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10 Best Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Bernese Mountain DogA massive breed that’s well-suited for hard work, the Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the 25 most popular breeds according to the AKC. They can reach heights of 28 inches at the shoulders and weigh a hefty 115 pounds, but the breed’s calm demeanor makes them gentle giants.

The most unfortunate thing about this breed is its short, projected lifespan of just 7-10 years. But thanks to the advances made in canine nutrition over the past decades, we know that with a proper diet and lots of exercise, we can tip the scales in our favor and help our dogs to live as long of lives as possible.

If you’re trying to find the best food to feed your Bernese Mountain Dog, we’ve already done the hard work of testing the most popular ones on the market. The following 10 reviews will compare our favorites so you can see how they stacked up without trying them all with your dog.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorite Picks in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain
  • Easier to digest
  • Lamb as the main source of protein
  • Made with whole-food
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed
  • Affordably priced
  • Great for joint health
  • With larger volumes option
  • Best for Puppies
    Third place
    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy
  • Made for large breed puppies
  • Nutrients for growing pups
  • Contains no corn
  • wheat
  • or soy
  • Contains a diverse selection of protein
  • Loaded with joint-supporting supplements
  • Contains 462 calories
  • Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free
  • 37% minimum crude protein
  • Made with whole-food ingredients
  • Contains 508 calories
  • The 10 Best Dog Foods for Bernese Mountain Dogs

    1. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    5Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Starting with real lamb listed as the first and primary ingredient, the Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made with whole-food ingredients chosen to provide your Bernese Mountain Dog with the best nutrition possible. More than just lamb, this recipe includes nutrient-packed ingredients like blueberries, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. What you won’t find are grains since they’re harder for dogs to digest.

    With a minimum of 25% crude protein and health-boosting nutrients like omega fatty acids and essential minerals, you can be certain that this food contains all the nutrition your dog needs to lead a long, healthy life. Salmon oil provides DHA; an important fatty acid that plays a vital role in your dog’s brain function and can actually make them easier to train.

    The only downside with this food is the premium price attached to it. But we think it’s earned the higher price tag by utilizing top-notch ingredients, which is why it tops our list.

    • The grain-free formula is easier to digest
    • Uses lamb as the main source of protein
    • Made with whole-food ingredients
    • Contains health-boosting essential nutrients
    • There are more cost-effective options

    2. Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    2Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Feeding a dog as large as a Bernese Mountain Dog is already expensive. Depending on how large yours is, it might require as much as six cups of dry dog food each day! When you factor in the higher cost of premium foods that benefit your dog’s health, prospects look even grimmer. But with the Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food, you can feed your large breed dog without breaking the bank or skimping on their nutrition.

    Some of the most common health concerns associated with large breeds are joint problems. Thankfully, this food contains plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin, which help to repair cartilage and can also reduce pain caused by ailments like hip dysplasia.

    Despite the inclusion of these important supplements, what this food is missing is protein. It has just 22.5% minimum crude protein; less than we’d like to see. But considering the low price and the large volumes you can purchase it in, we think this is the best food for Bernese Mountain Dogs for the money.

    • Affordably priced
    • Contains supplements for joint health
    • Can be purchased in larger volumes
    • Not as much total protein as competitors

    3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Dog Food – Best for Puppies

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy

    Formulated specifically for large breed puppies, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Dog Food contains precisely the nutrients that your Bernese Mountain Dog will benefit from. One glance at the ingredients list shows that the main ingredient is deboned chicken, helping to achieve the minimum 26% crude protein this food offers.

    Of course, you’ll find a lot more than just protein in this recipe. For instance, it’s packed with omega fatty acids to promote brain function in growing dogs as well as supporting healthy skin and coat. It all contains important minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and manganese.

