Common Health Problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs

If you are considering bringing home a Bernese Mountain Dog, you should do a little research beforehand so that you are prepared for any situation that might surprise you. Although a very beautiful breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs are exposed to some health issues more than other breeds.

That’s why we decided we would tackle them in this article. So, what are the most common Bernese Mountain Dog health concerns?

Hip Dysplasia

Considered by some a genetic health problem virtually created and perpetuated by humans and the way they used to breed dogs, hip dysplasia has become more and more common over the years. However, the truth is that some breeds are far more likely to develop it than others, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of them. Along with German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, for example, these dogs are exposed to an array of bone pathologies (also due to their size).

A displaced hip happens when the head of the femur bone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting whether or not your pup will develop this health issue as he or she grows up, and X-rays are usually performed only after the pet has reached the age of 6 months. Even so, there are several ways of fixing this issue (mostly surgically) but the operations tend to cost a lot of money.

Elbow Dysplasia

This pathologic event happens when two bones in the dog’s elbow fail to unite as they are growing. The bones will then rub together more than they would normally, and that leads to arthritis, pain, inflammation, and a variety of other symptoms. It is, to an extent, similar to hip dysplasia just that it happens in a different body region.


Because Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t exactly tiny and the males can reach even 115 pounds while the females can be as heavy as 95 pounds, they are exposed to health problems such as bloat and volvulus. Therefore, they require special care in this sense, which means that you should try to avoid feeding your canine companion two big meals twice a day. Instead, opt for feeding him or her as many as four or five smaller meals throughout a day.

Bloat is a medical emergency as dogs have the tendency to drink too much water too quickly (especially on hot summer days) or eat too much food in too little time. What happens in this situation is that the dog’s stomach will fill up with too much content and might even twist around its own axis. This makes it swell and swell until it can literally explode inside your dog’s body. If you suspect that your Bernese Mountain Dog has bloat, you have to get to the vet as soon as possible.


Cancer is among some of the most common Bernese Mountain Dog health issues and as shocking as it might seem, some studies suggest that approximately ten percent of all Bernese Mountain Dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lives. The two forms that are typically encountered in this breed are mastocytoma and histiocytosis, which both attack the dog’s immune system.

While the first causes the development of tumors all over the dog’s body, the second causes an elevated white blood cell count. Since these two types of cancers can be detected through the use of genetic markers, there is hope that selective breeding will be capable of dropping the percentage from 10%.

This breed is affected by other types of cancer, as well, such as osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma. Unfortunately, these cannot be detected (at least not at this time) through genetic markers.

Eye Vision Problems

Another rather common Bernese Mountain Dog health problem is known as progressive retinal atrophy. Like some of the others we have mentioned already, this one is inherited, too, and it usually leads to canine blindness. The condition has appeared in this particular breed in recent years, which has led scientists to believe that it is also linked to poorly performed breeding.

Progressive retinal atrophy has been found in dogs as young as three months of age and is more commonly diagnosed in pets that are older than five years of age. Some of the typical clinical signs that pet parents will notice in their canine friends that are gradually affected by the medical condition range from night blindness to dilated pupils. A reluctance in exploring new places is also present.

The issue with this disease is that its progression is very fast, and the vast majority of the Bernese Mountain Dogs that are diagnosed with it become blind within a year. Although it is irreversible, we suggest going to the vet and checking your pup’s eye health once or twice a year.

General health issues

Bernese Mountain Dogs make no exception when it comes to the other pathologies that affect other breeds, and that’s why they are likely to experience some of the problems mentioned below:

These are medical conditions that affect all dogs and that are experienced by some Bernese Mountain Dogs, too, but they’re far less frequently diagnosed compared to the ones that we have showcased before.

How long do Bernese Mountain Dogs live?

Compared to other breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a shorter lifespan. Generally, they live for six to nine years. If you really love the breed and you want to get a canine companion, we would recommend looking for the most reputable dog breeder in your area so that your pet has the best chance of living a healthier and longer life.

We also have to add that caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog is most definitely not an easy or a cheap endeavor and there are many other breeds that can be cared for with less effort (and less financial effort, too).



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