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From the farmlands of Switzerland comes a giant dog breed with a big heart. Bernese Mountain Dogs (Berners) cause the floorboards to rattle when they’re lumbering about your house, but the affection, loyalty, and overall calm temperament of the breed is rivaled by no other of this size.


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Like most large dogs, Berners require their fair share of exercise. Walking with them for more than 60 minutes per day is the recommended amount. Your dog will love spending this time with you, and it also provides excellent opportunities for training and establishing a lasting bond between owner and pet. The right amount of exercise also makes their diets easier to maintain.

When considering a dog’s health, especially for larger breeds (prone to health problems as they age), the food it eats plays a significant role. A balanced and healthy diet is the best way to keep your furry friend healthy for years to come.

Owners have to be careful about too much protein in the food, which can lead to hot spots or too much fat will almost always cause unwanted weight gain. For Berners specifically, you need to look for foods with a low protein level and moderate fat levels.

Berners are one of four types of Swiss Mountain Dogs, a category that includes the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, and Appenzeller Sennenhund. For this article, we will be focusing strictly on the Bernese Mountain Dog as its size and amount of hair causes some pretty specific variations in its diet. We will list our top choices for Dog food, both dry and wet, while also explaining the dietary specifics, behaviors, and health information about this beautiful breed.

What Dog Food Should I Feed My Bernese Mountain Dog?

After looking into the leading brands of Dog food, we produced a list of the top foods in several categories. Our top choice is a food we feel best combines and addresses all of these categories. Here is a quick list of the factors we considered and the foods we felt fulfilled them:
Our Top Choice: NomNom Dog Food Delivery
Second Best: A Pup Above
Premium: The Farmer’s Dog
Most Popular: Wellness: Complete Health Large Breed
Best Value: American Journey: Active Life
Best for Puppies: Taste of the Wild: High Prairie Puppy Recipe
Best for Seniors:Wellness: CORE Pâté
For Dogs on a Diet:American Journey: Healthy Weight
Vet Recommended:Wellness Core
Sensitive Stomachs:Taste of the Wild: Prey Limited Ingredient Recipe
Allergies:American Journey Limited Ingredient

The 5 Elements of Berner Nutrition

For large dogs, it’s essential to maintain the right weight. As they age, weight problems can lead to even more difficulties like joint strain. The only way for your Berner to remain active and healthy in their later years is with a balanced diet. Because of their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs need to eat a lot. With that much intake, it’s important to watch the ingredients going into their food. Too much of the wrong thing can make your fluffy Berner turn chubby real fast.

Protein

Like humans, Dogs are Omnivores, which means they need their protein to keep them strong. While vegan options are being explored, most vets and owners agree that meat like beef, poultry, pork, or fish is your best bet for getting your dog the protein it needs. If your dog has the right amount of protein in its food, it will keep its fundamental tissues healthy like hair, skin, nails, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

For Bernese Mountain dogs, the right amount of protein is about 18-26% of their meal. More protein can be too much for a Berner’s stomach and lead to hotspots on their skin. If your dog is more active, you can add more protein in their food to compensate.

Carbohydrates

You’ll find the typical carbohydrates in most dog foods are whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans.  They are not a necessary part of a dog’s diet. Most veterinarians recommend avoiding grains if your Bernese Mountain Dog is overweight as they contribute to dog obesity more than foods that are only meat and vegetable-based.

However, a lot of dog brands that contain carbohydrates are cheaper than those without. Also, in reasonable amounts, carbohydrates are safe for dogs and can even serve as a good energy source.

Fats

Fat is another source of energy for your Berner. It also helps insulate their skin and provides protective cushioning. It’s crucial to balance the fat in your pet’s diet because too little or too much can lead to serious health problems for the animal. In some cases, too much fat will make your animal lethargic or lazy.

For Bernese Mountain Dogs, the recommended amount of fat is under 16%. The right level of fat keeps their energy level high and makes their skin thick and healthy. Your dog will also be more satisfied with the meals. Higher fat content encourages eating, even with dogs whose medical condition affects their diet.