    Blue Buffalo managed to load this food with so many healthy nutrients by formulating the recipe with whole-food ingredients like blueberries and cranberries. But they purposefully left out corn, wheat, and soy, which are harder for dogs to digest. Unfortunately, they also left out important joint supplements that large dogs need, though there’s no shortage of vitamins and antioxidants.

    • Made specifically for large-breed puppies
    • Fortified with the nutrients that growing pups need
    • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy
    • Packed with vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants
    • It’s missing important joint supplements

    4. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry Dog Food

    CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE

    The CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry Dog Food is packed with tons of healthy ingredients, but the price is astronomically high. If it were more reasonably priced, this food would likely have earned a spot in our top three.

    As soon as you look at the ingredients list, you can tell this food is special. The first two ingredients are bison and lamb meal, so you can be certain this food is packed with a diverse array of protein sources that break away from the traditional chicken.

    Another important thing you’ll find on the nutrition label for this food is the glucosamine and chondroitin that are included to help keep your dog’s joints healthy as they age. You’ll also find omega fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, and plenty of vitamins.

    To get all of those nutrients into this blend, natural, whole-food ingredients like bison, sweet potatoes, lentils, and carrots were used. Its grain-free recipe is easy on your dog’s digestive system and it’s loaded with the nutrients that benefit large dogs. But considering how much a Bernese Mountain Dog eats, this food isn’t going to be a cost-effective option. At least it packs 462 calories into each cup!

    • Contains a diverse selection of protein sources
    • Loaded with joint-supporting supplements
    • Made with natural, whole-food ingredients
    • Each cup contains 462 calories
    • Exorbitant pricing

    5. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

    3Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

    This is another food that’s loaded with ingredients we love but costs too much for many people to afford to feed it to their Bernese Mountain Dog. Luckily, it manages to pack 508 calories into each cup, making it one of the most calorically dense foods we’ve seen. Still, the high price will prevent it from being an option for many.

    Made with whole-food ingredients starting with chicken, the Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food contains lots of ingredients you’d probably eat. Carrots, apples, cranberries, peas, and more make up this grain-free recipe that’s easy on a dog’s digestive system.

    Containing protein from fish and chicken, this food is packed with a minimum of 37% crude protein. It’s also got omega fatty acids, tons of vitamins like vitamins A and E, and important minerals like zinc and selenium. What’s missing are joint-supporting supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, which is likely because this blend isn’t specifically made for large breed dogs whose joints need the extra support.

    • 37% minimum crude protein
    • Grain-free recipe is easier for dogs to digest
    • Made with whole-food ingredients
    • 508 calories are packed into each cup
    • Extremely expensive
    • Contains no joint supplements
    • Not made specifically for large-breed dogs

    6. Diamond Naturals Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

    8Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

    Available in large, 40-pound bags that are priced affordably, the Diamond Naturals Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food makes it a bit more affordable to offer your Bernese Mountain Dog the nutrition it deserves. Despite the lower pricing, this food is still crafted with healthy, whole-food ingredients, starting with chicken and continuing with whole-grain brown rice, carrots, pumpkin, blueberries, and many more.

    Even though the ingredients list is diverse, the protein selection is not. Almost all of the protein in this blend is derived from chicken. At least there’s a minimum 26% crude protein; enough to meet our standards. And to top it off, the chicken they used was raised cage-free.

    In this blend, you’ll find essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients like omega fatty acids. But what’s missing is fiber. With just 2.5% max fiber, you might want to supplement some fiber into your dog’s diet if you choose the Diamond Naturals Formula Dog Food.

    • Affordable pricing
    • Crafted with healthy, whole-food ingredients
    • Made with cage-free chicken as the main ingredient
    • All the protein comes from chicken
    • Low in fiber

    7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    4Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken

    When looking at any dog food, especially one for a large breed like a Bernese Mountain Dog, we want to see at least 24-25% minimum crude protein. The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Dry Dog Food has just 21% protein, so we weren’t off to a great start. But a little further down the ingredients list, we noticed the glucosamine and chondroitin that are included in this blend. Since these nutrients can keep your big dog’s joints in better health as they age, we think this earned back some of the points this food lost.

