15 Best Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs: 2020 Feeding Guide

The Bernese Mountain Dog is the perfect example of a “gentle giant.”

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These dogs, originally developed for use as farm dogs, grow to well over 100 pounds, but they are all heart. This breed is easy to recognize by his thick tricolor coat and his fluffy tail, as well as his friendly temperament and love for people.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a smart and loyal breed that forms close bonds with family, sometimes to the point of being a little overprotective. They may not be the most dog-friendly breed and some dogs of this breed get along better with children than others, but they are calm, patient, and thrive on human companionship. This is not a breed to be left alone for long periods of time.

Due to his size, the Bernese Mountain Dog has some unique dietary requirements. This breed is also prone to a number of serious health problems which limits his lifespan to 7 to 8 years. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet is of the utmost importance to keep him healthy and to maximize his lifespan, so take the time to choose the best dog food for Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Keep reading to learn more about your Bernese Mountain Dog’s dietary requirements and to see our top 15 picks for the best dog food for Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Understanding a Bernese Mountain Dog’s Diet Requirements

When it comes to the basic nutritional needs of dogs, protein is at the top of the list. Protein molecules are made up of amino acids and your dog needs 22 of them in total. Unfortunately, his body can only synthesize 12 of those amino acids, so the remaining 10 (called essential amino acids) have to come from his diet. Your Bernese Mountain Dog’s diet should be founded on quality animal proteins because animal proteins (like meat, poultry, and fish) contain all 10 essential amino acids.

Fat is the second most important nutrient for dogs because it supports healthy skin and coat in addition to providing a concentrated source of energy. Your dog’s body is evolved to derive nutrition from animal-based sources more efficiently than plant-based sources, so look for animal fats like chicken fat and salmon oil as the primary fats. Plant oils like flaxseed and canola oil can be used as supplemental sources of fat and to provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

In terms of carbohydrates, dogs have no specific requirements other than digestibility. Carbs provide energy and nutrients as well as dietary fiber. Just make sure your Bernese Mountain Dog’s diet doesn’t contain more than 5% fiber or it might upset his digestion. He also needs certain vitamins and minerals, all of which are typically added to dog food as supplements. Large and giant breeds can also benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for joint support.

  • Puppy Bernese Mountain Dogs – When your Bernese Mountain Dog is a puppy, the most important thing is to feed him a high-quality puppy food that will help him grow lean muscle mass without growing too fast. As a giant breed, your dog’s risk for skeletal problems is already high but growing too fast as a puppy can further increase that risk. Make sure your puppy’s food has at least 22% crude protein and 8% fat. You can go a little higher in fat but be mindful of the caloric density. You should also watch his calcium and phosphorus levels because if they are unbalanced it could affect his bone and joint health.
  • Adult Bernese Mountain Dogs – After 12 months, you should switch your Bernese Mountain Dog to a large-breed adult dog food. He needs a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat at this stage of his life, though more protein is usually better. Just keep an eye on the calorie and fat content to prevent your dog from becoming overweight or obese.
  • Senior Bernese Mountain Dogs – As your dog becomes a senior (this could happen as early as 6 years), his metabolism will slow down. He still needs plenty of protein to support lean muscle mass, but you’ll need to reduce his fat intake to control calories. Digestive supplements like probiotics become more important to support healthy digestion and glucosamine and chondroitin are essential as well.

The best way to ensure that your Bernese Mountain Dog’s unique nutritional needs are met is to choose a high-quality dog food formulated for your dog’s age and breed size. This means feeding him a large or giant breed puppy food for the first 12 months then switching to a large or giant breed adult recipe. When your dog reaches seniority, you can either feed him a little less or switch him to a senior or weight management formula.

Special Dietary Considerations for Bernese Mountain Dogs

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the gentlest breeds out there and an absolute joy to keep. Unfortunately, he is prone to a number of serious health problems which can affect his quality of life and greatly shorten his lifespan. Even if you feed your Bernese Mountain Dog the best dog food, it may not be enough to prevent some of the problems on this list.

Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the Bernese Mountain Dog may be prone:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Gastric Dilation
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Osteochondritis
  • Portosystemic Shunt
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease

Let’s take a closer look at three of the Bernese Mountain Dog’s most pressing health issues: cancer, gastric dilation, and musculoskeletal issues.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs overall, but the Bernese Mountain Dog has a much higher incidence of fatal cancer than many other breeds. According to surveys, as many as 50% of Bernese Mountain Dogs die from cancer. Some of the different types of cancer to which the breed may be prone include fibrosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma, and malignant histiocytosis.