Fruits/Vegetables

An apple isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when we think of a dog treat. However, vitamins A and C inside the apple are beneficial for your dog and can keep their coat shiny and skin healthy. Fruits and Vegetables are healthy resources for the vitamins your dog needs.

The healthiest dog food brands regularly contain carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes because of their essential vitamins, which contribute to organ health like eyes, muscles, nerves, and kidneys.

Even though they’re perfect for your dog, he or she might not be too pleased about that first piece of broccoli. Try testing out some of the brands we suggested below. They do a fantastic job of concealing the veggies so your Berner can chow down and not even notice them.

Prebiotics/Probiotics

Prebiotics and Probiotics come vet recommended for large dogs. They prevent common digestive system problems that result from their size. The right amount of these supplements leads to healthier bowel movements and can also aid the immune system.

7 Things to Consider for Bernese Mountain Dogs Diet and Nutrition

The diet itself is a great place to get started and make sure you raise the healthiest Berner possible. A few other factors need to be considered beyond the diet if you want to cater to all of your dog’s needs. We listed some of the most common health characteristics of Bernese Mountain Dogs below.

Common Health Issues

These beautiful dogs do have a few problems medically. It helps to be aware of the risks so you can do your best to prevent these diseases or catch them early on for treatment:

Hip or Elbow Dysplasia:

    • When the hip or elbow joint is either malformed at birth or deformed over time due to diet or exercise, Hip or Elbow Dysplasia can occur. It can lead to arthritis, limited mobility, and pain. By keeping your dog at the right weight, you can significantly reduce their risk of getting this disease.

Bloat:

    • If your dog’s stomach or intestines become inflamed, it can lead to discomfort, restricted blood flow, and even death. The best way to avoid bloat is to regulate feeding schedules and activity. Please don’t bring your dog to exercise any less than thirty minutes before eating and 1-2 hours after eating.

Cancer:

    A dog’s likelihood of contracting cancer is closely related to its genetics. Talk to your breeder if possible to find out if, and what types of cancer run in your dog’s bloodline.

Daily Calorie Intake

The daily calorie intake for a Bernese Mountain Dog is reliant on two factors: age and weight. The average Berner (weighing about 100 lbs) is 2203 Kcal, and puppies can consume around 1200 Kcal per day. That’s a lot of energy! If you’d like to know your dog’s specific calorie intake, try this Bernese Mountain Dog calorie calculator.

Activity Level

Like most big dogs, Bernese Mountain dogs require a lot of time exercising. Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise daily is the bare minimum, but most breeders and specialists recommend closer to 1 – 2 hours.

These dogs have a lot of energy, and the more you exercise them, the more you can guarantee they’ll be in peak condition. When they get older, they will become more docile and less likely to jump around or run, but regular exercise is still important to stretch their joints and prevent obesity.

Allergies

In dogs, allergies make them scratch at their dry skin instead of sneezing and wheezing. This skin condition is called “atopy,” and it isn’t unusual for Berner to catch it. If you see your dog scratching at his feet, belly, folds of skin, or ears often, then they may be allergic to something.

The symptoms usually occur between the ages of 1 and 3 and can also result in behavior like paw licking and face rubbing or even ear infections. Notify your vet right away if you think your dog might have an allergy.

Dietary Restrictions

There are no specific foods to avoid with Bernese Mountain Dogs. Like all dogs, chocolate, onions, caffeine, garlic, anything with alcohol, and moldy foods can have catastrophic consequences if consumed. Foods that are unhealthy for humans and have high-fat content should also be limited as much as possible to prevent weight gain or digestion problems.

Skin Conditions

One skin condition that Berners are prone to get is hotspots. These pesky patches of dry skin cause a lot of irritation for the dog and cause excessive chewing/scratching in that region. It can seem impossible to stop your dog from biting at themselves. However, people have had success with tea tree oil as a natural remedy for this common problem.

Bernese Mountain Dog Feeding Schedule

    Puppies (8-10 weeks): 2.25 – 4.5 cups of food per day Adults (1-6 years): 3 – 6 cups of food per day

As we said earlier, big dogs can eat a lot. You must portion out the meals appropriately so that the dogs get their necessary caloric intake without overeating. Feeding puppies up to six months three times per day is recommended.