    But this food is lacking more than just protein. With just 3.5% maximum fiber, we think it’s safe to say that some additional fiber certainly wouldn’t hurt. Still, we like the shorter ingredients list that contains only non-GMO ingredients. If this blend contained more protein and fiber, those healthy ingredients might help it reach a higher position on our list.

    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
    • All ingredients are non-GMO
    • Not enough protein
    • Lacking in fiber

    8. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley

    This large breed adult dog food from Hill’s Science Diet is more expensive than most of the competition. Because of this, we expected to see some impressive numbers on the nutritional content label. Disappointingly, that’s not what happened.

    Despite the high price, this food contains a meager 20% crude protein. To satisfy us, it would need an additional 4-5% crude protein. In all fairness, the ingredients list is made up mostly of whole-food ingredients like chicken, whole-grain wheat, cranberries, and green peas. But there are also some undesirable ingredients mixed in, such as corn gluten meal, which isn’t as easy for dogs to digest.

    On the bright side, since it is formulated for large breeds specifically, this food contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. But there’s not as much in this blend as other recipes we’ve had a chance to try. Overall, we’d skip this one and opt for something with more protein at a more reasonable price.

    • Made with joint-supporting supplements
    • Formulated with additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
    • More expensive than the competition
    • Contains just 20% crude protein
    • Some ingredients aren’t desirable

    9. American Journey Active Life Formula Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    American Journey Active Life Formula

    Generally speaking, we like foods that are made with whole-food ingredients such as deboned chicken, blueberries, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. You’ll find all of these ingredients in the American Journey Active Life Formula Large Breed Dry Dog Food, but that wasn’t enough to redeem this food in our eyes.

    To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with this food; we just don’t think it compares favorably to the other foods on this list. For one thing, it’s got just 332 calories in each cup. For smaller dogs, that might be sufficient. But when you’re feeding a dog as large as a Bernese Mountain Dog, you need a food that’s more calorically dense.

    In defense of this food, it does contain glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints; albeit, in pretty low dosages. But this food failed the most important test; the taste test. Our dogs simply didn’t like it. If this happened with just one dog, we’d assume it was a fluke. But we got the same results repeatedly with this food, which is part of why it’s ranked so low on our list.

    • Contains joint-supporting supplements
    • Our dogs didn’t like the taste
    • Lower calories than other foods
    • Only one source of protein

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

    Merrick Backcountry

    The first thing we noticed about the Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Large Breed Recipe is the impressive protein content. It’s got a minimum of 38% protein from a diverse array of sources including chicken, turkey, and salmon. After all that, you might expect this food to top our list, but there were too many things holding it back for the high protein content to outweigh the negatives.

    First, this food is incredibly expensive. And since it’s not as calorically dense as the other foods in the price range, so you’ll go through it even faster, so it’s not a cost-effective option for Bernese Mountain Dogs.

    Next, this food is quite low in fiber, containing just 3.5%. At the same time, it’s got a pretty high fat content of 17%. We’d prefer a lower fat content and more fiber, like some of our favorite foods contained.

    But we didn’t realize the worst things about this food until we tried feeding it to our dogs. That’s when we noticed that the kibble is far too small for a Bernese Mountain Dog, even though this marketed as a large breed food. To top it all off, our dogs also didn’t like the taste!

    • Has an impressive 38% protein
    • Contains a diverse array of protein sources
    • Not cost-effective
    • Low in fiber
    • The kibble is too small for large breeds
    • High fat content
    • The taste didn’t appeal to our pooches

    Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Dog Food for Bernese Mountain Dogs

    We went through a lot of dog food testing out all these different recipes. Some of them we liked, and some of them our dogs did. There were even a few foods that were equally liked by our canines and us, and those ones topped our list.

