Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs in 2021

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bernese mountain dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is the best breed to have when working on a farm or living in a cold area. These super furry and docile pups are large — weighing up to 120 pounds. 

They were bred to be in the working group, but they’re more commonly seen as family friends and lap dogs now. So, what’s the best dog food for Bernese Mountain Dogs, and do they need any special foods?

Unfortunately, they are prone to a number of diseases and have a short life span, due to their large bodies and genetic makeup. But, there are many foods that meet their nutritional requirements. 

Our favorite pick is American Journey Active Life Large Breed dog food

It’s a high protein formula that also offers vitamins and minerals that large breeds need — including vitamin D and omega fatty acids for joint and bone support.  

Luckily for your Bernese Mountain Dog, there are plenty of other best dog food options as well. From human-grade fresh food delivered straight to your door, to dog food that focuses on large senior dogs, you’ll have 10 different options to choose from. 

Our Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs

  1. American Journey Active Life Formula Large Breed Dry Dog Food (Best for Adult Bernese Mountain Dogs)
  2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Bernese Mountain Dog Puppies)
  3. Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food (Best for Senior Bernese Mountain Dogs)
  4. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Large Breed Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best for Highly Active Bernese Mountain Dogs)
  5. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Dry Dog Food (Best for Bernese Mountain Dogs with Food Sensitivities)
  6. Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
  7. Nom Nom Dog Food (Best Fresh Dog Food)
  8. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Dog Food)
  9. Iams ProActive Health Adult Healthy Weight Large Breed Dry Dog Food (Best for Weight Loss)
  10. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Dry Dog Food (Best for Bernese Mountain Dogs with Hip Dysplasia)

10 Best Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs Reviewed 

The dog foods listed below all meet the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. When you’re ready to switch your Bernese Mountain Dog’s food, consult with your veterinarian for the best practices. 

Best for Adults

American Journey Active Life Formula Large Breed Dry Dog Food

American Journey Active Life Large Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Rice Bran
  • Key Feature: High protein large breed specific dog food with real meat 

Bernese Mountain Dogs are considered a large breed, and are fairly active pets. They are prone to becoming overweight, but, because of their size and activity levels need the proper amount of proteins and fat — along with vitamins and nutrients, like vitamin E for joint support. 

American Journey Large Breed formula is the best dog food that fits the bill and that includes other nutritious ingredients. 

The recipe starts with deboned chicken, offering animal protein as well as glucosamine and chondroitin — essential amino acids that help protect your large dog’s joints and help maintain their muscles. 

Next up is brown rice, which is high in dietary fiber that can help reduce risk of heart disease. It’s also high in magnesium and folate — helping to boost your dog’s metabolism and encourage healthy cell growth. 

Fish oil provides a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and lubricate cartilage. Sweet potatoes and carrots provide vitamin A for eye support and vitamin K for additional bone support. 

There is never any wheat, corn, soy, by-product meals, or artificial ingredients added. 


Best for Puppies

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Grain Free Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch
  • Key Feature: High protein and fat puppy food for large breed dogs

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy can be clumsy and have an abundance of energy — so they need the protein and fat to help them grow to their full potential. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy food has 25% Crude Protein and 14% Crude Fat to help support bone growth.

It starts off with real chicken as the very first ingredient — a real meat protein that dogs love, that helps fuel their daily adventures, and that helps maintain lean muscle mass. It also naturally contains DHA to support cognitive development and ARA for digestive health.

Both flaxseed oil and fish oil provide omega fatty acids for healthy joints and mobility support. A good puppy recipe for large breeds includes ingredients like these to ensure slow growth and healthy bones. 

Barley, turmeric, and dried kelp offer antioxidants to reduce and prevent inflammation — a common issue with large boned dogs. 

Blue Buffalo also includes a proprietary blend of “LifeSource Bits” — vitamins and minerals that help support the immune system. Some include vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E, which also assists the bones and joints. 

