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Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Climb Stairs? Important Advice

Many owners are rightfully worried about their Bernese Mountain Dog climbing stairs. This article will explain why stairs can potentially cause injuries, and how to get around this issue. Let’s get into it!


Are Stairs Bad For Bernese Mountain Dogs?

Puppy or senior Bernese Mountain Dogs should avoid climbing stairs too often. This can put excess stress and strain on their joints and could lead to injury. Adult Berners will handle climbing stairs better than puppies or seniors.

Most dogs usually have no issue with stairs, but for Berners, it’s a little different.

Due to Bernese Mountain Dogs having such an enormous size and weight, it’s easy for them to strain and injury themselves without technically doing much.

Depending on your Berner’s age and current health, going up and down stairs too often can lead to both short-term and long-term injuries.

It’s fair to say, however, that there will of course be times in your Berner’s life that he needs to walk up and down the stairs, that’s completely normal and perfectly fine! The odd time here and there isn’t going to cause him any harm.

What’s harmful is when it’s constant… like walking up and down stairs several times every single day. That will certainly lead to issues quicker rather than sooner.

When Your Bernese Mountain Dog Should Avoid Stairs Altogether

If you have a young puppy or senior, it’s best to avoid climbing stairs altogether. You can consider a Berner puppy to be any age under 2 years old, and for a senior, over 6 years old.

Puppies: Puppies have a lot of energy and motivation to zoom around but unfortunately, they don’t know when to stop! Puppies can injury their developing bones, joints, and muscles by tumbling down the stairs and trying to race up them, so please save the stairs until his physical body has matured.

Seniors: The same goes for seniors, by age 5-6 your Berner will need to take extreme caution with his joints once again. This is quite a young age to consider a dog a senior, but for Berners, this is normal.

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Two Possible Injuries When Your Berner Climbs Stairs

The reason it’s important to avoid stairs whenever possible is to prevent a couple of common health issues that Bernese Mountain Dogs are notorious for developing.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is a degenerative hip disease that can be both painful and hard to live with. Hip dysplasia is common among many breeds, but particularly in large and giants breeds like the Berner.

Hip dysplasia can be caused by overexertion and repetitive strain, exactly what going up and down stairs can do in the long run.

Hip dysplasia is something to be taken seriously as it’s both painful and can eventually make your Berner immobile not treated sufficiently. It’s a very difficult condition to live with, and that’s why it’s crucial to avoid it in the first place.

Canine Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is another debilitating disease that can be painful, hard to treat, and decrease the quality of your Berners life.

Elbow dysplasia is typically seen in young puppies under 6 months of age. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to prevent your puppy from overstraining, falling, or injuring themselves.

Elbow dysplasia is defined as the cartilage within the elbow joint failing to grow properly and becomes abnormally thick. This can lead to chronic arthritis before 6 months of age. It’s said that 20-50% of Berners have elbow dysplasia. Source

Tips To Avoid Stair Use

Depending on your house/apartment set up, some stair use may not be avoidable. But if you live in a regular house where a ground floor is used the following tips should help.

Baby Gate

Whether your Berner is a puppy, adult, or senior, putting up a baby gate will instantly control when your Berner uses the stairs and doesn’t.

This isn’t to stop him from ever going upstairs, but it is to stop him from unnecessarily trotting up and down the stairs whenever he hears a noise or just feels like it. Use a baby gate, and you have instant control over the situation.

Keep His Essentials Downstairs

You likely already do this, but to keep your Berner downstairs more times than not, keep all of his essentials there. Keep a single dog bed downstairs, his crate, water bowl, and toys.

I know some owners like to have one dog bed for downstairs and upstairs. Unfortunately, this isn’t advised and will only encourage your Berner to use the stairs more than he really needs to.

Train Him Not To Use The Stairs

I understand that baby gates won’t appeal to everyone. If you don’t like that idea, then you can always start training your Berner that he isn’t to use the stairs.

If you are lucky enough to be reading this while your Berner is still a puppy then it’s going to be fairly easy to teach your Berner he isn’t allowed upstairs. If your Berner has been using the stairs for years already, it’s going to be a lot tougher.

Check out this video that explains boundary training perfectly

Last Thoughts

Of course, there will be times throughout your Berners life that he has to use stairs. Perhaps your Berner is already using stairs every day, it’s normal, after all!

But the goal should be to prevent him from using the stairs unnecessarily and too often. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to give an exact number of times that is okay and isn’t okay. As little as possible is the best answer.

And remember to pay particular attention to puppies and seniors as this is when their joints are the most vulnerable.

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Thank you for reading! I hope this has answered your question about Berners climbing stairs. If you have any further concerns or queries, please let me know! For now, all the best, Harry.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.