With designer mixed-breed dogs on the rise, future dog owners have dozens of varieties to choose from. The bernedoodle -- a dog that's a combination of the Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle -- is a very popular hybrid, and for good reason. These dogs are just as affectionate as they are adorable. Discover why the bernedoodle dog might be the perfect hybrid mix for you.
History and Origin of the Bernedoodle
The bernedoodle was first intentionally and formally created in 2003 by Sherry Rupke of SwissRidge Kennels in Beaverton, Ontario. She'd had former experience breeding purebred Bernese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, and later goldendoodles (Poodle crossed with a Golden Retriever), which inspired the idea for the bernedoodle.
This hybrid mix has gained popularity since then, and numerous breeders have since started breeding bernedoodles. Although they are not accepted as a distinct breed with the American Kennel Club, they are recognized by several other organizations, including the Designer Breed Registry, International Designer Canine Registry, and American Canine Hybrid Club.
Many owners and breeders state that these dogs are the best of both parent breeds when it comes to personality, physical appearance, and health.
The size of a bernadoodle mix can vary based on the size of the parent dogs, which generation the cross is, and their individual genetics. In general, there are three size ranges of bernedoodles.
- Standard: These large dogs weigh an average of 70 to 90 pounds and stand about 23 to 29 inches tall at the shoulder. Typically, they're the result of a Bernese Mountain Dog bred with a Standard Poodle.
- Mini: Minis can weigh anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds at 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder. These smaller dogs are usually achieved by breeding a Bernese Mountain Dog with a Miniature Poodle.
- Tiny: The smallest size, sometimes referred to as a toy or micro, can weigh as little as 10 to 25 pounds, maxing out in height around 12 to 17 inches at the shoulder. These petite pets are generally "backcrosses," where a smaller bernedoodle is crossed with a Toy Poodle.
Like most hybrid mixes, the bernadoodle's appearance can differ from dog to dog. They can have more of a Poodle appearance or resemble more of their berner side.
In general, they have a sturdy body with a straight, average-length muzzle, longer ears that sit close to the head, and a feathery tail. Their coat texture can range from slightly wavy to very curly. Common colors include black and white, tricolor (black, white, and brown), black and brown, or all black. Rare coat shades are merle, sable, chocolate, and white.
Bernedoodles are typically smart, affectionate, and loyal dogs. They tend to be playful and charismatic with everyone they meet-including people, dogs, and other pets. These qualities make the mix a great choice for families with children and other animals. However, because these dogs become so attached to their owners, they can experience separation anxiety.
Just as each dog is bound to look different, their personality can vary based on their genetics. Dogs who have a Miniature or Toy Poodle as a parent are likely to be higher energy than those who were bred from Standard Poodles. Some bernedoodles may take after the Bernese Mountain Dog parent and exhibit stubborn behaviors or be a bit cautious of strangers. Early socializing and training are recommended.
The bernedoodle is a moderate-energy mix and needs daily exercise. Provide them with at least one hour of movement every day. These hybrids enjoy long walks, hikes, swimming, dog sports, and free play in an open area.
Their thick coat means these dogs typically tolerate the cold very well. Be careful when exercising them in hot regions and high temperatures to avoid overheating. Always provide bernedoodles with ample water, but particularly during active periods in warmer weather.
Some people describe bernedoodles as being too smart for their own good, which means you'll have to tire their brain as well as their body. Enrichment toys and games can keep your doodle busy, so they don't get into mischief. Remember, a bored dog can easily become a destructive dog.
Training a bernedoodle is quite easy, given their intelligent and enthusiastic nature. Those with a stubborn streak may require more repetitive training with positive reinforcement. Socializing these dogs from a young age is important, as is training them to be calm when left alone.
Many breeders believe that crossbreeding creates healthier offspring, particularly when the parent breeds are prone to different genetic conditions. Unfortunately, there are still a few inherited health conditions that the bernedoodle may be prone to.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia: Abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints can cause bernedoodles pain and lead to lameness.
- von Willebrand disease: Both Poodles and Bernese Mountain Dogs can have this inherited bleeding disorder.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: Both parent breeds are also prone to this debilitating spine disorder.
- Adrenal problems: These dogs may be at higher risk for adrenal conditions like hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease) or hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease) due to their Poodle parent's genetics.
- Eye conditions: Bernedoodles can have inherited eye conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy passed on to them from their Bernese Mountain Dog side.
Depending on the size and health of a bernedoodle, they can live to be anywhere from 12 to 17 years old. Standard bernedoodles reportedly have shorter lifespans (12 to 15 years on average), whereas the mini and toy varieties can live to 17 years old or more.
Like most "doodle" mixes, the bernedoodle tends to be a low shedder. That said, their exact grooming requirements depend on their coat length and texture. Dogs who take after their berner side and have long, wavy hair should be brushed every week to remove any loose hair and keep their fur from matting. These dogs tend to shed more than their Poodle cousins.
Bernedoodles with curly locks have greater grooming needs. They'll need to be brushed several times each week, baths as needed, and may benefit from trims every few months by a professional groomer. Regardless of their hair type, these dogs should have their nails trimmed and ears cleaned regularly.
Fun Facts About Bernedoodles
- Bernedoodles come in many different sizes ranging from 10 pounds up to 90 pounds.
- A client of Sherry Rupke, the original creator of the designer mix, actually gave her the suggestion for breeding the Bernese Mountain Dog with a Poodle.
- Like their Poodle relatives, these dogs are reportedly mostly hypoallergenic.
- This mix isn't just called the bernedoodle; sometimes they're referred to as the "Bernese Mountain poo" or "bernepoo."
Where to Buy or Adopt a Bernedoodle
These hybrid puppies can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 or more. If you're looking for a smaller bernedoodle or one with a unique coat color, you can expect the price to be on the higher end. With the rise in popularity of the bernedoodle, breeders are becoming widely available. The International Designer Canine Registry and Designer Breed Registry both offer breeder directories. Always do your research to make sure the breeder you choose is ethical and responsible. You can also inquire with your veterinarian for breeder referrals.
Rescuing a bernedoodle in need of a home is also an option. Many of the Bernese Mountain Dog rescue groups also find homes for bernedoodles. There are also dedicated "doodle" rescues that place all varieties of Poodle mixes. Consider these organizations if you'd like to adopt a bernedoodle.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Bernedoodle
If you're ready for a lovable and playful bundle of fur -- fur that may need frequent upkeep depending on the hair texture they have -- the bernedoodle might be the perfect designer mix for you. Just know that these dogs don't have a consistent size or temperament. Some take after their intelligent Poodle relatives, whereas others may be more aloof, like a Bernese Mountain Dog. Research both parent breeds to make sure you would enjoy either type of dog. And if a bernedoodle isn't the right fit for you, there are several other "doodles" or Bernese Mountain Dog mixes you could investigate instead.