Are you thinking about getting a Bernese Mountain dog puppy, and are looking for information about the breed, and how to feed them? Or are you already a proud owner, but want to find better food for them?
Maybe your current formula gives them digestion? Maybe they don’t particularly like what you feed them, and refuse to eat?
This is the guide for you.
We will provide you with a selection of products to help you find the best food for your Bernese Mountain dog, as well as general information about the breed, their dietary needs, and potential pitfalls you may encounter as an owner.
If you need more general information, you can also check out our guide to the best dog food overall.
Our Top Bernese Mountain Dog Food Reviews
Wellness CORE – Best Overall
If you’re looking for the perfect food for your Berner, this one should cover all your needs. It is a formula specialized in providing all the nutrients large breeds need to maintain their health and strength.
It also includes chondroitin and glucosamine, two ingredients that are key in keeping your dog’s joints and cartilages strong and mobile. Apart from that, it also contains all the vitamins and minerals he needs from a balanced daily diet. Deboned chicken provides the protein, along with turkey, all to ensure your dog has all the ingredients to remain strong and lean. The carbs come from peas and potatoes, and they give your dog enough energy to keep him going.
As it is also free of grain, it doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, or soy, and it should be safe for dogs with gluten-related sensitivities. At the same time, it doesn’t contain any meat by-products or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Overall, this formula is our top choice for Bernese mountain dogs. It provides all the nutrients from quality sources, packed in large kibbles appropriate for big dogs. It should give everything your Berner needs.
American Journey – Best Grain-Free
Among a wide variety of grain-free formulas for your Bernese mountain dog, American Journey’s recipe based on salmon and sweet potatoes is our recommendation. As it gets its protein from deboned salmon, it should provide your pet with all the ingredients they need to remain strong and healthy.
As a source of carbohydrates, this recipe uses peas and sweet potatoes, staying well away from potentially harmful ingredients such as wheat, corn, or soy. That should make this formula an easy choice for dogs with food sensitivities, especially since it also omits artificial ingredients such as preservatives, flavors, or colors.
Kelp, carrots, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals to preserve your pet’s immune system and general health. They also provide the antioxidants to keep your dog youthful for a little longer.
All this makes this formula an ideal choice for the owners of dogs with food-related sensitivities, as it provides them with all the necessary nutrients while avoiding harmful ingredients.
Taste of the Wild – Ideal for Puppies
Puppies of large breeds such as Bernese mountain dogs face specific challenges. Taste of the Wild’s Wild Prairie grain-free recipe for puppies based on buffalo is just such a formula. It provides a perfect balance of protein to feed your pup’s growing body, all coming from such unusual sources as buffalo and bison.
As this is a grain-free recipe, the carbohydrates come from easily-digestible sources such as peas and sweet potatoes, ensuring your dog has enough energy to get him through the day without straining his digestion. Apart from that, this formula also includes natural sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all coming from fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries.
All that protects your pup’s immune system, while maintaining his overall health. It is also rich in omega fatty acids, further protecting his skin and coat. To make sure it’s safe for puppies with food-related sensitivities, this recipe is also free of wheat, grain, or corn, as well as any artificial ingredients such as preservatives, colors, flavors, or other filler.
If you want the perfect formula for your puppy, this one should cover all of his needs while avoiding any potentially harmful ingredients.
Hill's Science – Fit for Sensitive Stomach
Food allergies among dogs are, unfortunately common. If your Berner is among them, this formula could provide the help he needs. It is based on ingredients safe for most dogs, such as chicken, barley, and brewer’s rice, and it also contains components which ease the symptoms of his sensitivities.
As it is based on chicken, your pet should get all the high-quality protein he needs to maintain his health and strength. Rice, peas, and barley provide the easily-digestible carbs to fuel your dog’s daily adventures without straining his stomach.
It also contains omega fatty acids, which should, among other things, help restore the health of your pet’s skin and coat, as that’s one of the ways food sensitivities manifest themselves. And, as this formula is meant for sensitive dogs, it doesn’t contain common allergens or artificial ingredients which might harm your dog.
So, for the owners of dogs with food sensitivities or allergies, we recommend this product. It should provide him with all the nutrients he needs while avoiding common problematic ingredients.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials – Fit for Adult Dogs
For the owners of adult Berners looking for a formula to keep them healthy and active, this Nutro Wholesome Essentials recipe based on chicken and rice has our highest recommendations. Using a quality source for all the nutrients, it should provide everything your adult needs on a daily basis.
The chicken should provide enough quality protein to maintain his body, and rice and sweet potatoes should give all the energy he needs to feed his daily needs. As it is balanced for large dogs, it delivers the right balance of vitamins and minerals to keep your pet healthy. It even contains omega fatty acids to preserve his skin and coat, and chondroitin and glucosamine to maintain the health of his joints.