After six months, it’s alright to feed them only twice per day. A dog’s required food per day can vary based on its environment and genetics. If it appears that your dog is gaining weight too slowly or too quickly, contact a veterinarian or try one of the diet calculators available on the internet.

Most resources will recommend a raw food diet for a Bernese Mountain dog. A raw food diet means only feeding them fresh, unprocessed ingredients that even humans eat. There are several pros and cons to the style of feeding that you can read more about here.  Since most Berner enthusiast websites recommended this feeding style, we kept that in mind when selecting our top food choices below.

* An interesting fact about Bernese Mountain Dogs is that they have a powerful bite. The toys you buy for your Berner should be tough so that they don’t get fractured or end up all over your carpet. We recommend buying toys made of rubber or multi-layered rope for extra safety and fun.

The Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs

Ready to offer your Berner some of the best nutrition available? Take a look at our top picks for the best dog food for Bernese Mountain dogs.

Our Top Choices: The Best Food for a Berner in 2021

Taking into consideration what we just learned, let’s have a look at our number one overall pick for feeding your Bernese Mountain Dog. Then read on to learn more about the other options as well.

Our Top Pick – NomNom Fresh Food Delivery

As we mentioned earlier, most specialists, breeders, and veterinarians recommend that a raw food diet is a way to go for Berners. This industry is a relatively new one, and there are several leading companies to choose from. NomNom just happens to check all the right boxes when giving your dog raw, fresh, and healthy meals.

NomNom uses restaurant-quality ingredients full of the nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy and happy. Eating raw food has been proven to lower weight by eliminating unnecessary carbohydrates and leading to things like less dry skin and a shinier coat. They cook their food at a normal temperature, so no nutrients are lost during the process.

They also offer a list of the vets and nutritionists who recommend and work with them on their website. Another neat feature of the site is the fully comprehensive process of registering your dog.

You will give them your dog’s name, breed, weight, behavior, and a few other specifics before they recommend a meal plan designed specifically for your Berner. The registration process is great because the customizability allows for a lot of variety if your dog is a picky eater.

10 More Great Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs

Suppose you’re looking for something a little different from NomNom; we also found these other brands during our research. Take a look at the choice below to see their benefits and the specific category they fit best.

Second Best – A Pup Above

Key Features:

    One main protein base: chicken, beef, turkey, or pork Non-GMO veggies and Superfoods Home Delivery No Grains Options Available

A Pup Above is like many other Fresh, Human-Grade dog food companies in that the animal’s health is their priority. They deliver to pet households throughout the country and can make deliveries weekly.

Their meals have the highest protein count of any other fresh dog food delivery service. Their meals contain healthy greens like kale, full of antioxidants and vitamins, and carb-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes where your Berner can get those fibers it desperately needs.

One thing to keep in mind about A Pup Above is that their food comes in one pound patties not portioned for your dog. If you order from them, you’ll have to make the portions yourself.

Pros:

    More Protein Home Delivery Fresh Human-Grade Ingredients

Cons:

    Packages not portioned well

Premium – The Farmer’s Dog

Key Features:

    Single Source Protein Unprocessed Ingredients USDA approved kitchens Weekly delivery

The Farmer’s Dog’s name speaks for itself. Their goal is to get fresh ingredients directly from the farm into your doggy bowl. They do so by taking high-quality ingredients and preparing them in USDA approved kitchens at a level of cleanliness no dog has experienced before.

The Farmer’s Dog has an extremely convenient delivery process by leaving the delivery at your door and has a complex dog registration process. Before deciding on your pets diet plan, you’ll be asked things like whether or not your dog was neutered, their behavior, their body type, the usual diet they have, if they receive treats or scraps, and many more questions, all to guarantee you get the perfect meal plan for your Berner.

Pros:

    Customizable Diet Fresh Ingredients A healthy balance of nutrients

Cons:

    Expensive Not widely available

Key Features:

    Lead ingredients of Chicken, Peas, Salmon and Brown Rice Many nutrients Designed for Large Breeds

Wellness is known for making dog foods that hit on many vital nutrients to keep your dog healthy. This specific food contains mixed tocopherols that help prevent eye disease and Yucca Schidigera extract, reducing the odor from stool. It also has low fat and high protein percentages, which will help your Bernese Mountain Dog build the muscle it needs to support its larger frame. Dog food advisor has rated this product as an above-average dry-food.

