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A Full Guide to Loving and Caring for a Bernese Mountain Dog

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The Bernese Mountain Dog Introduction

The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. The Bernese Mountain Dog isn’t a mixed breed but, it may have been quite some time ago. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy was a well-known farm dog, but the St. Bernard breed grew more popular than the Bernese Mountain Dog. As a result, people didn’t adopt them nearly as much as they had in the past. As fewer and fewer people adopted the dogs, the breed almost became extinct.

In the early 1900s, a scientist noticed the rapid decline in the dog breed. He then bred The Bernese Mountain Dog with a different kind of dog called Newfoundland dogs. Breeding the Bernese Mountain Dog with a Newfoundland dog made the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy larger in size and calmer in temperament. Because of how long ago the mixing of this breed was, the American Kennel Club does not see the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy as a mixed breed. If a foreign registry recognized any breed, then the AKC respects this. Also, because the history of the Bernese Mountain Dog is so long, plenty of documentation supported the many generations this dog breed lived. The AKC accepted the Bernese Mountain Dog as its own breed because of its extensive history in Switzerland, the breed’s home country.

The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy then became a farm favorite again, and many people began adopting these dogs. Because of the growth in popularity, the Bernese Mountain Dog improved its popularity and grew in population. This growth in population and popularity helped the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy breed make its way over to the United States of America. Famers in the United States heard about this farm dog and became just as fascinated with the Bernese Mountain Dog as the natives in Switzerland did. Finally just 30 years after the Bernese Mountain Dog breed was on the brink of extinction, they became so popular in the United States that the AKC welcomed them as an officially recognized breed in 1937.

Owners of the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy have come to call dogs in this breed Berners. They are known for being particularly affectionate with children. These dogs frequently take it upon themselves to watch over kids. Sometimes people have noticed the dogs become particularly protective of the children. The attention they give children is likely because they are incredibly loyal to their families and want nothing more than to please them.

A male Bernese Mountain Dog can weigh between 85 to 110 pounds and stand between 25 to 28 inches tall. Females of this breed weigh between 79 to 110 pounds and stand at 23 to 26 inches tall. Even though they are extra-large dogs, it doesn’t stop them from loving to cuddle. These pups are just like every other dog, and if they want attention, they will make it known. Who wouldn’t want a 110-pound dog sitting on their lap? It sounds like your own personal weighted blanket.

The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has a double-layer, tri-colored thick coat. Their coat shows beautiful black, white, and rust-colored fur, and they have signature soft-brown eyes on their furry faces. These dogs have the word mountain in their names because they are from the mountains. Because of where they come from, the Bernese Mountain Dog thrives in cold weather. These pups don’t do well in the heat and prefer colder climates. These dogs are incredibly loyal to their families and owners. They’re gigantic softies who want to do everything they can to please you! These dogs require loads of grooming. Because of how thick their fur is, regular grooming, sometimes even daily grooming, is necessary. They will shed a ton, and it’s essential to take care of their fur to make sure their skin health is on point. These boys are massive, and they require at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. They’re perfect companions for mountain hikes or daily walks.

When a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is well socialized, they will get along with virtually every other pet. This breed has an average temperament when it comes to getting to know other dogs and cats. So, as long as you put in the work for your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy to learn to love other pups, they can get along with any other furry friend. When these dogs used to work on farms, they often worked with other animals and occasionally even another Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. It makes sense that these pups would get along well with other animals; it’s in their heritage. The Bernese Mountain Dog wants to alert their family when new people arrive so they may bark. They only do this because of how protective they are over their family. At their worst behavior, the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is slightly indifferent to strangers, and at their best, they are more than ready to make a new friend.

They are giant dogs and are incredibly intimidating because of it. But with their big friendly personality, you would never think they could be mean or show inconsistent behavior. Speaking of behavior, people’s only issue with the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy lies in their attitudes. Sometimes a male Bernese Mountain Dog puppy growing into adulthood has their version of a teenager’s attitude. A Male Bernese Mountain Dog puppy goes through a heavy hormonal phase where they may try to be extra headstrong or assertive. This is because they are trying to out-alpha the human in their relationship. However, it is easy to fix this problem. As long as the owner understands what’s happening, it can be easy to work past this mood. All the owner needs to do is maintain dominance and be patient with the rambunctious Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.

Another behavioral issue the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy suffers from is their severe separation anxiety. Earlier, when we shared that these dogs are super loyal, it was no exaggeration. When left alone for too long, they get terrible separation anxiety. They’re so devoted to their families they get worried when you aren’t around! Thankfully you can work with your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy through this anxiety either with at-home training or through a trainer. It’s necessary to help any dog suffering from separation anxiety. If untreated, the dog’s anxiety can turn into health issues, irritation, or outbursts of bad behavior at home.

bernese mountain dog in field

Bernese Mountain Dog Super Strength

Before becoming household pets, the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy had a primary purpose of being workers on farms in Switzerland. Their family’s children accompanied the dogs to take carts full of produce from one place to another. Because of this history, the Bernese Mountain Dog breed has developed extraordinary strength. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has the genetic potential to lift ten times its weight. Because of their genetic strength, a one-hundred-pound Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can potentially pull up to 1,000 pounds. That’s a CRAZY amount of produce!