This puppy food doesn’t contain any poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.


Best for Seniors

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Adult
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Peas, Whole Dried Egg, Potato Flour
  • Key Feature: Dog food with L-carnitine for metabolism and joint support for senior Bernese Mountain Dogs

The senior age for this large breed is around 4 years old, meaning they will need a senior formula sooner than most dogs. Now Fresh Large Breed Senior dry dog food is a great option. It includes high quality ingredients that are minimally processed to help preserve vitamins, nutrients, and flavor. 

This grain-free formula is specially crafted for large breed senior dogs, to help them maintain healthy and lean muscles, and to support their aging joints. Deboned turkey also provides both protein and glucosamine to reduce the weakening of bones — which is essential for aging dogs. 

Salmon and New Zealand green mussels provide omega fatty acids and chondroitin to support hip and joint health. They offer L-carnitine as well, for heart health and a metabolism boost. 

Antioxidant-rich blueberries, papaya, and pomegranates support healthy immune system function, plus other essential vitamins (like vitamin C) to keep your senior healthy and happy. 

This recipe doesn’t include any by-product or meat meals, artificial flavors, or preservatives. It’s also crafted by pet nutritionists and is minimally processed, offering the freshest dry kibble there is. 


Best for Active Dogs

Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Large Breed Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free Large Breed
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
  • Key Feature: High protein dog food with real meat for your active Bernese Mountain Dog

Merrick Backcountry Large Breed is the best dog food for highly active Bernese Mountain Dogs that need extra protein and healthy fats to keep up their energy. 

This freeze-dried food starts with real deboned chicken as the very first ingredient. It also has chicken, turkey, and salmon meals to provide premium animal proteins in a highly digestible formula. 

These ingredients provide glucosamine, omega fatty acids, taurine, and chondroitin — all essential amino acids for healthy muscle tone. 

Chicken liver is also added to boost iron and vitamin A — helping increase metabolic rate and support healthy eyes. 

Apples, blueberries, and alfalfa meal offer antioxidants for immune health and fiber for healthy digestion. 

It also contains freeze-dried raw bites to entice your dog to eat, as well as provide raw food benefits like more protein and healthy fats. 

This formula is crafted in Hereford, TX and cooked in the US. It doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, or soy. 


Best for Food Sensitivities

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Dry Dog Food

Holistic Select Giant Breed Adult Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Rice, Oatmeal, Oats, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Dry dog food high in probiotics for Bernese Mountain Dogs with food allergies

Sometimes, your dog just needs a little more digestive support. Holistic Select Large Breed dry dog food can offer that and help them avoid food allergies. 

First, the kibble is made with bigger pieces of food. This encourages your mountain dog to chew their food thoroughly, allowing their body to properly digest the meal and helping to reduce potential bloat. 

Chicken meal provides the bulk of the food’s 24% Crude Protein, and also provides taurine for heart and brain health. On top of that, chicken fat and flaxseed oil offer essential fatty acids to help your pup achieve a healthy skin and coat.

Oats, pumpkin, and plain beet pulp offer nutritious fiber for digestion. They also offer complex carbs for energy — while keeping your dog’s sensitive tummy happy.

To add to all that, Holistic Select supplements prebiotics and probiotics in the kibble. This provides easily digestible enzymes that protect the digestive system and boost the immune system. 

This formula is made in the US with high-quality ingredients sourced from around the globe.


Best Wet Food

Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed Canned Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed Chicken Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water, Chicken, Liver, Wheat Gluten, Rice
  • Key Feature: High protein canned dog food for large dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs 

Because large breeds need more calories and protein in general, you may think that wet food isn’t a good choice for their needs. But there are options out there, including Purina Pro Plan Large Breed canned food. 

This wet food contains healthy protein from chicken, turkey, and liver — which also offer glucosamine and taurine for a healthy heart, brain, and joints. 

