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Genetic Health Testing for Bernese Mountain Dogs

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Bernese Mountain Dog

Embark for Breeders offers two breed-specific genetic health tests for the Bernese Mountain Dog among the 250+ genetic health conditions for which Embark tests. Breeders can easily share breed-specific DNA test results on parents or puppies with the one-page DNA Health Summary report with Embark test results.  

Genetic health testing is an integral part of a responsible dog breeding program. When using genetic health testing, breeders need to educate themselves about concepts such as modes of inheritance, penetrance, prevalence, and phenotype for a specific variant in their breed to apply test results. Breeders also need to know which variants are causing health concerns in their breed and which health conditions currently have no genetic test available. This handy search function by breed or health condition can show breeders which DNA tests Embark provides. 

Embark DNA tests for the Bernese Mountain Dog include the following conditions. The health condition percentages based on clear, carrier, and at-risk status presented on common, rare, and very rare genetic risk factors are based on a subset of dogs within the Embark database and do not necessarily represent all dogs of this breed. While we are not able to provide specific population numbers at this time, we believe the data provided here to be sufficient to inform on current trends within the North American population of Bernese Mountain Dogs. 

Common genetic health risk factors <95% clear rate

These are the most common genetic conditions based on Embark data, ranked from most to least prevalent in the Bernese Mountain Dog, with less than 95% of dogs testing clear. 

Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

The dog equivalent of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, DM is a progressive degenerative disorder of the spinal cord. Because the nerves that control the hind limbs are the first to degenerate, the most common clinical signs are back muscle wasting and gait abnormalities. The gene is SOD1A*, and the mode of inheritance is recessive. 

* SOD1A vs SOD1B

Please note: While we test for the SOD1A variant, we do not test for the SOD1B (Bernese Mountain Dog type) variant at this time. Degenerative Myelopathy genotype results apply only to SOD1A.

  • Based on Embark-tested Bernese Mountain Dogs that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 58.2% of dogs tested clear; 35.6% tested as carriers; and 5.9% at risk for Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

Citations:  Awano et al 2009, Shelton et al 2012, Capuccio et al 2014

 

Embark for Breeders dog DNA test kits
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Very rare genetic health risk factors >99% clear rate

The following genetic conditions have a greater than 99% clear rate and are considered very rare genetic diseases in the Bernese Mountain Dog

Von Willebrand Disease Type I, Type I vWD (VWF)

Von Willebrand Disease (vWD) is a type of coagulopathy, a disorder of blood clotting. vWD is characterized into three types based on clinical severity, serum levels of vWF, and vWF multimer composition. Dogs with Type I vWD have low vWF levels, normal multimer composition, and variable clinical signs. This blood disease has a recessive mode of inheritance.  

Citations: Brooks et al 2001

With two known conditions in the Bernese Mountain Dog, this is evidence that genetic disorders are of concern within the breed, and other conditions are likely to be identified in the future. By DNA testing your Bernese Mountain Dogs with Embark, you can help accelerate more novel discoveries to help your breed and all dogs. 

Canine Health and Breed Resources 

Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America 

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)

OFA Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

OFA-CHIC Health Testing Requirements for the Bernese Mountain Dog 

Mandatory

Hip Dysplasia 

Elbow Dysplasia

ACVO Eye Exam 

Cardiac Evaluation

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) DNA results for both SOD1-A and SOD1-B or an at-risk result for either SOD1-A or SOD1-B registered with the OFA.

Elective

Remember, genetic health testing is not a diagnosis of a disease. Please consult your veterinarian for any health issues with your dog. To start your DNA testing journey, explore Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Tests. 

Lisa Peterson Contributor

Award-winning writer, journalist, and podcast host Lisa Peterson is a canine subject matter expert and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She served as the American Kennel Club director of communications and club communications for 10 years before becoming a Westminster Kennel Club public relations consultant from 2016 to 2021. Lisa began owning, breeding, and handling Norwegian Elkhounds more than 35 years ago, and today is an AKC judge and AKC Breeder of Merit.

Read more about Lisa Peterson

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