Another interesting fact about the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is its extreme want of affection from its owner. Bernese Mountain Dog owners have come to realize that these dogs will purposely try to make you laugh. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy matures a little slower than other dogs, which means they stay in their goofy puppy phase a bit longer than other breeds. But something so unique is that they have a history of repeating actions that made other people laugh. Owners and vets alike have come to call this strange behavior the ‘Berner chuckle.’ If you want a best-friend-doggy-comedian, these boys might be the perfect pet for you.

History of the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy hails from Switzerland. They lived up in the mountains and were part of a group of mountain dog breeds called sennennhunds. This word means ‘swiss mountain dog.’ Together there are about four different sennennhunds. All four sennennhunds have their own unique tri-colored fur as well.

The creation of the Bernese Mountain Dog breed is up to some dispute. The consensus is that this breed came from the Romans over 2,000 years ago. The Roman empire grew large around 200 BC. They eventually made their way to land that is now known as Switzerland. After a few hundred years, the Roman Empire began to lose power and retreated from the area. While they were there, they brought many types of dog breeds with them. The Romans had a special relationship with dogs. They saw them as companions and warriors, guardians, and trackers. The reason for this is because of the cultural impact dogs had in Roman history. The Romans brought many types of dogs with them, including guard dogs and Mastiffs. The Bernese Mountain Dog breed was created from the Roman guard dogs and Mastiffs breeding. Considering the breed came from massive guard dogs, it’s easy to see why many of their characteristics focus on protective measures. Although the breed is thought the be created by the Romans, the people who lived in the land that eventually became Switzerland were the first to name this dog breed. The dogs got the name Bernese Mountain Dog because they were bred and lived in Canton of Bern.

While in the mountains of Switzerland, the people living there took centuries training the Bernese Mountain Dog to be a farmhand. They would commonly guard livestock like cattle, pigs, and horses. Their large size and strong barks made them perfect watchdogs. They’d watch over pens at night, making sure no other animals tried to attack them. The Bernese Mountain Dog also herded horses or other farm animals. The impressive strength these dogs can muster up made them great for transporting crops and goods around the farm and when they used to take crops around the Swiss villages.

The Bernese Mountain Dog breed’s previous work made them fit into the working dog breed group. And while these dogs are extra-large, they have never had a history of being anything other than helpful and friendly. They are the perfect family farm dog. Although these dogs are always affectionate with their families, sometimes the Bernese Mountain Dog is particularly shy with new people. As long as the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is socialized correctly at a young age, they should grow out of their shyness. Generally, the dogs of this breed are either friendly or submissive and docile. Occasionally a Bernese Mountain Dog has snapped at somebody, but it is almost always because someone threatened their owner first. Talk about loyalty! If you were getting attacked, having a hundred-pound dog that’s able to back you up in a fight is not a bad idea.

Bernese Mountain Dog Brains: Breed intelligence

These dogs are brilliant and highly trainable. They have an innate want to please their owners and families, so they quickly listen to commands. In fact, on a test that examined the first 100 most intelligent dog breeds, many vets, scientists, and trainers concluded that the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy ranked number 27 out of 100 most intelligent dogs. Some studies have helped us understand the intelligence of these dogs further. For commands a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy already knows, there is an 85% success rate they will complete the command on their first try. They are also known to take anywhere from 5-15 commands to learn new tricks. The Bernese Mountain Dog is a quick learner and very attentive.

Because of their gentle nature, the Bernese Mountain Dog breed responds best to positive training environments. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy wants to do right by its owners and make them laugh. Working dogs are known to be on the more intelligent side of all dog breeds. For example, a Border Collie is a highly trainable and intelligent breed, and just like the Bernese Mountain Dog, they are part of the working group of dog breeds.

bernese puppy laying on wood floor

Health Issues Affecting the Bernese Mountain Dog

Below will be a more in-depth analysis of the health conditions that affect these dogs and how severe each health issue is. Any owner or potential owners need to know that the Bernese Mountain Dog breed suffers from many health issues. Many giant-sized dogs share some of the same joint problems, and many dogs experience eye problems. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is genetically predisposed to joint problems, blood disorders, and deadly cancers. Sadly, cancer is the leading cause of death for this dog breed. Other severe health conditions these dogs are more likely to suffer from include bloating. Bloating can be deadly in as little as a few hours after symptoms appear. The Bernese Mountain Dog can also contract cataracts, but a vet can recommend surgery to remove the dog’s cataracts if the dog is young and healthy enough. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is more likely to have cataract surgery than a senior Bernese Mountain Dog.

