Bernedoodle

Bernedoodles are goofy, charming dogs who love to play outdoors just as much as they love to cuddle up on the couch. They’re the perfect family dog and have a special fondness for children. Plus, they inherit a nearly hypoallergenic coat from their poodle heritage.
By Sierra Burgos
August 24, 2020
Bernedoodle
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Bernedoodle

height
  • 23 — 29 inches
weight
  • 70 — 90 pounds
life span
  • 12 — 18 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • children
  • families
  • dogs
temperament
  • gentle
  • friendly
  • outgoing
  • playful
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • infrequent
exercise needs
  • high
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • when necessary
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • hybrid
coat length/texture
  • long
  • curly
colors
  • brown / chocolate / liver
  • black
  • white
patterns
  • bicolor
  • tricolor
  • sable
  • brindle
  • tuxedo
  • merle
  • black and tan
other traits
  • hypoallergenic
  • requires lots of grooming
  • cold weather tolerant
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good hiking companion

The Bernedoodle, first introduced circa 2003, is a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle. They were bred solely for companionship — they love attention and lots of cuddles from their families. Bernedoodles are just as happy curling up on the couch as they are hiking a trail alongside their humans. They’re playful and active dogs who can be stubborn as puppies but are highly trainable thanks to the intelligence they inherit from their poodle parent. Best of all, they make it possible for those with allergies to have a bigger dog similar to a Bernese. Like all doodle types, the more poodle they have in them, the closer to hypoallergenic they are.

Appearance 

Thanks to a wide variety of poodle types, most of these doodles come in an assortment of colors and sizes. Bernedoodle breeders typically offer a tiny, miniature, and standard size, which allows for flexibility with the care and living needs of each pup. A smaller mix could easily live in an apartment, so long as they get plenty of walks and exercise. The standard Bernedoodle can reach up to 29 inches in height and weigh up to 90 pounds. A mini is between 18–22 inches tall and weighs 20–45 pounds. A tiny, bred from a toy poodle, is only 12–17 inches and weighs 10–24 pounds, according to the United Bernedoodle Registry.

Most commonly, a Bernedoodle has a tricolor coat (black, white, and brown) similar to their parent breed, the Bernese mountain dog. They can also be pure black, black and white, or a random mix. The more poodle they have in them (for example, an F2B Bernedoodle is 62.5 percent poodle), the curlier they will likely be. The straighter the coat, the more it will shed. In both cases, the thickness of a Bernedoodle mane makes this breed suitable for colder temperatures.

Temperament 

Affectionate and playful, Bernedoodles are a perfect family pet. They are especially fond of younger kids and provide a wonderful lifelong companion as children grow into adults. Although intelligent, they tend to be slightly goofy and love attention from their humans. These dogs are not typically aggressive, though some inherit an apprehensiveness to strangers. Like their parents, they can end up being sensitive and skittish. Provided they have been properly socialized, they’ll be able to pick up commands and social cues even around strangers. Socialization also helps a Bernedoodle feel comfortable around other animals. They can be very charming and charismatic with the proper training.

Sarah Hodgson, author, trainer, and applied behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, loves the Bernedoodle temperament. “As a trainer, I’ve been watching their star rise for over 10 years,” Hodgson says. “What I love about this mix is that when you get a Bernedoodle from a mindful, responsible breeder, you get the sweet, mellow temperament of a Bernese blended with the sociability, smarts, and sense of humor of a poodle.”

Living Needs 

Bernedoodles are the best of both worlds — they love to be active outdoors (think hiking, swimming, running, etc.), but they also love being your snuggle buddy on the couch. Personal space is not a part of their vocabulary. Therefore, they should not be left alone much. Loneliness can result in separation anxiety, which could cause nervous habits like whining or chewing. Luckily, there are ways to train a doodle to tolerate alone time.

“[Bernedoodles] require lots of TLC, room to stretch their paws and work,” Adam Christman, DVM, says. “Give them a job to do... going for walks, agility trials, or even placing a backpack on their back [can] help mimic a job. They will end feeling more fulfilled and have less anxious, OCD behaviors.”

