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How Fast Can a Bernese Mountain Dog Run? Breed Facts & FAQs

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

bernese mountain dog running in the yard

The Bernese Mountain Dog is large, sturdy, and friendly. They’re working dogs from the farmlands of Switzerland and, as you would expect, they are full of energy. So, does this mean they are fast runners? Unfortunately, high energy doesn’t mean fast, and the Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the slowest breeds. Their top speed is only around 15 miles per hour (mph).

While you won’t be attracted to this breed because of how fast it can move, its other characteristics make it special. Keep reading to learn more about the Bernese Mountain Dog; you might find yourself falling in love with them as much as we have.

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More About the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog, affectionately known as the Berner, initially helped out on the farm by protecting its family, herding, and pulling carts. They’re a hard-working, gentle giant, but they also nearly became extinct in the early 20th century when farmers found other means of transportation. Thankfully, they were saved by a handful of fanciers.

Berners are known for being attractive, loyal, affectionate, and eager to please. Thanks to their intelligence, they are also easy to train, and generally, they have a happy-go-lucky attitude to life. They’ve been described as a little goofy, especially when playing with their family.

They’re a large breed, and while they’re an excellent choice for families with children, they will need a large, fenced-in yard to play in, so families that live in apartments probably wouldn’t be a good fit for this breed.

Berners are slow to mature, and socialization is incredibly important for these dogs. While they are easy to train, they have been described as having a “soft” personality. Their feelings are easily hurt, and they don’t respond well to harsh corrections.

bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: othmarsigrist, Pixabay

Bernese Mountain Dog and Running

Since Berners can grow so large, it’s understandable that they’re not the fastest runners. Their 15-mph top speed is not very impressive compared to other breeds. In contrast, Greyhounds are considered the fastest dogs in the world, and their top speed is 45 mph.

Berners are generally sporty, which makes sense considering their hard-working backgrounds. But high-impact exercises are strenuous for them, given the problems they can have with their joints.

While you can take your Berner out for a run, and it could cover a fair distance, they do better with long walks and hikes. It would be best to avoid the hot weather and choose grassy trails rather than asphalt to keep the impact on your dog’s joints to a minimum.

The Bernese Mountain Dog needs at least an hour of exercise a day, which can be split into two walks. On top of that, they need some off-the-leash time in a secure area, playtime in a large yard, and training.

Health Risks Associated With Bernese Mountain Dogs

veterinarian examines the bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: Freeograph, Shutterstock

There are some health risks associated with Berners that not only affect their ability to run but can also lead to a shorter life span. On average, these dogs live only 6–8 years. Thanks to a small gene pool, they have health problems that are related to inbreeding.

Here are the most common health issues with Bernese Mountain dogs:
  • Certain cancers: Histiocytic Sarcoma affects Berners
  • Cruciate Disease: This is where the cruciate ligament (which holds the knee together) is damaged; this causes the joint to become painful and wobbly
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Gradual paralysis of the back end is caused by this condition of the spine
  • Elbow Dysplasia: When the elbow joint doesn’t fit together properly; it can lead to arthritis
  • Hip Dysplasia: The hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, eventually leading to arthritis
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)/Bloat: The dog’s stomach can bloat and twist around itself
  • Hot Spots: Patches of sore and infected skin
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: Loss of sight which will get worse over several months/years

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Final Thoughts

Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t fast dogs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors with them. They will happily accompany you on a hike or goofily play in the garden with the kids in the summer. They’re affectionate and excellent additions to the family.

It might seem like they’re not in your life for long, but every moment you spend with this gentle, slow giant is precious. Because of all their health risks, if you are thinking of getting one, make sure you pick a reputable breeder if you decide to shop instead of adopt.


Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

Authored by

Kerry-Ann lives in Scotland and wishes her garden was bigger so she could have her very own Highland cow but thinks her dogs probably wouldn’t like that idea very much. She has a La Chon called Harry who was poorly with a liver shunt when he was a puppy. It wasn't likely he would make it into adulthood, which was difficult to comprehend, but he beat the odds and is a healthy old man now. She also has a Pug called Maddie...Read more

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