The Bernese Mountain Dog breed has a lot of health issues, and many of them have the possibility of impairing their vision or blinding them completely. Therefore, regular vet visits are crucial for the Bernese Mountain Dog breed. The health topics below are ones that the Bernese Mountain Dog breed is particularly predisposed to contract.

Because of how large these dogs are, they have a lot of ligament, joint, and bone issues. Extra-large dogs require extra vitamins and supplements to meet all of the needs of the body. Some owners even opt to give their dogs calcium supplements. But it’s essential not to do this while the dog is growing, as this can cause one of the joint issues the Bernese Mountain Dog breed is prone to getting. The joint and blood issues this dog breed faces can vary in severity because some dogs can get treatment, but some problems may paralyze a dog. For example, elbow and hip dysplasia are often seen in the Bernese Mountain Dog but can be fixed with surgery. Other bone issues include panosteitis, which is essentially growing pains. Von Willebrand disease is a blood disease where the dog’s blood doesn’t clot properly, but this can be managed at home. Everything depends on the severity of each health condition and the overall health of the individual dog.

Arguably the worst predisposition that most affects this breed is its vulnerability to cancer. The Bernese Mountain Dog breed can get cancers that are pretty rare for most dogs but are exceptionally aggressive. The Bernese Mountain Dog breed’s life expectancy has dropped in the last century because of how often cancer affects their lives. While the dog used to live around 10-12 years, the many health conditions this breed faces have shortened its life expectancy to 6-8 years. In addition, this breed gets many severe illnesses and some that are more trivial in comparison.

bernese mountain dog laying with tongue out

Psychological Health Issues Affecting Bernese Mountain Dogs

The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is likely to suffer from epilepsy. There are three types of epilepsy in dogs: reactive seizures, secondary seizures, and primary seizures. When the brain reacts to a metabolic problem such as low blood pressure, ingesting toxins, or organ failure, it can cause a reactive seizure. Secondary seizures are the result of stroke, tumors, or trauma. Idiopathic epilepsy, otherwise known as primary seizures, is the most common type of epilepsy inherited in dogs. While scientists know that idiopathic epilepsy is genetic, they don’t know what causes these seizures. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is most subject to idiopathic epilepsy. They inherit this condition through their breed and can get treatment for it.

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can take medication to help keep their epilepsy in check. When owners take their dogs to the regular vet check-ups, the vet will often take blood work to ensure the medication is effective and check to ensure no side effects occur. The Bernese Mountain Dog puppy usually shows symptoms of this condition beginning at six months old or possibly by the time they reach three years of age. It is possible to take a long time for symptoms of this epilepsy to show, but it doesn’t change much about the treatment method.

If your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has a seizure, the best thing you can do is make sure the dog does not harm himself. Make sure its head won’t hit anything hard or sharp. You can consider putting a pillow or blanket under his head if there is room. Ensure they will not fall off a couch or bed or down the stairs. Never put your hand in a dog’s mouth because he may accidentally bite you. An owner needs to take note of how long the seizure took place to inform the vet later. Once your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is done having an epileptic moment, immediately take him to a clinic to make sure he is okay. Your vet will understand what took place, and the time of the recorded seizure will help them make an analysis. If the vet decides that treatment is an option for your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, they will discuss the options with you.

Another mental health condition the Bernese Mountain Dog often suffers from is a neurological condition called degenerative myelopathy. This condition causes weakness and poor nerve function in the hind legs. The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is affected by this condition more than any other dog breed. If your dog shows symptoms or gets diagnosed with this disease, he will become increasingly weak until he is disabled in his hind legs, and eventually, he will contract paralysis. Sadly, no treatment exists for this condition. Some owners try to feed their pets special diets, which can be helpful but will not cure this issue. Plenty of exercises and possibly even acupuncture may help a dog at risk of developing degenerative myelopathy. There is a way that an owner can genetically test their Bernese Mountain Dog to learn if it is at particular risk of developing this condition.

Cerebellar cortical degeneration (CCD) is otherwise known as cerebellar abiotrophy. In dogs, this condition attacks cells in the cerebellum, which in turn causes cells to die off slowly. This condition is similar to the effect of ALS in humans. ALS gradually affects humans because the disease causes a degeneration of voluntary motor neurons in the brain. This means as these motor neurons degenerate, a person may lose the ability to speak, walk, swallow, or breathe. For CCD, as this develops in a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, it will lead to a lack of balance, posture, and coordination, and these symptoms will worsen over time. Three types of this condition exist. Neonatal-onset is when CCD is present in puppies soon after birth. Juvenile-onset begins when a puppy is between six weeks old to six months old. Lastly, adult-onset occurs in dogs between the ages of one to eight years old. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is most likely to inherit juvenile-onset CCD and eventually adult-onset CCD. It is undeniable that the symptoms of this degenerative disease will worsen over time, but the amount of time it takes the symptoms to worsen varies from dog to dog. So a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may begin experiencing signs of degeneration and lose their ability to walk within a couple of months. Other dogs may take anywhere from three to eight years for the symptoms to become debilitating.