Since it’s important to feed your Bernese Mountain Dog a lot, a dry food exclusive diet isn’t recommended. However, Wellness: Complete Health Large Breed would undoubtedly be a beneficial portion of any happy Berner’s diet.

Pros:

    Good source of nutrients High Protein Low Fat Intended for Large Breeds

Cons:

    Complaints about taste

Best Value – American Journey: Active Life

Key Features:

    25% protein from real meat as the first ingredient No wheat, corn, or soy Balance of Antioxidants, Nutrient-rich vegetables, and fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6

American Journey’s Active Life is full of the energy-providing nutrients your Bernese Mountain Dog needs to remain healthy, active and fetching the ball at record speeds. It’s labeled our best value pick because it’s the cheapest item on the list while also keeping up with the standard of ingredients necessary for a Berner’s good health.

The antioxidants inside will promote a healthy immune system while the fatty acids work to keep their skin and fur healthy. The grains inside are easily digested, and without any wheat, soy, corn, or artificial ingredients, you have nothing to worry about.

Pros:

    High in Nutrients Low Price No artificial ingredients

Cons:

    Picky dogs don’t like the taste. Dry Food

Best for Puppies – Taste of the Wild: High Prairie Puppy Recipe

Key Features:

    Small pieces designed for small mouths Species-specific probiotics Pasture-raised bison and venison as the first ingredient

When raising a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, the right food can be hard to find. You need something small enough for their mouth but containing enough nutrients to make sure they can grow correctly. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs, so you need a food brand that caters to those needs.

Call of the Wild has everything your Berner puppy needs to grow up healthy. Nutrients like DHA will help with the animal’s brain function, while dried chicory root will do wonders for its digestive system. The venison and bison’s savory flavors will keep your dog coming back to his bowl over and over for more of this healthy treat.

Pros:

    Good size for puppies Right nutrients for a growing dog Tasty flavors

Cons:

    More expensive than other dry foods

Best for Seniors – Wellness: CORE Pâté

Key Features:

    Rich in Fatty Acids Soft Texture No Grains

Most senior dogs should receive a check-up with their veterinarian at least every six months. During these check-ups, you can learn about the various health issues your dog faces and then choose a food that helps counteract some of those issues that come with age.

Our choice for senior dogs is Wellness: CORE Pâté. We choose it for two simple reasons: it’s easy to chew and has no grains. Two of the most common problems that older dogs face is weaker teeth and obesity. The smooth text of the Pâté makes it much easier for dogs to swallow regardless of their dental health. The lack of grains means your dog can eat more of it without gaining too much weight.

Pros:

    Easy to chew Doesn’t lead to significant weight gain Good taste

Cons:

    High Sodium Content Verify with the vet before choosing

For Dogs on a Diet – American Journey: Healthy Weight

Key Features:

    No grains Real chicken is the first ingredient No corn, wheat, or soy

Sometimes dog obesity can happen faster than we realize. A few extra handouts under the table, and suddenly you got a chonky fella on your hands. If being overweight is a problem for your dog, then it’s crucial to get them on the right diet right away because it can only lead to more severe health problems down the road.

Our choice for the Berners trying to shed a few pounds is American Journey Healthy Weight. The product is extremely affordable and grain-free. One of the critical elements is L-Carnitine, which helps support healthy fat metabolism. If your dog’s metabolism is healthy, it’s easier for it to lose weight. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also contributors, helping reduce the joint pain caused by obesity.

Pros:

    Helps with weight loss Affordable Made with real ingredients

Cons:

    Some dogs might not enjoy

Key Features:

    Turkey, flax seed, and peas are the first ingredients. Nutrient-rich superfoods Coated with probiotics No grains

When choosing the right food for your dog, a vet’s recommendation is almost always the best bet. Animal health professionals know the ins and outs of nutrition in general and your dog’s specific needs, especially if your dog has any preexisting health conditions.

