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Bernedoodle

The breeds that make up the Bernedoodle are the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Standard Poodle, but sometimes a Miniature Poodle is used to produce a smaller dog. The aim of this cross is to get a Bernese Mountain Dog type with the enchanting natures of both, that doesn’t shed or drool so much and lives longer.

In theory, the Bernedoodle can be a first cross (with one Bernese Mountain Dog parent and one Poodle parent), can be bred back to one of the original breeds or be two Bernedoodles bred together. In reality, this is a rare cross and as such is usually a first cross only (F1), so there is slightly more consistency in size, shape and temperament - but this depends on the breeder as such crossbreeds are often produced irresponsibly from ‘less than great’ parents or even parents of dubious breeding themselves.

If you are considering this cross, make sure you buy a puppy from a responsible and ethical breeder.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Don't mind
  • Don't mind
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

 

Lifespan: 12 to 18 years, although smaller Bernedoodles tend to live longer than the standard version of the breed
Weight: 4.5 (tiny variant) – 40kg (standard variant)
Height: 25cm – 73cm
Colours:

The colours of the Bernedoodle coat can be any of those standard to the Bernese Mountain Dog or Poodle, or a combination of both. Most commonly they’ll be: black; black and white; black and brown or tri-coloured with patches of black, white and brown.

Size: The size can range between tiny to large, depending on if a Miniature Poodle is used or not.

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 5/5
Shedding: 1/5
Dog looking at the camera
Personality

It took until the latter half of the 19th century for the breed to become of interest to breeders and canine enthusiasts who then worked to standardise and protect the breed - with varying degrees of success. The first breed club in England wasn’t set up until 1971. The Standard Poodle on the other hand is a working breed originally developed as a water retrieving dog. Contrary to popular belief, their unusual haircuts were not about fashion, they came from owners wanting to make sure their dogs didn’t get waterlogged or too heavy to swim easily in lakes, so they shaved off as much hair as possible while keeping the vital organs and joints protected. The Miniature Poodle was created purely as smaller version of the original Poodle for owners who didn’t want such a large dog, but were enchanted by their personalities and enthusiasm for all kinds of work. The Bernedoodle can have any combination of the two breeds in their appearance, behaviour and temperament.

Dog in front of white wall

History and Origins

The Bernedoodle, while more popular in the US and Canada, is an unusual crossbreed in the UK - given the relative scarcity of the Bernese Mountain Dog and the breed club’s desire to protect the breed. However, the Bernedoodle was first intentionally bred by Sherry Rupke of Swissridge Kennels in 2003, as she wanted to combine the Poodles clever and goofy personality with the unfaltering loyalty of the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Where the Bernedoodle is a relatively new breed, the two breeds involved in its make-up go way back. The origins of the Bernese Mountain Dog can be traced back 2,000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland with their cattle drovers and guard dogs. The Roman mastiff-type dogs were probably crossed with the region’s flock-guarding dogs who were of a size and coat-type to withstand the severe weather in the Alps, and which also served to soften their temperaments. These dogs worked for hundreds of years in this area - often being referred to as the Farmer’s Dog, the Butcher’s Dog or even the Cheesery Dog as along with being flock guards, they were used as cart-pullers to transport goods to markets, as most villagers were too poor to own horses.

Health and Common Issues

Like most crossbreeds, the personality of a Bernedoodle depends on the parents and how they have been bred and reared. While the personality of a Bernedoodle can vary widely, it’s clear from looking at the two breeds that make up this cross that this is a friendly dog who needs space, company and affection. The personality of a Bernedoodle seems to be more consistent when they are first crosses (F1) - and it is important that they are bred from good temperament parents. As a line is successively bred, they can be either bred back to one of the original breeds (and so strengthen either the Bernese or the Poodle personalities - or breed to a smaller Poodle to reduce the size) or else be bred to another Bernedoodle - in which case there is less predictability in temperament (and in-breeding becomes more of a potential issue).

Exercise Needs

One aim with crossbreeds is to dilute or eliminate any inherited health issues that may exist within one or other of the breeds. This dilution or elimination is only likely if only one parent is the carrier of any particular condition, and where this is a first cross (F1).  As this can’t always be guaranteed, all parents should be health tested prior to breeding: Bernese Mountain Dog - eye tests and hip and elbow scoring should be done, and there are several DNA tests that should be done. Also, this breed takes a long time to reach maturity and is one of the shortest-lived breeds, so prospective owners should be prepared for the possibility of losing their dog earlier than they might expect. Poodle - eye tests and hip scoring should be done. Information on DNA health tests for both breeds can be found on the Kennel Club’s website and via their respective breed clubs.

Space Requirements

It’s difficult to predict the exercise needs of this cross. The Poodle is an active working dog who needs plenty of exercise, thrives on having a job to do, and loves training and exercising their busy brains. The Bernese Mountain Dog is far calmer and laid-back and is often happy lying around watching what is going on. So, you could end up with a light-ish build dog who needs a lot of exercise and training, or you could end up with a heavier dog whose body and brain is more that of a friendly couch potato! Even an active Bernedoodle may not mature for quite some time, so short periods of exercise several times a day are far better so as not to permanently damage growing bones and joints. If your Bernedoodle inherits the thick coat of the Bernese Mountain Dog, it’s worth noting that these are designed to withstand the cold of the Alps and so they don’t cope well in the heat of the summer. With this in mind, exercising first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening when the sun is cooler may be necessary. Take advice from both your breeder and your vet.

Nutrition and Feeding

The Bernedoodle varies in size quite drastically, but for larger types, a good-sized living space will be required. Plus, they will appreciate a large garden and access to the great outdoors.

Grooming Bernedoodles

If you have a large Bernedoodle, they’ll have significant appetites and will benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Bernedoodle can be prone to bloating and stomach problems, so try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk. Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed them at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of their particular food.

Training Bernedoodles

It’s difficult to predict what kind of coat the Bernedoodle is going to have - as they may inherit a huge thick coat like a Bernese or they may inherit the Poodle coat (or any mixtures of the two!). This means they may not shed or shed minimally (the Poodle coat), but in that case will require regular trimming, or else they may shed (the Bernese coat) and may or may not have an unruly coat that is prone to matting. Mats can be a problem with this cross - especially behind the ears, at the side of the neck, thighs, stomach and base of tail. Find a good local groomer who can either look after your Bernedoodle’s coat or teach you how to do it yourself as their coat develops. They can be anything from low maintenance to high maintenance so be prepared for either! Ear care is extremely important as Poodles can have problems with excessive hair inside the ears which can cause infections or sore ears.

Best Family Dog Breeds

For larger Bernedoodles, they will need training so you can walk them easily on a lead and ensure they will come back to you when you call them. They also need to learn not to jump up at people - or knock them over in their enthusiasm! The two breeds that go into the Bernedoodle are very owner-oriented and so training and handling should always be positive and reward-based. It’s important to train a Bernedoodle to enjoy handling and grooming (as they will need a lot of it). Given the Poodle has a working gundog background, they should be well socialised with cats (who they can learn to live with very happily) but they should be watched with caution around other small animals and birds.

did you know?

Did You Know?

If the Bernedoodle is sourced from a reliable breeder, and well-trained from puppyhood, they will make fabulous family dogs, be a total joy to own and will get on with everyone. In other words, almost the perfect dog!

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