Why do Bernese Mountain Dogs have a short lifespan?
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a breed that is known to suffer from a lot of health issues with a relatively short lifespan of 6-8 years. Many factors come into play when it comes to the short lifespans of large breed dogs like the Berner.
A study suggests that large-size animals' accelerated growth is coupled with increased free-radical activity.
Adverse effects of selective breeding also have something to do with the accelerated aging in large-breed dogs. In another research, it shows that big dogs age faster than their smaller counterparts. In turn, their quick aging makes them highly vulnerable to various diseases.
To give your Bernese Mountain Dog breed the care that he deserves, it is important to know of the breed's most common health problems.
Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia
The Bernese Mountain dog is prone to acquire these bone and joint problems, common in large and giant breed dogs. Hip dysplasia occurs when there is a deformity in the femur bone and hip socket. Meanwhile, the malformation and degeneration of the elbow joints can lead to elbow dysplasia.
Affected Bernese Mountain Dogs will often feel pain and experience difficulty in movement. Exercising and even simple walking can become an arduous task for big dogs. Treatment for both orthopedic problems depends on their severity.
Generally, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs medical treatment, restricted exercise, and weight management to treat mild cases of hip and elbow dysplasia. Severe cases will require surgery.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA in the Bernese breed is a hereditary eye disorder that causes gradual retinal degeneration. This condition can lead to vision impairment, night blindness, and permanent loss of eyesight.
Early onset of PRA often happens when Bernese puppies reach 3 months of age. Late onset of the condition occurs in 3–5-year-old Berners.
This PRA condition in the Berner breed has no known cure. Affected dogs commonly lose their vision within a year of diagnosis. Thus, it is crucial to focus your efforts on making your home safe for your blind dog.
Rearranging furniture should be avoided so that your Berner can easily navigate in your home. Make sure that dangerous places for a blind dog are inaccessible, such as pools and stairs.
The Bernese is prone to this life-threatening gastric condition, commonly known as canine dog bloat (CDB). Gastric torsion happens when a dog's stomach becomes twisted and filled with gas.
Large and giant dog breeds are extremely at risk of developing this condition. Immediate treatment is crucial to saving your dog's life.
Gastric torsion in the Bernese breed can stop blood circulation to the heart and stomach, cause breathing difficulties, and damage internal organs.
If you observe that your Berner has a swollen abdomen and has difficulty eliminating his stool, take him to the vet right away. Emergency surgery will be conducted to ease gas pressure.
It is recommended that the Bernese should undergo hip, elbow, eye, cardiac, and DNA evaluation whilst still a puppy.
The Berner, being a large working dog breed, needs plenty of daily exercise. At least 30 minutes of vigorous activities and playtime in a backyard is needed. Mental stimulation is also important to be able to raise a well-rounded Bernese Mountain Dog.
The large double-coated Bernese generally needs to reside in places with cold climates, as he is prone to heatstroke. Avoid strenuous activities during hot weather, and limit these activities early in the morning or evening. Make sure that there are fans or air conditioning in your home to keep him cool.