Rice is mixed in for a highly digestible source of energy, as well as for vitamins like calcium and folate for bone support. Phosphorus is supplemented too, to help keep bones and teeth strong. 

This high quality diet is made specifically for adult dogs over 50 pounds, supporting their energy levels and larger bodies with another 23 essential vitamins and nutrients — including B vitamins for energy, manganese for cartilage support, and biotin for a healthy coat. 

However, this canned food does contain wheat, so it’s not a grain free option. If your dog is allergic or has a sensitivity to gluten, this may not be for them. 

Purina Pro Plan is proudly manufactured at Purina’s U.S. facilities. It’s crafted without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.


Best Fresh Food

Nom Nom Now Beef Mash Recipe

nom nom beef recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Ground Beef, Russet Potatoes, Eggs, Carrots, Peas
  • Key Feature: Fiber enriched human grade customized dog food 

Not a fan of dry kibble, but don’t want to be inconvenienced with preparing a raw diet for your dog every meal? Nom Nom offers freshly made and human grade dog food with convenience. 

This dog food comes in four flavors — beef, turkey, pork, and chicken. The beef recipe starts with real ground beef, and includes fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, peas, and potatoes. Plus, there are additional vitamins and minerals that are supplemented for full health support. 

When you order from Nom Nom Now, you’ll take a quiz about your Bernese Mountain Dog. You’ll answer questions about their weight, body type, potential allergies, and what they like to eat. 

After the quiz, Nom Nom will calculate a balanced diet for your dog, with human food ingredients. The meals are then shipped fresh to your door, and are individually portioned to fit your dog’s daily nutritional needs.

These recipes are formulated and evaluated for nutrition content by the company’s veterinary nutrition experts — including PhD nutritionists and two Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists.


Best Budget Food

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal 
  • Key Feature: High protein and non-GMO budget friendly dog food 

Healthy dog food doesn’t have to put a dent in your budget. Instead, choose a formula like Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed dry dog food. Specially crafted for large breeds, it includes real chicken as a high-quality protein source — providing glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints

This recipe also includes brown rice and whole grain sorghum. These whole grains provide fiber for digestion and selenium for thyroid support. 

For healthy omegas and fats, this kibble also includes whole flaxseed and chicken fat, helping your dog keep a healthy coat and skin, and helping boost brain function. 

Last but not least, it’s chock full of fruits and vegetables, including kale, spinach, sweet potato, and pumpkin. These provide your pup with the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive day to day — including vitamin C for immune support and folic acid for cell health. 

This formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and doesn’t include chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.


Best for Weight Loss

Iams ProActive Health Adult Healthy Weight Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Key Feature: Low calorie and low fat dog food for weight loss  

Because of their large build, it’s easy for Bernese Mountain Dogs to gain excess weight. While they’re supposed to be sizable, too much extra weight can negatively affect their joints, heart, and even their kidneys and liver. 

If your dog has put on too many pounds, give IAMS ProActive Healthy Weight dog food a try. This formula is designed to help large breed dogs maintain a healthy body weight, while also maintaining their muscles. 

This weight management formula starts with farm-raised chicken, offering protein for strong muscles and bones. Plus, it supports a healthy metabolism with L-carnitine and includes glucosamine for maintaining joint health. 

This formula is low in fat, but includes eggs to provide healthy fats like omega fatty acids for healthy skin and B vitamins for additional energy. 

Plain beet pulp and whole grain corn offer fiber for digestive health and to keep your dog regulated — which can also aid in weight loss. 


Best for Joint Health

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Dry Dog Food 

Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key Feature: Glucosamine and chondroitin enriched food for dogs with hip dysplasia and joint issues 

Because Bernese Mountain Dogs have large and stocky bodies, they are more prone to joint issues, including hip dysplasia. This reduces their mobility and energy levels, which can cause weight gain and other health issues (like lameness). 