One of the brands that vets recommend the most is Wellness: Core. They recommend it because the grain free dog food contains all the essential nutrients that dogs need to live long and happy lives. The kibble has a superb balance of protein, fat, and nutrients that provides a one-size-fits-all diet for any adult dog.

Pros:

    Real meat and vegetable products Vet Recommended Helps aid in digestion

Cons:

    Might have to mix with other food to encourage picky eaters

Sensitive Stomachs – Taste of the Wild: Prey Limited Ingredient Recipe

Key Features:

    Four Main Ingredients Probiotics Omega Fatty Acids

For dogs with sensitive stomachs, it’s important to find foods with as few ingredients as possible. Too much variety only allows something to upset the dog’s digestion, especially if some of those ingredients are artificial.

That’s why we chose Taste of the Wild: Prey Limited Ingredient Recipe. There are only four ingredients in these simple mixtures, but each contains enough nutrients to keep Bernese Mountain Dogs on a balanced and healthy diet. It also comes in three flavors, beef, turkey, and trout, which means you can select whichever your dog likes best.

Pros:

    A low number of ingredients Promotes good digestion Good tasting in many flavors

Cons:

    More expensive than average dry foods

Allergies – American Journey Limited Ingredient

Key Features:

    No grains Single source animal protein Digestible carbohydrates

Like dogs with sensitive stomachs, the best way to find dog food for a dog with allergies is to limit the ingredients. Sometimes it can be challenging to determine what your dog is reacting to. If it’s related to their food, then narrowing down the ingredients will help you identify the problem food or avoid it altogether.

We mentioned earlier that the most common symptom of dog allergies is dry skin. That’s why we chose American Journey’s Limited Ingredient because having a single source protein and being grain-free can eliminate this symptom. It also has high-quality nutrients that can help build your dog’s immune system and fight against allergies.

Pros:

    Prevents dry skin Easily digestible

Cons:

    Some owners complained about their dog not liking the taste.

Frequently Asked Question about Bernese Mountain Dogs

Now that you know what your Berners nutritional needs are (and the best dog foods for them), let’s finish up this guide with some frequently asked questions.

What are the signs of bad nutrition?

Frequently people won’t even know if their dog is malnourished. Without apparent signs like unexpected weight gain or loss, it can be hard to tell if you’re feeding your dog the right ingredients. However, some signs do point to an unbalanced diet.

For example, if your dog begins shedding too much or starts using the bathroom more frequently. Aggression and hyperactivity can be signs of a bad diet as well. Finally, if your dog experiences health problems frequently, it can also signify a diet problem, and you should talk to your vet about changing for something healthier.

Where is the best place to find information about Bernese Mountain Dog Nutrition?

We already provided some links in the article, but honestly, the best place to find nutritional information for your Berner is from its breeder. Breeders have access to bloodline info and genetic history that can help get the diet exact. It will also allow you to prepare for any diseases that might run in the dog’s family. The breeder will have raised Berners of the same family for generations. They’ll know precisely what, when, and how often to feed them.

What kind of behavior can a low-quality diet lead to?

If your dog is misbehaving or acting strangely, it’s often linked back to the diet. Not having the right nutrients or getting upset stomachs will dramatically affect your dog’s temperament on both ends of the spectrum.

They can become very aggressive and agitated because they are consistently hungry or passive and lazy because of regular discomfort. When a dog’s diet is imbalanced, it can also lead to nervousness and hyperactivity. Overall, if your dog is behaving unusually, you should probably contact your vet right away.

Are Nutritional Supplements a Good Idea?

If you aren’t using a raw or fresh food diet, one supplement you’ll want to consider is probiotics. Most pet foods that don’t explicitly claim to have them will not, and they are an essential part of your dog’s digestive health.

Another thing to consider is healthy fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6, giving your dog a thicker and nicer coat. You will also want to check for foods containing glucosamine and chondroitin as they will help ease joint pain common in Bernese Mountain Dogs as they get older.

Conclusion

All of this information about diet can feel overwhelming. Keeping your dog up to nutritional standards is certainly no easy task, but it is manageable when you break it down into different factors and address them one by one. We hope that this information above makes taking care of your Berner just a little bit easier. Above all else, we hope this will promote raising these gorgeous animals properly so they can keep on living and filling us with joy for years to come.

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