What Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Die From?: Common Cause Of Death

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a majestic large dog breed that is known for its affectionate and gentle nature. Sadly, they have a shorter lifespan than most dogs.

We outline in detail the Bernese Mountain Dog common causes of death and the tips that a Bernese Mountain Dog owner can do to promote a longer lifespan.

The Bernese Mountain Dog die from the breed’s predisposed health problems which are cancer, bloat and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart disease. These health problems are the major cause of death of the Bernese Mountain Dog. Despite these health challenges that shorten their lifespan, there are ways of promoting a longer lifespan to enable them to live longer.

What is the lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog?

What Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Die From

The Bernese Mountain Dog has a life span of 9 to 12 years.

For more information on the Bernese Mountain Dog, breed information, health, behavior and care, feel free to check out the Bernese Mountain Dog guide for owners.

Why do small dog breeds live longer than large dog breeds?

Studies have shown that large breed dogs age faster compared to small breeds, and by the time they look like adults they have already lived most of their life. Therefore large breed dogs die young mainly because they age quickly. 

The Common Causes of Death of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The health problems that the Bernese Mountain Dog is predisposed to are the major causes of death for the dog breed. The common health issues of Bernese Mountain Dogs are several and include: 

  • Hip and elbow Dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Heat Stroke
  • Obesity

From these various health problems, the major causes of death of the Bernese Mountain Dog are:


Cancer is a leading cause of death in Bernese Mountain Dogs, comprising 25% of all cases. Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to several types of cancer, and their susceptibility to this disease can be attributed to a combination of genetic factors.

One of the most common cancers in this breed is histiocytic sarcoma, a particularly aggressive and often fatal cancer.

This genetic predisposition makes them more vulnerable to developing cancer at an early age.

Histiocytic sarcoma presents in two distinct forms: malignant and systemic.

The malignant variant displays an extremely aggressive nature, often resulting in death within a few weeks.

In contrast, systemic histiocytosis tends to manifest in recurring episodes but ultimately progresses towards a death.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart disease that is common in large breed dogs. The Bernese Mountain Dog is more susceptible to this disease.

The disease limits the heart muscles from functioning well resulting in less optimal pumping. This usually results in heart failure and death.

The symptoms include difficulty in breathing, coughing, lethargy, and fainting.

The definite cause of canine DCM is believed to be due to several factors including genetic predisposition, infection, and nutrition.

Early diagnosis can be done through checkups by the vet where cardiac medications are provided to stabilize the condition if present to help promote the dog’s lifespan.


Bloat or stomach torsion is a common health problem in Bernese Mountain Dogs and a common killer of the dog breed.

Bloat is the accumulation of gas in the stomach which leads to the twisting of the stomach muscle which blocks blood flow to the other digestive organs and also prevents the return of blood to the heart.

This is a very serious complication and without immediate medical attention can lead to death. Medical care involves a surgical operation to correct the problem.

Bloat occurs when a Bernese Mountain Dog is served a large meal at once which encourages gas accumulation in the stomach and also when they eat their food at a fast pace swallowing a lot of air.

Accumulation of air in the stomach can also happen when they exercise right after a meal where they inhale air through their mouth while panting which accumulates air in the stomach.

Apart from these environmental factors resulting in bloat, it is also hereditary and can pass onto offspring. Also if a dog experiences it once there is a chance of occurrence again.

Ways To Promote Bernese Mountain Dog Longer Lifespan

There are ways to promote a Bernese Mountain Dog’s life to give them a chance of living longer. This involves care on the part of their owner and also medical monitoring by the vet. The following are the ways that can contribute to this:

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consisting of high-quality dog food impacts a dog’s energy levels, muscle health, immunity, weight, and overall well-being which supports a prolonged life.

Bernese Mountain Dogs diet should have all the nutritional requirements they need as a large breed dog. Proper feeding as puppies to adults is important because their growth is rapid.

Good development is imperative so that their health is enhanced which also minimizes developmental diseases such as hip dysplasia or musculoskeletal diseases.

Obesity is also a risk for Bernese Mountain Dogs which can lead to health problems such as joint issues, osteoarthritis, diabetes, or hip dysplasia.

A Bernese Mountain Dog owner should therefore keep an eye on their dog’s weight by the provision of a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Proper Breeding

When buying a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy ensure you select a reputable breeder who will have the medical history of the puppy.

Reputable breeders have records and also the puppy will have been screened for genetic diseases such as heart disease or autoimmune diseases. When you buy such a puppy you are assured of the health condition and health.

A puppy without genetic problems tends to live longer.

In the case that you are adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy from a shelter, they may not have the puppy’s complete health history.

However, have your vet examine them and provide a plan for their care and health monitoring throughout their growth.

Exercise and Good Care

Physical activities for a dog promotes their health by keeping their muscles toned and body in shape.

This also prevents obesity which results in other health problems. Ensuring that your Bernese Mountain Dog gets regular exercise benefits their health.

Ensuring also that a Bernese Mountain Dogs general grooming is done also minimizes chances of development of diseases such as skin diseases.

Grooming care is not only for appearance but for checking irregularities on the body of the dog and prevention of disease.

Preventive Measures For Disease

Preventive measures reduce the incidence of disease occurrence. This will give a Bernese Mountain Dog a chance to live a longer and healthier life. The preventive measures include:

Regular health checkup by the vet ensures that a Bernese Mountain Dog’s health is monitored for any irregularities. Early detection of disease helps in early treatment and recovery which prevents fatal outcomes.

Prevention of bloat includes feeding a Bernese Mountain Dog smaller portions of food spread out throughout the day instead of serving one large meal which minimizes gas formation.

As a Bernese Mountain Dog owner avoid walking or exercising your dog after they have had a meal to prevent swallowing of air which leads to air accumulation in the stomach.

A surgical procedure called prophylactic gastropexy is normally performed on a Bernese Mountain Dog to prevent the occurrence of Gastric dilation-volvulus (twisting of the stomach) which is the complication due to bloat.

The procedure involves attaching the stomach to the diaphragm or abdominal wall to prevent it from moving. This prevents the twisting of the stomach and the fatal outcome of bloat.

Awareness of the symptoms of bloat in a Bernese Mountain Dog can help in being able to act fast and seek medical attention for your dog. Knowing this can help save a life in time. The symptoms of bloat include:

  • Distended stomach 
  • Stomach pains
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiousness

Also, keep an eye on your dog and inform your vet of any behavioral changes. These could be signs of disease and your vet can advise further.

Recommended Reading: How to manage Bernese Mountain Dog separation anxiety


The Bernese Mountain Dog is predisposed to factors that lead to their death. Preventive measures exist to promote the life of this large breed and it is imperative as an owner to be aware of this and how you can contribute to the health and life of your dog. 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is susceptible to certain health problems which are the common causes of death for the breed.

Although the development of the disease can still be out of man’s hands to completely eliminate, the tips provided assist in the provision of better care to promote longer healthier life.