Health information


Bernese Mountain Digs, just like other large dogs, may suffer hip or elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is an abnormal structure of a hip - insufficient formation of a hip socket causes that it is to shallow and, as a result, it cannot cover the thighbone capitulum or causes capitulum deformation. Elbow dysplasia is similar to hip dysplasia, but it is related to front paws. Depending on the level, dysplasia may cause a very serious movement disorder and intense pain. Dysplasia may be inherited, but today we know that it may also be caused numerous external factors, such as too much activity in the puppy phase, walking on a slippery surface, frequent walking up and down the stairs and improper diet in the dog’s development period.

Dysplasia may be diagnosed by a vet specializing in orthopaedics only on the basis of an X-ray. Testing for hip dysplasia is necessary for a dog to obtain the status of a sire or a breeding bitch, while testing for elbow dysplasia is not required, unfortunately. Due to the fact that dysplasia makes it difficult for a dog to walk and causes pain, and these problems can be eliminated only by way of a surgery, I recommend buying a Bernese Dog only after checking the class of dysplasia of the dog’s parents and grandparents.

Bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus)

Bloat is a problem that occurs mainly amongst dogs with large chests. Bernese Dogs are not among the five breeds in the case of which the risk of bloat occurrence is the highest. However, the disorder occurs frequently in this breed as well, and every owner of a Bernese Dog should be aware of this fact.
This state is potentially life-threatening. It appears suddenly. It occurs when the stomach fills with gases and revolves on its axis, which results in closing of the pylorus and preventing the gases from escaping into the bowel or the oesophagus.

The stomach presses on the surrounding organs, makes it difficult to breath and leads to local cardiovascular disorders. The next stage is a deepening kidney disorder, liver damage, occurrence of toxins in the blood and migration of bacteria from the digestive system into the blood, which leads to full sepsis. Immediate treatment, probably a rescue action, is necessary, and every minute (not an hour) may save the dog’s life. If a proper treatment is not initiated immediately, the dog will die in severe pain.

Research carried out on this disease indicated that there exist many factors that may cause this condition and neither of them is prevalent. Further research is carried out in order to understand this disease and to find the ways to prevent it. Bloat occurs very frequently. Dogs in which this condition occurred once are more prone to it in the future.


This disease constitutes a great genetic challenge for breeders and an even greater challenge for owners of Bernese Dogs. It is not a disease that occurs only in Bernese Mountain Dogs, yet, many sources say that this breed is particularly exposed to this risk (the occurrence of this disease amongst Bernese Mountain Dogs is relatively high, even up to 25% of death causes within the breed). It is said that some forms of cancer have genetic grounds. It has also been indicated that histiocytosis is hereditary (the most common and the worse kind of a cancer in this breed), yet, the origin and pathogenesis of this disease has not yet been explained by scientists.
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