Health Care and Maintenance
Now, before you get scared about what you have read online about berners, please read this. It is true that the berners have a short life expectancy of 8 years according to the AKC. Let me explain a little background for those of you who do not know. In the early 1900’s the Bernese Mountain Dog was almost extinct. So a group of people brought the populations back, while doing so, there was a lot of inter-breeding, which lead to some of their health issues and short lives. Personally, I am thankful for the time that I have to spend with my dogs and whether they live 8 or 15 years, it will be worth it in the end just knowing them and loving them. There are a few health concerns but no more so than any other large breed purebred dog, such as with the hip and elbow dysplasia. Fortunately, we have been very lucky and have not had to deal with this. There is cancer and PRA (blindness) that are of concern as well. There are steps that you can take that can minimize the risks associated with these illnesses. Having a good vet that knows the health concerns associated with the bernese mountain dog and other large breeds is a must! Do not take the advice of a vet that you do not trust or will not listen to you. After all, you are with your dog everyday and you know his/her behaviors better than anyone and if you are getting answers that you don’t agree with, get a second opinion. A good vet and knowing your dog, will make all the difference in the health and life of your berner (or any other pet). So do not let the internet scare you away from this breed. All pure bred dogs come with health issues because they are pure bred, unfortunately we cannot change that yet, maybe someday, but not now.
Now as far as maintenance goes, they are pretty low maintenance, they need a place to call their own, perhaps an open door kennel, a pillow or just a corner that they like. Dogs are a lot like people, sometimes they just want to go to their room and relax…..give your berner his/her special place. Because the berner is a larger dog, they do require a lot of dog food. Minimizing health risks starts with a good diet. Some people feed their dogs an all-organic meal, however, I believe a good dog food will do the trick too. Talk it over with your vet to see what type of food will be best for your berner and his/her needs. A little trick I learned is turn the bag of dog food over and look at the ingredients. What is the first thing listed? Is it grain, vegetables or meat? Grains and vegetables are fillers and dogs need MEAT, any dog food that lists meat as the first ingredient is far better than a dog food that lists a filler first. Another note that I would like to point out about feeding is to leave food available for your dog. Despite of what you may have heard, a dog will not over eat just because there is food available. Now there are cases where this is not true. If you get a puppy/dog from somewhere that food was given only at certain times than your dog has already learned to eat now or be hungry later. If you adopt a puppy from us, this is not the case. My dogs and puppies have access to food 24/7. Feeding a dog/puppy at certain times may not lead to an overweight dog but there will be food insecurities that can easily result. I am not a vet, this is just my opinion but I have seen this in other dogs.
You may have heard that berners are one of the worst shedders. I am not sure if this is true….I had a husky growing up and that dog shed! However, the only time that my dogs heavily shed are in the spring and in the fall. If your puppy will be an inside dog, your results will be very similar. Other than regular baths and seasonal shedding, our dogs’ coats are not hard to maintain. In the spring and in the fall, I do have to brush them a lot if I do not want hairballs rolling around like tumbleweeds. But when we only had one, this was not something that I considered unmanageable, even with the berners I have now running through my house, this (to me) is not unmanageable.
If there is something that I did not mention that you have questions about, please go to the contact us page and email me or call with questions! Thanks for taking the time to read about the Bernese Mountain Dog!