You’ve got your heart set on a new dog and, for one or more of many excellent reasons, you’ve decided on a Doodle – the only problem is… you just don’t know which kind. Bernedoodles and Sheepadoodles are both incredibly popular among pet owners. There are some similarities between these dogs that share a parent breed. However, there are also quite a lot of differences. Here we will take a look at what these are – Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle style – and what exactly they could mean for you and your family if you do choose to adopt one of these darling Doods.
So if you’re looking for a pup that’s on the larger side or one that has all the benefits of a larger breed in a smaller, cute package, you’ve come to precisely the right place.
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All About Bernedoodles
High up on the list of popular Doodles is the beautiful Bernedoodle. These dogs are the product of the calm, strong but gentle Bernese Mountain Dog and the clever, athletic Poodle. Most commonly, the Standard Poodle is used in this mix because Bernes are on the larger side. However, with increasing generations, Mediums, Minis, and even Tiny/Toys are to be found.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are a great choice for Doodling because they have the perfect companion dog temperament (which we will explain in greater detail a little later on). Yet these dogs were initially bred to be used as draft animals, to pull heavy carts across Swiss farmlands, and also to keep intruders away.
Adding Poodle into the mix not only makes the Bernedoodles coat less likely to shed (meaning that they have hypoallergenic properties), it also gives them a little bit more energy. Poodles, too, were created as working dogs, made to jump into rivers and lakes to collect birds shot down by their hunter owners. All Doodles tend to be on the bouncier end of the spectrum for this reason.
All About Sheepadoodles
Sheepadoodles (not to be confused with [German] Shepadoodles) are a cross between the super famous Old English Sheepdog (OES) and the lovely Poodle. Again, Standard-sized Sheepadoodles are a little on the large side compared to other Doodles, owing to the giant size of the OES, but different sizes are now available too.
The OES is probably one of the most iconic hounds out there (next to the Poodle, of course) with that beautiful, shaggy coat of theirs. Not much is known about their origin, though, except they are likely from one of the southern counties in England and were used to help drive sheep and cattle to market.
Even though Bernedoodles are perhaps the more well-known of the two, Sheepadoodles are actually much, much older. While Bernedoodles were first bred in the early 2000s, the product of a breeder falling in love with the double-coated Bernie but having a mom with allergies, Sheepadoodles have been around since the 1960s. The story goes that they were bred for use as military dogs… but not too much information can be found on that.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Size
With both Bernese Mountain Dogs and Old English Sheepdogs being large breeds, it’s only to be expected that so too are their offspring. This is especially the case when they are bred with the Standard Poodle. As you can see below, the Bernedoodle has the edge – but only just barely.
17 inches or less
15 inches or less
Even the smaller varieties of these pups are larger than most other similarly classified Doodles. So, it’s vital that you know just what you’re getting with these dogs.
The male also tends to be larger than the female for each of these Doodles, but the difference isn’t really all that significant.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Temperament
When it comes to character, there are some important distinctions between the two types of Doodles. These could play a crucial role in your decision as your aim is to search out a dog that suits you and/or your family the best.
Bernedoodle owners tend to describe their pups as gentle, loving, and caring. These are qualities that they inherit from the calmer Bernese. In fact, Bernies are generally known as being fairly low-energy dogs (on the Doodle spectrum, at least). They have more laid-back personalities and often just go with the flow.
However, be sure not to forget that watchdog part of their nature. It’s this that can make these pups incredibly protective of their owners and families. They are often a little more guarded around strangers and animals that they don’t know. That’s why early training and, even more importantly, early socialization is vital for these dogs.
Sheepadoodles, with their herding instincts, are a little more high-energy – although Doodling them has mellowed them out somewhat. It has also made them easier to train than their OES ancestors. Nevertheless, they are still great fun to be active and exercise with.
People with Sheepas often describe them as playful and silly. Yet, just like Bernies, they can be a little on the protective side. However, this usually manifests itself in slightly different ways. For example, if you fail to take the lead in this relationship, you might find yourself or your children being wrangled up and hustled about by a bossy hound.
Sheepadoodle vs Bernedoodle: Appearance
Known primarily for their tri-color good looks (typically black, white, and brown), Bernies also come in ‘red’ with a gorgeous russet color taking the place of the otherwise dominant black shade. While this is the most popular coat type, Bernedoodles can also have solid, parti, and merle-colored coats. The latter one especially is becoming more and more highly prized.
Sheepadoodles, on the other hand, are usually just two colors – most often black and white, but sometimes grey and white, or red and white. Any of the colors can be dominant – although it’s frequently white. Sheepas are also more likely to fade in color as they age – a phenomenon that perhaps can be explained by the Poodle Fading Gene.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Grooming & Maintenance
The amount of brushing each dog needs depends more on their specific Doodle generation and which of the three possible coats they have inherited than on whether they are a Bernie or a Sheepa.
While the ‘hypoallergenic’ woolen Poodle coat is often seen as being the most desirable, the sad truth is this one requires the most looking after of the three. The reason for this is that hair is still shed, but rather than ending up on your floor or furniture, it becomes tangled up with healthy hair causes knots and even matting.
Frequently, though, Doodles can get the other parent’s coat – this is especially the case with F1 dogs. Both Bernese and OES have incredibly thick, double coats that are prone to shed. The OSE, in particular, is known to be an extremely heavy shedder. So, if your Sheepadoodle does get this kind of fur, they will need frequent brushing to keep it off your floor and furniture.
Finally, the third (and to us) best coat kind is the wavy in-between one. There could be issues with both shedding and tangling with this hair type, but these problems are much reduced. For this reason, this coat needs much less brushing – two to three times a week compared to daily with either of the above.