Senior dogs and dogs with excess weight are more prone to hip dysplasia, but there is a way to help prevent it. Using Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Mobility dry dog food can help protect the joints, help keep your pup at a healthy weight, and help maintain lean muscle mass. 

First, it includes chicken meal for a low calorie but high protein meat. It then includes natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are the building blocks of healthy cartilage, joints, and muscles. 

Fish meal and oil provides omega-3 fatty acids and EPA to promote improved joint health and mobility. And barley and brown rice offer additional digestive support and boosts in energy. Then, supplemented omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. 

This formula is made in the US with natural and global ingredients. 


bernese mountain dog autumn

How to Choose Food for Your Bernese Mountain Dog

Even though they’re large dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs need balanced nutrition. Higher protein, healthy fats, and easy to digest carbs can all be helpful for them. 

Here’s how to choose the right food for your pup. 

Higher Protein for Muscle Support and Growth 

Your Bernese Mountain Dog is huge, and not because of their weight. At almost 40 inches from the shoulder, and at an average of 100–120 pounds, these dogs need to keep up with their own bodies. 

In order to do that, they’ll need a decent supply of protein. Protein helps with lean muscle mass, provides energy, and is the building block for other major bodily functions — like heart health and joint maintenance. 

The Crude Protein percentage should be at least 22%, but even upwards of 30–35% is okay. However, don’t overfeed your furry friend, as it can cause joint problems. Instead, focus on protein that provides the most energy for dogs — real meat like chicken, beef, and even fish. 

Healthy Fats

Bernese Mountain Dogs thrive on fat. This is because their larger bodies need more joint, heart, and muscle support. And fats can provide that, while at the same time supplying your dog with more energy. 

However, the type of fat is important when it comes to balanced nutrition. Highly saturated fats like canola oil aren’t the healthiest option, but fats like eggs, salmon or fish oil, flaxseed oil, and even coconut oil are great.

When looking for appropriate fats, look for these. They provide omega fatty acids for joint support, glucosamine for heart health, and other essential amino acids for a healthy and happy pup. 

Digestible Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates work well for most dogs’ diets, but Bernese Mountain Dogs are a little different. Because they are prone to joint problems, they need lower density carbohydrates. So, a grain-free diet may be best — but always consult with your veterinarian before making the switch. 

When choosing the proper carbohydrates, look for dog foods with potatoes (including sweet potatoes), quinoa, and beans like chickpeas. These will help supply essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, without being too heavy. 

Ingredients like kale and blueberries also provide these easily digestible carbohydrates as well. 

Ingredients to Avoid

No one wants to eat a bunch of ingredients they can’t pronounce. And if you don’t want to eat it, chances are that your dog doesn’t either. Plus, most fillers and artificial ingredients offer no benefit to your dog — many are chosen to cut the cost of food production for bigger profit margins. 

Ingredients like BHA and BHT can be incredibly toxic to your dog. These artificial preservatives have been known to cause allergy-like reactions, heart problems, and even death in the worst cases. 

Instead, focus on fresh food or food that’s naturally preserved with items like rosemary extract. And avoid dog foods with items like artificial colors, flavors, and sugar (such as dextrose, fructose, glucose). 

For Bernese Mountain Dogs, avoiding most grains and fillers like corn and soy may be helpful as well. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Feeding Guide

Looking at how to properly feed your Bernese Mountain Dog? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Puppies

Puppies naturally need more of everything to support their fast growing bodies. AAFCO recommends at least 22% protein and 8% fat in dog food for the puppy stage. 

Along with that, a Bernese Mountain puppy needs about 25 calories of food per their adult ideal weight. At an average of 100 pounds at maturity, that’s about 2,500 calories a day. 

Again, due to their large size, these dogs need proper fats and proteins from the beginning to help build and maintain their muscles and joints. So, focus on foods high in DHA for brain development, glucosamine for their bones, and omega fatty acids for their joints. 

