Described as clever, goofy, gentle, and loyal, fans of the Bernedoodle believe this lovable designer dog is the perfect mixture of the Poodle and the Bernese Mountain Dog. Bernedoodles – sometimes called the Bernese Mountain Poo – make great companions for active owners and families with children.
Here’s what you need to know about this lovable doodle dog.
The Parent Breeds
Like other “doodles,” the Bernedoodle is a cross between a Poodle and another breed – in this case, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Poodles of all varieties (Toy, Miniature, and Standard) all have the same breed standard but they vary in size with the Toy Poodle being the smallest (up to 10 inches tall at the shoulder); and the Standard Poodle being the tallest (up to 24 inches tall at the shoulder). All Poodles are known for being exceptionally intelligent. They are easy to train, outgoing, friendly, and love to be the center of attention. Contrary to what you may think from seeing Poodles at dog shows, these dogs are very versatile. They excel in obedience, agility, and are even used as retrievers by hunters. In addition, the Poodle has a single-layer, non-shedding coat that makes the breed popular with people who are allergic to dog hair and dander. Poodles come in nearly every possible color and color combination – a trait they can pass along to some of their doodle offspring.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a beautiful bear of a dog with a thick, silky, moderately long coat. Their coat is tri-colored – jet black, clear white, and rust. These majestic dogs thrive in cold weather. They were highly valued in Switzerland for driving cattle and protecting the farm. The Bernese Mountain Dog stands up to 27.5 inches tall and weighs up to 115 pounds. The American Kennel Club describes the Bernese Mountain Dog as good-natured, calm, and strong.
As with other doodle crosses, combining the Poodle and the Bernese Mountain Dog can produce puppies with a coat that is non-shedding or low-shedding. It can also produce puppies that have a longer lifespan than the Bernese Mountain Dog. Poodles, especially Toy and Miniature Poodles, are known for having exceptionally long lives among dogs, often living into their late teen years. By contrast, the Bernese Mountain Dog, like many giant breeds, has a lifespan of only 7-10 years. Bernedoodles – especially those with a smaller Poodle parent – can have a much longer life.
Bernedoodles are known for being loving, loyal, calm, affectionate with their owners and family members, extremely good with children, and generally good with other dogs. They can be standoffish with strangers. They won’t usually jump in a stranger’s lap but they won’t chase a stranger away either. Expect your Bernedoodle to adopt a “wait and see” approach toward strangers and to take his cues from you.
Bernedoodles make good companions and family dogs. They often inherit the intelligence of their Poodle parent and the good nature and calmness of their Bernese Mountain Dog parent. These dogs are usually happiest when they are spending time with their family, especially if there are children to play with. They love playing and cuddling.
According to some sources, Bernedoodles can be stubborn when they are young but this trait usually disappears with time and training.
As with all dogs and especially large dogs, early socialization is important for Bernedoodles. Take your puppy out to places. Let him meet friendly strangers. Introduce him to new objects. Sign up for a basic obedience class. All of these things will put you and your puppy on the path to having a well-behaved adult dog.
One more thing about Bernedoodles, both as puppies and adults. Although they are usually calm at home, like other smart dogs they can develop bad behaviors if they don’t get enough exercise and attention. Make sure you provide your puppy/dog with plenty of exercise every day and spend some quality time with him. Otherwise, you could come home to find your cushions chewed and your trash in the floor. Boredom is bad for dogs!
The Bernedoodle’s size is usually on the larger side since one of the parents is the Bernese Mountain Dog and this is a giant breed. However, the size can still vary a great deal depending on the size of the Poodle parent. Bernedoodles with a Toy Poodle or Miniature Poodle parent can be smaller or medium in size; while puppies with a Standard Poodle for a parent can be quite large. It’s often difficult to guess how large a puppy will grow to be as an adult even when you know the size of the parents. Breeders may advertise Bernedoodle puppies as Toy, Miniature, or Standard, based on the Poodle parent, but you can end up with a puppy that grows to be big, even though the Poodle parent was small. It’s important to talk to the breeder about his or her dogs before you decide to buy one. Ideally you can see some of the breeder’s previous dogs as adults (or at least see pictures of them). If the parents have produced a previous litter together, seeing some of their older offspring would be a good way to estimate how large their puppies might grow.
