.


Cancer constitutes the leading cause of premature death for Bernese Mountain Dogs with about 50% dying from various forms of cancer.

Bernese dogs used extensively for breeding without appropriate health screening propagated cancer risks widely throughout all bloodlines in the mid to late 1900s. Their beautiful appearance unfortunately took priority over health testing yielding devastating effects over time.

Current research like the Bernese Mountain Dog Health Survey now provides breeders guidance screening and breeding appropriately to minimize loss. Reputable breeders also partner with Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and other veterinary programs supporting Bernese Mountain Dog health research to turn the tide.

Joint Dysplasia

Elbow and hip dysplasia constitute other hereditary afflictions affecting Berners. These painful, arthritic developmental conditions of the joints result from poorly bred structural conformation.

All purebred Bernese Mountain Dog breeding stock must receive official hip and elbow dysplasia screening certification through PennHIP or OFA registries. Responsible breeders only produce puppies from parents with hip ratings of Good, Excellent or Fair minimum.

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Efforts to Improve Lifespan in Berners

While genetics pose very real lifespan limitations, reputable preservation breeders aim to better the breed through health focused breeding principles. Their efforts center on:

  • Prioritizing health testing for structural soundness, cancer risks, cardiac issues
  • Making breeding selections limiting affected ancestrial lines
  • Openly sharing dog health data on open registries to reveal health insights over generations
  • Partnering with research veterinary health studies seeking to improve longevity through interventions
  • Placing breeding quality dogs judiciously in homes closely adhering to health guidelines
  • Supporting owners proactively managing health risks through nutrition, lifestyle and holistic care
  • Exploring outcrossing opportunities introducing genetic diversity improving fertility and vitality

Such approaches empower significant strides improving lifespan down the road. But buying a puppy from breeders failing to actively invest in such protocols won’t yield positive progress anytime soon.

Bernese Mountain Dog Health Testing Requirements

Hip EvaluationChecks for Canine Hip DysplasiaPrior to breeding
Elbow EvaluationChecks for Elbow DysplasiaPrior to breeding
Eye ExaminationChecks for Inherited Eye DiseaseEvery 1-2 years
Heart EvaluationScreens for Cardiac DefectsPrior to breeding
DNA TestingScreens for Deadly Genetic IssuesPrior to breeding

When reputable breeders thoughtfully select parent dogs passing all tests – and openly share results to support research – it strengthens the future of the breed.

Optimizing Your Bernese Lifespan: Proactive Care Tips

If you welcome a Bernese Mountain Dog into your life, follow these proactive care guidelines to nurture longevity:

1. Pick your breeder carefully

Avoid backyard breeders or pet stores. Reach out exclusively to preservation breeders actively working to better the breed through health focused breeding principles. Ask to see OFA proof across generations.

2. Follow veterinary care guidelines

Adhere to all vaccinations, exams, monthly flea/tick/heartworm prevention medication. Stay vigilant monitoring your Bernese’s health closely. Conduct annual senior wellness screening bloodwork.

3. Feed a high quality diet

Follow WSAVA nutritional guidelines. Feed large breed puppy formulations until adulthood. Slow growth supports bone/joint development. Add omega fatty acid supplements. Avoid corn, wheat, soy, by products.

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4. Maintain optimal body condition

Prevent obesity to avoid overtaxing joints or organs. Target a BCS between 4-5/9 with pronounced waistline and abdominal tuck. Support lean muscle through exercise.

5. Prioritize consistent, moderate activity

Walk your Berner or involve them in carting/light work for mental engagement and joint health. Avoid overexertion, particularly on growing puppies. Let them rest when showing fatigue.

6. Manage veterinary illnesses promptly

If arthritis, allergies, ear infections or skin problems develop, work closely with your vet following treatment plans for relief. Seek alternative veterinary guidance optimizing comfort and mobility if needed.

At Home Care Promoting Bernese Longevity

Care TipDescriptionBenefit
High Quality DietSpecies appropriate whole foodsSupports organ, muscle, brain, immune system function
Optimal Body ConditionModerate waistline/tuckReduces strain on joints and organs
Consistent ExerciseWalking, light workStimulates circulation; manages weight
Veterinary Wellness CareAnnual exams, vaccines, preventionScreens for issues needing early intervention
Prompt Illness TreatmentFollow vet instructionsProvides relief; avoids escalation
Avoid ToxinsLimit lawn chemicals; flea/tick preventativesReduces cancer risks from exposures

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Caring for Your Bernese Through Sickness and Health

Bernese Mountain Dogs blessed with longevity eventually face age related diseases. Take heart knowing the best care possible extends quality years immensely. If you notice concerning symptoms, partner promptly with your veterinary team to ease any discomfort. Seek second opinions or alternative approaches as needed.

While cancer or arthritis cannot be cured outright, following tailored management plans minimizes suffering greatly. Treasure each year together however long your Bernese is blessed to live.


While the Bernese Mountain Dog unfortunately averages a shorter lifespan than other breeds, reputable breeders work hard mitigating risks. As an owner, you also play a sizable role influencing longevity through proactive care choices centered on com prehensive wellness.

Approach your Mountain Dog’s lifespan realistically to avoid shock down the road. Yet take heart that exceptional 14 year old Bernese also exist thanks to devoted owners fully supporting their wellbeing until the very last day. Whatever their age, each year blessed with their gentle loyal spirit feels nothing short of a gift. Cherish your Bernese for however long your journey together lasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog?

The average lifespan is 7-10 years. Hereditary health conditions like cancer and joint dysplasia negatively impact longevity compared to other breeds. Reputable breeders work diligently mitigating risks.

What health issues impact Bernese lifespan?

Cancer constitutes the leading cause of premature death in Berners, with over 50% dying from various cancers. Joint dysplasia, bloat and skin issues also pose notable breed-specific risks requiring careful management.

Can you prevent health issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs?

Responsible breeding selecting only structurally and genetically sound parent dogs offers the best start by limiting affected at-risk lines. Beyond judicious breeding, following tailored wellness guidelines reduces avoidable illness or obesity further optimizing lifespan potential.

What can I do to maximize my Bernese Mountain Dog’s longevity?

Pick healthy lines through reputable breeders performing all CHIC health checks. Follow veterinary guidelines closely monitoring your dog’s health. Feed high quality nutrition supporting organs and lean muscle. Prioritize consistent, moderate activity and optimal body condition. Manage any illnesses working closely with your veterinary team.

How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs live?

The average Bernese Mountain Dog lifespan ranges between 7-10 years. Reputable breeders actively breeding to better health work to steadily improve average longevity. With attentive ownership and proactive care, some Bernese live to 12-14 years.

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