Before they reach adulthood, puppies also need to get to eating regular meals. Feeding your dog 2–3 meals a day is ideal. 

Adults

Once your dog reaches adulthood (at about 18 months), they can have two meals a day, once in the morning and once at night.

Adult Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to obesity and joint issues — so you should lower your dog’s calories a bit as well. 20 calories per pound of day should suffice, along with regular exercise. 

Seniors

Bernese Mountain Dogs age fast. Due to their shorter life span, they reach seniorhood by about 4 years old. Because of this, it’s important to focus on their heart health and immune system. 

Focus on dog foods that offer quality and healthy fats, like salmon oil, as well as antioxidants and a higher concentration of vitamins. Vitamin D, calcium, taurine, and iron should all be present in the dog food you purchase. 

Luckily, you won’t have to make too many dietary changes. Senior Bernese Mountain Dogs can eat about 20 calories per pound, and many senior dog foods already have the essential vitamins they need. 

bernese mountain dog puppy

Common Bernese Mountain Dog Health Problems

Bernese Mountain Dogs typically live 6–8 years. Due to their size and large hearts, they do tend to be more prone to health problems. But, there are ways to keep your dog healthy and happy, from their puppy days to seniorhood. 

Hip Dysplasia

Bernese Mountain Dogs can suffer from Hip Dysplasia, one of the most common health problems for giant breed dogs. This usually occurs due to them being overweight — causing the hip bone to dislocate or rub painfully against the hip socket. 

In order to prevent hip dysplasia, focus on providing quality food and the right amount of calories, fats, and proteins for your dog. Also, be sure to focus on exercise at least 20–30 minutes a day. 

Cancer

Lymphoma (also known as lymphosarcoma) and histiocytic sarcoma are common cancers that afflict Bernese Mountain Dogs more than many other breeds. Lymphoma causes the body to form abnormal lymphocytes — an unhealthy and cancerous white blood cell. Histiocytic sarcoma affects the immune system. 

While these cancers can’t be prevented, if detected early, your dog can beat them. Chemo and radiation are common treatments, and surprisingly, your dog can handle it better than most humans. 

Along with those treatments, proper nutrition will help your pup feel better and stay strong. Focus more on antioxidants, healthy fats, and holistic dog foods that will help your dog’s overall wellbeing. 

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is often an inherited condition and is known to be one of the biggest health problems for Bernese Mountain Dogs. Seizures will usually start between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. However, your dog can still live a perfectly happy and healthy life — even with epilepsy. 

There is no cure for epilepsy. Instead, depending on how many seizures they have per year, your pup may be prescribed epilepsy medication — typically phenobarbital or levetiracetam. 

Because of these medications, you may find that your dog doesn’t want to eat as much, since drowsiness and lack of appetite are usual side effects. In cases like this, focus on enticing them with wet food as a topper or dry food replacement. 

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Also known as vWD, Von Willebrand’s disease is a common bleeding disease amongst dogs. This inherited disorder makes it hard for your Bernese Mountain Dog’s blood to clot properly. 

While this typically isn’t an issue, injuries, cuts, neutering, or hemorrhages can cause uncontrollable bleeding and even death. 

There are no main symptoms for vWD. But, luckily, you can get your dog tested by your veterinarian. Since Bernese Mountain Dogs are prone to this disease, it may be helpful to do so during puppyhood. 

Our Verdict

These farm dogs need more calories and protein to meet their energy needs. But, they also need essential vitamins and minerals that can protect their joints and large hearts, to keep them healthy and happy family members. 

American Journey Active Life dog food meets all of their needs. 

Not only does it include real animal proteins for a healthy heart and joints, but it also has the fiber and omega fatty acids that larger bodies need. 

The rest of the food options on this list can also support your Bernese Mountain Dog as well — from birth to their senior stages, while giving their body the nutrients that help keep them active for years to come. 

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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