Stress

The Bernese Mountain Dog is an incredibly anxious breed, and it often causes excess stress. A dog’s diet can significantly affect its stress levels. Giant dogs like the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy require a lot of nutrients and vitamins to sustain healthy bones and skin, and even mental health. Make sure you know the vegetables and fruits their food has, and consider adding some supplements to your dog’s diet. In addition to diet, exercising is vital in ensuring your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy doesn’t experience harmful amounts of stress.

Some dogs become stressed simply because they stay still for too long. For example, Bernese Mountain Dogs used to pull carts for farms, and now some people have competitions to see whose Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can pull a cart the fastest. This competition is an excellent way to help relieve themselves of stress while also connecting them to something they are used to because of their history. Even though your dog was not alive in the 1900s (unless it’s immortal), your pup has a sort of genetic memory. All dogs have their own personalities, but some traits are more likely in some breeds because of their history. The same way cattle dogs love to run, Bernese Mountain Dogs love to pull carts and whatnot. Being in too warm environments may also cause stress for your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. These dogs have a double layer of fur. Their fur may only be medium in length, but it is thick. If you live in a warmer climate, be sure to let them cool off in some A.C. or shade regularly. You can also look into getting a dog jacket that you soak in water. This way, the water cools down your dog in the warm weather. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress in your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.

If you don’t live in warm weather, take your pup for a hike in the mountains. These animals thrive in cold weather and snow. Whether they realize it or not, part of that instinct is still in them. They feel the need to get outside and see new environments, so support them with the endeavor. If your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy doesn’t get enough time outside, his stress may become more intense and affect his personality.

Along with new surroundings, allow your dog to lounge around at home. If you are concerned about how much they shed, these dogs may not be the right fit for you. It’s essential to make sure you don’t end up adopting a dog that has traits you strongly dislike. That will most likely end in you being angry with a dog for simply being a dog.

Some dogs are stressed by loud noises. If you think your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy gets stress from storms or loud noises they aren’t aware of, consider getting something to comfort them. Some dogs are terrified of thunderstorms and cannot stand the weather changes. They would benefit from de-sensitization. Slowly introduce your dog to thunderstorm sounds by playing them softly on the T.V. and giving them treats and praise for sitting through it. Over time you can make the noise louder to make it more realistic. In case your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is exceptionally stressed, consider purchasing something such as dog CBD. Dog parents can get CBD treats for their dogs like CBD-infused soft chews. There’s also CBD-infused peanut butter for dogs. The most common thing pet parents use for CBD is infused oil that you can put on any type of dog food or feed it to your dog from the dropper. There are plenty of treatments meant for dogs that have issues being calm. These dogs want nothing more than to feel safe and loved, just like any other part of your family. Show the dog plenty of attention and shower them with pets and treats, and you’ll end up with a happy, stress-free Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.

Anxiety

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is incredibly devoted to their families. They are so obsessed with them that it’s common for this breed to experience an intense amount of separation anxiety. To help with something like separation anxiety, consider getting your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy a special toy or blanket that is like a safety tool for them. Some dogs bond with stuffed animals just like some kids have their favorite stuffed friends. A stuffed animal or a blanket can also help dogs de-stress after events like thunderstorms or visits to the veterinarian. This breed is extra-large, so if your furry friend gets anxious, they can do a lot of damage. Your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy could potentially tear apart a couch or your trash cans. It’s important not to get angry at dogs for misbehaving if they struggle with separation anxiety. Instead of scolding them, try to help train them through a process of trust. Make sure they know you are consistently coming back but also that it is very typical for you to leave for periods of time and then return home to them.

As anxious as your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may get, their lives are not seriously impacted by anxiety alone. Dogs are primarily about living in the moment, they might be waiting at the door for you to come home, but as soon as you do, it’s all tail wags and happy smiles from thereon. Sure, maybe instead of being anxious and trashing the house, they could lay down and have a good nap, but staying up being worried doesn’t prevent them from much. Even with anxiety, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can find a way to have tons of fun in the sun (or the shade) when they end up home alone. Owners must understand the way their Bernese Mountain Dog puppy reacts to their fears. The different reactions can tell you how severe things may be or if your dog was just a little antsy for you to get home.

As far as health in anxiety goes, excessive anxiety can, unfortunately, lead to many health concerns. Some of them are much more severe than others. For example, a dog with severe anxiety might shed excessively. Work on the separation issues and perhaps even hire a professional trainer to help make your dog understand being alone is okay. Some health issues are not so easy to fix. Dog bloating is an incredibly severe condition that can kill a dog if not treated immediately. Veterinarians and scientists do not know what causes this health condition, but they know some things could increase the risk of developing such a scary illness. Anxiety plays a huge part in that illness. Bloating is known to be more common in dogs that have large chests. A humungous dog like the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy already has a lot of increased risk. Don’t let anxiety be the thing that causes your dog to bloat, and figure out a way that your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can be happy with you at home and when you’re away too.