According to one breeder, Bernedoodles come in the following sizes (keep in mind there is no breed standard so these sizes may vary with other breeders):
- Standard Bernedoodle: (Standard Poodle with Bernese Mountain Dog) 50 pounds and up; 23-29 inches tall at the shoulder; most of them weigh 70-90 pounds.
- Mini Bernedoodle: (Miniature Poodle with Bernese Mountain Dog) 25-49 pounds; 18-22 inches at the shoulder.
- Tiny Bernedoodle: (Crossing a Mini Bernedoodle with a Toy Poodle) 10-24 pounds; 12-17 inches tall at the shoulder.
Mini and Tiny Bernedoodles may have a slightly more energetic temperament.
Smaller Bernedoodles can be a good choice if you live in an urban area or in an apartment. If you plan on getting a larger Bernedoodle, it’s best if you life in the suburbs or a rural area where you will be able to provide your dog with plenty of outside exercise.
As with many Poodle crosses, Bernedoodle puppies even in the same litter can have a variety of coat types. Coats can be curly, wavy, or straight. All Bernedoodle puppies are adorable but some of these coats are non-shedding or low-shedding and some will shed. Curly coats are usually non-shedding. Wavy coats are usually low-shedding. Straight coats will usually shed. If the non-shedding coat is especially important to you, be sure that you make this clear to the breeder before you put down a deposit on a particular pup.
You should be aware that no dogs are really “hypoallergenic.” That’s because most people with allergies to dogs are allergic to dog saliva and dander, not dog hair. Dogs that don’t shed or that are low-shedding won’t spread dander and saliva as much as dogs that shed a lot of hair but they will still shed some dander and saliva. Dander is dead skin flakes and everything with skin sheds dead skin. That’s why breeders won’t usually guarantee that a puppy will be hypoallergenic or that you won’t be allergic a puppy.
Various colors are possible with the Bernedoodle but lots of puppies are black or have the same kind of markings as the Bernese Mountain Dog – black, white, and rust.
Bernedoodles much prefer to be around people instead of being left alone. This is not a breed that you could keep in a kennel or a dog house for an extended period of time. While the Bernese Mountain Dog has a thick coat that can allow them to enjoy cold weather, the Bernedoodle may or may not have this same kind of coat. Breeders are crossing the Bernese Mountain Dog with the Poodle in order to produce a different coat so many Bernedoodles won’t be able to live outdoors, even if the dog seems to enjoy the snow and cold. A Bernedoodle with a single-layer curly coat, for example, would be more like a Poodle and could be sensitive to the cold.
Depending on the thickness of your Bernedoodle’s coat, he might or might not enjoy hot weather. If you keep your Bernedoodle in a comfortable clipped hairstyle, warmer weather probably won’t bother him as long as he can cool off indoors.
Smaller Bernedoodles should do well living in an apartment as long as you provide plenty of daily exercise.
This is a doodle that will probably do well living with a novice dog owner. They are intelligent and good-natured. Even if they are slightly stubborn when they are young, basic obedience training and good socialization should overcome any problems.
Both Bernese Mountain Dogs and Poodles are subject to some health problems. The two breeds do share some of the same health issues so it’s most important that breeders do health testing for these problems.
Health problems shared by both Poodles and Bernese Mountain Dogs:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Cataracts
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Hip Dysplasia (Miniature, Standard Poodles)
- Cancer (Cancer is a particularly serious problem in Bernese Mountain Dogs, with nearly half of dogs reportedly dying of some form of cancer.)
- Von Willebrands
Both breeds have other health issues that are not shared but they may be less likely to occur in the offspring since the puppies would be an outcross.
