What is a Bernedoodle?
A Bernedoodle is a dog that is part Poodle and part Bernese Mountain Dog. Technically, the first generation of the Bernedoodle puppies mix was called a Berteagle or a Labernese. Later, they were mixed with poodles to create the modern-looking Bernedoodle.
The History of the Bernese Mountain Dog
In the Swiss Alps, far from everywhere, lived a tribe that was often at odds with tribes nearby. The Romans had invaded these mountains and established two roads through them, which were well-traveled. In time, many tribes moved into this area.
In 50 BC, there were twelve Helvetian (from the region of Helvetia in central Europe) tribes. Julius Caesar defeated the Helvetians in 58 BC and forced them to take up farming.
Many of these tribes mingled their bloodlines, allowing many types of dogs numbering in the hundreds to develop from this common stock. These mountain people were shepherds, hunters, and warriors who needed a strong dog for their many purposes.
Over time, some communities became especially well-known for their dogs that accompanied cattle and the associated hunters who used them. Bern was among those tribes with a long history of using dogs to drive and protect livestock and hunt on foot and horseback.
The Roman roads brought new ideas and people into this area and the dogs they sold and traded. The Roman conquest marked the beginning of written history in Switzerland, and naturally, much is known about them.
Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about what breeds were used by the Helvetians and early Romans and how these affected those who emerged later.
The first written records of a distinctive variety of dogs in Switzerland came with the nobleman Albertus Magnus, Bishop of Ratisbon (Regensburg), who visited these mountains about 1250. He wrote about “black-and-tan” dogs in Switzerland, and it is possible this was a reference to the Bernese Mountain Dog.
For many, the early history of the Bernese Mountain Dog is a bit of a mystery. But it’s clear from records of their ancestors that this dog was used as an all-around farm and draft animal for hundreds or even thousands of years, likely originating in ancient times when mastiff-type breeds were widely used as war dogs.
The Roman armies are said to have brought this type of dog with them when they invaded Switzerland around 100 B.C., and it’s thought that the large Roman estate owners would then use these dogs to protect their estates.
Around A.D. 500, the Roman armies were driven out of the area, but these powerful mastiffs were still used in rural areas throughout Switzerland to protect livestock, people, and property.
These dogs were presumably bred with other mastiff breeds brought in by the Goths around this time. As Europe settled down after the Dark Ages, these Swiss farm dogs began to spread throughout parts of the country, where they became almost ubiquitous in many mountainous farming districts.
The breed was split into two main types, the Jura-type farm dog and the Entlebucher or Emmental variety. The Jura-type resembled today’s English Mastiff, with an extremely large head and heavy muzzle, while the latter looked more like today’s Bernese Mountain Dog, with a long head and lighter muzzle.
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog was the original variety exported to the United States in 1928. However, it wasn’t until 1959 that an AKC breed club for the Bernese Mountain Dog was formed in the U.S., making it an American breed.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) was founded in 1968, and the first standard for the breed was written that same year. The name changed from the “Entlebucher” to “Bernese” in 1976, at which time its coat color became tri-color for conformation showing.
Today, Bernese Mountain Dogs continue to be a well-loved and friendly breed in the United States and worldwide.
How the Bernedoodle Came About
It is essential to understand that Poodles and Bernese Mountain Dogs are very intelligent breeds, each with a long history of ability and success as working dogs. The goal for creating the Bernedoodle was to take two different types of dogs and breed them together to produce offspring who could serve as excellent family pets and versatile workers.
The Bernedoodle was first bred in 2003 by Sherry Rupke of Swissridge Kennels. Mrs. Rupke wanted to produce a type of dog that would serve as both an excellent family pet and an intensely loyal worker capable of completing the tasks its ancestors were known for.
By breeding two intelligent breeds, she hoped to create a new dog capable of doing both.
Before creating the Bernedoodle, Mrs. Rupke maintained Swissridge Kennels as a breeder of purebred Poodles and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Creating the breed was to take two different types of canine and mate them together to produce offspring who could serve as excellent family pets and versatile workers.
Mrs. Rupke first became interested in the idea of creating a Bernese poodle mix by combining the Poodle and the Bernese Mountain Dog after she visited a client’s home and saw this combination for herself. The client had two breeding pairs of older, retired Bernese Mountain Dogs and used them to do light yard work.
