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Hip dysplasia is, perhaps, the most widely health challenge in Bernese. It results from an unstable hipsocket and subsequent degenerative joint changes that affect young puppies but most often leads to a degenerative, sometimes crippling, arthritis as an affected dog ages. Some HD affected dogs will experience no lameness. Some dogs with mild HD may be uncomfortable and other dogs with more severe HD may show no pain or gait problems. For some dogs the disease is completely debilitating and affects dogs from age 6 months to old age. Studies have shown that dogs free of hip dysplasia tend to produce fewer offspring with HD. However, dogs free of hip dysplasia can produce dogs with HD. It is important to know that HD can only be diagnosed by a qualified veterinarian’s evaluation of x-rays of the hip joint. The certifying organizations review the x-rays to determine the presence or likelihood of HD. (OFA determines by arthritic changes and subluxation whether the hips are dysplastic or not. Conscientious breeders attempt to reduce the incidence of HD by carefully selecting dogs from families with lower incidences of this disease. Knowing the hip status of as many family members as possible helps breeders select dogs with a greater chance of producing offspring with normal hips. Many breeders require formal hip evaluation of puppies from their breeding programs as we do. Keeping your puppy lean, on a top quality adult food and not over exercising the puppy can help minimize the problems of hip dysplasia in large, fast growing breeds.

Elbow Dysplasia (ED) is a general term that is used to describe several different abnormalities of the elbow joint. ED is another potentially crippling condition that affects some Berners. A degenerative joint disease like HD, ED causes arthritic changes to occur in the elbow joint. Elbow dysplasia in BMDs is most often a result of fragmented coronoid process, but the ununited anconeal process form of ED and OCD of the elbow have been seen. Elbow dysplasia can result in lameness and affect puppies as young as 5 months. Lameness from ED may subside when a dog reaches adulthood. The only way to confirm and evaluate ED is by x-ray. ED is less likely to be present in puppies born to parents who do not possess the condition. OFA certifies elbow radiographs and issues a certificate and registry number to dogs free of this disease. Knowing the elbow status of as many family members as possible helps breeders select dogs with a higher chance of producing puppies with normal elbows. Keeping your puppy lean, feeding an adult food, and not over exercising can minimize the effects of Elbow dysplasia on large fast growing puppies.

Panosteitis (Pano) is a disease of the long bones in the legs and is a condition that typically affects growing dogs from 5-8 months and up to 2 years of age. Diagnosis can often be done with x-rays but mild forms may be difficult to detect. The disease can impair movement, cause intermittent or chronic lameness that may last for weeks or months, cause pain which makes the dog quite uncomfortable and may ‘wander’ from one leg to another. The condition will generally resolve with rest and subside completely when the affected dog reaches maturity.

Cataracts of various types are verified in Bernese through examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Depending on the type, cataracts may or may not present problems with vision. Owners are urged to have eyes checked by a canine ophthalmologist throughout the dog's life.

Entropion and Ectropion (eyelids turned in or out) effect the eyelids, which should be tight fitting in BMDs. Either condition can result in damage to the dog’s eye. Entropion is a heritable condition where the eyelid rolls inward causing irritation to the surface of the eye. Ectropion is the reverse where the eyelid rolls out serving as a ‘catcher’s mitt’ for tiny bits of debris that can irritate pink tissues on the inside of the eyelid. All of our dogs have been certified clear of any hereditary eye problems.

Bloat (gastric torsion and/or volvulus) is potentially life threatening and incredibly swift in onset. It is a condition that occurs when the stomach fills with gas and then may rotate. Immediate medical treatment, most likely emergency surgery, is mandatory and minutes, not hours, may save a life. Studies on this condition have revealed so many factors that precede bloating in dogs that no single cause can be named. Further studies are being conducted to better understand this disease and the ways of preventing it. Bloat has a very high morbidity rate. And dogs that bloat once have a higher tendency to do so again.

Hypothyroidism is a condition found fairly frequently in the breed. It can present itself via a variety of symptoms including hair coat changes (dryness, brittleness, brown pigmentation, sparseness) and changes in temperament. Dogs suffering from an under active thyroid can experience reproductive issues, put on extra weight even when fed a moderate ration of food. A veterinarian can prescribe supplementation.