There aren’t many preventative measures you can take to help a dog with anxiety. The most typical method to prevent anxiety in dogs is by training them from a very young age. If you adopt a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, now is the time to socialize and train it. It’s the prime time to help your puppy get used to you being away occasionally. If you got your Berner when it was a puppy, then you’re in good shape! Not much has happened to your dog to cause it to be so fearful of the world.

If you adopted your Bernese Mountain Dog in adulthood, things might be more challenging for you. However, the same is true for an adult as it is for a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. Training will help them deal with anxiety. The issue with an older dog with anxiety is that there may be some unknown cause to your dog’s worry. Perhaps the last owner of your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy had abandoned them. Your poor pup is probably fearful of that happening again. So their separation anxiety is more of a traumatic response. Owners need to be patient with their rescued Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. If training your dog at home is proving to be more difficult than you can deal with, getting help from a dog trainer might be helpful. You can even search for a dog behaviorist. They can help you understand what your dog is anxious about and help to navigate training so your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy lives a happier life. The most important thing in helping a dog with anxiety is consistency.

bernese mountain dog laying on grass

Physical Health in Bernese Mountain Dogs

Allergies

While the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy does experience some allergies, they don’t often struggle with them. Most of their allergies are food and bowel-related. Sometimes a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may experience sensitive digestive systems and inflammatory bowel disease, and these problems are often related to allergies. These issues are hard to diagnose, and it’s even harder to find food that doesn’t aggravate these allergies. Often a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy requires specific diets because of their allergies. Figuring out if your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy requires a different diet will benefit them and their overall health. Finding out what exact foods affect your dog’s allergies is the hardest part of helping them.

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Owners can understand their Bernese Mountain Dog’s food allergies by recording their symptoms and the foods they’ve eaten. Some signs would present themselves in the forms of diarrhea, repeated and persistent ear infections, or skin and foot irritations.

A condition called atopy is a common allergy amount the Bernese Mountain Dog breed. Symptoms typically start between the ages of one and five and progressively get worse. You can tell if your dog suffers from atopy if they often have ear infections or if they lick their paws and itch their face frequently. This condition is easily treatable, and because of how common it is in the breed, there are multiple treatment options.

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Gut Health

Gastric torsion, commonly referred to as bloat, is a severe condition that causes a dog’s stomach to fill with fluid, food, or gas. When a dog experiences bloating, its belly expands, and when it stretches too far, blood circulation to the heart and stomach gets cut off. Because of this, some stomach tissue may die, and the dog may go into shock. In addition, since the abdomen swells during bloat, it often puts a lot of pressure on the lungs. Breathing then becomes quite difficult for the dog. As bloat progresses, a dog’s stomach may twist at the bottom or top. The belly twisting will prevent the gas or fluid from exiting the stomach. If the owners notice the symptoms of gastric torsion early enough, then a vet may be able to perform emergency surgery.

Symptoms of bloat include an enlarged stomach that may be firm. If your dog continually looks at its stomach or tries to vomit but fails, these are also common symptoms for a dog experiencing bloat. Coughing, drooling, pale gums, and the inability to defecate are all signs that a dog is experiencing bloat. If your dog collapses, it is also a sign that it’s suffering from bloat. Therefore, it is crucial to get them to a vet as soon as possible. If the dog gets to the vet soon enough, they may put a tube in its throat to let the gas escape. If the dog’s stomach twists, emergency surgery will be performed to attempt to relieve the gas. During surgery, vets may also staple the dog’s stomach to its abdomen to prevent any future incidents of gastric torsion.

The worry about Bernese Mountain Dogs and their relationship to gastric torsion is exceptionally high risk for this life-threatening illness. These dogs are often very anxious. As stated earlier, Bernese Mountain Dogs have a higher risk of bloating because of the anxiety this breed experiences. Keep in mind that a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy isn’t at increased risk of developing bloat. Only juvenile/adult dogs can contract bloat. Not only that, but any large breeds with large chests are at risk of bloat. The area around the stomach is very spacious and roomy. Their stomach has enough free space to twist. When the stomach twists, the effects of bloat severely worsen. Bernese Mountain Dogs are in severe pain when this happens. Also, dogs with tall chests and larger dogs, in general, are already at elevated risk of contracting bloat. Bernese Mountain Dogs fit the bill for animals prone to bloat. To make matters more complicated, dogs weighing over 100 pounds are also at higher risk of bloat. Since either gender of a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has the potential to weigh up to 110 pounds, this, unfortunately, includes them. Some Bernese Mountain dogs don’t have to worry about this factor. But if you are a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy owner with a dog weighing 100 pounds or more, they are definitely at high risk for bloat.

If a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy experiences bloat, it very well may kill them. There is no way to reverse this illness with an altered diet and no way to reverse it once it has begun to show symptoms. The only way an owner can help their dog suffering from bloat is to get them to an emergency veterinarian clinic as fast as possible. Sometimes owners take preventative measures for their pets that they know are at higher risk of contracting bloat. However, an owner’s best chance of preventing bloating from happening to their Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is by getting them a specific surgery. The surgery is called gastropexy, and it’s when a veterinarian attaches your dog’s stomach to its abdomen.