Gastric dilation is not a disease but a condition that commonly affects large and deep-chested breeds. This is a condition in which the stomach fills with air, sometimes twisting on its axis, which cuts off blood flow to the heart. This condition can quickly become fatal but can be prevented by feeding your dog small meals, by not exercising him immediately after a meal, and by making sure he doesn’t eat too fast and swallow a lot of air while he’s eating.

All large breeds are prone to musculoskeletal issues, but Bernese Mountain Dogs have a particularly high mortality rate linked to musculoskeletal causes. Some of the most common causes are hip dysplasia, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, and osteochondritis. One of the best ways to prevent these problems is to ensure that your Bernese Mountain Dog doesn’t grow too fast as a puppy and that he maintains a healthy body weight as an adult. Finding a diet supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin will be beneficial as well.

In addition to these health problems, some Bernese Mountain Dogs develop sensitive stomachs or food allergies. Any dog has the potential to develop these problems at any point in their life, so keep a close eye on your dog and talk to your vet if you notice an increase in digestive symptoms.

Bernese Mountain Dog Feeding Chart

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a giant breed that weighs up to 120 pounds at maturity. This being the case, many dogs of this breed don’t reach their full size until they are 2 or 3 years old. Even so, you should feed your dog a large or giant breed puppy food for the first 12 months before switching to an adult recipe. It is important to switch at this point because diets for dogs under 12 months are higher in fat and calories to support growth and development, but you want to prevent your Bernese Mountain Dog from growing too quickly.

In terms of how much to feed your Bernese Mountain Dog, it will depend on the recipe you choose because they are all different. Generally speaking, you’ll be feeding your dog between 4 and 6 cups a day, depending on his age and the calorie content of the food. You’ll need to divide it into two daily meals to prevent your dog from eating too much at once. And keep in mind that treats should make up no more than 10% of his daily diet to prevent obesity.

The Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs: Our Top 15 Picks for 2020

Now that you know the basics about your Bernese Mountain Dog’s nutrition needs, it’s time to start shopping for dog food! Remember, these dogs need plenty of high-quality animal protein to support lean muscle mass with moderate fat for energy and joint-supporting supplements for good measure. Here are our top 15 picks for the best Bernese Mountain Dog diet:

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe

Overall Best Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs: The best diet for Bernese Mountain Dogs is a high-quality kibble made from wholesome ingredients including premium proteins, digestible carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe is an excellent example because it consists of a protein-rich kibble mixed with freeze-dried raw bites. Formulated for all life stages, you can feed this recipe to your adult dog and keep feeding it when he becomes a senior, you just might have to feed him a little less.

This recipe features cage-free chicken as the first ingredient with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and plenty of essential fatty acids. Plus, it is supplemented with probiotics for digestive health, omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and antioxidants for immunity. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for strong bones and joints and is loaded with natural flavor.

  • Pros: High-protein kibble and raw bites, cage-free chicken first ingredient, completely grain-free, plenty of omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and veggies, probiotics for digestion
  • Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken, not large-breed specific

American Journey Large Breed Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

Most Affordable Food: If you don’t have a big budget to work with but still want to provide your Bernese Mountain Dog with a healthy diet, try this American Journey Large Breed Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe. This recipe features real salmon as the first ingredient which is an excellent source of protein as well as essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This recipe also contains a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for strong immunity and antioxidants for overall health and wellness. Brown rice provides a digestible source of whole-grain carbohydrates and there are fresh fruits and veggies to provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. You’ll also be glad to know that this recipe is fortified with controlled levels of calcium and phosphorus for bone and joint support.

  • Pros: Formulated for large breeds, salmon provides protein and healthy fats, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, calcium and phosphorus
  • Cons: Not a grain-free formula, contains some plant proteins

Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular Food: One of several recipes produced by this brand, this Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food is a protein-rich formula made with a single source of premium animal protein, lamb. This formula features grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, lentils, and peas which provide energy as well as dietary fiber and essential nutrients. With canola oil and salmon oil, this recipe provides a balance of omega fatty acids to support your dog’s skin and coat health, as well as his immune system. It is supplemented with fresh fruits and veggies as well as chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition for dogs of all breed sizes.

  • Pros: Made with a single source of premium protein, naturally grain-free, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics
  • Cons: Not large-breed specific, main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Food

Super Premium Food: You can’t beat the quality of raw or fresh food for dogs, but if you’re looking for a super premium food that won’t break the bank, this might be it. This Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Food is an excellent alternative to raw or fresh food because it still offers exceptional nutritional quality but is a little more cost-effective for a breed as large as the Bernese Mountain Dog. Each 10-pound box is made with 10 pounds of ranch-raised beef, 5 scoops of rolled oats, and an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies. Rehydrated, it makes a full 40 pounds of homemade food for your dog. It is complete and balanced for all breeds and sizes, plus it is rich in natural flavor your dog will love.

