how long do bernese mountain dogs live

How Long Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Live?

Every dog owner wishes their dog would be around for a long time, possibly outliving them. But the average life expectancy of a dog is only about a fifth of our life expectancy. So, it is all too likely that you will outlive your dog. In this article, we will be answering the question, “How long do Bernese mountain dogs live?” 

The Bernese mountain dogs are one of the sweeter breeds of dogs, known for their gentleness, loyalty, and hardworking nature. If you are a dog parent to one of these purebreds, losing them would be the last thing you want to think about. It is an inevitable part of life, however. Sadly, these dogs do not live as long as many other purebreds. On average, a Bernese mountain dog can live for six to eight years. Occasionally, a Bernese mountain dog might get to live for up to ten or more years. However, only a small percentage of them get to live that long.

Compared to other dogs of their size, the Bernese mountain dog has a painfully short life span. Several factors can account for this short life span, one of which is their high susceptibility to cancers. Besides that, there are several things that affect the lifespan of this breed of dogs.

The Lifespan of Bernese Mountain Dogs

bernese mountain dog lifespan
Photo by André Dehne on Unsplash

On average, dogs live for about 11-13 years. However, the Bernese mountain dogs live for a shorter time than most dogs. With an average lifespan of approximately seven years, the Bernese mountain dog has a life expectancy greater than only the bulldog and the Irish wolfhound. A couple of factors affect and determine how long they get to live. Their susceptibility to some diseases primarily accounts for their shorter than average lifespan.

Notably, female Bernese mountain dogs have a longer average life span than their male counterparts. As part of a decade-long study, researchers at the BMC Veterinary Research found that the lifespan of the female Bernese mountain dog is significantly longer than the males. The study found the mean lifespan for male Bernese mountain dogs to be 7.80 years, while the females’ was 8.57 years, from a sample size of 389 Bernese mountain dogs.

A couple of factors affect and determine the lifespan of the Bernese mountain dog, and these factors might also be the reason some dogs of this breed live significantly longer than others.

What Factors Cause/Affect The Bernese Mountain Dog’s Lifespan?

bernese mountain dog's lifespan
Photo by Pauline Loroy on Unsplash

A couple of factors cause the average Bernese mountain dog to be unlikely to live to a double-figure age like;


Generally, bigger animals live longer than smaller ones in the animal world. However, studies on dog aging have shown that larger dogs live shorter than smaller ones. Bernese mountain dogs are bigger dogs by size, and thus their life expectancy is statistically lower than average.


The Bernese mountain dog as a breed is highly susceptible to several fatal diseases, and these diseases tend to shorten the lifespan of these dogs significantly. One of the more common diseases causing death in over 28% of Bernese mountain dogs is cancer. The other leading causes of death were degenerative joint disease, spinal disease, renal injury, and mesenteric volvulus.


The genetic makeup of these dogs can determine their lifespan. Bernese Mountain dogs are more likely predisposed to disease if their parent(s) were predisposed to or died from the disease.

Neutering and spaying:

Studies show a significant difference between the lifespans of Bernese mountain dogs who have been neutered/spayed and those intact. Spaying or neutering your Bernese mountain dog could significantly reduce its risks of having several life-threatening ailments.

Environmental factors:

The living conditions of a Bernese mountain dog dramatically affect the health of the dog. Owners of Bernese mountain dogs should ensure that the dog’s kennel is always clean. Feces and urine should be cleaned and not allowed to fester to reduce the chances of illnesses. Owners should also ensure the overall hygiene of their berners at all times.


The kinds of food your Bernese mountain dogs eat go a long way in determining how long they will live. The proper nutrients help keep your dog healthy enough to fight off certain diseases and infections. 

How Can I Tell The Age of My Bernese Mountain Dog?

adolescent bermese mountain dog
Photo by Jovana Askrabic on Unsplash

Dogs age in a manner similar to humans. Knowing your Berner’s age is essential to making appropriate changes and adjustments in lifestyle and diet. Many aspects of your Bernese mountain dog’s life will change as they get older. But how can you tell how old your Berner is? The best way is to ask your veterinary doctor. Adequate tests would be carried out to determine the age of your Berner.

However, we can broadly classify the Bernese mountain dogs’ life into four stages. These life stages are puppy, adolescent/teenager, adult, and senior stages. The puppy stage can last for six to eighteen months. Your Berner will be most exuberant at this stage and can also be a bit of a mischief-maker. It is best to start training your Berner at this stage.

As an adolescent, your Berner would have grown to become a skinnier version of their adult size. At this stage, they would still be trying to figure out life; thus, they could be pretty reserved or unfriendly.

The Berner is affectionate, calm, independent, and super protective of its owners as an adult. As a senior, the onset of diseases mentioned earlier is likely. Your Berner would also slow down and lose interest in the outdoors and family life. 

With these signs, you can have a general sense of what stage your Berner is in. Ensure to make appropriate changes to keep your dog in the best shape possible. As your Bernese mountain dog ages, there would also need to be a change in diet.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What other dog breed is similar to the Bernese Mountain Dog?

The Bernese mountain dog is one of the four breeds of Swiss mountain dogs originating from Switzerland. Out of all breeds, not only is the Bernese mountain dog most popular, but it also has the shortest life expectancy. However, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is closely similar to the Bernese breed. It’s the smallest of the four and resembles a Berner in its tri-color coat and personality.

These dogs are pretty agile and could be a handful for novice dog owners. However, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is an affectionate, loyal, hard worker with timely training. With a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years, they have a significantly longer lifespan than the Bernese mountain dogs.

Can I make my Bernese Mountain Dog live longer?

Bernese mountain dogs are a special breed of dogs, and if you’ve ever owned one, you’d want them to stick around for longer. While you can’t just add years to its life, there are some habits you can practice to increase your Berner’s chances of a longer life.

These measures also help to increase your Berner’s quality of life and include the following;

  1. Ensure your Berner is on a potassium and calcium-rich diet, full of digestible carbs and a low level of healthy fat.
  2. Ensure your Berner’s quarters are always clean and free from urine or faeces.
  3. Bernese mountain dogs can pretty much look after themselves for the most part. However, that does not mean they do not require health checkups frequently. As with other pets, ensure that your Berner sees the veterinary doctor at least once a year.

Why does my Bernese Mountain Dog have many health issues?

This dog breed, as already mentioned, is more prone to disease than most. The high degree of cancer susceptibility is primarily assumed to be due to the small number of breeding dogs in the initial breeding stock. A decade-long study by BMC Veterinary Research showed that over two-thirds of Bernese mountain dogs die of neoplasia. Moreover, since these dogs are highly susceptible to bone diseases, owners must take calcium- and phosphorus-rich foods as a part of their diet. Kidney problems and bloat are also common causes of death for the Bernese mountain dogs and owners should take note of them.


While Bernese mountain dogs are a joy to be around, these cart-pulling active dogs can barely last up to a decade. Bernese are likely to spend their adult life battling bone disease or cancer. Their proneness to disease can drastically reduce their quality of life as seniors. This has led to many Berner owners deciding to euthanize their dogs.

All in all, Berners are an asset to any home. Looking out for your Berner and practicing healthy lifestyle habits can keep them around for a while longer. This article has laid out some things owners should pay more attention to like hygiene and diet.

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