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The Bernedoodle, first introduced in 2003, is a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle. They were bred solely for companionship, so 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 willful as puppies but are highly trainable thanks to their big brains.
Though Bernese mountain dogs have a black, tan, and white uniform, poodles can have a much wider range of coat colors. Because of this, Bernedoodles can vary in color. While they're typically tricolor like their mountain dog mom or dad, they can also be pure black, black and white, or a random mix.
Their fur can also be curly like their poodle parent or straighter like a Bernese mountain dog. As a general rule, the straighter the coat, the more your Bernedoodle will shed. In both cases, the thickness of a Bernedoodle mane makes this breed suitable for colder temperatures. A curly Bernedoodle coat is typically sought-after because it's considered hypoallergenic. While no dog is 100-percent allergen-friendly, this breed's coat can be a good option for those who tend to sneeze, sniffle, or itch around dogs.
Because poodles can come in three sizes—toy, miniature, and standard—Bernedoodles can be different sizes, too. 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 as long as she gets 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.
Though they can't get enough of their family, Bernedoodles might first be apprehensive, sensitive, and skittish around strangers. As with all breeds, it's important to socialize your Bernedoodle puppy so she'll be comfortable and affectionate around new people, too. She can be very charming and charismatic with positive reinforcement 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," she 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."
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. Personal space is not a part of their vocabulary, and they should not be left alone much. Loneliness can result in separation anxiety, which could cause nervous habits like whining or chewing.
"[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. And no matter the size, this hybrid is especially gentle-natured and loves children. They're so gentle, in fact, they don't make good guard dogs: They bark infrequently and are more likely to befriend an intruder than scare them away.
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 Bernedoodle 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.
But with that curly coat comes a greater need for grooming. Bernedoodles don't shed much, 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 a haircut every few months. Just because they're low-shedding doesn't mean they're low maintenance!
Standard Bernedoodles do best with a fenced-in yard to run around and play in. They'll need daily walkies to burn off their energy, but so long as their physical needs are met, they likely won't turn to undesirable behaviors like digging to keep themselves entertained. 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.
"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 willfullness 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.
The Bernedoodle lifespan 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. And while Bernedoodles are far healthier than a purebred Bernese, 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—a Bernedoodle is more likely to pick at their skin when her coat is dirty and matted.
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 more allergen-friendly and free from the health issues that plague the breed.
After successfully breeding goldendoodles, Rupke 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.
- Meet Timber, an Instagram famous mini Bernedoodle living her best life in the mountains of Colorado. She has more than 26,000 followers!