Unlike most other dogs, Bernedoodles have hair – not fur. The fact that they have hair makes them hypoallergenic and prevents shedding, but it also means that owners must invest extra time (and money) into grooming. The good news is that the good-natured Bernedoodle can generally be taught to enjoy the grooming process.
Bernedoodle Grooming Requirements Are Different for Different Coats
Not all Bernedoodle coats are created equal, and they do not all have the same grooming requirements. The three main types of Bernedoodle coat are as follows:
- Straight Coat. Similar to what you would see on the Bernese Mountain Dog, a Bernedoodle can also have a straight coat. If this is the case, then they will generally have an undercoat to deal with too. If you have a Bernedoodle with a straight coat, it is likely to shed some.
- Bernedoodle Curly. Also known as a wool coat, the curly coat is one that most closely resembles a Poodle. This coat sheds very little, if at all. You can expect that an F1b Bernedoodle, which is 75% Poodle, will be more likely to end up with a wool or curly coat. It is important to note that while a curly coat is low shedding, it is also more prone than other coats to matting, which requires extra grooming. Our Bernedoodle has a curly coat, and we brush her daily to prevent mats.
- Bernedoodle Wavy. Also referred to as a fleece coat, this is a true hybrid between the Bernedoodle and Poodle. Pooches with these coats might shed slightly but are generally not heavy shedders. This coat is softer and smoother than the curly coat, which means that matting is much less common.
Matting is the Enemy of a Happy Bernedoodle
While there are many grooming styles, which we will cover later, the most critical aspect of Bernedoodle grooming is preventing mats. The fact that these dogs don’t shed is a huge asset, but it also means that they are very prone to matting.
If your pooch has light matting, you can likely take care of it at home by carefully combing and brushing. However, if your Bernedoodle is heavily matted, your options might be limited to shaving or professional grooming. Note that professional grooming is much more expensive for a dog with mats than without.
Of course, the best way to deal with mats is to prevent them. You can do this with regular professional grooming paired with daily brushing at home. This might sound like a lot, but the good news is that it will be quick and easy if you keep up with it daily.
Using the correct brush, brush your entire dog while paying particular attention to any area of friction. This includes the collar, under their legs, behind their ears, around the harness, and their butt. Though they can get mats anywhere, these are the most common spots that matting can get more severe.
Tools You Will Need to Groom Your Bernedoodle
Unless you are a professional groomer or want to keep your Bernedoodle’s hair shaved, you will need professional grooming services. However, there are steps you can take to groom your Bernedoodle between cuts. Properly caring for your Bernedoodle requires brushing with the proper method and with the correct frequency. The two main tools you will need are:
- A slicker brush
- A comb
- A blow dryer (optional)
The main brush you will use is known as a slicker brush. Some owners use pin brushes, but I have not had success with those on our Bernedoodle. We recommend investing in a high-quality slicker brush because cheaper options can bend, break, or even cause brush burn, damaging the dog’s skin.
Slicker brushes are used for many types of dogs and cats. Unlike other grooming tools, this type of brush’s primary purpose is to get rid of loose hair, mats, and tangles. This type of brush is generally a rectangle with many fine wire bristles situated very close together. Some have angled bristles, and others have plastic nubs on the end of the bristles, both of which are designed to help protect the pet’s skin.
Choosing the Perfect Brush
When you’re searching for the best Bernedoodle brush, you should keep your goals in mind:
- A brush that is efficient and durable
- A brush that can combat matting and tangles
You are looking for the right balance of flexibility and durability in the pins. They should bend but not break. Remember that you will be brushing your Bernedoodle daily, so it is essential that the brush is both solid and ergonomic for comfort.
Follow Brushing with Combing
You will also need a simple steel comb. Start your daily grooming by going over your pooch with the slicker brush. Then check your work by doing a quick comb through. If you have done a good job with the brush, you should easily get through their fur. If not, use the comb or brush to get rid of any mats you find.
Blow Drying Your Bernedoodle
You’ll note that we do not have a separate section for bathing your Bernedoodle or finding the right Bernedoodle shampoo. That’s because you should not bathe your Bernedoodle unless it actively needs it. For example, if your dog comes back from the park coated in mud, then they might need a bath.
Other than noticeable dirt or mud, your Bernedoodle should only be bathed every four to five months. Why? Because the natural oils on their skin help keep their skin and hair healthy. If you bathe them too often, these natural oils will be removed.
We do not blow-dry our Bernedoodle after a bath. We rub her down with an absorbent towel and keep her inside until she dries. She actually dries much more quickly than other dogs we have owned with fur. However, some people do prefer to blow dry their dogs for a variety of reasons.
If you decide to blow dry your Bernedoodle, you will likely need to buy a specialty dog dryer. Why? Because most blow dryers meant for humans use heat. A dog blow dryer should not. Even though they have hair like you do, they do not have the same thickness. If you use heat on your Bernedoodle, you could end up hurting their skin.