If your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has received this surgery, it dramatically lowers the risk of experiencing bloat again. The benefits of this surgery are that if a dog experiences bloat with an attached stomach, it’s not physically possible for the stomach to twist. However, it is still possible for the stomach to accidentally build up in gas and pressure, causing bloat. Gastropexy surgery helps prevent the risk of stomach tissue dying and prevents blood circulation loss. It’s still essential to get your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy to a vet as soon as symptoms occur, but you may have some ease of mind knowing the worst bloat cannot happen to your dog.

Other things that raise the risk of contracting bloat have a lot to do with their eating habits. Dogs that eat from a raised food bowl are more likely to contract bloat. Dogs that eat one large meal a day are also at a higher risk. If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy that eats and then immediately runs around, this will also raise the risk of bloat for your dog.

There are many simple ways to prevent the above risks from happening. If you have a large dog that eats from an elevated food bowl, get a non-elevated food bowl as a replacement. Stop your dog from running around and playing right after they eat. If your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has a habit of doing this, consider feeding them in a smaller and closed room, making them less likely to run around. If you are the kind of pet owner that gives your dog one large meal a day, try breaking those meals up. Maybe feed your dog an early morning meal and a dinner or provide them portions of their daily amount of food whenever you eat too.

When dogs receive emergency health care for bloating, it is rare they survive. However, if the veterinarian successfully saves a dog from bloat, they will almost always perform gastropexy surgery to prevent any future bloat instances. Any Bernese Mountain Dog puppy with this surgery has a much smaller chance of having a life-threatening case of bloating.

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Eye Health

Any Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can get the same eye issues that many other breeds are at risk of developing. Common optic health issues include entropion, and ectropion and these may affect these pups and irritate their eyes. A deformation in the eye causes these issues. Ectropion looks similar to the stereotypical baggy basset hound eyes. Ectropion occurs when the eyelid is droopy, and there is extra space between the eyelid and the exposed eye. Debris can get trapped in the extra space, causing irritation. Entropion is when the eyelid rolls inward, and then the eyelashes irritate the eye. If it goes untreated, entropion can scratch a cornea or cause cornea ulcers which can be painful. This condition can lead to blindness and can happen to any dog breed. The Bernese Mountain Dog breed is more at risk because this health issue is inherited. A vet may want to prevent surgery on conditions like these to attempt to fix the eyelid permanently.

When a dog is experiencing eye issues because of the eyelids, surgery may be necessary to fix it. Sometimes eyedrops may be enough to help your dog with their eye irritation. If eye irritation goes ignored, it may result in a dog becoming completely blind, especially in instances like entropion where the eyelashes are constantly scratching the affected area. For issues like entropion and ectropion, no preventative measures genuinely exist. It’s more important to get your dog to the vet if you think either of these issues affects his eye health.

Another eye condition the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy suffers from is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This degenerative eye disease is incurable. When a dog is diagnosed with PRA, it can take anywhere from one year to three for them to become blind. No treatment is officially available, but you can genetically test a dog’s DNA to see if it may carry the gene for this issue. Dogs with PRA show a lot of symptoms throughout their loss of vision. At first, your dog may be especially disoriented in new places. They may also have dilated pupils. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy in the beginning stages of PRA will lose its ability to see in the dark. If your dog becomes scared of going outside at night or is more unsure of lengths and depths than it had been before, this may be a sign it’s experiencing the beginning symptoms of this eye disease.

After losing night vision, the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy loses their peripheral vision next. If your dog is now scared of going downstairs or jumping, this may signify that this stage of eye disease has come. They also may start to be very bad at catching treats and toys. After this step, a dog loses its ability to see during the day and becomes completely blind. Sometimes cataracts develop late into this eye disease, but cataracts might be removable through surgery. Removing cataracts will not prevent the ultimate blindness, but it may delay the complete loss of sight. Dog with this eye disease will usually go blind within one year of diagnosis. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is more likely to show these signs of eye disease than an adult. Frequently, PRA begins soon after birth, although there have been records of dogs going three to eight years before losing their eyesight.

PRA does not have many options for preventative care. Some pet owners try to give their dogs food that is good for the eyes. Things like omega-fatty acids and salmon oil are great for a dog’s optic health. Feeding your dog these foods will not prevent them from going blind. That is quite like getting a human who needs glasses to reach 20/20 vision by eating carrots. Carrots may be suitable for optic health, but they cannot change your eyesight.

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy isn’t significantly impacted by blindness. A dog’s most vital senses are smell and hearing, and then sight. Because sight is only the third strongest trait, dogs can lean on their excellent senses of hearing and smell to provide them with whatever they may be missing from their loss of vision. Also, because this eye disease has a slow progression, dogs have a decent amount of time adapting to their sight loss. There are many ways to help your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy when they begin losing their sight.