At the same time, it is free of wheat, corn, or soy, so it should be safe for dogs with gluten-related sensitivities. It also doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients so you can be sure your dog won’t be exposed to potentially harmful components.
This is overall a nicely balanced formula that will provide all the nutrients your adult Berner needs. It provides enough nutrients to satisfy his daily needs, while also including ingredients to improve his quality of life and help maintain his youthful energy and strength a little longer.
Merrick Backcountry – Best for Joint Health
As joint problems are common among larger breeds, should your pet develop them, they will need a different diet to help manage their symptoms. This Merrick Backcountry formula based on chicken and peas is such a recipe.
It provides larger quantities of protein, all coming from chicken and turkey, to help repair the damage. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin also help ease the symptoms. Apples and blueberries provide the vitamins and minerals needed for their overall health, as well as joint and bone strength.
To provide energy, this recipe includes peas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, all easily digestible, and all wholesome quality sources. And, to make it even more digestible, it doesn’t include any wheat, corn, or soy, so it should be safe for dogs with gluten-related allergies. It is also free of artificial components.
So, if you’re looking for a perfect formula for a Bernese mountain dog with joint problems, this one should have you covered.
FirstMate – Best Limited Ingredient
FirstMate’s Large Breed recipe based on ocean fish and potatoes is a product based on providing all the nutrients from a limited number of ingredients. Ocean fish provide the protein, and it should be suited to dogs with poultry-related allergies, and at the same time, provide more than enough to help maintain their large bodies.
The ocean fish is, at the same time, rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as omega fatty acids, all of which are further boosted by supplements. And, in keeping with the limited-ingredient philosophy, the carbohydrates only come from potatoes, so it should be perfect for dogs with grain or gluten-related sensitivities.
This formula also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help maintain your dog’s joints. And, to further ensure it’s safe for dogs with sensitivities, it also doesn’t include any potentially harmful ingredients, such as artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.
Overall, this formula should be ideal for dogs with poultry-related sensitivities. All its nutrients come from a small number of ingredients, so it should be ideal as an elimination diet.
Common Health Issues of Bernese Mountain Breeds
Like all dogs, Bernese mountain dogs have their issues. There are diseases which affect them more than other breeds, and they are also susceptible to conditions afflicting large breeds. This section should cover the most common problems your Berner can encounter.
If you suspect your Berner might have one of these issues, consult your vet immediately.
Cancer is the most common cause of death among Bernese mountain dogs. It usually affects dogs older than five years. Among the most common types of cancer affecting Berners is histiocytic sarcoma, which predominantly affects dogs with orthopedic problems.
The symptoms vary according to the type of cancer, as do the treatments and prognoses. In general, the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the outlook, so regular check-ups with your vet are recommended when your dog reaches his elderly years.
Read more: Top 5 Food For Dogs With Cancer
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
As Berners belong to large breeds of canines, they are more prone to problems with their joints than smaller dogs. They are most susceptible when they are growing, and it is during that period they will develop most of their issues.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are the most common joint problems and are caused by abnormal growth during their development phase. In most cases, they will correct on their own with the dog adjusting his walk. In more serious situations, however, surgery may be required.
In any case, if you notice your pup has difficulty walking while he is growing, consult your vet.
Read more: 5 Best Food for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
While it can affect any dog, bloat is most common among large breeds. It is a life-threatening condition, and if you notice your dog pacing in an agitated manner, hunching his back, having difficulty breathing, dry heaving, or vomiting, consult your vet immediately.
Bloat happens in two stages. In the first, the stomach is filled with gas, and in the second, it can flip, causing blood loss to the affected tissue, followed by necrosis and death. That’s why it’s extremely important to catch the symptoms early.
Joint and Skeletal Problems
Apart from hip and elbow dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dessicans is the most common joint and skeletal problem affecting Berners. It is a condition in which, during growth, not all cartilage is replaced with bone, causing issues ranging from mild discomfort to pain.
While the disease isn’t life-threatening, it can be a problem. That’s why it’s important to feed Berner puppies a balanced diet that will prevent rapid growth. It is also vital to maintain their weight within healthy limits, as weight problems during their development phase can exacerbate the problem.
Autoimmune diseases are more common among purebred dogs, and as such, Berners are affected as well. A common issue is Aseptic Meningitis, which can be fatal in its most extreme cases. It mostly affects puppies at around 3 to 12 months of age.
Its symptoms are similar to ordinary meningitis, such as fever, rigidity, or stiff walk, among others, so if you notice any of them, consult your vet.
Read more: Dog Food for Autoimmune Disease
Food allergies are a common difficulty among dogs in general, and they affect Berners, as well. They can manifest themselves as digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, or gas, which are usually signs of intolerances.