One of the dogs, a female named Molly, became intrigued with Mrs. Rupke. Rupke’s purebred Poodle followed him everywhere he went. Seeing this interaction excited Mrs. Rupke about the idea of creating a new breed through crossbreeding these two intelligent breeds together.
Believing that the combination of a Poodle and a Bernese Mountain Dog would produce an excellent family Bernepoo, Mrs. Rupke set out to make this crossbreeding happen. She designed her breeding program, first mating one female Purebred Bernese Mountain Dog with four male purebred Miniature Poodles.
This mating lived up to her expectations, producing a litter containing six male Bernedoodles and one female. She then bred this single female with an additional four Poodle males (for a total of five Poodle sires), resulting in the birth of 14 more puppies.
Further breeding between these two crosses resulted in additional litters (and many requests for puppies from interested future pet owners). Finally, Mrs. Rupke became confident she was on her way to creating an entirely new breed that would serve as a family pet and versatile worker.
Since creating this new breed, Mrs. Rupke and other breeders have worked hard to strengthen and promote the Bernedoodle.
While the American Kennel Club does not yet recognize the breed, it is considered a registered, non-recognized breed with the Designer Dogs Kennel Club and has been called a breed ready to become standard in size for some working dog organizations.
A Bernedoodle can vary significantly in appearance depending on what breeds are used to create the mix, but it generally takes after either of their parents. For example, if they take after a poodle parent, they will have hair instead of fur and generally be hypoallergenic.
If their parents are both Bernese Mountain Dogs, their coats will be very thick and shed quite a bit. Their coats can come in many colors: black, brown, gray, white, or even red. They can have either single or double coats. They generally have floppy ears and look like a labrador retriever.
However, if they take after the Bernese Mountain dog parent, but not the poodle parent, their coats will be thick and generally black. If they take after the Bernese Mountain dog parent but have some poodle mixed, their coats will be very thick and typically brown.
If their parents are both Bernese Mountain dogs, the Bernedoodle dog will likely have short, strong front legs. However, if they take after a poodle parent, their front legs may be longer and stronger than after a Bernese Mountain dog.
The Bernese Poodle Mix’s Coat
The Bernese Poodle mix has a coat that requires attention and care. The length of the coat will vary depending on what type of parent breed your dog takes after, but be sure to always take into account the weather and temperature conditions in your area.
Thus, if you live somewhere with long periods of warm weather year-round, it may not be ideal to have your dog shaved down all the time. In this case, keeping a medium-length coat may be what you want.
Short-haired Bernese Poodle mixes do not hold their coats well and will often need regular clipping or stripping of the dead hair from the skin. They cannot produce enough new hair to replace what they have lost.
Long-haired Bernese Poodle mixes have an undercoat that only sheds once or twice a year, so you may consider leaving the coat intact during this time to help reduce shedding for your home. The weather will also depend on whether your dog has a single layer coat, short hair with an undercoat, or a long double-layer coat.
The Bernedoodle Size (From Puppy to Adult)
Bernedoodle size can vary depending on the characteristics of the Poodle parent. Typically, since the Poodle is a smaller dog breed, that is true of its offspring. There are three sizes of the Bernedoodle breed: tiny, miniature, and standard.
These result from the size of the Poodle parent, which can be Toy, mini, or standard size.
The tiny Bernedoodle stands at 12 to 17 inches (30.5 to 43 centimeters) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 10 to 24 pounds (4.5 to 10.9 kilograms). The Miniature Bernedoodle stands at 18 to 22 inches (45.7 to 55.9 centimeters) tall and weighs 25 to 49 pounds (11.3 to 22.2 kilograms). The standard Bernedoodle stands at 23 to 29 inches (58.4 to 73.7 centimeters) and weighs 70 to 90 pounds (31.6 – 40.8 kilograms). Males are generally larger than females.
Toy Poodles typically range from 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms) as adults, with 8 to 9 pounds (3.6 to 4.1 kilograms) being the most common weight for a Toy Poodle to reach. They stand at 8 to 11 inches (20.3 to 27.9 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. Toy Poodles are the smallest variety of Poodles (also a Miniature Poodle).
The height for an adult Miniature Poodle ranges from 10 to15 inches (25.4 to 38 centimeters), with 12 to 14 inches (30.5 to 35.6 centimeters) being standard. As adults, they weigh 14 to 18 pounds (6.4 to 8.2 kilograms). Miniature Poodles are smaller than standard Poodles but larger than the Toy variety of the breed.