For example, when a dog starts losing its ability to see at night, it may get scared to go out at night. Help your dog adjust to this new fear by standing with them on a leash outside and giving them lots of praise and pets for being outside. Make sure to provide them with treats to solidify the idea that the environment is safe. After a dog has lost all eyesight, make sure there is nothing sharp or dangerous that a dog could injure itself on. PRA usually begins with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, but even the puppies grow large quickly. For other dog breeds that are similar to the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, they are huge, so not much will hurt them. However, it’s still important to make sure they won’t bump into anything that could shatter or frighten them. Some inventive pet parents have added scent and tactile markers to their homes to help their dogs establish a clearer sense of the environment. They might make the kitchen have a tile floor and smell like lemons, while the living room may have a carpet and smell like lavender. These stark contrasts in flooring and smell will only help your dog navigate daily life with blindness.

The best thing owners can do to help dogs establish a safer, more secure feeling after becoming blind is to adapt with your dog to learn about their new blind world. Help them learn verbal cues instead of visual ones. If you need to wake them up, definitely don’t bump your dog awake; instead, try saying his name to wake him up. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may be heavy, and they may like to sleep, but they are not heavy sleepers. Their past as watchdogs means they always have their ears on, even when they don’t look like they do. Imagine how much more alert a blind Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is. Learn how to help your dog feel as happy as can be with his loss of sight. For dogs like Berners, all they want is to make their humans happy, so verbally show them they make you happy, and they’ll be happy too.

vet with bernese mountain dog

Blood Disorders

Von Willebrand Disease is a blood disease where blood doesn’t clot properly. This disease is genetic, and your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is more susceptible to it because of its breed. The condition is chronic, and there is no cure for it. A vet may advise removing any potentially bruising activities from your dog’s life, such as playing with other dogs or hiking through the woods. That way, it can avoid getting scratched at all costs. A DNA test can help an owner know if their dog has this disease. It’s imperative to know whether or not your dog has this disease if it needs any surgery, such as getting spayed/neutered or corrective joint surgeries.

There are a few symptoms that may be present for this disease, and most of them concern blood. Suppose your dog is bleeding from its mouth or nose. It could be a small cut, but it could also be a bad sign that your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has this blood disease. If there’s blood in your dog’s urine or stool, you should talk to your vet to see if he may have this disease. More often than not, anemic dogs have this blood disease. So if you have an anemic dog, it is best to check with your vet if your dog has this disease as well, as it will just help you take care of your pet better.

Histiocytosis is a type of cancer that can be rather aggressive. This cancer happens when histiocytes, a variety of white blood cells, reproduce rapidly and invade many tissues. About 25% of Bernese Mountain Dogs contract this cancer, but histiocytosis is considerably rarer in other dog breeds. Two forms of this cancer can occur. The first is malignant. Malignant histiocytosis is incredibly aggressive, and death may occur in a few weeks after symptoms and diagnoses occur. Systematic histiocytosis is a calmer form of this blood cancer. Systematic histiocytosis makes it so that a dog has episodes of this cancer come and go. However, even if remission may occur for more extended periods, this form of blood cancer will still lead to an early death.

Symptoms for histiocytosis relate to a loss of appetite, weight loss, or doggy anorexia. Lethargy and anemia are also connected symptoms of this disease. Sadly, there is no current cure for this disease. On the bright side, chemotherapy is an option for treatment, but it will simply prolong periods when the dog is in remission. Cancer will inevitably come back and cause death.

There are no tangible ways to prevent these things from happening. In the case of Von Willebrand disease, a DNA test may show if your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has this cancer. Nothing can prevent your dog from getting it, and nothing can cure your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy of it. Histiocytosis is ruthless cancer on this breed of dog. The best thing owners can do for dogs with these health issues is remain as patient and gentle as possible.

A dog will not die from Von Willebrand disease; it just makes caring for them a little more challenging. But if your dog has histiocytosis, that doggy bucket list might come in handy. Try to show how much your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is loved while making them as comfortable as possible. Be attentive to any issues or complications they may have. If the dog has the more aggressive version of that cancer, it would be a good idea to always have someone home with them. Make the time for your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy and you while they still have time left.

Joint and Bone Health

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is when the femur bone incorrectly meets the hip socket. This condition causes arthritis in the affected joint. This disease is hereditary for Bernese Mountain Dogs. If your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy shows signs of pain or discomfort when exercising, it may be a symptom of CHD. Other symptoms include lameness, stiff back legs, and a ‘bunny hop’ like run. If your pup has stiffness getting up or running, these are also signs that point to CHD. When experiencing CHD, dogs may lose muscle tone in their hind legs. Because of the muscle loss, they may not enjoy activities they used to before. Your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may have CHD but not show any pain until three or more years of age. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may remain symptomless because the CHD may not present itself for years, and symptoms may not appear until your dog is well into adulthood.

To treat a dog with CHD, your vet might take an x-ray of your dog to understand how much this issue is affecting them. They’ll decide treatment accordingly to their findings and may even offer surgery as a way to attempt correcting the socket.

