Owning a Bernedoodle – What it’s REALLY like

Owning a Bernedoodle has been a joy for my husband and me. Our pooch, Maud, is a goofy, sweet girl who loves to learn and is highly food motivated. She loves snuggles, and she wants to be with her humans all the time.

That said, it was vital for us to do extensive research before bringing her home. Her grooming needs are not like the grooming of our other dog, who is wire-haired. Maud’s exercise needs are unique, and we have health care concerns to always keep an eye out for.

The good news is that she’s well worth it – but we would not suggest adopting or investing in this breed without first learning about how to best care for them.

The Grooming Needs of Bernedoodles

To put it simply, Bernedoodles need a lot of grooming. There are three types of Bernedoodle coats, but regardless of the type of coat your dog has, the first goal of grooming is to prevent mats. Not only are mats challenging to get rid of, but they can also cause skin conditions for your pooch. This is why you should brush and comb your Bernedoodle every day.

The only tools required for daily grooming are a brush and a comb. Slicker brushes are generally recommended for Bernedoodles. Start grooming your pup as soon as you get them so that they will become acclimated to grooming. When we first started grooming, we gave Maud lots and lots of treats. Now she gets excited when the brush and comb come out.

In addition to daily grooming, we also take her to the groomer regularly. We have found that this is the easiest, most cost-effective way to keep her hair (yes, Bernedoodle’s have hair – not fur!) and skin in excellent condition. There are many different Bernedoodle grooming styles and the option we choose at any given time depends mainly on the weather – in the summer, she gets a shorter cut, and in the winter, she holds on to more of her curly locks.

Between professional grooming, we take some steps to keep Maud as comfortable (and cute) as possible. This includes grooming her face, grooming her feet, and keeping her nails trimmed.

Bernedoodles Have Different Nutritional Needs at Different Ages

As is true of all breeds, a Bernedoodle’s nutritional needs are different as a puppy then they are as an adult than they are as a senior. It is crucial to develop a feeding schedule for your pooch and make sure that you consider the calorie and nutrition content of any treats you are giving them as you develop suitable nutrition options.

To find the proper nutrition for your dog, start by reviewing Dog Food Advisor to determine the quality of the available foods. Review the AAFCO essential ingredient recommendations. This requires getting the right balance of:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats and preservatives
  • Vitamins

Puppies, adult dugs, and senior dogs all need a different balance of these nutrients. For example, senior dogs need as much as 50% more protein than younger dogs.

Learn How to Exercise Your Bernedoodle

Just like dogs at different stages of their lives need different nutrition, they also need different types of exercise. Bernedoodle puppies should generally not vigorously exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time and no more than two times per day. If they are exercised too often or too vigorously at this age, it can inhibit proper growth.

Once a Bernedoodle is one year old, you can consider it an adult for the purposes of exercising, and its exercise needs will double. You want to give the dog plenty of exercise, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Watch out for signs that your dog is being exercised too much, such as:

  • Sore muscles
  • Paw pad injuries
  • Injured joints
  • Avoidance of exercise

On the other hand, you should keep an eye for signs that they are not getting enough exercise, too. These signs include:

  • Weight gain
  • Destructive behaviors like digging or barking
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive roughhousing

The key to a happy and healthy Bernedoodle is finding the right exercise balance, but a total exercise schedule for a Bernedoodle includes not just regular physical activity but also plenty of mental exercises. For us, this is the key to keep Maud from digging, barking, and taking part in other aggravating and destructive behaviors. We use several methods of mental exercise to keep her happy and thriving.

Start Training Your Bernedoodle as Soon as Possible

The younger your Bernedoodle is when you start training them, the easier it will be to do so. Does this mean that you should not work to train your Bernedoodle if they are already a few years old? No – the idea that old dogs can’t learn new tricks is nothing but an old wife’s tale.

However, it is true that when a Bernedoodle is a puppy, their entire life is dedicated to learning. They learn by smelling, tasting, and looking at everything around them. If you can take advantage of this time in their lives, when they are most enthusiastic about learning, you will likely have an easier time.

Though there are many training styles, the majority of professionals support some form of positive reinforcement. This means that instead of telling your dog what not to do, you focus on encouraging the behavior you do want.

For example, one of the issues we’ve had with Maud is jumping up on us when we come home. It was cute when she was a puppy, but now that she weighs nearly 100 pounds, it is not quite as cute. Telling her “No!” when she jumped up on us got us nowhere, but once we started with positive reinforcement, she caught on very quickly.

This is because Maud did not know what she was supposed to do when we came home. She was excited, and she wanted to greet us face to face. We told her “No!” but taught her no alternative. Eventually, we taught her to sit when we come in the door, and once she sits, she gets our attention – and our pets. Now, when we walk in the door, she immediately sits and wags her tail so fast we can hardly see it because she is so excited to get her pets.

Even if you do not want to train your Bernedoodle to do tricks or run an obstacle course, it is essential to teach them the five basic commands:

  1. Come when called
  2. Loose-leash walking
  3. Sit
  4. Down
  5. Stay

Ensure You Are Getting Your Bernedoodle the Health Care they Need

Some health care needs for Bernedoodles are identical to the needs of most other dogs. For example, they will follow the same general vaccination schedule that any other dog would. However, it’s important to know about the specific health issues and concerns that apply to Bernedoodles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Poodles.

For Bernedoodles, the issues to keep an eye out for are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin issues
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Eye issues
  • Allergies
  • Hot spots

Every dog owner needs to know the basics of caring for the eyes and ears of their pooch, but Bernedoodle’s have special needs due to the tearing that often occurs around their eyes and their long ears. Finally, you will need to know how to care for the nails of your Bernedoodle.

The Importance of Socializing Your Bernedoodle

You want your Bernedoodle to be a happy, healthy, and friendly member of the family – and that requires proper socializing. It is important to know how to socialize your Bernedoodle, including introducing them to other dogs, other people, and any animals you might have in your home.

First, it is crucial to understand the basics of how dogs communicate and how other animals communicate. For example, when a dog and cat encounter another, it is vital to know that the body language a dog uses to show that they want to play is the same body language a cat uses to show that they are threatened and ready to fight.

Proper socialization also helps ensure your pup has a fun, safe, and peaceful time on playdates and at dog parks. It is best to introduce your Bernedoodle to another dog one-on-one before taking them out to the dog park. The first time you go to the dog park, bring a leash, poop bags, your dog’s favorite treats, toys you don’t mind leaving behind, towels, and water. Be sure you know how to handle potentially negative situations at the dog park, such as interactions with wildlife, dog fights, and people who do not know how to greet an unfamiliar dog.