Whether your pup is a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Bernese Mountain Dog mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you’re interested in adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog, but you want to do some research first — we can help.
These thick-haired, large pups are known for being gentle giants (they’re actually natural people pleasers). Here’s what you need to know about Bernese Mountain Dog’s fur, personality and potential health issues.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are large pups. On average, they grow to be between 23 to 27 inches tall, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Males typically weigh anywhere between 70 to 95 pounds, while their female counterparts can weigh anywhere between 80 to 115 pounds.
According to Dr. McCullough, you should prepare for heavy shedding with Bernese Mountain Dogs, as they have silky, thick and medium-length fur. Unfortunately, these pups aren't hypoallergenic either (actually no breed entirely is!), so if you suffer from pet-related allergies, you'll want to reach out to your doctor for a solution before welcoming this dog breed into your life.
There are two fur color combinations for Bernese Mountain Dogs, too. You'll likely either spot a version with black, white and tan fur or black, white and rust fur, she adds.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known to be super sweet and natural people pleasers, Dr. McCullough explains. If you live in a multiple-pet household, they’ll likely get along just fine with the other animals. And if you’re in a big family, they’re also known to be friendly with people.
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Like most breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs are predisposed to their own set of potential health issues. Knowing about these conditions in advance is essential so you can get ahead of them early on (maybe even at their first vet visit!). Here are the most common health issues Bernese Mountain Dogs face, according to Dr. McCullough:
Hip dysplasia happens when one (or both) of a dog’s hip joints becomes loose. Limping, a swaying or bunny-hopping gait, weakening of the leg muscles, difficulty laying down or standing up and a reluctance to jump or use the stairs are all signs of hip dysplasia, Dr. McCullough says. However, dogs sometimes don’t show obvious symptoms.
“Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition and can include pain medications, joint supplements, steroids, holistic and alternative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy and, in some cases, surgery,” she adds.
Four elbow joint abnormalities make up elbow dysplasia (which also contributes to arthritis). Unfortunately, elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition. Like hip dysplasia, look for limping, a stiff gait, pain and weakening of the muscles as signs of this condition.
Your veterinarian may recommend treatment options like surgery or medical management, which could include managing arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight, doing low-impact activities, physical therapy, joint supplements and anti-inflammatory medications, Dr. McCullough explains.
Von Willebrand’s disease
This genetic disorder decreases the activity of blood-clot forming cells. “Some dogs do not have any symptoms while others can develop excessive bleeding after surgery, trauma or after a blood sample is taken,” Dr. McCullough says.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any treatments for Von Willebrand's disease, but a veterinarian may recommend a blood transfusion if your dog is severely bleeding.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
“Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disease in which the retina slowly deteriorates,” Dr. McCullough shares. “Symptoms of PRA include loss of vision. Affected dogs may be hesitant to go out at night or refuse to enter a dark room. Often vision changes aren’t detected until later stages of the disease because dogs can compensate so well.”
There aren’t any treatment options for PRA, but there are ways to help your pup navigate around familiar and unfamiliar environments. Try providing extra light in dark spaces (especially in the early stages) and keep your dog’s routine and environment consistent.
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV)
Gastric dilatation and volvulus, otherwise known as bloat in dogs, happens when a dog’s stomach fills with air and twists on itself. Signs of GDV include abdominal pain, intense lethargy, decreased appetite, retching, weakness and collapsing, Dr. McCullough says. Surgery, followed by thorough nursing care, is typically the recommended treatment option.
Are you interested in adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog, another mix or any pet at all? Then, check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
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