Another joint issue a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may have is elbow dysplasia. Similar to CHD, elbow dysplasia is prevalent in large and giant breed dogs. It’ also an inherited condition that causes developmental abnormalities. These abnormalities then lead to malformation of a dog’s elbow joint. Symptoms of this issue will appear in your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy between four and ten months of age. They will present occurrences of lameness in their forearms, or the lameness may be persistent. If your dog is extending his elbow, holding the affected limb away from the body, or has a clear diminished range of motion, these are all signs that point to elbow dysplasia. Fluid may build up in the affected area, causing a bit of swelling and discomfort.

A vet will adequately identify the best treatment options for a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy dealing with elbow dysplasia. Your vet may decide to conduct an arthroscopic examination where they use a tube-like instrument to see the inside of the dog’s joint. They take x-rays of the dog’s elbow and use a syringe to get samples of the fluid build-up in the joints for lab testing. In the long run, vets usually recommend surgery to reconnect the afflicted joint correctly.

These joint problems affect your Bernese Mountain Dog’s ability to run around and exercise as it usually would. They can temporarily no longer hop through mountain trails. The treatments for elbow dysplasia can help bring your pup back to normal. Because elbow dysplasia begins so young, your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy will have a much easier time adapting to its circumstances. For CHD, surgery may help your dog feel better once its symptoms start to worsen. This disease doesn’t worsen until later in life, so a dog may not want to be as active during or after treatment as before the symptoms showed. The best thing owners can do is try to understand their dog’s limitations. Recognizing your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has limits will make it so that they can still do some activities they like, such as playing in the snow. Knowing your dog’s limits will help make sure you don’t hurt them either.

Another common joint disease the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy is prone to be an issue where the cartilage in the joints does not properly attach itself to the bone. Officially known as osteochondritis dissecans or OCD, a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may develop this disease if they develop too quickly. Surgery may help fix this problem. A way to prevent this from occurring is to make sure not to overfeed your Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. Monitor the puppy’s growth to ensure that it is not gaining more than four pounds per week. It’s also helpful to give a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy a special diet meant for growing giant breeds rather than the diet of normal dogs. Talk with your vet to see if they recommend a diet that contains more vitamins and supplements.

Knee ligament tears are also common in large dogs. When larger dogs exercise, especially when they may twist, the dog may tear ligaments in the knee. The cranial cruciate ligament is one of four bands of tissue that hold each knee in a dog together. Vets can perform surgical corrections to fix a knee ligament tear, and physical therapy can help treat the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. Vets may prescribe pain management medicines to help complete the healing process.

Bone pain is common in a growing Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. The condition is called eosinophilic panosteitis, and it usually occurs anywhere from six to ten months of age. The pain is a result of inflammation in the long leg bones. This inflammation may shift legs throughout these growing pains. The inflammation occurs most commonly in large, fast-growing dogs. If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, they are at a higher risk of developing bone pains. Males seem to be affected by this more than females, although either sex can experience this. These pains occur for the first two years of life in a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy and then usually disappear.

Panosteitis causes pain in the periosteum, which is the softer outer layer of bone. The cause of this is unknown, but scientists agree that it connects to rapid growth in larger dogs. The symptoms of this health condition can vary from dog to dog. Usually, they will avoid walking on a leg, which can occur in any of their legs. Other symptoms can be excessive weight loss or fever. Only a vet can confirm a diagnosis of this by taking x-rays of the affected Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.

In most cases, the pain works in cycles. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy may be in severe pain for a few days, and then the pain may disappear for months. The pain can happen vice versa because the bone may grow in bursts rather than consistent growth. Panosteitis will repeat until the dog reaches about two years of age.

There is no way to prevent this from happening, as this is just natural with growing dogs. However, because the pain can be pretty severe, veterinarians can prescribe medications that may offer pain relief or anti-inflammatory treatment therapies. If any growth gets stunted because of the intense pain, rehabilitating exercises may be necessary to heal any affected areas. There are genuinely no studies that show that certain foods or diets may help this issue.

bernese mountain dog in snow

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Skin and Coat Health

Many skin issues the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy has to deal with are related to other diseases or causes. For example, atopy, a common allergy, can affect the folds of the skin between the ages of one to three and can get worse quickly. As stated earlier, however, there are multitudes of treatment options available.

Hypothyroidism is a fairly common health condition found in the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. Hypothyroidism can present a lot of different symptoms, some of which include the fur coat changing colors. The coat can become extra dry, or the brown pigmentation of the skin can be sparse. Veterinarians can supply thyroid hormones if a blood test determines the thyroid gland is not working at its best. If the thyroid is underproducing thyroxine, it can be dangerous for your dog’s health. Your dog may lose some of its hair or become lethargic. If you notice any symptoms that lead to this, the best thing you can do is take your dog to the vet. A veterinarian can adequately assess the issue, and thankfully hypothyroidism is treated relatively easily and often has good results.

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