6 Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues and Their Treatment

6 Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues and Their Treatment

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, powerful, and beautiful dog bred for pulling heavy loads. They are known for their intelligence and friendliness. However, these dogs have a short lifespan of approximately 6-10 years.

This article will cover some of the common Bernese Mountain Dog health issues – from joint problems to cancer and digestive issues. It will also provide tips on how you can help your dog live a more comfortable life.

6 Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Issues

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a highly-energetic working breed. Unfortunately, they can be susceptible to many health issues which we have briefly discussed below:

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common condition in dogs that is characterized by an abnormal development disorder of the hip joint. It can cause problems with mobility, pain, lameness, and arthritis in some cases. To ensure that your dog will be able to live a long life with you, make sure to get your dog checked for hip dysplasia.

Treatment: The veterinarian can treat your dog for hip dysplasia using physical therapy, pain relief, and supplements.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is another common disease in Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, which regulates the metabolism and body temperature of your dog.

Lethargy, appetite changes, hair loss, and irregular heat cycles are often a sign that your dog may be suffering from hypothyroidism. If you notice any of these symptoms in your Bernese Mountain Dog, you’ll want to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. In order to diagnose hypothyroidism in your dog, you should first rule out other possible causes of the symptoms such as Addison’s Disease or Cushing’s Disease.

Treatment: Luckily, Hypothyroidism can be treated through diet, supplementation, hormone therapy, and medications.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye condition that leads to blindness. The disease affects dogs and cats, but it is most commonly seen in dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs. PRA causes blindness in older dogs due to the loss of cells that cover their retina. This process starts when their vision becomes blurry and they begin losing vision over time as more cells die off.

Treatment: Since this condition is largely genetic, you should find a breeder with extensive knowledge of your potential puppy’s pedigree and family health history. A reliable, experienced breeder may be the best way to minimize the risks involved in your dog contracting genetic diseases like the PRA.

4. Histiocytosis

Histiocytosis is a rare disease that affects the dog’s immune system. The disease occurs when cells called histiocytes, which are white blood cells, multiply uncontrollably. Unfortunately, Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of the breeds that are susceptible to this condition. This breed has a high mortality rate due to this disease, which is also the main reason why they have a short life span.

Treatment: Chemotherapy has been able to help in the treatment of histiocytosis. However, there is still no cure for this specific condition in dogs. The best way to protect your pup is to make sure you’re getting him from a reputable breeder with a healthy background.

5. Ear Infections

One of the most common health problems in Bernese Mountain Dogs is ear infections, which are usually caused by bacteria or yeast infections.

Treatment: The most effective way to prevent this is by cleaning your dog’s ears regularly with an ear cleaner or cotton ball dipped in alcohol every day before bedtime. You should also avoid letting your dog lick their ears as this can cause infection too.

6. Bloat

Bloat in Bernese Mountain Dogs can be caused by different factors, including diet, exercise, and genetics. The most common symptom of bloat is a distended stomach with a rounded back end. When a dog’s stomach is filled with air and it does not go down, blood circulation to the area is cut off. This causes the stomach to enlarge and can lead to tragic injuries such as a rupture. An enlarged abdomen can also lead to difficulty breathing. This condition is usually seen as an emergency situation and requires immediate treatment.

Treatment: Treatment starts with emptying the stomach of food and water followed by anti-inflammatory medicine. It also involves giving the dog oxygen therapy to help reduce air in their stomachs.

Why Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Have a Short Life Span?

The average lifespan for a Bernese Mountain Dog is about 7 years. Unfortunately, 50% of the breed dies from cancer, which can shorten their life considerably. This is why cancer is the main reason behind the dog’s short life span. Another reason is that these dogs have an unusually high risk of developing hip dysplasia eventually leading to arthritis that can be fatal when left untreated.

8 Best Ways to Keep Your Bernese Mountain Dog Healthy

We all love our dogs and we want the best for them. But sometimes, they just get sick, and it can be a real pain to deal with if you don’t know what to do. If you are looking for ways to make your Berner’s life comfortable, here is a list of some of the steps you can take to ensure that your Berner is healthy and happy.

  1. One of the best ways is to provide them with lots of love, exercise, playtime, and attention.
  2. Schedule regular visits to the Vet for your Bernese Mountain Dog so that you are able to identify any underlying health issues before they get worse.
  3. Be aware of the common health issues and know the symptoms so the conditions can be diagnosed early.
  4. There are also some specific things you should do in order to provide the best care for your Berner such as brushing their teeth regularly.
  5. Give them a bath when they need it and clean their paws and ears with cotton balls to prevent infection or parasites.
  6. Give them a healthy diet that consists of high-quality dry food, protein, and other nutrition.
  7. Make sure you monitor your dog’s weight so that they do not gain weight and be prone to obesity.
  8. You can take care of your pet in other ways: cleaning up their waste and bringing them enough toys to play with.

Also check out: How to train a Bernese Mountain Dog?


Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of the best breeds to welcome into your life and are bound to make a life-long impact on your family. There’s so much to appreciate about these loyal, loving companions. Given their health issues and shot life span, you might just want to make their health the top priority in your life!

Thank you for reading the article.

Now that you know common health issues found in Bernese Mountain Dogs, explore more about the breed here. 

Did you know about the health problems that we mentioned above? How do you ensure that your dog is healthy and living comfortably? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

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