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Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Run With You? Tips, Advice, Gear

Bernese Mountain Dogs may not spring to mind when talking about jogging or running, but it turns out these dogs can make fantastic running partners under the right circumstances.

This article explains everything about Bernese Mountain Dogs and running, best practices, and safety tips. Knowing the following will without a doubt improve your BMD’s overall general exercise routine!


Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Actually Run With You?

Bernese Mountain Dogs can run with their owners, but it’s important to consider the environment, weather, distance, joint health, and overall health. Running distances should ideally be kept short to preserve their joints.

When you see a Bernese Mountain Dog, you certainly don’t think they will be a capable running partner.

But it turns out this is far from the truth!

Despite being heavy-set, Berners are very fit and physically capable. They also aren’t a lazy breed and thrive on plenty of daily exercise.

For decades, people have been running with Berners and they’ve even become known as ideal running partners.

But, it must be said that Bernese Mountain Dogs are only good running partners under the right circumstances.

And as a responsible dog owner, it’s super important to consider when it’s the right time to run with your Berner and when they should stay at home.

Let’s run through the different factors you need to consider before going for a run with your Bernese Mountain Dog.

Are Bernese Mountain Dogs Athletic?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are certainly physically capable, but we wouldn’t go as far as to say they are athletic.

They are strong and powerful but at the same time very heavy on their feet, so it’s important they aren’t pushed too hard.

Athletic breeds would be considered those with good power and strength, while also being agile, and relatively lightweight.

The Siberian Husky, for example, a Border Collie, German Shepherd or Dobermans, are all better examples of an athletic dog.

4 Things To Consider Before Running With a Bernese Mountain Dog

Knowing when it’s appropriate for your Berner to go running with you is crucial to their physical health and general well-being.

There are many instances where your Bernese Mountain Dog would be better off staying at home. Let’s run through the key factors you must consider first.

1. Outside Temperature and Weather Conditions

Running with Berners in warm weather is not recommended. Due to their thick double coat, they typically struggle to stay cool at the best of times, let alone when exercising.

Although many Berners out there are very fit and can tolerate warm weather, it’s generally not advised to go running with them. The risk of dehydration and heatstroke dramatically increases.

20°C (70°F) is likely already too warm, and your Berner would be better off receiving another form of exercise, either less strenuous or during cooler parts of the day.

  • The ideal running temperature for a Berner would be around 5°C-10°C (40°F-50°F).

We can run in much hotter conditions compared to dogs, so it’s easy to think they’re going to be fine too. But this isn’t always the case.

Use common sense, and never push your Berner to go for runs with you in warm weather.

2. Running Surface

Whether you’re running 1 mile or 5 miles, it’s always recommended to run on a softer surface than asphalt or concrete. And the longer your run, the more important this becomes.

Asphalt, concrete, or any kind of pavement will be too hard for the joints and bones after continuous running. Opt for running on grass, mud, or even the sand if you have a beach nearby, the extra cushioning will prevent injuries from repetitive hard landings.

Although younger Berners may not think twice about running on hard surfaces, you know better, and this may be the difference between having joint issues later on in life, or not.

Not only is the surface hard, but the pavement and asphalt can become incredibly hot when in direct sunlight. The paw pads are tough, but sensitive at the same time. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for his paws.

Paw pads can even burn and this is incredibly painful and recovery will be slow.

Stick to mud, grass, or sand!

3. How Far Are You Running?

The distance is another important factor when taking your Berner for a run with you.

The distance your Berner will be capable of running will vary drastically from another Berner.

Their age, health and fitness, and their previous experience will dictate what distance they can manage.

How far can a Bernese Mountain Dog run? Conditioned Berners in their prime years (2-7) can run for around 5-7 miles and be just fine. Providing the weather and running surface are accounted for.

As your Berner gets older, his physical body will be a little weaker and joint issues become common, so he may only be good for 1 or 2 miles.

Always be sensible and if you plan on going for a long run that you don’t think your Berner can handle, then he should stay at home.