To be fair, it should be stated that Poodles are possibly the most closely studied dog breed in the world. Breeders and fanciers have invested an enormous amount of time, work, and money into researching every possible health issue in the breed for decades. This is probably why there are so many health tests available for Poodles and why so many issues have been identified. Poodles were the most popular breed in the United States for decades so many people have been devoted to them and their health over the years.
Recent health surveys in the UK found that Standard Poodles in the UK, Denmark, and the U.S./Canada had a median lifespan of 11.5-12 years. The most common cause of death was cancer, followed by old age, bloat (gastric dilation-volvulus), and cardiac disease.
Toy and Miniature Poodles in these surveys had a median lifespans of 14-14.5 years. In Toy Poodles the leading cause of death was old age followed by kidney failure. In Miniature Poodles the leading cause of death was old age.
The Bernese Mountain Dog has an unusually short life even for a large/giant breed dog. Dogs of this breed do not usually live beyond 7-10 years.
Crossing the Bernese Mountain Dog with the Poodle appears to provide a much longer life to the Bernedoodle offspring, especially for small and medium-sized dogs.
Poodles are known to be very energetic, regardless of their size. Bernese Mountain Dogs, on the other hand, don’t usually require a lot of exercise, despite their large size. They can use up a lot of energy in one big burst, such as they would use for chasing down some cattle. After that they are often content to relax. They have a calm personality and enjoy cuddling up at night. When these two breeds are combined, you can get puppies with a range of exercise requirements. Some puppies may be more energetic, like their Poodle side. Other puppies may have a burst of energy and then flop down to rest. Or, you might have a puppy that likes moderate exercise. It’s always hard to predict what you will get with a doodle.
In general, you should expect a Bernedoodle puppy to have plenty of energy and need moderate exercise. As your puppy grows into an adult he could become mellow like a Bernese Mountain Dog or he might be more energetic like a Poodle. One thing you can count on is that he will probably remain playful for many years.
With a Poodle parent you should expect your Bernedoodle puppy to be very smart. Again, there can always be a range within a litter. One puppy might be a genius and another puppy might be average. But, on the whole, any puppies with a Poodle parent are likely to be quite intelligent and easier to train than an ordinary dog.
Although many people don’t know it, Poodles originated as a water retrieving breed. This means that there’s a good chance that your puppy will have some natural retrieving ability. It should be easy to teach him to fetch and play ball with you. The down side to this retrieving instinct is that your puppy might like to mouth things and put objects in his mouth – like your shoes. You should be able to teach him not to do this fairly quickly but until he learns, it’s best to keep objects where he can’t reach them.
Neither of these two parent breeds is known for having a strong prey drive. If you have other pets, such as a cat, it’s unlikely that your Bernedoodle will consider it to be prey. You should take normal precautions so your other pet is not harmed until your puppy/dog is fully introduced into the home but this should not present a problem.
A Bernedoodle shouldn’t be much of a barker either. All dogs can bark if they are bored, left alone for a long time, or if a squirrel taunts them, and for other similar reasons. But Bernedoodles don’t have a strong instinct to bark.
Likewise, any dog can run away if you have a hole in your fence or someone leaves your gate open but a Bernedoodle is not likely to spend a lot of time trying to find ways to get out of your yard.
All dogs need regular grooming but how you groom your Bernedoodle will mostly depend on his coat type and texture. Dogs with curly coats are often kept in a short clip. The curly coat needs to be brushed often so it won’t mat. Breeders say that curly coats are harder to care for at home. If you have a dog with a wavy coat, many people opt to let them have a slightly longer, shaggy look – though it shouldn’t look dirty or ungroomed. Dogs with straight coat can go short or long. If you keep the hair long you will need to brush it regularly so it won’t mat or tangle.
Most people take their Bernedoodle to a professional groomer every 6-8 weeks for clipping if they intend to keep the coat cut short. You can ask your groomer what kind of shampoo and conditioner to use at home.
The Bottom Line
Bernedoodles are smart, attractive, loving dogs that make excellent pets for individuals and for families. They love to spend time with you whether you are doing things outdoors or curled up reading a book inside. With some training and socialization as a puppy, a Bernedoodle could be your perfect companion.