What do you get when you combine a dog with one of the most colorful coats around, with one with a highly desirably textured coat that’s low-maintenance in many ways? One with a goofy, friendly personality with one that’s smart as a whip? The increasingly popular Bernedoodle.
The beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog, with its long, tri-color coat, laid back (as an adult) nature, and charming history of protecting family farms and pulling dairy carts high in the Swiss Alps, has made for a wonderful companion for many. But the elephant in the room has always been a tragic streak of poor health. As so many Bernese Mountain Dog families have found, just as their dog gets into the prime of maturity, their life is already nearing its end. This breed is highly cancer-prone, and lives, on average, just 7-8 years.
Luckily the doodle craze has come for the Bernese. Where other pure breeds have been bred to the Poodle, be it for novelty, or to create a more or less hypoallergenic coat on some of these other breeds, or to round out some of those disease-prone rough edges with the Poodle’s hardy DNA, the same happened for the Bernese in 2003. Since then, the Bernedoodle has been slowly but surely gaining popularity and is perhaps coming into its own right now. Here, we provide a primer on each aspect of the breed.
Indeed one of the reasons the Bernedoodle is becoming popular is because of the different sizes it can be bred to be. Whatever your lifestyle and preferences are, there’s a Bernedoodle size that fits. A Bernese Mountain Dog can be bred to a Toy Poodle, resulting in a perfectly apartment-sized pup. Or to the slightly larger Miniature Poodle, or to a Standard Poodle, with the end result being a rather tall and up to 90-pound dog. The smaller ones tend to be more expensive. And the smaller ones do tend to live longer, but even the Standard Bernedoodle can live to be 12-15, just about double the average lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog.
Like doodles in general, perhaps the draw to Bernedoodles is the belief that they are “hypoallergenic”. Meaning they don’t shed and therefore those who suffer allergies from other pets can have a better time with these. And it is essentially true. While it’s not an exact science to predict exactly what the texture of a particular Bernedoodle’s coat will be, they will almost certainly not be as straight as the Bernese Mountain Dog’s coat, and will be anywhere from slightly curlier than that to extremely curly, like a Poodle coat. The curlier the hair, the less it will shed, therefore meaning less hair and dandruff around your house, and less sneezing for you. However that does come with a cost—not shedding means your Bernedoodle will need your help removing dead and tangled hair to avoid painful matting. You should brush them once a week, and get them haircuts every two to three months.
Proponents of every breed will say this, but the Bernedoodle has a truly near-ideal personality, combining the best of two desirable breeds. The Poodle is one of the smartest breeds there is, making great hunters and agility dogs. And the Bernese Mountain Dog, after getting through a notorious stubborn phase in puppyhood, is trainable, eager to please, and extremely affectionate. They are truly great family dogs, and with proper introductions tend to be sweet, social butterflies with new people and animals. Purebred Bernese Mountain Dogs can be wary around strangers, so it’s not out of the question that your Bernedoodle might have strains of those traits. But if you socialize them in their first 16 weeks of life, they should be adaptable to newcomers, and will also learn that you’re their “person” and the foundation of a wonderful lifelong bond between you and them will be laid.
As mentioned, the Bernedoodle has only been around since 2003. And it’s all thanks to a breeder in Canada named Sherry Rupke, of SwissRidge Kennels. And since then, Bernedoodle breeders have popped up far and wide, the world over. It’s not a breed recognized by either the American or the Canadian Kennel Clubs, because neither of them recognizes mixed breeds. But some other groups, like the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, the International Designer Canine Registry, the Designer Breed Registry, and the American Canine Hybrid Club, do recognize the Bernedoodle.
You can expect your Bernedoodle to live upwards of 12 years. In the first several months of their lives, they’ll do a fair bit of growing, and after that, will “fill out,” gaining fat and muscle mass. At 11-13 months, the Tiny Bernedoodle will reach its full-size potential. The Mini Bernedoodle will at 12-14 months, and the Standard Bernedoodle at 14-18 months. After 16-22 months, any Bernedoodle will reach mental maturity.
All doodles are definitely having a moment, and look for the Bernedoodle’s star to continue rising over the next several years!