Walking or hiking is a different story, I know Berners who regularly go for 10+ mile walks or hikes and are remarkably fine afterward. Always use good judgment and consider your Berner’s age, current health, and previous experience.

I will cover more about correctly building up your Berner’s running ability in the section below.

4. What’s Your Berner’s Age?

Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, thick dogs with a lot of muscle. Berners are not considered physically mature until around 2 years old.

While their full height will be reached before this age, their weight and overall mass will be slower to catch up.

It’s crucial to wait until your Berner is at least 2 years old before you start bringing him on runs with you.

If your Berner starts routinely running before this age, you risk damaging or over-stressing his premature joints and bones. This could cause an injury right away, or lead to one in the future.

The same can be said for when your Berner reaches his senior years. Senior years are considered to be over 7 years old.

All Berners will have a different level of fitness going into old age and this will depend on how active they have been throughout their life.

Ironically enough, Berners who have been running for years will certainly be fit enough, but their joints and bones will eventually pay the price and running may have to stop or be significantly limited throughout old age.

The ideal age for running with your Berner is 2-5 years old. This is when they are considered in their prime and the most physically capable of strenuous or endurance-based activities.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag |

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Bernese Mountain Dog Running Tips & Advice

Let’s run through a quick summary and the key points to take away from the sections above:

Ensure outside temperatures do not exceed 20°C (70°F)
In the summer months only run early morning or in the evening
Let your Berner set the pace
Provide daily joint supplements to further help and protect the joints!
Be sure to bring a portable water bowl and a supply of fresh water
Avoid running on pavement, concrete, or asphalt
Opt for running on grass, mud, or sand
Avoid running along roads or other dangerous places
Always check the pavement temperature. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for paws
Have your Berner run in front of you, not behind you. This way you can see him and ensure his safety
Avoid running too far with your Berner. 5-7 miles should be the max for Berners fit and in their prime
Wait until your Berner is at least 2 years old before running with him
Limit how much your Berner runs when he’s older than 7 years old (senior years)

Start By Running Short Distances First

If you decide it’s the perfect moment for your Bernese Mountain Dog to be your new running partner, that’s awesome! But it’s crucial you start him off slowly.

Even if he’s fit and in his prime, it’s not recommended to go for a 5-mile run right away. He may end up limping or struggling for a few days afterward!

Follow this simple running plan to safely build your Bernese Mountain Dog up to running 5 miles.

Week 11 Mile Run4-5 times per week
week 22 mile runs3-4 times per week
week 33 mile runs3 times per week
week 44 mile runs3 times per week
week 55 mile runs2-3 times per week
week 75 mile runs3-4 times per week

Be sure to rest every other day and avoid running on consecutive days.

For the days in between, regular exercise like chasing his ball, fetch, walking, or hiking is preferred. This will keep him active, but it won’t put too much stress on his bones and joints, allowing him to recover and regain strength.

Helpful Video With Some Extra Tips and Advice

This is a short (4 minute) video with some extra running tips and advice for your dog. Check it out below, the video will play right from this page for your convenience. The video is from TrainTravelEat 🙂

Recommended Running Gear and Equipment

Throughout the article various gear and equipment have been mentioned. You can find the links below. All products link back to Amazon which currently has the best price, reviews, and delivery times.

Hands-free dog leash: Tao Tronics Bungee Leash For Large Dogs
Protective Paw Wax: Mushers Secret Dog Paw Wax
Portable Dog Water Bottle With Bowl: Lesotc Lightweight Portable Dog Bowl

If you know of other helpful products that should be added to this list, feel free to message us and we will add them!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! You should now know everything you need in order to start running safely with your Bernese Mountain Dog.

By following the tips and advice outlined above you will be sufficiently prepared to take your Berner out for regular runs with you.

Remember to never push your Berner, and always be conscious of his health and safety.

Bernese Mountain Dog Articles:
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Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Live Outside?
Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Be Left Alone? Helpful Advice

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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.