  • Pros: Makes 40 pounds of homemade food, features ranch-raised beef and rolled oats, made with organic ingredients, fresh fruits and veggies, chelated mineral supplements
  • Cons: Needs to be rehydrated before feeding, some dogs don’t like the texture, not grain-free

Canidae PURE Land Limited Ingredient Diet

Best Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs with Allergies: Though Bernese Mountain Dogs do not have a higher risk for food allergies than other breeds, any dog can develop them at any point. This Canidae PURE Land Limited Ingredient Diet with Bison is a great option if your dog does have allergies because it is made with a limited number of main ingredients and several premium animal proteins like bison and lamb. This recipe is grain-free, featuring digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils, with plenty of healthy fats. It also contains a blend of chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption and vitamins for nutritional balance.

  • Pros: Made with just 10 main ingredients, two premium animal proteins, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats, chelated minerals, probiotics for digestion
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based, some dogs may be sensitive to pork

Blue Buffalo Basics Large Breed Adult

Best Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs: If your Bernese Mountain Dog has a sensitive stomach, you need a dog food that is highly digestible like this Blue Buffalo Basics Large Breed Adult recipe. This recipe features fresh deboned lamb as the main ingredient which is a novel source of protein for many dogs, making it a good option if your dog has food allergies. In terms of carbohydrates, it contains digestible grain-free options like potatoes and peas. Canola oil and fish oil provide a blend of omega fatty acids and the recipe is supplemented with both prebiotic fibers and probiotics for smooth and regular digestion. Plus, it is formulated for large breeds so you can rest easy knowing that your Bernese Mountain Dog’s nutritional needs are being met.

  • Pros: Highly digestible recipe, deboned lamb as the main ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics, formulated for large breeds
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein, first source of fat is plant-based

3 more Top Rated (5 Star) Bernese Mountain Dog Adult Foods

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Recipe

Made with farm-raised chicken, brown rice, and sweet potatoes, this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Recipe is uniquely formulated for large breeds. This formula contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support as well as healthy fats for skin and coat. It is rich in antioxidants from dried fruits and veggies as well as chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. It is also highly digestible and full of natural flavor.

Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe

Formulated for large and giant breeds like your Bernese Mountain Dog, this Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe is an excellent source of quality protein and digestible carbohydrates. It contains nutrient-rich chicken fat for omega fatty acids, with fresh fruits and veggies for fiber and natural sources of key nutrients. It is also supplemented with probiotics.

Nature’s Recipe Large-Breed Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

Another highly affordable option, this Nature’s Recipe Large-Breed Grain-Free Chicken Recipe is made with real chicken as the first ingredients with sweet potatoes and pumpkin for carbohydrate support. It features fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients with chelated minerals to ensure proper nutritional balance. It also contains plenty of healthy fiber for smooth and regular digestion and is formulated specifically for large breeds.

3 More Top Rated (5 Star) Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy Foods

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large-Breed Grain-Free Chicken Puppy Recipe

If you want to get your Bernese Mountain Dog started off right, this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large-Breed Grain-Free Chicken Puppy Recipe is a great way to go. Designed to mimic your dog’s natural evolutionary diet, this formula is loaded with protein from real chicken and menhaden fish meal, plus it is rich in healthy omega fatty acids. With fresh fruits and veggies for natural sources of key nutrients and chelated mineral supplements, it is complete and balanced with probiotics as a digestive bonus.

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Recipe

Designed to nourish your puppy’s body from the inside out, this Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Recipe is a great option for your Bernese Mountain Dog. Formulated specifically for large breeds, this recipe is protein-rich for healthy muscles with controlled energy intake for controlled growth. It features deboned chicken, brown rice, and salmon meal as the main ingredients with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics.

Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy Formula

One of the few puppy foods out there formulated for giant breeds, this Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy Formula is a good option for your Bernese Mountain Dog. As a holistic recipe, it is made with wholesome ingredients like fresh chicken, whole grain brown rice, and chicken fat. It contains plenty of omega fatty acids with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

2 More Picks for Senior Bernese Mountain Dog Foods

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large-Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe

As your Bernese Mountain Dog gets older, his metabolism slows down which puts him at risk for obesity. This Now Fresh Grain-Free Large-Breed Senior Weight Management recipe is a great choice because it will help him maintain lean muscle mass without going overboard on calories. Plus, it features premium proteins like turkey, salmon, and duck with plenty of omega fatty acids. It also contains fresh fruits and veggies, zero grains, and no artificial additives.

Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe

Though the Bernese Mountain Dogs doesn’t have a significantly higher risk for food allergies than other breeds, all dogs have an increased risk as they get older. This Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Senior Recipe checks all the boxes because it is made with premium animal protein from several novel sources, zero grains, and dried fruits and veggies. It is also fortified with chelated minerals, probiotics for digestion, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

Our FAQ and Bernese Mountain Dog Feeding Guide

Choosing the best dog food for Bernese Mountain Dogs is only half of the equation. You also need to think about how you’re going to store the food, what kind of bowl to buy, and how to feed your dog. Proper dog food storage is essential to keep the product fresh – if you let it sit out, it could lose some of its nutritional value. The best thing to do is put the opened bag in an airtight container.

When it comes to choosing a bowl for your Bernese Mountain Dog, you need to find one that is large enough to hold a whole meal. Aside from that, you may want to consider a slow-feed bowl to prevent him from eating too much at once and from eating too quickly – both of these things can reduce his risk for gastric dilation. In terms of how to feed your dog, you’ll need to find a schedule that works for you and then stick to it as much as possible.

And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding a Bernese Mountain Dog:

How much food should I feed my Bernese Mountain Dog? – The Bernese Mountain Dog is a giant breed, growing from 80 to 120 pounds at maturity. As a giant breed, your dog will eat a lot of food over the course of the day – somewhere between 4 and 6 cups. When it comes to determining your dog’s daily portion, however, it is more important to pay attention to calories than to feed a set volume of food. Every dog food is different, so pay attention to the feeding recommendations on the package according to your dog’s age and weight. Then, simply divide that amount over two meals spaced evenly through the day.

If you have a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, you may need to divide his daily portion into three meals to make sure he has a steady influx of energy to support his growth and development. Remember, puppy foods will be higher in fat and calories than adult diets, so follow the feeding recommendations carefully. Once your adult dog becomes a senior, switch to a lower calorie recipe or check the feeding chart again to see how much you should feed him to prevent obesity.

How many times a day should I feed my Bernese Mountain Dog? – Most large and giant breeds do well with two meals per day. Keep in mind, however, that feeding your dog too much at once can increase the risk for gastric dilation, so you may want to divide his daily portion into three meals if you’re worried that each of the two meals is too large. Again, you can feed puppies up to three times per day, if needed.

What kind of food do Bernese Mountain Dogs eat? – High-quality nutrition is of the utmost importance for the Bernese Mountain Dog due to his propensity for health problems. The closer you can get to raw food, the better, because raw ingredients offer the most nutritional value. Unfortunately, raw food is very expensive – especially when you’re feeding a dog as large as the Bernese Mountain Dog. A high-quality dry food is a good alternative, just make sure you pick a formula designed for large or giant breeds. If it is within your budget to feed a dehydrated or freeze-dried food, or a high-quality kibble mixed with freeze-dried bites, all the better.

What vegetables are good in a Bernese Mountain Dog food? – Vegetables are a rich source of dietary fiber and essential nutrients for dogs. Plus, some dogs love them! You can feed your Bernese Mountain Dog fresh veggies as a low-calorie snack if you’re worried about his weight and you should look for veggies in the food you buy. Here are the best vegetables for dogs:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

When feeding your dog vegetables, make sure they are washed very well to remove any traces of pesticide. You may even want to purchase organic veggies, just to be safe.

Do Bernese Mountain Dogs need grain-free dog food? – The Bernese Mountain Dog does not have a higher risk for grain allergies and sensitivities than other breeds, but all dogs have a risk for developing them. If your dog has recurrent ear infections or skin problems, it could be that his food is to blame. Talk to your veterinarian to rule out other potential causes then try switching to a grain free dog food to see if it helps.

A Final Word

A gentle giant through and through, the Bernese Mountain Dog is an excellent family companion. His friendly and patient manner makes him an absolute joy to keep which makes it even more heartbreaking when he reaches the end of his short lifespan.

Though you can’t expect your dog to live well beyond his anticipated lifespan, you can provide him with the best dog food you can afford to keep him healthy for as long as possible. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s size and risk for serious health problems make this even more of a necessity.

If you’re not sure where to start in finding a quality Bernese Mountain Dog diet, simply try one of our top 15 picks for the 2020 best dog food for Bernese Mountain Dogs reviewed above!

About The Author

2 thoughts on “15 Best Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs: 2020 Feeding Guide”

  1. Avatar
    Angel McWilliams

    Just thought I’d throw in there I’ve known Berners to live to 13 years of age so to tell people not to expect them to live too long is wrong.

    1. Avatar

      My Bernese mountain dog lived until
      13 years of age. I fed him Taste of the Wild and Zignature. With the new grain free studies now I’m not sure what’s the best to feed them. With my new puppy I’m trying to keep up with his appetite and making homemade dog food in my Insta pot, it’s going well but he’s such a big eater. I hope that he lives as long as my last one. They are the sweetest dogs in the world.

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