Grooming the Face
We could not have our Bernedoodle groomed for six months due to some weather-related snafus with her vaccinations. As a result, she was essentially living through a veil of hair for several months of her life.
To avoid this, you can shave or trim the face between professional grooming appointments. We recommend buying a grooming kit or shaving kit that is made specifically for dogs. If you try to use an electric hair cutting device that is not made for dogs, you can count on it being much louder. This can scare and traumatize your pooch enough that they will avoid it at all costs.
You can also choose to use scissors. Whatever tools you use, your goals should be to trim the hair around the eyes and face. Take special care to get rid of any crusties around the eyes as Poodles (and therefore Bernedoodles) commonly have eye boogers in this area.
Grooming the Feet
It is wise to groom the feet between professional grooming appointments too. If you allow the hair between the pads of their feet to grow long, it can catch debris, can mat, and can make a home for bacteria. The result can be hot spots, infections, and sores.
You can groom the feet with a simple set of hair-cutting scissors or electric clippers. You should clip the hair between the toes so that it does not stick out at all. Be careful not to cut too much hair off the sides of the feet, as this can leave the feet vulnerable.
Most breeds of dogs do not need to be professionally groomed. Bernedoodles do. The grooming frequency will vary by the dog, their type of hair, and the grooming style you prefer. Generally speaking, they should be groomed every six to eight weeks.
If you have a Bernedoodle puppy, you should take them to the groomers as soon as they have all their shots. At our puppy’s first appointment, they gave her the “puppy treatment,” which was a toned-down, no-cutting version of the grooming she will receive as an adult. The purpose is to help her feel comfortable at the groomers. Instead of bringing out buzzing cutters and putting her through an hour of services, they brushed her, bathed her, and dried her.
The Cost of Professional Grooming
Once again, this will vary based on the type of hair your Bernedoodle has and the grooming style you prefer. Do not make the mistake of trying to stretch out the time between grooming appointments to save money.
This can actually cost you more because the chance of matting increases with each week you do not take your Bernedoodle to be groomed. If your dog has significant matting, you can expect that the groomer will charge extra to get rid of them.
The cost will also vary depending on the services you choose. Just as you can get many extras when you visit the barber or salon, so too can your Bernedoodle. From gland expression to nail polish, there are many additions you can make.
Of course, your location will have a significant impact on how much you pay for grooming. We live in a mid-sized town in the Midwest, and it costs right around $100 to groom our Bernedoodle. This includes brushing, shampoo, cut, dry, nail trim, ear cleaning, and gland expression (when needed).
Bernedoodle Grooming Styles
Just as you could style your hair in a nearly endless number of ways, there are many Bernedoodle grooming styles that can work. Remember, as you determine the right style for your dog, you should not make your decision based solely on what looks most pleasing. You will also need to consider the time of year, your ability to take care of your pet’s coat between grooming appointments, and your dog’s specific needs.
Some of the most popular cuts for Bernedoodles include:
- The Winter Cut. As the name implies, this is a popular cut for the winter months. The focus is on keeping the hair long so that the dog’s hair will do what it’s made for – keep the pooch warm. If your dog has a curly coat and you choose a winter cut, you will need to commit to regular brushing between grooming appointments.
- The Teddy Bear Cut. When you search for pictures of groomed Bernedoodles, the examples that are most likely to show up will be the teddy bear cut. Once again, the name gives the look away: the pooch ends up looking like a cuddly teddy bear. The key here is a rounded cut around the face.
- The Puppy Cut. While you might imagine a puppy cut being just that – a cut for a puppy – it’s actually the opposite: a cut for an adult Bernedoodle that makes them look more like a puppy. This cut is even all around and preserves the fluffiness of younger Bernedoodles.
- The Summer Cut. Warmer weather requires a shorter cut to help the Bernedoodle stay cool. The summer cut can be a close shave or a very short cut.
- The Poodle Cut. When you think of a poodle and its classic cut, you are thinking of the poodle cut. This is great for Bernedoodles that look more like poodles, and for owners who like the stylish cut. However, it is a very high-maintenance cut that requires frequent grooming to keep it up.
- The Kennel Cut. This is a borderline shaved cut that is a good choice for an owner who does not have the time or resources to spend a lot of time brushing their Bernedoodle or for those ‘doodles that frequently mat.
- Mohawk Cut. If you want a unique cut for your Bernedoodle, and a cut with a little bit of attitude, then the mohawk cut might be what you’re looking for.
- Lamb Cut. This is actually a popular cut for poodles but it looks excellent on Bernedoodles too.
Note that these are only a few examples of Bernedoodle haircuts. If you have something specific in mind, talk to your groomer to see if they can make it happen.