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9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs in 2020

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of four Sennenhund breed lines. Of the four, the Bernese is the smallest, standing at most only 27 inches tall.  It is also the only one of the group, which includes Saint Bernard, with long, wavy fur. These dogs love the cold and snow and enjoy being outside during the winter.

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A high-quality diet is required for the Bernese to maintain their energy levels, promote strong bones and overall good health. This article will examine what the Bernese Mountain Dog requires in their diet, what to avoid and explore common health issues of the breed. We will then provide you with the best dog food options for your Bernese.

Why Quality Food Matters for Your Bernese Mountain Dog

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You will need to pay attention to the ingredients, of course, but other factors as well. Namely, the crude fats and crude proteins will be very important. Bernese are large dogs with a stocky and sturdy build. However, they do not require much in the way of exercise; they just need the room. Because of this, they can easily become overweight.

Overeating isn’t generally a problem, but when you add in the extra calories from a high protein diet, which is needed, and things like treats, it can become a problem. Moderate, daily excise is recommended such as long walks or trail hiking that causes the dog to do more than just walk.

The quality of the food will be important to help regulate their energy levels, promote growth, strong bones and digestion. It will also be important to help manage their weight and prevent illness or injury.

Bernese Mountain Dog Common Health Issues

Every dog will have some health concerns and issues to look out for. The Berners are no different. Overall, though they are healthy dogs. There are some things to test or watch for though.

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia – Berners are working dogs, and while they love to play with the family, they need exercise to keep their muscles in shape. They were bred as pulling dogs, so tug-of-war and other games that allow them to pull are essential. However, elbow and hip dysplasia can affect their ability to pull and play. While the conditions can occur at any time due to injury, it is most common during the early life stages. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint is deformed or doesn’t grow properly. It causes pain, weakness, and lethargy. The rear legs can easily get dislodged, or the bone won’t fit well in the socket. Elbow dysplasia is similar except it occurs in the knee joints. Proper testing will need to be done to verify the condition. Proper diet can help prevent the condition though not always. Puppies will need a high meat protein diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals that promote strong, healthy bones.
  • Allergies – Bernese are also highly susceptible to allergies, particularly food allergies. The most common trigger comes from artificial colors and dyes and from added chemicals. For this reason, the dog’s diet should be clear of all these factors. You can easily spot these additives on the ingredient label as such things as BHT, BHA, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 2, etc. It is also advised to avoid foods that list an ingredient as “artificial flavoring” as this is a general indicator of additional chemicals.

Other Concerns – There are several other conditions that are far less likely, though can be found in the breed. Your vet will want to run a series of blood and urine tests to check for indicators of these diseases, as well as visual examinations for others.

What to Look for in Quality Dog Food for Your Bernese Mountain Dog

When selecting your dog food brand, it is essential to check the ingredient list thoroughly. There are ingredients to look for that should be included as well as foods that should be avoided. Let’s look at which is which.

  • Meat and Meat Meal – It is an FDA law that all ingredients are listed from the highest content to the lowest. Therefore, whatever is listed first on the label indicates that the dog food is composed mostly of that substance. Unless you’re serving your dog a vegetarian or plant-based meal, the first ingredient in the food should be a meat product such as chicken, turkey, beef, or pork. However, it should be noted that plant-based meals are not recommended by Berners. Unless the first listed ingredient is a distinct and recognizable meat source, pass on it. We recommend avoiding shellfish and other forms of aquatic protein. This is because your Berner might have an allergic reaction to it, which they are known to do.
  • Vegetables – Most dog foods will contain vegetables. The vegetable you will most likely see listed is potatoes, as they are inexpensive and full of nutrients your dog needs. Some owners don’t want white potatoes in their dog’s diet. Potato free recipes will use sweet potatoes instead, or other starches which will provide nutrients and act as a binding agent for the kibble.  Grain vegetables, like corn, should still be avoided though as they are harder to digest and will take up space in the kibble that should be used for vitamins or proteins. Peas and carrots are a good source of vitamins for your Berner. You will want to limit the amount of them though.

Ingredients to Avoid in Your Bernese Mountain Dog’s Food

There are some ingredients that should be avoided at all costs. For various reasons or another, they simply aren’t good for your dog.

  • Byproducts – According to the FDA, humans should not ingest byproduct. Companies and manufacturers are prohibited, by law, to have meat byproduct in human food. The FDA cares less about your Berner and byproduct is allowed in canine kibble. This should not be okay with you, as a pet owner. Meat byproduct is not a source of anything except filler. It can cause illness or worse. The byproduct is what is left over after the edible parts of animals are butchered. It also contains rotted meats, expired meats and their packaging from supermarkets and butchers. Everything is shoveled up and tossed into a hopper where it is mixed into a grainy, soupy consistency before being added to the dog food. Aside from being fowl, there is zero nutritional value and any vitamins, minerals or proteins remaining are burned off when the mix is cooked.
  • Artificial Ingredients – When it comes to allergies, as discussed earlier, avoiding dyes and artificial colors is paramount. Since dogs are prone to developing allergies from artificial additives, we recommend staying clear of these whenever possible. If “colors” are listed on the ingredients list, stay clear of that product. Colors such as Blue 2, Yellow 5, and Red 40 can all transfer onto your pet’s fur around the paws and trigger allergic reactions. The only purpose they serve is to make the dog food look more pleasing to human eyes. Your dog doesn’t care if their food is rainbow colored or just brown. You shouldn’t either.

Bad Dog Food Brands for Bernese Mountain Dogs

There are still brands on the market that for one reason or another include these ingredients, as well as other items, are known to cause harm or be ineffective when feeding your dog.

