Bernese Mountain Dog breeders in Australia are increasingly being asked for designer breeds such as “Berner-doodles” (Bernese x Poodle).
So why can’t I find one?
Firstly, no ethical, registered breeder of either Poodles or Bernese would breed one.
Secondly, under the Rules of the ANKC (www.ankc.org.au) registered breeders are not allowed to produce crossbreeds or unregistered dogs.
Also, consider the Poodle for a moment. For starters there are three different varieties:
Toy: The smallest breed of Poodle, no taller than 11” at the shoulder (please also note thatthere is no such registered breed as a “Teacup Poodle” – this is a marketing gimmick). Some possible health issues include: luxating patellas (unstable kneecaps) & Legg-Perthe’s Disease (disease of the hip joint).
Mini: Ideally no taller than 15” at the shoulder. Some possible health issues include: knee, hip, eye & thyroid problems.
Standard: Generally between 22”-27” tall at the shoulder. Some possible health issues include: gastric torsion/bloat, von Willebrand’s Disease, and autoimmune problems such as sebaceous adenitis, Addison’s disease & autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
Poodles were bred as water-retrieving dogs. Their dense, curly, non-shedding coat offered fabulous protection from cold water and kept their organs warm from the elements so the dog was able to keep working. Their extra-sensitive noses also had many work as truffle-hunters. Their intelligence makes them very versatile. They are lively, active, and agile.
Now consider the Bernese:
Possible health issues include: gastric torsion/bloat, cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, Entropion and Ectropion.
Between 22” to 27” tall at the withers, the Bernese is an above medium-sized dog originally used for drafting and guarding work in the alpine farms of Switzerland. They have a long, double-coat for protection from the snow. They have a self-confident and placid disposition, and are devoted to their own people.
Crossing a Bernese Mountain dog with another breed will not give you a cute mix of both or eliminate health issues, often it can double up on health issues and add more, new, and/or different ones in the progeny. Your dog generally won’t look like either breed and sometimes end up very unattractive or certainly less attractive as an adult as the individual breeds used to make it up.
So why would you want to cross these two breeds?
The general belief is that cross-breeds have “hybrid vigour”, are hypoallergenic, or buyers are searching for a smaller dog that won’t shed.
This is simply not the case. Why? Because it is unpredictable.
“Hybrid vigour” being a reason for someone to cross two breeds to supply a fad demand isn’t real. It is a catch phrase invented to create bigger demand for the product – a cross-bred dog with a cute or clever name. They have no proof that their “product” will be healthier, especially as in the majority of cases not a single official health test is done on either parent. Please note that a simple Vet check prior to breeding is NOT “Health Testing”.
Please read the following article on an interview with the creator of the first designer dog, the “Labradoodle”, Wally Conron: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201404/designer-dog-maker-regrets-his-creation
Note that the hair type was random, the behaviour varied, and appearance and trainability irregular.
The same would happen with a Bernese x Poodle.
Crossing two breeds will not give you a Bernese that doesn’t shed. It will either give you a coat that is half and half, a coat that is a Bernese coat, or a coat that is a poodle coat. As a puppy the “breeder” will likely have no idea which coat will be which and chances are you could get a bigger shedding or harder coat to look after than either breed by themselves. An “-oodle” coat must be brushed and combed to the SKIN very regularly or it will matt tightly and cause the dog pain. To maintain a long coat the dog will need to be professionally groomed every 4 weeks and thoroughly combed out several times a week.
If a Bernese or Poodle is not for you, but you are looking for non- or low-shedding breeds with minimal dander for people with allergies, then please consider the following gorgeous breeds: Afghan Hound, Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Coton de Tulear, Irish Water Spaniel, Lagotto Romagnolo, Maltese, Peruvian Hairless, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer (either Mini, Standard or Giant), Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, or Xoloitzcuintli.
Lindsay Thomson and Sheridan Holmes