The Bernese Mountain Dog, originally from the Swiss Alps, was brought to the United States in the 1920’s. Since coming to America, they have become a loved and favored dog breed among households across the nation. Unfortunately, one of the biggest downfalls of owning a Bernese Mountain Dog is that they tend to have quite a short lifespan.
The Bernese Mountain Dog lifespan usually ranges from 6 to 8 years.
In fact, Bernese Mountain dogs are one of the top 10 shortest living dog breeds; they are #3 on the list, only after the Great Dane and Dogue de Bordeaux (also known as the French Mastiff).
In this blog, we will address:
- Why the Bernese Mountain Dog life expectancy tends to be short
- How breeders are working to lengthen this breed’s lifespan
- Factors, like diet, that contribute to the health and longevity of this breed
Why do Bernese Mountain Dogs Have a Short Lifespan?
There are a variety of reasons this breed has a shorter lifespan than others. First, dogs that are bred to reach a larger size typically have a shorter lifespan. As shared by the American Kennel Club, a large dog is considered a dog that reaches 50 lbs or more at full grown.
The Bernese Mountain Dog at full size is typically:
- 80 – 120 lbs for males
- 75 – 100 lbs for females
With pedigree dogs such as the Bernese, the large, quickly-grown breeds can have more issues related to their bones and mobility.
However, the main reason for this breed’s shorter lifespan is that they are prone to cancer.
What Factors Determine the Lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog?
Yes, a lot of factors are related to years lived by Bernese Mountain dogs. Some of these factors include nutrition, environment and hereditary factors, which are often related to breeding and genetics.
Nearly 50% of Bernese Mountain Dogs pass away from canine cancer. This is a much higher percentage than dogs as a whole; it is typically closer to a 27% average of all dogs that pass from cancer.
Cancer is often due to hereditary causes, as are other medical issues like:
- Hereditary eye diseases, which are common to larger breeds of dogs
- Hip dysplasia
- Cruciate ligament rupture
It is important to know that issues like this can start younger in a Bernese Mountain Dog, such as the onset of arthritis at even 4 years of age.
How Breeders are Working to Lengthen Lifespan
Many breeders are evaluating ways to increase the life of the average purebred Bernese Mountain Dog. A key way that they do this is through reducing the number of dogs bred with a predisposition toward cancer.
In Dog Years, How do You Calculate a Dog’s Age?
Yes, this breed has a shorter lifespan, but let’s define what that means in dog years.
It is often been said and thought that one human year is seven dog years. This conveys a dog’s “age” is greater compared to a human’s per year, however, the comparison is not quite right.
According to the American Kennel Club, the first year of life equals about 15 years.
After year 1, they have become a teenager.
Then, the AKC approximates that large dogs’ age in human years corresponds to canine years like this:
- 2 years = 24 dog years
- 3 years = 28 dog years
- 4 years = 32 dog years
- 5 years = 36 dog years
- 6 years = 45 dog years
- 7 years = 50 dog years
- 8 years = 55 dog years
- 9 years = 61 dog years
The path is similar up until much older years:
- 15 years = 93 dog years
- 16 years = 120 dog years
This may translate a bit different for Bernese Mountain Dogs, which have a particularly short lifespan, but hopefully, this gives you a better idea for the aging process of your dog.
Interesting fact: In a study ran in 2004, the oldest found Bernese Mountain dog was just over 15 years old.
Do PureBreds Live Longer or Shorter vs. Mutts?
There is a variety of data and debate on whether mutts or purebreds live longer.
What much evidence does seem to point towards is that there are different types of conditions and diseases that purebreds may be more prone to compared to mutts.
(And yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs are typically purebred.)
Purebreds are known to suffer from certain health issues:
- Elbow dysplasia
- Aortic Stenosis
Such issues may potentially lead to a shortened lifespan for the Bernese Mountain Dog.
Can Diet Help Extend the Bernese Mountain Dog Lifespan?
Indeed, diet can influence the length, as well as the quality of your dog’s life and environment. It is important to consult with your trusted vet about what food will be best for his diet.