The list below is just a sample of the brands you should avoid. Each one on this list contains either artificial colors, dyes, and flavors, or byproduct. You should always check the labels to be sure and avoid any brand that contains byproduct, artificial anything, corn or more than two wheat sources.

The meat source should also be named, such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. If you ever see a label with just the term “meat” do not purchase it. The following brands are known to have harmful chemicals, no nutritional value or meat byproduct in their foods.

  • Ol’ Roy by Walmart
  • Iams
  • Pedigree
  • Kal Kan
  • Caesars

Bernese Mountain Dog Feeding Chart

This chart is just a guide, your feeding schedule and amounts should be watched closely to ensure your Berner is properly fed. If you have any concerns, your veterinarian will be able to assist you.

Puppies should have between ½ and ¾ of a cup twice a day. Because of the risk of bloat and other gastric conditions, you shouldn’t feed within a half hour of exercise.

Adults should have between ¾ and one full cup, also twice a day, though three times a day feeding of ¾ cups isn’t unusual.

Seniors will stay on the twice per day feeding schedule but will have their amounts reduced to ½ to ¾ cup, as long as the food has enough crude proteins and crude fats.

Best Dog Food for Your Bernese Mountain Dog

Tastes vary between dogs, and yours may not like the same food as another Berner. However, when it comes to the nutritional value, crude proteins, fats and fibers, we have tracked down the best of the best.

Each brand listed here is optimally suited for your Berner.

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato

Merrick grain free is a highly nutritious dog food with pure meat proteins and zero grains. All of the vitamins and minerals are naturally sourced from vegetables, fruits, and berries. The crude protein is one of the highest on the market at 38% which is something to brag about when it isn’t sourced from grains.

The first five ingredients are deboned beef, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes.


  • All Berners tend to enjoy the flavors.
  • High protein for energy levels and active digestion.
  • Mixes well with water for gravy or wet food as a topper.


  • Has white potatoes which some want to avoid.
  • Crude fat is a little high (15 percent) for the already overweight bunch.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy WeightBlue Buffalo Healthy Weight provides your Berner with everything they need without having to worry about weight gain. There is a 2:1 crude protein to fat ratio, which will allow your average pup to remain active without having to go overboard on a diet and exercise routine.

The first five ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and pea fiber.


  • Easily eaten and digested without needing water or wet food toppers.
  • Will mix with wet food, though, for added nutrition.
  • Great flavor most dogs enjoy.


  • Some individuals don’t like the texture of the kibble alone.
  • Can easily be overeaten.

NomNomNow Fresh Pet Food Delivery

NomNomNow has pioneered the human-grade dog food market and is still one of a few that gets it right. After a short sign up process and profile build, you can order form a variety of flavors and recipes. The Tasty Turkey Fare combines the best ingredients for a high protein, low-fat meal.

Each portion is packed individually, so you don’t have to guess. The first five ingredients are ground turkey, brown rice, carrots, spinach, and egg.


  • Easy to serve and portion control to prevent overeating.
  • Multiple recipes to choose from at any time.
  • Handy scheduled delivery to your door to prevent running out.


  • Some ingredients are eaten around, leaving waste.
  • Not all recipes are low enough in fat for some older Bernese.

Best Puppy Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy

Wellness Core brings the nutrition your pup needs and the boost of vitamins and minerals that keep them active, healthy and strong. Each bowl full of kibble gives you a 2:1 protein to fat ratio and is packed with vitamins and minerals. You will also find a plethora of vegetables and berries with added antioxidants for illness fighting properties.

The first five ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, and peas.


  • Flavorful and full of essential vitamins and minerals for strong, healthy dogs.
  • Mixes well with water for gravy.
  • High crude protein levels for active digestion and proper growth.


  • Contains both peas and white potatoes which some owners wish to avoid.
  • Can easily be overeaten leading to obesity.

Nutro Ultra Puppy Chunks in Gravy

Nutro Ultra has been around long enough to know what makes a high-quality premium dog food. They do not skimp on the protein sources, and their gravy mix is full of flavor that all puppies will eagerly enjoy.

The first five ingredients are chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, potato starch, and wheat gluten.


  • Great flavors and textures to keep puppies interested.
  • Mixes well with dry food as a topper.
  • More vitamins than most other puppy formulas.


  • Has some wheat sources which some Berners may not tolerate too well.
  • Can be too rich for younger puppies.

Best Dog Food for Senior Berners

Victor Senior Healthy Weight

Victor Senior Healthy Weight

Victor Senior helps you keep an eye on your older pups weight. With their enriched formula, you can still feed the amount the pup is used too without worrying if they are getting too much. You will also find enough vitamins and minerals that support joint, bone and tooth health to keep your dog happy and healthy.

The first five ingredients are beef meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain millet, menhaden fish meal, and chicken meal.


  • Great taste that makes the transition easier.
  • Low fat and high protein for metabolism and digestive health.
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals that older dogs need.


  • Texture can be rough for more sensitive teeth.
  • Doesn’t hold up well when mixed with water.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Chicken Recipe

Blue Buffalo knows a thing or two about your senior dog, and their senior formula is one of the best. Easily mixing with dry foods for added proteins, the formula also works well as a stand-alone.

You will find many naturally sourced vitamins and minerals to boot, which will keep their joints and bones healthy and strong. The first five ingredients are chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, carrots, and peas.


  • Not too rich, even when mixed with dry food.
  • Does well with sensitive, aging digestive tracts.
  • Can be fed alone, helping with portion control.


  • May not have enough crude fats when served alone.
  • Some picky eaters may not like all the flavors.

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