The height for a standard adult Poodle ranges from 15 to 20 inches (38.1 to 50.8 centimeters) tall at the shoulder, with 16 to 18 inches (40.6 to 45.7 centimeters) being average. Adults weigh 25-35 pounds (11.3 to 15.9 kilograms). Standard Poodles are the largest variety of Poodles. If a standard Poodle is crossed with a larger breed, such as a Bernese Mountain Dog, its size may increase by several pounds in adulthood.
Different Generations of Bernedoodle Puppies
Some of the Bernedoodle puppies that have been produced in the last 20 years include:
- The Miniature Bernedoodle: This is a small dog with a weight range of 15 to 35 pounds (6.8 to 15.9 kilograms) and a height range of 10 to 18 inches (25.4 to 45.7 centimeters) at the shoulder. The coat can be wavy or curly, and the texture can be soft, medium, or coarse.
- The Toy Bernedoodle: This dog has a weight range of 5 to 15 pounds (2.3 to 6.8 kilograms) and height between 7 to 12 inches (17.8 to 30.5 centimeters) at shoulder height. Some breeders produce a smaller size by mating a Bernedoodle with a Miniature Poodle. Others may mate two mini Bernedoodles together to create the Toy or Teacup size.
- The standard Bernedoodle: This dog has the same weight range as the above but is taller at around 18 to 22 inches ( 45.7 to 55.9 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. The coat can be wavy or curly, and the texture can be soft, medium, or coarse.
- The Do-It-Yourself Bernedoodle: This is a cross between two Bernese Mountain Dogs. As with any DIY project, you are unlikely to know exactly what you are getting until it arrives. It could be anything from a small dog with curly hair all over to a curly head and wavy body or any variation in between.
- The Teacup Bernedoodle: This is simply a smaller version of the standard Bernedoodle.
- The super-tiny Miniature Poodle/Bernese Mountain Dog mix: This breed can be tiny, sometimes even smaller than a toy poodle.
Whatever size they turn out to depend entirely on the size of their parents and which generation they are (see below):
- The first-generation (F1) Bernedoodle: This is simply a cross between a poodle and a Berner. The F1 is the largest in build and weight; however, his coat can differ depending on which parent he takes after. F1s have the greatest chance of being non-shedding and allergy-friendly.
- The Miniature Poodle/Bernese Mountain Dog mix (or MPB): This is a cross between a poodle and an F1 Bernedoodle. These puppies inherit their build and weight from the Poodle, but their coat type can vary depending on whether they take after their Poodle parent (curly) or Berner parent (wavy). Their coat texture tends to be soft.
- The second-generation (F2) Bernedoodle: This is simply a cross between an F1 Bernedoodle and another poodle. These dogs are more likely to shed than their F1 counterparts but less likely to shed than a full poodle. As with the F1, the coat of an individual puppy will vary depending on which side it takes after, although both tend to have a wavy texture.
- The Teacup Poodle/Berner mix: This is a cross between either an F1 or F2 and a Teacup Poodle.
- The third-generation (F3) Bernedoodle: This is simply a cross between two F2 Bernedoodles, but depending on which ones they are, the puppies could end up looking very different. They will tend to have a wavy coat, but this can vary depending on which parent they take after. They are also likely to be non-shedding and allergy-friendly.
- The Do-It-Yourself Bernedoodle (DIY): This is simply an F3 Berner that was bred from two DIY dogs who were themselves of different breeds. This means that you can never really know what you’re going to get until it arrives at your home, and your only guide is the temperament, health, and possible allergies which come from its parents.
- The Toy Berner: This is a cross between an F1 or F2 Bernedoodle and a Teacup Poodle/Toy Poodle. This is simply a Bernedoodle mini of the standard Bernedoodle.
The Health and Life Span of the Bernedoodle Puppy
This hybrid dog’s health and life span have not been studied as thoroughly as those of purebred dogs, but some helpful resources are available.
Poodles are generally healthy dogs. According to the Canine Health Information Center, poodles are less likely to suffer from conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia than other dog breeds and have a life expectancy of 12-14 years.
However, the Bernese Mountain Dog is prone to hereditary health issues, such as malignant histiocytosis and gastric torsion.
Poodles and Bernese Mountain Dogs may not be the best match when it comes to health; therefore, Bernedoodle breeders should choose carefully which parent’s genetics they want to pass on to their pups.
