The Bernese Mountain Dogs are loyal, faithful, intelligent, large dogs originating from Switzerland. They were used for herding and as draft dogs.
Besides being good-looking, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a wonderful character and are very easy to train. They are protective of the family they live with, so they are excellent guardians.
Bernese are obedient dogs, but if they do not have a task that will occupy their attention, they quickly get bored and can develop some destructive behaviors, such as barking and biting things. Therefore, training should start early, while they are still puppies.
The average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog is relatively short in comparison to other large breeds; from 6 to 9 years, but the upper limit has been moved to 10 years in the last couple of years thanks to the responsibility and diligence of the breeders.
Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Have Health Issues?
Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to numerous health problems due to the small gene pool. The health issues that have been reported within this breed over the years are the following:
- Skin problems: demodectic mange, pyoderma
- Orthopedic issues: hip dysplasia, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament (CCL) tears, Wobblers syndrome, luxating patella, osteochondritis dissecans (ODC), panosteitis
- Eye problems: entropion, ectropion, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), blindness
- Ear problems: ear infection, ear mites
- Heart problems: heartworm, subaortic stenosis (heart disease)
- Bleeding disorders: hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, von Willebrand’s disease
- Cancer: mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, histiocytic sarcoma
- Urinary problems: glomerulonephropathy (kidney disease), renal injury, bladder stones, urinary infections
- Reproductive issues: pyometra
- Neurologic problems: aseptic meningitis (inflammatory brain disease), hepatocerebellar degeneration, cerebellar ataxia, hypomyelination
- Digestive problems: bloat, mesenteric torsion
- Liver disorders: portosystemic shunt (PSS)
- Autoimmune diseases: degenerative spinal myelopathy, lupus, autoimmune hemolytic anemia
- Hormonal disorders: hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease/hypoadrenocorticism
- Dental disease
The health issues we listed above are not ranked according to any specific criteria, which means that issues at the top of the list do not occur more often than the ones at the bottom and vice versa.
This list has been compiled to inform Bernese Mountain Dogs owners about potential health issues that may occur in their pets. However, it doesn’t mean that these diseases will necessarily occur in every Bernese.
Bernese Mountain Dogs, as their name suggests, are adapted to mountain conditions. They have long and dense coats. Therefore, they are difficult to withstand the heat and are highly susceptible to heatstroke. Because of that, you should be careful during the summer period when you take your pet for a walk. Do it in the morning and evening and make sure the walks are shorter than usual so the dog doesn’t overheat.
Like most large breeds with deep chests, Berneses are predisposed to stomach torsion, so it is recommended to schedule daily meals in several smaller doses and to avoid walks and training for a minimum an hour after a meal.
These dogs shed a lot, especially in the spring and autumn, so it is necessary to brush them several times a week and to bathe them periodically.
Bernese have drooping ears, so dirt and moisture accumulate inside over time. Therefore, it is necessary to examine their ears at least once a week to check if there are any signs of inflammation.
These dogs have much more dental problems than other dogs, so you need to brush and maintain the teeth of your Bernese regularly to prevent tartar buildup and teeth and gums inflammation.
When getting a Bernese puppy, do so from responsible breeders who will provide you with DNA tests for hereditary diseases within the breed.