Bernese Mountain Dogs have an unusually high mortality due to musculoskeletal causes. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament rupture were reported as the cause of death in 6% of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the UK study; for comparison, mortality due to musculoskeletal ailments was reported to be less than 2% for pure-bred dogs in general. Owners of Bernese Mountain Dogs are nearly three times as likely as owners of other breeds to report musculoskeletal problems in their dogs; the most commonly reported being cruciate ligament rupture, arthritis (especially in shoulders and elbows), hip dysplasia, and osteochondritis. The age at onset for musculoskeletal problems is also unusually low. In the U. S. /Canada study, 11% of living dogs had arthritis at an average age of 4. 3 years. Most other common, non-musculoskeletal morbidity issues strike Berners at rates similar to other breeds. Prospective Bernese Mountain Dog owners should be prepared to cope with a large dog that may have mobility problems at a young age. Options to help mobility-impaired dogs may include ramps for car or house access, lifting harnesses and slings, and dog wheelchairs (ex: Walkin' Wheels). Comfortable bedding may help alleviate joint pain. Due to these common medical issues, owners of Bernese Mountain Dogs should make sure that their dogs receive OFA and CERF certificates.
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