The chances of health problems depend on how much inbreeding has occurred within a specific breed. Inbreeding is considered when breeding close relatives, such as parents and offspring or siblings.
Inbreeding increases the chances of inheriting health issues from common genetic defects among related individuals. In addition, inbreeding may increase the probability of expressing recessive genes. If carrying a recessive gene, both parents must be carriers to produce a diseased pup.
The Bernedoodle is considered a hybrid breed and is sometimes referred to as a designer dog. Hybrids are mixes between two different breeds. In the case of the Bernedoodle, they’re bred from Poodles or Berners.
There’s no way to predict the health of a hybrid dog, as they’re an amalgamation of two separate breeds, but generally, hybrids are considered healthier than purebreds.
Hybrids may inherit genetic disorders common to both breeds or have their own unique set of health problems. If more information on Berners is available, it’s easier to make informed decisions regarding the health of a Bernedoodle puppy.
The Bernedoodle Personality
The most common personality found in Bernedoodles is the mix between the BMD’s affectionate, fun-loving and loyal personality with the Poodle’s gentle, easygoing, and intelligent character. The BMDs tend to be more laid-back and calm, while Poodles are known for being active and curious, so the result is a dog who inherits a little bit of both.
Suppose you’re looking to purchase a Bernedoodle pup. In that case, many breeders will tell you that the Poodle’s curiosity and intelligence are carried over into their offspring because Bernedoodles are quick learners who love learning new tricks (or commands).
It wouldn’t be unusual for a Bernedoodle pup to learn to play fetch by watching their owner throw a toy or sit up on their hind legs just because they want to be tall enough to see over the edge of the countertop. Poodles are also very loyal and loving with their families, so you can expect your dog to greet you for walks with happy wags and lots of kisses.
When you spend time with a Bernedoodle, they’ll be happy to return your affection with as much as you like. Not only do the Bernedoodles we’ve met love human interaction, but they also make great family dogs because of their natural sense of protectiveness and gentle demeanor with children.
Bernedoodles are intuitive dogs in that they’re quick to pick up on the tone of your voice and can read when you’re feeling anxious or upset.
As far as temperament goes, Bernedoodles are average dogs regarding energy levels. They love walks but hate long hikes, so if you like to go for runs in the morning before work, chances are your Bernedoodle will be happy to join you. They’re equally content with a romp in the backyard and a long nap on the couch throughout the rest of their day.
The Care, Feeding, and Grooming of Bernedoodle Puppies
A kennel with a secure roof and floor is recommended for outside housing if temperatures permit. Minimal bedding included in the kennel can be straw, blankets/towels, newspaper (toilet trained Bernedoodles), or any other absorbent material that will allow the puppy to keep warm and dry.
Fresh water should be available at all times, either in a heavy ceramic or metal bowl or commercially made “puppy nipples.”
The outside kennel run should protect from sun, wind, and rain. If temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), a heated dog house should be provided.
- Good-quality puppy food is recommended.
- Some breeders recommend “game-bird” or “poultry” flavor over beef or other animal proteins due to the high percentage of vegetable protein in poultry diets.
- The amount of food the puppy eats is determined by its growth rate, activity level, and temperament.
- Most breeders recommend free feeding for Bernedoodles, i.e., leaving food available at all times (rather than scheduled meals), with plenty of fresh water available.
- Weekly brushing with a firm bristle brush is recommended, particularly during the blowing of the coat.
- Bathing only when necessary (usually no more than once every month or two), using a dog shampoo that will not strip natural oils from the Bernedoodle’s coat.
- The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America recommends the following grooming schedule for Bernedoodles: 6-8 Weeks: Brushing once a week to remove dead puppy hair. This is not an overall body brushing, just the removal of dead hair from your puppy’s coat. 12 Weeks: Brushing once every three days with a firm bristle brush to remove dead puppy hair. 6 Months: Brushing once a week to remove dead puppy hair. 1 Year: Brushing twice a week. 2 Years: Brushing every other day or daily as needed to keep mat-free and tangle-free. The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America suggests that Bernedoodle puppies’ coats be “scissored” at 4-6 months old to create a more refined look.
The Final Say
Bernedoodles make a great addition to any family willing to provide them with love and attention. They are a medium-sized breed that can be easily trained and provide their owner with an undying devotion when treated right.