How To Breed A Tri-Color Bernedoodle

The tri-color Bernedoodle is one of the most sought after varieties but can also be one of the hardest to breed. Waiting lists can be very long, often with no guarantees at the end of it. Why are tri-colors so difficult to breed? What makes a successful tri-color litter? Do the different generations of Bernedoodles have an impact on the coloring of the litter?

Breeding tri-color Bernedoodles takes an experienced breeder who is willing to dedicate years to learning about the generations. Color testing can be carried out within the parents which will help to determine if there will be tri-color pups.

We explore the traits of the tri-colored Bernedoodle, what makes them so special and sets them apart from the rest of the litter. Let’s look further into the difficulties faced by breeders.

Is it Easy to Breed a Tri-Colored Bernedoodle?

Put quite simply, no, it is whole world away from easy. The appeal of the tri-Colored Bernedoodle is the tri-colored look of the Bernese Mountain Dog coupled with the low-shed and intelligence of the Poodle. The problem lies in the sheer expanse of color that the Poodle brings to the table. The variation in Bernedoodle colors therefore stems from the Poodle side. This is the very reason that its notoriously hard to breed a tri-colored Bernedoodle.

The dam will almost always be the Bernese Mountain Dog with this breed. This is because of the size differences between the two. So, we know mom will be tri-colored, what about dad? It would be an easy solution if it were a case of just looking at him and his markings. There would be more breeders and the price would plummet.

Prices from a reputable breeder can vary from $4000 to $5000. This price reflects their high demand status and how difficult they are to breed. But successful breeders have had to endure inconsistent litters and years of research in order to fulfil the demand for the tri-color as chance (or unknown genetics) plays such a huge role. Experience and ultimately genetic testing is the only way to be sure of what you’re going to get outside of waiting for a litter to be born.

Bernedoodle Colors and How the Parentage Affects This

Bernese Mountain Dogs do not vary much in their color and are usually tri-colored. Poodles can come in a whole host of colors though including white, black, cream, black and white, silver, apricot, and silver and blue.

The many color variations of the Bernedoodle is one of the reasons they are so popular. However, some of the terms you hear will refer to their coat patterns as well as their coloring. The traditional tri-color Benrnedoodle features black, white, and rust, similar to the Bernese Mountain Dog. The distribution of the colors can vary and there is no particular tradition making each dog different and unique. Some may have a full white mask, some may have limited white.

There is also what is known as the phantom tri-color. This consists of black, rust and white. You will not find a phantom tri-color with Bernedoodle with white on their face but they will have a black base, tan legs and white on their chest. The color distribution on their chest can vary from just a little to a full white chest. They are often mistaken for phantom Bernedoodles.

There are other tri colors that Bernedoodles come in. These include tri-color sable and tri-color merle which gives the coat an impressive blueish tinge. 

The Bernedoodle can also come in sable, sable and white, brindle and white, black, black and white, parti, merle and white and merle phantom. These are just the color guides for an F1 Benredoodle. F2’s come in an even wider variety.

It can be hard to gauge the coloring of a newborn tri-color Bernedoodle as their colors can develop as they get older. Sometimes they can be born almost solid black, sometimes they are born black and white and sometimes their rust will also be apparent. A tip to check that the rust will come in is to check under their tail. If you see some rust, then then this color will also become visible as they grow.

Some colors can also fade with age. This is known as the ‘Progressive Graying’ gene which is found in poodles. Sometimes their black will fade to silver and their brown can fade to cream.

Puppies can also start off as tri-colored but then become bi-colored as they age.

The Bernedoodle Generations

An F1 Bernedoodle generation is when the pup is 50% Bernese Mountain Dog and 50% Poodle. This generation is considered the most desirable in terms of health implications. F1 Bernedoodles usually have the healthiest genetics due to being crossed with two purebreds making it the strongest type of hybrid. In most cases the hybrid is healthier than the purebred because lines that are prone to certain genetic difficulties are being blended.

F1b is when a Bernedoodle is backcrossed with a Poodle. F1b puppies are 25% Bernese and 75% Poodle. This is likely to make them non-shedding. The hypoallergenic outcome is a popular reason for breeding back with the Poodle. Sometimes an F1 Bernedoodle can be backcrossed with a Bernese Mountain Dog. This would still be an F1b Bernedoodle but the outcome would be a dog with more Bernese Mountain Dog traits.

