Bernedoodles: A Head to Tail Guide
In retrospect, it’s lucky that my work as a breeder progressed as it did. Had I started my career by trying to breed the perfect Bernedoodle, well… I might be working as a veterinary technician in a lab right now. In fact, breeding Bernedoodles has made me very grateful for my education, and confirms my commitment to keeping my certification in good standing.
Goldendoodles are relatively easy to breed. Both Golden Retrievers and Poodles tend to get pregnant easily, and are good moms. As long as a breeder does her homework, the results are reasonably predictable. Most Goldendoodle buyers want a dog that resembles a Golden Retriever, with a teddy bear look, a stocky build, and a low- to non-shedding coat. This is straightforward to produce. If you breed a Golden Retriever to a blonde, apricot, or red Poodle, the puppies will almost always be blonde, apricot, or red, because the dogs have the same genetic color makeup.
Similarly, Bernedoodle buyers want their dogs to resemble a Bernese, with a tri-color coat that is low- to non-shedding. There is no question that the tri-color of the Berner is a huge part of the Bernedoodle’s appeal. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to achieve, as the Bernese and the Poodle have totally different color genotypes. The results are far from predictable, and as a result, those who are dead set on getting a Bernedoodle that looks just like the Bernese Mountain Dog usually face a long wait.
Bernedoodles are not easy to breed, and while I’m producing more and more tri-colored puppies, they don’t come easily or consistently.
With each litter, my hope is the same: to see a series of healthy little creatures that replicate the exact coloring of the Bernese Mountain Dog. I like to see a jet black base color, a deep rich brown above the eyes, on the cheeks and chest, under the tail and on the legs. All the better if there is white in exactly the right places: a blaze on the forehead, a white muzzle and chest, tip of the tail and all four paws.
Don’t get me wrong, though. If I’m anxious to produce tri-color Bernedoodles, it’s because that’s what the majority of my clients want. Personally, I don’t discriminate. A Bernedoodle of any color is still as sweet. If I got too hung up on standards, it would diminish the fun of breeding hybrids. Indeed, it would be too much like the more rigid world of purebred breeding that I chose to leave behind.
I try to approach breeding from the viewpoint of an inventor. Every litter is a new opportunity and I learn from each one. Producing exactly what my clients want in a Bernedoodle is not a simple math equation I can solve. Genes are tricky even with purebreds; with hybrids they become a worthy opponent that keeps me constantly on my toes.
I always keep my priorities firmly in order. My first responsibility is to produce healthy, stable pups that bring joy to their families. If my pups don’t have four white feet, it is hardly the end of the world. A big part of the hybrid’s charm is that each dog is unique.
© Sandy Rideout & Sherry Rupke