Sheepadoodle vs Bernedoodle: Health & Wellness
As Doodles are mixed breed dogs with more comprehensive genetic profiles, they tend to be healthier than their purebred counterparts. They are still susceptible to some of the same canine health issues (based on size and breed), but a lot less so.
However, the first thing you need to do to ensure you have a dog that is in super good health is to purchase them from a reputable breeder. They will not only have tested the parent pups to ensure there are no heritable diseases, but they will also make sure the puppies themselves are in the very best of health before they go on to their forever homes.
Standard-sized Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles could both have problems with their joints due to their larger size. A healthy, well-balanced diet of high-quality kibble and plenty of exercise (walking rather than running) can help with this. As can a nicely cushioned bed.
Beyond that, Bernedoodles are prone to allergies, hip dysplasia, eye problems, and Von Willebrand’s disease – a disorder where the blood doesn’t clot properly. Sheepadoodles can suffer from ear infections, entropion (eyelids rolling inwards), heart conditions, and skin problems. So these are all things to chat to your vet about.
In terms of wellness, Doodles as clever, active dogs need plenty of stimulation. This includes at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day – walks, games, and the opportunity to play with toys. If they are left alone for long periods without anything to distract them, they could become noisy and/or destructive.
Sheepadoodle vs Bernedoodle: Lifespan
As Doodles are super healthy dogs, they often enjoy a much longer lifespan than other types. If well looked after, both Bernedoodles and Sheepadoodles tend to do well throughout their lives, maintaining a good level of health and activity.
Both Doodle types can live until 12-15 years of age. However, the rule is that smaller dogs tend to outlive larger ones, so Toys, Minis, and Mediums will likely have a longer lifespan than Standards.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Training & Environment
Both Bernies and Sheepas are highly intelligent dogs, so training them shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you start them young. However, start a little too late and you could encounter a few issues. The exact nature of these differs depending on the specific nature of the dog in question.
Despite being generally people-pleasing pups, Bernies can be notoriously stubborn if they come across something they simply don’t want to do. That, coupled with all their natural strength, can make them a bit of a handful for novice owners. Issues with socialization only serve to make matters worse when it comes to these cautious dogs.
Sheepadoodles are usually a little easier for newbies to control. They are incredibly obedient pups, making them pretty effortless to train at any time… just as long as you keep things interesting. All that boisterous energy could mean that they easily become overexcited and lose focus if they feel there’s nothing in it for them. These dogs really do have an endless appetite for play, so make training a game, and it will be a breeze.
In the home, the bigger Bernedoodle does surprisingly better in a smaller space. This is because of their calmer, more cuddly, more snoozy temperament compared to the Sheepa’s frantic energy. They are also better behaved when meeting new people and animals (as long as they have been thoroughly socialized, of course).
For training tips and tricks, check out our article Obedience Training for Dogs: Mastering the Basics.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Cost
All Doodle puppies are a little on the expensive side due to the effort that goes into breeding these so-called ‘designer dogs.’
When it comes to Bernedoodles vs. Sheepadoodles, Bernies are usually slightly more expensive at between $2,000 and $5,000 compared with Sheepa at $2,000 to $4,000. It’s not really clear why this is, except that we know, inexplicably, that the more coat colors a puppy has, the more expensive they tend to be.
The initial expense, however, is not the only one to consider. You also need to factor in food, grooming, and vet costs. It goes without saying that the larger the dog, the more food they will eat – so there is not much difference between Doodle types here.
For grooming, this expense will depend very much on your pet’s coat type and the amount of effort you put into keeping it in tip-top condition at home. Things can get pricy with the woolen coat if you let it get all matted up. Plus, the groomer will likely have to shave your dog.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Family Friendliness
Probably one of the key questions you will have about these dogs, especially if you have young children, is how family-friendly they each are.
Well, most Doodles are extremely family-friendly – after all, the breeds were picked for Doodling for a reason. More often than not, they adore kids and enjoy playing with them for hours at a time.
In a recent survey we conducted where Doodle owners were asked to rate different aspects of their pets, Bernedoodles were consistently rated excellent when it came to how they were around the family. These dogs are solid enough to cope with young children’s playful antics without the need to rush about and knock them down. That being said, you should always closely supervise children playing with any dog.
Sheepadoodles are just as friendly, but their herding nature, coupled with their energy levels, may mean they are better suited to a house with older children and teenagers rather than younger kids. Sheepas are super affectionate dogs, but their working background could also make them more likely to nip. Although, with the right kind of training, this could be something you could easily ‘nip’ in the bud.
Bernedoodle vs Sheepadoodle: Which is the Puppy for You?
With so many excellent qualities, it’s no wonder that picking between these two wonderful pooches can be such a headache. One is absolutely no better than the other. However, each type of Doodle has specifics that may make them more suited to you and your family.
Opt for a Bernedoodle if you:
- Have limited space.
- Lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
- Have plenty of experience training large dogs.
- Are willing to pay a little more
- Have younger children in the house
A Sheepadoodle might be more appropriate if you:
- Have plenty of space in your home, including a lovely big garden.
- Like going on family hikes, trips, and adventures with your dog.
- Are more of a newbie dog owner.
- Prefer to pay a little less for a puppy.
- Have older children or teenagers.
Choosing the right kind of dog for your home can be a tough call – made all the tougher by the fact that all Doodles look like giant teddy bears no matter their parent breeds. However, it is a crucial decision and one that should only be undertaken after a fair bit of research. Hopefully, the overview of these two gorgeous dogs provided in this article can help you to understand them a bit more and see a little more clearly the one that will fit in with your lifestyle and your family the best.