6 Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues

Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues

Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues: The Bernese Mountain Dog, a huge, gentle giant from Switzerland, was originally developed as a working dog and is known for its trip-colored coat.

These gentle giants make wonderful companions. With their striking tri-color coats and friendly demeanor, it’s no wonder that they are a popular choice for families. However, like any other breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to certain health issues that every owner should be aware of. In this article, I will discuss the 6 most common health issues that affect Bernese Mountain Dogs and provide useful insights on prevention and management.

 Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues

6 Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues

1. Hip Dysplasia

One of the most prevalent health issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs is hip dysplasia. This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to a loose and unstable joint. It is primarily a hereditary condition, so it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder who performs hip evaluations on their breeding dogs. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and providing regular exercise can help prevent the development or progression of hip dysplasia. In severe cases, surgical intervention might be necessary to improve the dog’s quality of life.

2. Cancer

Sadly, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a higher predisposition to various forms of cancer compared to other breeds. The most common types of cancer seen in Bernese Mountain Dogs include mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma, and lymphoma. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial for early detection and treatment. Additionally, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a stress-free environment can contribute to overall health and potentially reduce the risk of cancer.

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3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition that affects the retina and can lead to blindness. It usually starts with night blindness and progresses to complete loss of vision. While there is no cure for PRA, regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help monitor the progression of the disease. Genetic testing is also available to determine if a Bernese Mountain Dog carries the gene for PRA, allowing breeders to make informed decisions when planning litters.

4. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, commonly known as GDV or bloat, is a life-threatening condition that affects many large dog breeds, including Bernese Mountain Dogs. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, leading to a blockage of blood flow and potential organ damage. Signs of GDV include restlessness, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, and a distended abdomen. Immediate veterinary intervention is necessary to save the dog’s life. To reduce the risk of GDV, it is recommended to feed your Bernese Mountain Dog smaller meals throughout the day, avoid vigorous exercise after meals, and use elevated feeding bowls.

5. Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a condition where the elbow joint doesn’t develop properly. It can cause pain, lameness, and eventually lead to osteoarthritis. Elbow dysplasia is another hereditary condition, so choosing a responsible breeder who performs elbow evaluations is crucial. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excessive jumping or rough play can help prevent the development of elbow dysplasia.

6. Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)

Von Willebrand’s Disease is an inherited bleeding disorder that affects both humans and dogs. It is caused by a deficiency or malfunction of a clotting protein called von Willebrand factor. Dogs with vWD may experience excessive bleeding from minor injuries or surgeries. While there is no cure for vWD, proper management can significantly improve the dog’s quality of life. This includes avoiding medications that can interfere with blood clotting and being cautious during surgical procedures.

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Prevention and Management of Health Issues

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of health issues in Bernese Mountain Dogs, there are several steps that can be taken to minimize the chances and manage any potential problems. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, proper exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are all essential for overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, choosing a responsible breeder who performs health screenings on their breeding dogs can significantly reduce the risk of hereditary conditions.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are truly remarkable companions, but like any other breed, they are prone to certain health issues. By being aware of the common health problems that affect Bernese Mountain Dogs and taking preventative measures, we can ensure that our furry friends live long, happy, and healthy lives. Remember to consult with a veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance specific to your Bernese Mountain Dog’s needs.

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Are Bernese Mountain Dogs good with children?

Yes, Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their gentle and patient nature, making them excellent companions for children.

How often should I take my Bernese Mountain Dog to the vet?

It is recommended to take your Bernese Mountain Dog for regular check-ups at least once a year, or more frequently as advised by your veterinarian.

Can Bernese Mountain Dogs live in apartments?

While Bernese Mountain Dogs can adapt to apartment living, they thrive in homes with a yard where they have ample space to roam and play.

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How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs usually live?

On average, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a lifespan of 6 to 8 years. However, with proper care and attention to their health, some dogs can live up to 10 years or more.

Should I consider pet insurance for my Bernese Mountain Dog?

Pet insurance can provide financial assistance in case of unexpected medical expenses. It is worth considering to ensure that your Bernese Mountain Dog receives the best possible care if the need arises.