Life expectancy is not the same for all dog breeds. In general, small and medium-sized dogs tend to live longer, and conversely and unfortunately, larger dogs leave us sooner. So, what does that mean for the Bernese Mountain Dog?

The Average Lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog

The average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog dog is between 6 and 9 years. This is very short and much lower than the life expectancy for smaller breeds like the poodle, for example, or even large dogs, like the Golden Retriever, which lives between 10 and 12 years. Being a giant dog breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog, unfortunately, ages faster than others, despite being slower to mature, and only reaching adult size between 19 and 24 months.

The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is also affected by several hereditary and genetic diseases, which can considerably shorten the life of the animal. Likewise, they are not immune to accidents, especially road accidents, which can occur no matter how careful you are.

How Can I Increase My Bernese Mountain Dog's Life Expectancy?

There are a few precautions you can take that will help you extend the life expectancy of your Bernese Mountain Dog as best you can.

Get Serious about Vet Check-Ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure the good health of your pooch. Adhere to your dog's vaccination schedule and keep their antiparasitic treatments up to date to protect them against fleas and ticks. It's also essential to regularly deworm your furry friend because intestinal parasites can weaken their immune system. Finally, make sure to visit your vet every year for a little check-up, especially when your Bernese Mountain Dog starts to get older.

Choose a High-Quality Diet

Your dog's food plays a vital role in their health. Low-quality dog food will have a direct impact on your Bernese Mountain Dog's health, and vice versa. Choose dog food rich in high-quality animal protein, not vegetable protein. Remember: your dog is a carnivore! Try to avoid buying supermarket dog food, as this tends to be very poor in quality and thus incapable of meeting your dog's nutritional needs. You can even opt for tailor-made dog food for your Bernese Mountain Dog, specially designed to meet all their needs. Remember that your Bernese Mountain Dog's diet will change over time: a puppy will not eat the same amount of food as an older dog, for example. The good health of your dog should be your main priority when considering their diet. If in doubt, always check with your vet!

Prioritise Dog Training

As surprising as it may be, training your Bernese Mountain Dog properly will help to extend their life expectancy. Quite simply because, with proper dog training, you will be able to keep control of your pooch during walks, and thus avoid accidents. A dog who understands exactly what is expected of them and knows how to obey commands is much more capable of responding when they're called and stopping what they're doing when asked. In any case, training is an essential step for your Bernese Mountain Dog, given their impressive size.


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What Diseases are Common for Bernese Mountain Dogs?

When it comes to health problems, not all dogs are created equal. Large and giant dog breeds are often more affected by certain diseases. The Bernese Mountain Dog, in particular, is subject to several health issues, all of which it's important to understand beforehand to better know how to handle them.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a joint disorder that affects many large dogs. It involves abnormal formation of the hip socket, wherein the ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, and they rub and grind against each other, causing lameness and, in more severe cases, paralysis. Sometimes surgery is needed to correct this health problem. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, usually inherited from the parents. Serious breeders will have the parents screened to prevent puppies from being predisposed to the disease. Crossbreeding between two individuals affected by dysplasia is banned.

  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV): Also known as gastric dilation, twisted stomach, or gastric torsion. As a large dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog is more at risk for this. This is a medical condition that affects dogs in which the stomach becomes overstretched and rotated by excessive gas content. When the stomach expands and twists, it turns on itself and blocks the entry and exit routes, causing gas to build up. It is a life-threatening emergency, which can be fatal within hours if left untreated. The dog drools and tries to vomit unsuccessfully. Surgery is the only treatment for this condition, but the prognosis is not always good. Some vets will perform an operation called a gastropexy, which involves surgical attachment of the dog's stomach to the body wall to prevent it from twisting. This does not prevent the stomach from bloating (dilatation) but does stop it from twisting (volvulus) in most cases.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PTA): This is a hereditary disease, characterised by degeneration of the retina. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and dogs generally go blind within twelve months of diagnosis. While not particularly painful, it will nevertheless require certain adaptations in your daily life.

  • von Willebrand Disease: This is a genetic bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting properly. Dogs affected by von Willebrand disease suffer from a deficiency of the coagulation factor: von Willebrand factor (vWF). The disease exists in 3 forms: Type 1 to Type 3, from least serious to most serious. Type 1 is the most common form found in Golden Retrievers and is easily treated. The other 2 types respond badly or not at all to treatment, and the consequences after a physical trauma can be severe.

  • Histiocytosis: This is a type of cancer commonly found in Bernese Mountain Dogs. The pathology exists in two forms: malignant and systemic. In the case of the malignant form, death, unfortunately, occurs within a few weeks. The systemic form is characterised by outbreaks of the disease, but its prognosis is also, over time, very negative.

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