Food allergies, on the other hand, activate the immune system, and they manifest themselves as itchy skin or ear infections. In that case, a good elimination diet will usually clear things up, and after that, you can try and find a formula that doesn’t contain ingredients your dog is allergic to.
This condition usually affects dogs approaching their elderly years. It is a result of the reduced activity of the thyroid gland, which regulates your dog’s metabolic rate. As the rate slows, your pet will start gaining weight while eating the same amount of food. He will also have less energy, and his skin and coat will start developing problems.
It is a condition commonly treated with a balanced diet, so if you notice these signs, consult your vet and see what options you have.
Berners are especially prone to two specific eye problems: entropion and progressive retinal atrophy. Both are congenital issues. Entropion is a condition in which parts of their eyelids grow inward, towards the eye, causing irritation and scratching the eyeball. It is a relatively mild problem, but it can be surgically corrected if necessary.
Progressive retinal atrophy, on the other hand, is a more serious issue. As it is a progressive issue, there is no cure, and it always ends in blindness. So, if you notice your dog has problems orienting himself in new places, or his vision is reduced during the night, consult your vet immediately.
Bernese Mountain Dogs Diet & Nutrition Facts
As Berners belong to large breeds of dogs, their height can range from 25-28 inches, and their weight can vary between 80 and 120 pounds. And, like all large canines, they burn fewer calories per pound than their smaller cousins, at about 20-25 calories per pound.
That means that an adult Berner of 100 pounds may need anywhere between 2000 and 2500 calories every day. That further varies by age: puppies and younger adults need more calories per pound, and elderly dogs need less. And, even that number varies with activity levels: active and working dogs need more calories per pound than couch potatoes.
As they are a lean breed, they need more high-quality protein to maintain the health and strength of their muscles no matter the activity levels. It is, however, important to pay attention not to feed them too much when they are still growing; that can lead to a period of accelerated growth, which can lead to joint problems.
Feeding Your Bernese Mountain Canine
In this section, we will provide you with basic information on how to properly feed your Bernese mountain dog. We will give you information on what ingredients your dog might like, what might not agree with him, and essential info on feeding your Berner.
Ingredients to Look For
When choosing the right formula for your Bernese mountain dog, you should pay attention to the three most important ingredients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. When possible, protein should come from named whole sources, such as chicken, beef, lamb, or salmon, particularly for its first ingredients. After that, as long as the formula contains named meals, it should be okay.
The same principle applies to fat – named sources are preferable to unidentified. And since sources of fat also carry other vital ingredients such as omega fatty acids, they should come from high-quality sources. Salmon oil is generally more acceptable than, for instance, poultry fat. Flaxseed and sunflower oils are also desired ingredients.
As for carbs, the best sources come from easily digestible whole grains such as brown rice, barley, or oats, which are also sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Read more: 10 Best Dog Food for Large Breeds
Ingredients to Avoid
You should avoid products containing unidentified sources of protein, usually labeled as ‘meat meal’ or ‘meat byproduct,’ and the same goes for sources of fat. Those ingredients are usually cheaper, and it is impossible to tell what animal they came from. In most cases, ‘meat meals’ contain processed remains after all the useful ingredients have already been used.
Generally, you should also avoid grains your dog may not be able to digest, such as wheat or corn. Soy is another ingredient that dogs may not have a tolerance for. Apart from that, it is usually safe to avoid artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors, as they may have adverse effects in the long run.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, or BMDCA, recommends feeding them 4 cups of premium food a day. That can, however, vary in the real world. Some dogs eat more, others less. Some need more energy due to their active lifestyle, some less.
In general, you should adjust the amount of food to your specific dog, while looking out for potential problems that may arise. If they start gaining weight, reduce the amount. If they lose weight and become lethargic, increase it.
Apart from that, you should make sure you don’t overfeed your Berner while he’s growing, as that can have adverse effects on the development of his bones. You should keep him on a specialized puppy formula until he reaches about 80% of his size, then switch to an adult formula.
Similarly, when they reach half their lifespan, at about 4-5 years old, you should, after consulting your vet, switch them to a senior formula.
Berners are good-natured large dogs, perfect both for families and single owners. And while they may be prone to some diseases, with a proper diet, they can be your faithful canine companion for many years.
Our top product, Wellness Core’s chicken and turkey formula is just such food. It provides all the nutrients large dogs need, obtaining them from quality sources while avoiding potentially harmful ingredients.
And if that food doesn’t suit your dog, we provided a wide selection of products that he may enjoy. Some serve a specific purpose, such as providing a perfect mix for puppies, or dogs with food sensitivities, but most of them are a good choice for your pet.
After all, if you want your dog to lead a happy and fulfilling life, and stay healthy and energetic as long as possible, a proper diet is the right way to achieve this.