When Sherry Rupke bred a Poodle to a Bernese Mountain Dog in the early 2000s, her main objective was to replicate the Bernese’s personality and beautiful coat, in a healthier, longer-living package. And that she did! Where a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog tends to live just 7-8 years and is more cancer-prone than the average dog, breeding it to the Poodle largely rounded out those unhealthy edges. The Bernedoodle’s lifespan is a whopping 12-15 years. And as with all breeds, the smaller the dog, the longer it is likely to live. This is more in line with the Poodle’s lifespan, of 12-15 years as well. Perhaps unexpectedly, the Poodle is considered a quite hardy breed. Read on for health problems you may encounter with a Bernedoodle, how quickly they age, and the differences you’ll see in their bodies and personalities as they grow.
Potential Bernedoodle Health Problems
Yes, Bernedoodles are typically much healthier than their purebred parents. However, it’s important to be aware of health problems the Bernese and the Poodle face, and to keep an eye out for them in their hybrid.
As for Poodles, Addison’s Disease is the most common health problem in the large, Standard Poodle. Addison’s is the inability to produce enough hormones, like cortisol, in the adrenal gland.
Here are some other common ones:
- Hip Dysplasia (weakens the hip and elbow joints and can make standing up and walking hard)
- Bloat (especially in the Standard size)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (leads to blindness)
- Thyroid issues (affecting their metabolism)
- Sebaceous Adenitis (a skin condition leading to scaly, dry skin, and sometimes baldness)
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (insufficient blood clotting; can mean massive blood loss from a small wound)
- Patellar Luxation (dislocated kneecap; more common in Toy and Miniature Poodles)
- Legg-Calve Perthes Disease (a hip joint disorder; also tends to affect Toy and Miniature Poodles more than Standards)
Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally more sickly, with a single-digit lifespan on average. They face many of the same health problems as the Poodle, especially Dysplasia of not only the hips but the elbows, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Von Willebrand’s Disease, and Bloat. But they also have the unfortunate designation of being a particularly cancer-prone breed.
How Long Will Your Bernedoodle Be a Puppy For?
Now that you’re aware of some health issues it’s possible for your Bernedoodle to inherit from their parent breeds, let’s dive into the much more pleasant topic of how long your new addition will be in its puppy stage.
The short answer is that for the first year and a half give or take, you can expect all the glorious highs and lows of puppyhood. Most Bernedoodles are “fully mature” at 16-22 months. But that primarily refers to them being physically full grown. They tend to reach some level of mental and emotional maturity, or at least adolescence, before that.
But let’s start at the beginning…
- In the first 2-3 weeks of your Bernedoodle’s life, their eyes and ears will open and they’ll begin walking.
- Two months is the generally accepted time at which the pups can be separated from their mother and adopted. They will start eating solid food around this time, and are able to begin housetraining.
- 3 months: vaccines and deworming are needed.
- 5-7 months: their adult coat grows in, and they have their “terrible twos,” if you will. They reach social adolescence, so they’ll probably be disobedient, testing the limits, hyperactive, and wanting increased independence. You’ll also see a lot of physical growth, in both height and length, in this period. The Standard Bernedoodle in particular will have a big growth spurt in months 4-7. After that they’ll “fill out,” gaining fat and muscle mass.
So…When Can You Expect a Calm, Mature Dog?
Just like any dog, a Bernedoodle will calm down as it gets into adulthood, and then more so when it reaches its senior years. But, generally speaking, your Bernedoodle will be out of the trying “puppy brain” phase and into mental adulthood at 16-22 months. Here are some final milestones you’ll notice as they wrap up their puppy phase:
- 8-12 months: they reach sexual maturity
- 9 months: they may begin eating adult food
- 11-13 months: the Tiny Bernedoodle will reach its full size potential
- 12-14 months: the Mini Bernedoodle will reach its full size potential
- 14-18 months: the Standard Bernedoodle will reach its full size potential
Although the Bernedoodle is a newly developed breed, and predicting the size of any particular pup isn’t an exact science, this timeline should help you keep an eye on their progression. It’s also important to note that bigger litters tend to produce smaller pups, whereas pups from a litter of just a few will usually be heftier. Their particular genes determine by what age they’ll be full-grown, but they typically reach their full height potential around or shortly after one year old, and then could continue to gain weight until up to 2 and a half years old. Females also tend to grow at a faster rate than males.
Sherry Rupke and SwissRidge Kennels, and others breeding the Bernedoodle today, have successfully about doubled the lifespan of the Bernese Mountain Dog by breeding the hardier Poodle to it. If you add one of these novel pups to your pack, you can expect an adorable but stubborn little companion for the first year-plus of life, as they get acclimated to your home and routine, and adulting. But after 16-22 months, you should have a mature, well-adjusted sidekick if well-trained and cared for, with a pleasant temperament, who will be with you for a decade or more.