A mini- or tiny-size Bernedoodle can easily live in an apartment, as long as they get frequent outdoor time and lots of attention. This hybrid is especially gentle-natured and loves children. They’re so gentle-natured, in fact, they don’t make good guard dogs. They bark infrequently and are more likely to befriend an intruder than scare them away.

Care

Most often, a Bernedoodle will have a wavy or curly coat that’s ideal for those with allergies. In some cases, a Bernedoodle can have a straighter coat similar to that of a Bernese mountain dog. This means they’ll shed more and might not agree with an owner who’s allergic to pet dander. Once the litter is a few weeks old, a breeder will be able to tell what kind of coat each puppy will have in order to match the right dog to the right owner.

The curlier the coat, the more often it needs grooming. Bernedoodles shed little to none, so they’ll need frequent brushing to prevent painful matting. Most doodles love being brushed and the routine allows the owner to bond with their dog. Keep in mind a very curly, hypoallergenic dog will need to be clipped every few months — just because they’re low-shedding doesn’t mean they’re low maintenance.

Standard Bernedoodles do best with a yard to run around and play in. They’ll need a daily walk, or walks, to burn off their energy levels, but so long as their physical needs are met, they likely won’t turn to bad habits. They’ll also need consistent social stimulation to reinforce positive behaviors. The more exposure they have to new pets and humans, the more likely they are to be well-behaved when introduced to a foreign person or situation.

Bernedoodles’ high level of intelligence makes them easier to train. It also means they can learn behaviors (good or bad) quickly. That’s why it’s important to keep up with training, even past their puppy days. Training a Bernedoodle requires positive reinforcement and, in some cases, a high level of patience. “While all [Bernedoodles] are responsive to training, they have their own unique personalities and are not as uniformly predictable as a fully purebred dog,” Hodgson says. Should the puppy inherit the Bernese’s stubbornness or the poodle’s high energy, they’ll need more of your time and attention. “The training process can be somewhat of a hit or miss in that you’re not sure if you’ll get the intense focus of a poodle, or the more laid-back ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude of the [Bernese],” Hodgson says.

Health 

The life span of a Bernedoodle is 12–18 years. Luckily, the hybrid breed does not inherit the same health risks as the Bernese mountain dog. The Bernese side of their lineage has a life expectancy of only seven years and a high rate of cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, and epilepsy. Bernedoodles are far healthier than a purebred Bernese, but they can still be “predisposed to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, ocular diseases, and some allergies,” Christman says. “Overall, the Bernedoodle is a healthy breed and makes for a great family addition. Just be on the lookout for [warning signs like] excessive drooling and ability to gain some weight quickly.”

Skin issues like hot spots can also be common in this mix, due to their thick coats. Hot spots are primarily caused by excessive licking or chewing of an area. This is why it’s so important to keep up with grooming because a Bernedoodle is more likely to pick at their skin when their coat is dirty and matted. Above all, Bernedoodles tend to be much healthier than either of their parents and have a reduced risk of serious diseases.

History

Being a relatively new breed, the history book on Bernedoodles is a short one. After years of breeding Bernese mountain dogs, Sherry Rupke of SwissRidge Bernedoodles wanted a way to make the purebreds hypoallergenic and free from the health issues that plague the breed. After successfully breeding goldendoodles, Sherry wondered if she could create a version of the Bernese that achieved the same health results. Thus, the Bernedoodle (or at least the first intentional pairing of a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle) was born in 2003. Now, dog owners everywhere have fallen in love with the loyal, loving breed that looks like a huggable teddy bear.

Fun Facts

  • Meet Timber, an (Instagram famous) F1 mini Bernedoodle living her best life in the mountains of Colorado. 
  • Actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig reportedly takes her mini Bernedoodle, Wizard, everywhere with her. Both the Los Angeles Times and Vogue have given us a glimpse of Wizard’s devotion to her human.