It’s been not yet 20 years since a breeder in Canada intentionally bred a Bernese Mountain Dog to a Poodle for the first time, creating the Bernedoodle. But the breed’s popularity has soared since then, as the Doodle craze continues and people have found this breed to be particularly satisfactory. Read on for the story of why the Bernedoodle came to be, some social media stars that have helped the breed go viral, and whether it is even recognized as an official breed.
The Origin of a Breed
The Bernedoodle was effectively “invented” in 2003 by Canadian breeder Sherry Rupke. After graduating from veterinary technician school, Rupke began a career as a breeder at SwissRidge Kennels. She bred Goldendoodles initially, as well as Bernese Mountain Dogs. But she had a hard time finding good breeding stock for the Bernese Mountain Dogs, and found that they, unfortunately, were cancer-prone, and lived an average of only seven years. A client of hers suggested she try breeding the Bernese Mountain Dog to the Poodle, to see if that would “breed out” some of the sickly genes in the Bernese. And that she did.
SwissRidge’s first Bernese Mountain Dog/Poodle crosses were born in 2003, and the earliest Bernedoodle puppy parents were pleased. According to the SwissRidge website, Rupke’s goal was to attain “the traits people love about the Bernese with better odds of good health and a long life spent together.” And she “loved everything about the gorgeous and sweet-natured Bernese, except for the short-lived breed’s genetic propensity for cancer. Plus it sheds. And it can be a little stubborn.”
Rupke has since written a book about her adventures in perfecting the breed, and about her personal life and career, called “Bernedoodles: A Head to Tail Guide.”
Rupke has continued to rigorously research and improve her pups’ lines and therefore their health and quality of life. Ten years later, in 2013, she even went on to create the best of three worlds: the Golden Mountain Doodle!
The Rise in Bernedoodle Popularity
From there, the breed has slowly but surely picked up steam. Doodles in general are definitely having a moment. Mixing beloved breeds with Poodles has created more or less hypoallergenic dogs that also have other desirable Poodle traits like intelligence and devotion (***link to personality article in silo).
But believe it or not, “hybrid” breeding like this was looked down upon initially, but over the course of the 2000s, it has become much more acceptable. As original Bernedoodle breeder Sherry Rupke says, “It’s becoming more widely accepted that conscientious breeding of hybrids can reduce, if not eliminate, the health problems common in the purebred parent breeds.”
And although the Bernedoodle, in particular, has not been around for as long as other Doodle breeds, it’s becoming quite popular, thanks likely to its novelty, and the Bernese Mountain Dog’s beautiful coloring and docile, silly personality combined with the non-shedding factor. They’re also “customizable,” insofar as they can be bred to be whichever size fits your lifestyle and preferences.
While there’s not a Lassie, a Snoopy, an Old Yeller, or a Rin Tin Tin in the Bernedoodle world yet, in our age of social media and viral videos, there are some Bernedoodles that have gained large followings or had moments in the spotlight. There haven’t yet been Bernedoodles starring in television and film or accomplishing amazing historical feats or accompanying humans to space or in famous rescue stories.
But that may change in the near future, and other types of Doodles and non-shedding dogs have attained such acclaim. For now, the stock of “famous” Bernedoodles is composed of those with large digital crowds. Head to Instagram and check out these Bernedoodle-related accounts with big followings:
- Bernedoodle Benji, @lilmanlife, who travels and partakes of outdoor adventures and extreme sports with his owner, and is a certified therapy dog at a Los Angeles hospital. A video of Benji in his owner’s backpack as he rollerbladed down the Pacific Coast Highway went viral in 2020, and he’s made a couple of LA area news appearances since.
- Breeder @highfalutinfurrybabies
- @the.isla.pup, a pup from @highfalutinfurrybabies
- @downhomedoodle, a Bernedoodle breeder and trainer’s account
- Mini Bernedoodle Moose, @moose_bernedoodle
- Breeder @countrylanebernedoodles
The Current State of the Breed
Neither the American Kennel Club nor the Canadian Kennel Club currently recognize any mixed breeds as among their official ranks, so you won’t find the Bernedoodle there. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. However 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, sometimes under different names, like the Bernese Mountain Poo.
From a breeder in Canada, to the rest of the world, the Bernedoodle has gained popularity in its first 20 years, and is arguably just now starting to come into its own. Keep an eye on this breed that combines the best of the Bernese and the Poodle worlds.