Bernedoodles can fit into any home because — while they are happy to frolic outside — they’re just as content to lounge and cuddle with their people.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
If you’ve heard of the popular designer “Doodle” dogs, you’re probably the most familiar with the very popular Labradoodles and Goldendoodles. These designer mixes gained popularity in the 1990s, proving that Poodles, with their intelligence and low-shedding coats, made for appealing dogs. Bernedoodles are another such success. First bred in Canada in 2003, this mix between a Poodle and Bernese Mountain Dog steals hearts with their keen intelligence, an affectionate nature, and fluffy good looks.
A Bernedoodle’s temperament is influenced by training and socialization. While they are easygoing and gentle, they are also sensitive. Without proper socialization, they can become aloof or apprehensive around strangers. Their intelligence and adaptability allow them to respond well to positive reinforcement and reward-based training, meaning they are often receptive to being trained as working dogs. Bernedoodles thrive working as therapy dogs in hospitals or in eldercare, as comfort animals for children or people with developmental disorders, or as service animals for those with severe allergies, diabetes, or visual/hearing impairments.
Bernedoodles tend to love being around people. If they spend a lot of time alone, they may show signs of separation anxiety. They could benefit from doggy daycare or the use of pet sitters if their people work long hours. A certified trainer or veterinarian can help address behavioral issues if they are severe.
Embark can help provide answers to questions about the care and training of your Bernedoodle. You can delve into your dog’s particular genetic background with an Embark dog DNA test, which can inform on genetic health risks for this breed mix.
Size: Bernedoodles, like other “Doodle” breeds, do not have a definitive look or size. Each dog’s height, weight, coloring, and coat texture depends on their unique parentage. Depending on their Poodle parent, Bernedoodles can be Tiny, Miniature, Medium, or Standard, and range from 10 to 90 pounds. A Tiny Bernedoodle is bred from a Toy Poodle and will be 12 to 17 inches tall and weigh between 10 and 24 pounds. A Miniature Bernedoodle (often called a Mini Bernedoodle) will range from 18 to 22 inches in height and weigh 25 to 49 pounds. The Medium Bernedoodle will measure 20 to 25 inches tall and weigh 50 to 75 pounds. Meanwhile, the Standard Bernedoodle, bred from a Standard Poodle, will be 23 to 29 inches tall and weigh 70 to 90 pounds.
Bernese Mountain Dogs often weigh around 100 pounds, so even Bernedoodles with a tiny Poodle parent will be larger than typical small dogs.
Coat: Bernedoodles cover a wide range of coat colors and textures. They can be tri-colored like their Bernese Mountain Dog parent or have bi-colored coats in any combination of black, white, brown, gray, or blue. Some Bernedoodles are pure black or have merle coats, a color combination that gives a speckled effect.
Their coat varies as well. It may be straight, wavy, or curly, depending on their parentage. Straight coats tend to shed more than curly coats, but Bernedoodles are generally considered a suitable breed for those with allergies. These dogs need regular grooming to keep their thick double coat free of mats and knots.
A Bernedoodle’s nutritional requirements vary depending on their size, age, and how active they are. To cater to a Bernedoodle’s nutritional needs, serve them food of the highest quality possible and monitor their intake and activity level. Bernedoodles may be at high risk for bloat, and methods to avoid this risk should be discussed with their veterinarian. Feeding them smaller amounts throughout the day, rather than one or two large meals, keeps them from rapidly devouring all the food in front of them at mealtime. A consultation with a veterinarian can clarify the nutritional needs of an individual dog.
Grooming and shedding
Grooming requirements depend on each dog’s unique coat. Bernedoodles are considered high maintenance in regards to grooming. They need regular brushing to avoid knots and mats, but this varies as well. Generally speaking, straighter coats are easier to tame, while curly coats get matted if not brushed often. They need regular haircuts to keep their vision unobstructed and to keep them cool. They do not need to be bathed frequently, as baths can irritate their skin. Expect to make appointments for grooming (bath, trim, cut if needed) every 2 to 3 months, or learn how to do it at home.
Regular ear cleaning and nail clipping will help any dog avoid a host of health issues. Use a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner on the outer ear to prevent infections. Use caution when clipping nails, as painful sores may develop if toenails are too short.
At-home dental care is an important addition to regular dental cleanings and x-rays by a veterinarian. Be sure the toothpaste is an enzymatic toothpaste made for dogs (they should not swallow the fluoride that is in most human toothpaste). Daily brushing is ideal. Dental chews, sprays, and water additives can be a supplemental part of your dog’s oral care. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval, and be sure not to leave your dog unattended with a dental chew.
Bernedoodles, like all breeds, do better when grooming starts in puppyhood. This allows them to get used to a routine so future grooming is easier. Whether you hire a professional or do it at home, remember to start young.
Playtime and training
Bernedoodles are prized for their affectionate, playful nature. They can be goofy, but they are intelligent and work hard to please. Well-socialized Bernedoodles do beautifully with children and other pets. They love to play or cuddle up, making them perfect for just about any household. Bernedoodles are not usually aggressive, but they benefit from early socialization to keep them open and friendly to all. Bernedoodles introduced to plenty of people, animals, and different places as pups are less likely to be suspicious or bashful. Puppy classes, dog parks, and professional trainers can help with socialization.
These dogs are not hyperactive and don’t need tons of exercise. One good walk a day plus attention while indoors will satisfy them.
Bernedoodles can be stubborn and rambunctious, which is another reason to start training as early as possible. They can develop separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behavior, especially chewing. Providing plenty of safe toys to chew and filling toys with treats like peanut butter, canned chicken, or cottage cheese can save your belongings from powerful jaws. Crate training, plenty of special treats and toys, and leaving music on when you leave your Bernedoodle home alone can help create routines that ease their anxiety.
Health and aging for Bernedoodles
Bernedoodles tend to be healthy and live 12 to 18 years. Every breed is prone to certain health issues, however. Bernedoodles can be susceptible to certain health risks, including:
- Orthopedic issues, such as hip or elbow dysplasia
- Skin issues, such as hot spots
- Allergies to food, topical substances (shampoos, bedding, flea medication), or environmental allergies (pollen, dust, and mold)
- Gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV or bloat)
Embark screens for the following breed-specific genetic health conditions in Bernedoodles:
Did you know?
75% of dogs are either at risk for or a carrier of a genetic disease. Embark dog DNA tests screen for 250+ genetic health risks so you can give your dog the proactive care they deserve.