F2 is produced when you breed an F1 Bernedoodle with another F1 Bernedoodle. F2b is a cross between an F1 Bernedoodle and an F1b Bernedoodle.  It is best to stay within these generations to maintain their vigor health. F3 is is an F1b crossed with another F1b. Going beyond these means looking into multi-generation Bernedoodles which will mean lowering that vigor health.

There will be variations in the Bernedoodle coat depending on the generation. An F1 coat could bear resemblance to either the poodle or the Bernese Mountain dog. More consistent coats and colors will emerge when the 1st generation of Bernedoodle is crossed with other Bernedoodles (F2).

Due to the complicated genetics behind breeding Bernedoodles, there really are no guarantees in being successful in producing tri-colors. Due to modern technology and science, it is possible to carry out color testing between the breeding stock to get a better idea of the colors that can be produced. Breeders that have a high demand for tri-colors will use this method and many are successful at producing consistent tri-colored litters.

Coat Types

F1 generation can be a gamble when it comes to coat types, they can be straight, wavy or curly. F1b will produce either a wavy or curly coat. F2 Bernedoodles can have any of the three coat types just like F1. F2b will produce wavy or curly Bernedoodle coats. These different coats and patterns add to their uniqueness.

Dogs with longer hair around the face including their eyebrows, mustache, and beard are known as having ‘furnishings’. Dogs with shorter hair around the face are known as having ‘Incorrect Coats’ (IC). The furnishings gene is dominant so DNA testing can be carried out on the parents before beginning the breeding process. Experienced breeders will be able to breed both unfurnished and furnished dogs by using a combination of the generations.

A tri-colored Bernedoodle can come with any coat type and either furnished or unfurnished.

Caring for a Tri-Colored Coat

Caring for a tri-colored coat is no different to any other coat as the name purely relates to the color. Most dog breeds have an undercoat and an overcoat. This is not the case for Bernedoodles who have only an undercoat which they inherit from their Poodle stock. This is why Bernedoodles are low shedding dogs and considered hypo-allergenic.  Brushing should be a regular activity in your household right from the start. Low shedding dogs need regular brushing to stop the fur from becoming tangled. Getting your puppy used to the brush is a very good idea as not all dogs enjoy the experience.

Anywhere between the ages of 9 months to a year, your tri-colored Bernedoodle will start to grow its adult coat.  Before this stage young puppies can lose some of their hair, this is perfectly normal.  Curly coats need the most brushing and are in danger of matting if this isn’t a regular activity.

Should you wish your Bernedoodle to be clipped this needs to be done every 8 to 12 weeks. Curly coats will benefit the most from regular clips to prevent matting. A good groomer will ask you what sort of clip you want your dog to have, don’t be afraid to have it tailored to suit. It’s important to note that your dog should have had its full set of vaccines before its first visit to a dog groomer. The cost of a dog groomer can vary anywhere between $30 to $90 depending on the size of the dog. If your dog has become matted, you can prepare to pay extra.


We now know how hard it is to breed tri-color Bernedoodles and any reputable breeder will acknowledge this when managing your expectations. The only way to get any sort of a guarantee of having tri-colored pups in the litter is to undertake color testing among the generation of dogs to be bred. Genetics and a great understanding of science have a huge role in ultimately determining a dog’s coloring.

You should absolutely expect to pay a higher price using a proper breeder now that you understand how complicated the tri-color breeding process can be. You should ask to read reviews and testimonials from other clients – these should not be difficult to get hold of. A responsible breeder will endeavor to keep in touch with you as your dog grows, which will help them understand the different personality traits.

Breeders should be able to show you the health documents for both parents and hopefully show you one or both the parents on site. Puppies should come home with their health paperwork and should have received their vaccines and be de-wormed. You can find a reputable breeder by asking local vets, breed clubs and you can verify membership via AKC. You can also check if any complaints have been made about the breeder via AKC or BBB (Better Business Bureau).

Related Questions

How do you Breed a Mini Bernedoodle?

A Mini Bernedoodle must have a Bernese Mountain Dog dam and a Toy or Miniature Poodle sire. The better option of the two is a taller Miniature Poodle. This is because a cross between a Toy Poodle and a Bernese Mountain Dog can end up looking like a Dachshund with a long body and short legs.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Bernedoodle?

Bernedoodles are still a relatively new breed so the information can only be based on more recent years. The average life expectancy is thought to be between 12 to 15 years, but this can vary depending on the size differences. It is widely believed that smaller dog breeds typically live longer than the larger ones and Mini Bernedoodles tend to live longer than the standard variety.