    But if you’re wondering how we went about ranking these foods, then this buyer’s guide is for you.

    It’s one thing to take our recommendations, but it’s another to use our recommendations to learn how to make informed decisions about what’s best for your dog, which is what we suggest. To that end, this short buyer’s guide is loaded with just the information you need to pick the perfect dog food for your Bernese Mountain Dog.

    Dog Foods for Large Breeds

    One thing that makes Bernese Mountain Dogs special regarding their nutrition is their size. Weighing as much as 115 pounds, these dogs are larger than some people and special consideration needs to be given to their dietary needs.

    The logical question is; what special considerations need to be made when purchasing food for a large dog?

    Caloric Density

    One of the main differences between feeding a large breed dog and a smaller one is the sheer amount of food they need. Large dogs need to intake a lot more calories. If you feed a large dog the same food as a smaller dog, the large dog will need to eat more of the same food.

    Depending on their size, Bernese Mountain Dogs need about 1500-1900 calories per day. That works out to about 3-6 cups of dry dog food each day. As you can imagine, you’ll be going through large bags of dog food in no time at all feeding your dog six cups each day.

    But often, foods that are meant for larger breed dogs are more calorically dense to combat this issue.

    Caloric density refers to the number of calories contained in a given amount of food; usually a cup when talking about dog food.

    Let’s use two hypothetical dog foods as an example. Food A contains 300 calories per cup, while Food B has 500 calories in each cup.

    Imagining that our dog eats an even 1500 calories, we would need to feed our dog five cups of food A each day to meet their needs. But they’d only need three cups of food B to meet the same caloric requirements. If we have the same amount of food in each bag, then food B will last almost twice as long.

    Joint Support

    Two of the most common health concerns affecting large-breed dogs are hip and elbow dysplasia. Either can drastically reduce your dog’s quality of life and even leave them lame. Large breeds are more susceptible to these health problems than other dogs, and that includes the Bernese Mountain Dog.

    That’s why we recommend always looking for joint support supplements in foods meant for a large breed dog. The two most important ones are glucosamine and chondroitin.

    Bernese Mountain Dog Dramatic Background
    Image credit: uppfeldt, Pixabay

    These supplements help to rebuild damaged cartilage. They’re also often given to dogs with arthritis since they can help to reduce inflammation and pain.

    By feeding your Bernese Mountain Dog a diet that’s already rich in these helpful supplements, you’ll be helping your dog to fight off common joint problems like arthritis and dysplasia, allowing them to live a better, longer life.


    Large breed dogs grow faster than smaller breeds, so they need more nutrients; particularly protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of the entire body.

    Bones, muscles, organs, and more all need sufficient amounts of protein to grow, which can be substantial for large breeds.

    For this reason, we prioritize foods with higher protein content. As a minimum, we like to see about 24-25% minimum crude protein. Below this, your Bernese Mountain Dog likely won’t be getting as much protein as they need.

    Some foods we liked contained as much as 37-38% crude protein; plenty to fuel all of the growing processes going on inside of your dog.

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    Final Verdict

    After reading our reviews, you should have a good idea of how the most popular dog foods on the market rank for your Bernese Mountain Dog. We tested many of these foods, and after everything, we have three excellent recommendations.

    First, the Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food; our favorite overall. It’s made with lamb as the main ingredient, instead of the all-too-common chicken. But it’s also packed with plenty of other healthy whole-food ingredients to provide your big dog with all the nutrients it needs, minus the grains that are hard for them to digest.

    On the more budget-priced side of the spectrum, our top choice is the Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food. This one comes in large volumes appropriate for the equally sizable appetites of a Bernese Mountain Dog. It’s priced affordably so you won’t go broke feeding your best friend, and it contains the joint supplements that are essential for big dogs.

    For puppies, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Food is our recommendation. This formula is made specifically for large breed puppies with plenty of vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants, but no corn, wheat, or soy.

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