Why Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Have a Short lifespan?

The Bernese Mountain Dog is known for being an excellent family dog. These canines have a pleasant and loving personality and are always intent on getting along with people (adults and children). 

This type of dog is considered intelligent, which allows it to carry out some search and rescue tasks. They can even be used to help during therapies. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Bernese Mountain Dog needs daily exercise sessions to maintain its level of physical activity. 

Despite its large size and active lifestyle, one of the most striking aspects of this breed is its short lifespan. Many people are surprised about it considering the characteristics mentioned above that this canine has. 

The Lifespan of the Bernese Mountain Dog 

According to the American Kennel Club, a Bernese Mountain Dog’s lifespan is between 7 and 10 years. However, the facts say otherwise. The statements of many families who have had a dog of this breed indicate that the average years that it can live varies in a range between 6 and 8 years. 

It is important to bear in mind that for some years, thanks to breeders and specialists’ research, many dogs of this type have been able to live between 10 and 12 years. 

Some of these canines have also been known to have the misfortune of only living between 3 and 4 years. We have to bear in mind that this situation may be due to various factors such as diet, care, exercise, mood, and quality of life in general. 

In short, regardless of the number of years we mentioned above and also the fact that large dogs tend to live less than small ones, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a shorter average lifespan than any other breed. 

Why Does the Bernese Mountain Dog Not Usually Live as Long as Other Breeds? 

The deaths of an animal of this type can be due to various situations: 

  • Bad style and quality of life. 
  • Little care. 
  • Poor diet. 
  • Diseases. 

Generally, large dogs tend to live less time than smaller ones. That is mainly due to the fact that large ones have faster metabolisms that consume a greater amount of energy in relation to small dogs. It causes cell damage that, as time passes, shortens the years of the animal’s life. 

Now, it is important to note that this situation occurs in the majority of dogs of this size. However, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a higher death rate than any of the other large breeds. 

The main reason why a Bernese Mountain Dog does not have a long lifespan is cancer. These animals have a high probability of suffering from this disease throughout their lives and are the main cause of most of this breed’s deaths worldwide. For this reason, unfortunately, there are specimens of this dog that can only live up to 3 or 4 years. 

Types of Cancer That the Bernese Mountain Dog Can Suffer from 

1. Hemangiosarcoma 

This disease directly affects the blood vessels through tumors produced at the base of the heart or spleen. 

2. Mast Cell Tumors 

This cancer can be very dangerous and difficult to detect at times. It is shaped like a lump that appears on the skin and expands over the canine’s body. 

2. Lymphoma 

It is a type of cancer that causes enlargement of the lymph nodes by directly affecting the white blood cells. 

3. Malignant Histiocytosis 

It is a rare genetic disease that affects the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and central nervous system due to histiocytic infiltration. 

4. Osteosarcoma 

This cancer is characterized by affecting the bones. It originates in the cells that make up the bones of the body and can cause a lot of pain and swelling. 

Cancer is not the only cause of its short life. These dogs can also suffer from other diseases such as: 

  • Arthritis. 
  • Hip dysplasia. 
  • Cruciate ligament tear. 
  • Heart problems. 
  • Hereditary diseases of the eyes. 
  • Kidney difficulties. 
  • Bloating. 
  • Mobility problems (can cause pain to the animal). 

Ways to Detect Cancer in a Bernese Mountain Dog 

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America states that the early detection of cancer in this breed of dogs will increase their lifespan. That is why it is important that you know some symptoms or aspects that will help you identify or at least suspect if your Bernese Mountain Dog has cancer. 

  • Weight loss. 
  • Bad smell. 
  • Inflammations and sores that do not heal. 
  • Bleeding. 
  • Loss of appetite due to swallowing and chewing problems. 
  • Trouble moving and walking. 
  • Little energy and desire to do physical exercises. 
  • Difficulty breathing. 

What is the Reason Why a Bernese Mountain Dog Tends to Get Cancer? 

This breed has a high risk of cancer mainly because the crosses were carried out based on a limited gene pool in its early days. Many of the canines used in these crosses had a genetic predisposition to cancer, which was transmitted over the years to each generation of Bernese Mountain Dog. 

How to Increase the Chances That Your Bernese Mountain Dog Has Longer Life? 

Unfortunately, there is no cure or solution to this problem that these canines suffer from, at least until now. It is important to note that the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America has been and will continue to identify new therapies and efficient treatments for this disease. 

There is no guarantee that your dog can live longer, but it is advisable to try it through the following tips: 

1. Visits to the Vet 

Knowing everything related to those mentioned above, it is important that you take into account taking your pet to the vet regularly. 

In fact, if your Bernese Mountain Dog is a puppy, then undoubtedly you should take it to the vet so that he or she can give it its corresponding vaccines and indicate all the steps you must follow to guarantee its good health. 

Taking it to the vet every so often will help detect any threat in your canine’s body early on. That way, you can act quickly, through treatments and medicine, to prevent its health problem from getting complicated. 

It should be noted that it may not be necessary to take your Bernese Mountain Dog to the specialist for the first couple of years. However, as it gets older, you should increase its visits to the vet. 

2. Choose the Best Breeder 

Generally, when acquiring a dog of this type, it is cared for during its first months of life by breeders specialized in preparing it before people adopt it. It is important that you do your research on the breeder since the better their reputation, the more likely your Bernese Mountain Dog will have better health. 

Why is that? These breeders are in charge of carrying out the corresponding health tests to ensure that the canine is totally healthy. 

3. Good Nutrition 

One of the most important aspects of maintaining good health in your Bernese Mountain Dog is feeding. You should make sure to provide your pet with a balanced diet based on nutrients and vitamins that are good for your canine’s body. 

This breed has a fairly thick coat that makes them appear to be overweight. It is important to consider that many people do not realize it from their fur when they really have excess weight on their bodies. 

Give it quality foods that are healthy and natural. Your dog must have enough energy to stay active and do its physical activities during the day. 

4. Physical Activities 

These dogs, like many others, need daily exercise. The main reason for this is that they can have a healthy lifestyle, thus avoiding that it is prone to suffer from other diseases. 

Design a training routine to help your dog stay fit and healthy, whether it’s playing with it, taking it for a walk, or doing any other physical activity. 

5. Sterilization 

It is one of the ways used and tested by specialists to extend the life of your Bernese Mountain Dog. Sterilization is more effective in females of this breed than in males. 

That can be difficult for many owners as we are talking about taking away the opportunity to reproduce. However, it is one of the best options to increase your pet’s chances of life. 

In case you consider using this method, it is best to ask your vet to find out everything related to it. The most important thing you should know is the age at which your Bernese Mountain Dog should be sterilized, since if this method is carried out on a very young female puppy, it could trigger other problems. 

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