Bernese Mountain Dogs: a Big, Beautiful, Arthritis-Risk Breed

November 10, 2023

Every month, we will highlight a popular dog breed at risk for arthritis. We will talk about what we love about them, as well as reflect on how to keep them healthy. This month, we are focusing on the Bernese Mountain Dogs, a member of the World’s Largest Breed of Dogs. Learn more about this giant breed of dog, why we love them and how to keep them healthy.

Close Up Berner

The Bernese Mountain Dog have historical roots originating in Berne, Switzerland. In those days, this beautiful giant breed dog was working on the farm in the mountains. Flash forward to today and you will see today’s Bernese as part of many families. Here is what you need to know about the Bernese, also known affectionately as “Berner.” Here are a few reasons we love Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Bernese PUPPIES!

Berner Puppies

Bernese love all weather, including snow!

Berner in the snow

Bernese love being outdoors.

Active Berner

Bernese love kids.

Bernese Mountain Dogs love kids

And more

We aren’t all about looks around here. We know some need more substance than a beautiful, tri-color fur coat with big, brown eyes to fall in love with a breed. Here are a few points you may not know about them.

Terrific Temperament. The AKC describes the breed as "good-natured, calm and strong." The lovely Bernese is known for being good with families and children.

Highly adaptable. You will see Berners in cooler climates such as ice and mountains. But because of their adaptability, they are now in any climate. They enjoy being part of life in a small apartment or in a large farm. Whatever you throw at these lovable dogs, they will adapt and enjoy life with you as the leader of their pack.

Soft and love to snuggle. The fur on a Bernie is thick and soft. They are simply one of the most beautiful tri-color dogs there are. While they love their active time, you can always count on good snuggle time with your Bernese.

Versatile Working Dogs. Berners were bred as working dogs on a farm. Because of this instinct to work, they love having an active lifestyle that includes activities with their pet parent such as hiking outdoors, participating in agility contests, pulling small carts, or working as a service dog. A Berner is smart and hard-working at heart.

Read more about how the Bernese Mountain Dog can almost any job.

Breed Standards

  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 22 of 193
  • Height: 25-27.5 inches (male), 23-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: 80-115 pounds (male), 70-95 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
  • Group: Working Group


The World’s Largest Dogs

When thinking of the large dogs, the Bernese Mountain Dog often comes to mind. But there are many more giant breeds. In fact, the AKC acknowledged 12 of the largest breeds of dogs as the world’s largest dogs. It’s never easy to decide which giant breed dog to get in your home. There are some compelling reasons to add a Bernese Mountain Dog.


Swiss Dogs are Beautiful

The Bernese is unlike many dogs, but they are alike with their cousins, that are also originating from the Swiss Alps. These dogs are called Sennenhund-type dogs with means “Alpine Pasture Dog.” The four types of dogs originating from the Swiss Alps are: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, the rare Appenzeller Sennenhund, which is not a breed not eligible for AKC registration and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, which is part of the herding group. All of these dogs are beautiful, with their trademark tri-color coats. The first two dogs are part of the Giant breed of dogs. The other two are smaller, with similar physical features and not in the working group. Here’s their size difference:

  • Bernese Mountain Dog: 25-27.5 inches tall and 80 -115 pounds
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog: 25.5-28.5 inches tall and 115-140 pounds
  • Appenzeller Sennenhund: 19-22 inches tall and 48-70 pounds
  • Entlebucher Mountain Dogs: 17-21 inches and 50-65 pounds


Mixed Bernese Mountain Dogs

There are around 15 different breeds that are currently being mixed with Bernese Mountain Dogs. As you can imagine, they are such beauties. What seems to be the most common of the breeds is the Bernedoodle, which is a Bernese mixed with a poodle. There are many breeds mixing with Poodles in hopes to get the non-shedding gene in the outcome. As Bernese are known for having lots of hair and shedding, a beautiful version of this dog without the shedding is a welcome change. If you chose getting a mixed breed, be sure you do your research on the breeder you choose.


Top Health Problems of Bernese Mountain Dogs

Some say the bigger the dog, the bigger the love. But others say the bigger the dog, the larger the health problems. With Bernese Mountain Dogs, you can understand that as they age, their health issues will increase because of their size.

The unfortunate fact that really no dog lives nearly long enough, the Bernese Mountain Dog’s lifespan is even shorter than an average sized dog. Bernies are expected to only live 6-10 years. Their short life span can be attributed to their tremendous size. It is very important to be sure that you keep your Bernie as healthy as possible with key preventative measures. But first, here are the key health problems to know about when it comes to your Bernie:

  1. Canine Cancer. Sadly, the Dogster has reported as high as 50% of Bernese Mountain Dogs will die due to some form of cancer. Often, the disease is terminal, but not always. Early detection is key.
  2. Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia. The Bernie’s large size can be attributed to most of their joint issues. It is important to keep regularly monitoring their mobility.
  3. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis. Because of the joint problems already mentioned, Bernies are at very high risk for osteoarthritis. It is important to make regular assessments of your dog’s mobility. Try taking the Arthritis Quiz every 6 months to help prompt you what you should be looking for. It is always a good idea to use joint supplements for Bernies as a preventative measure to keep their joints in good health for as long as possible.
Arthritis is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. And just like humans, there is something you can do about it. Learn more about arthritis in dogs and check out all the risk factors.


Walking the Berner

Protection and Prevention Key to Berner’s Health

The good news is Bernese Mountain Dogs are typically active and healthy most of their lives. The key is to keep them that way. Her are the top ways to keep your Bernese in tip-top health:

Healthy Diet & Exercise: 

Bernese Mountain Dogs have great endurance, which makes them great dogs for active families. They love to be outside and hike long distances. It is important that you keep your Bernese active and busy so they maintain a good, healthy weight.

Preventative Care:

As most of the Bernie’s health problems are joint-related, plan to do what you can to protect and strengthen their joints safely and naturally by adding a joint supplement to their diet. Most dogs need joint supplements by age 8. But since the Bernie’s life expectancy is much shorter, they should begin taking joint supplements even earlier. Joint supplements can promote joint health and cartilage development which keep dogs active and youthful, longer.

Glyde™ Mobility Chews

Parnell Living Science are the experts on arthritis in dogs and cats. As the creators of Glyde Mobility Chews, we developed a unique formula with proven levels of anti-inflammatory ingredients to combat the signs of aging. Glyde uses natural, gluten-free ingredients to promote healthy joints to let your dog do everything he or she loves. Glyde is the only supplement that contains proven levels of three key components that work to relieve the painful signs of arthritis.

Glyde's proven formula has all-natural ingredients and high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, plus Green Lipped Mussel (GLM). The proven levels of these key ingredients are what makes the formula unique:


Bringing up Bernie

As you can imagine, there are so many beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs you can check out on social media. These photogenic dogs are worth following. If these pictures don't make you want to have a Bernese Mountain Dog of your own, nothing will. But be forewarned: bringing up your own Bernese means big adventure ahead. If a Bernese is not for you, you can enjoy them from the sidelines. Check out some of these images on Instagram.




At Parnell Living Science, we love all breeds of dogs. But certainly, we love those Bernese Mountain Dogs! Have you read our other breed-focused posts? Check them out by going to Pet Health and clicking through the posts. We highlight a new breed every month. Our most popular breed-focused post was our Labrador Retriever post, which isn't too surprising since that is the #1 breed in the world. Stay tuned for more a new blog post every week. You can have these delivered to your in-box by signing up as a newsletter subscriber. Simply enter your email in the subscriber box at the bottom of this post!  


Give the gift of healthy joints US-1