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Q&A

What size do your Doodles come in?

Our Doodles come in different sizes, depending on the parents and the vagaries of genetics. Females are usually smaller than males.

Standard Doodles – results from crossing a Standard Poodle with a Bernese Mountain Dog or Golden Retriever; they will generally be 50 lbs. and up, and are 23-29 inches at the shoulder. Most standards are in the 70-90 lb. range.

Mini Doodles – results from crossing a Miniature Poodle with a Bernese Mountain Dog or Golden Retriever; they will generally range from 25-49 lbs. and are 18-22 inches at the shoulder.

Tiny Doodles – results from crossing a Toy Poodle with a Mini Bernedoodle or a Mini Goldendoodle; they will generally range from 10-24 lbs. and are 12-17 inches at the shoulder.

These ranges capture the averages; sometimes a pup will fall outside the expected height and weight.

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How should I choose a Doodle breeder and what should I look for?

A good breeder will perform all clearances listed below (see “What are the health concerns for Doodles?”) and will share all health certificates with potential clients. If a breeder is unwilling to show you health clearances of the parents, consider it a red flag. I’ve heard about dogs with grade four hip dysplasia who are healthy, happy, and jumping around. There is no way someone could have known they had hip dysplasia if the dogs hadn’t been tested. Imagine if I were a disreputable breeder and didn’t get these dogs tested and sold you a pup out of one of these parents. ASK TO SEE CERTIFICATIONS. A responsible breeder will:

  • allow clients to meet the parents of a litter
  • show parents’ health clearances
  • be willing and able to provide you with references
  • be honest with you and have high standards and integrity to provide clients with a quality puppy
  • be willing to work with you even after your pup goes home
  • ask to be kept up-to-date on how the pup is growing and maturing, and about their temperament (This is how responsible breeders improve their breeding programs. By knowing what my breeding stock produces, I’m better able to pair my dogs appropriately and breed the best possible Doodles.)
  • provide you with a health guarantee, and make sure the pups are vaccinated, microchipped and dewormed before they go home
  • have some type of adoption form
  • ask you questions about what you are looking for in a dog (This will help the breeder give you the most suitable pup in terms of temperament and coat type.)
  • allow clients to visit their kennel, although each one may have different rules (At SwissRidge, I only allow people who have purchased a pup to visit the kennel at the time of pick-up to reduce the risk of bringing diseases like parvo, canine distemper, canine herpes, kennel cough, and canine flu into contact with my dogs.) For anyone who wishes to view the kennel I have a  YouTube video that takes you through the kennel so you can see how our dogs live.
  • provide you with references from clients, other breeders, veterinarians, etc.
  • ask questions to help determine if you will provide a great home for their pups
  • take a dog back if ever a family is unable to keep it (I believe that I am responsible for the health, care and safety of any dog I breed, so if anyone is unable to keep a dog they get from me, I will take it back and re-home it with another suitable owner.)

Responsible breeders care about their pups and where they are going.

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What are the generations of Doodles available?

F1 – is a first generation cross, in which the pup is 50 percent Bernese Mountain Dog or Golden Retriever and 50 percent Poodle. The F1 cross is considered the healthiest, as the parents have the least likelihood of contributing genes for common inheritable diseases.

F1b – is a backcross in which a Bernedoodle or Goldendoodle is bred with a Poodle. The puppy is 25 percent Bernese/Golden, and 75 percent Poodle. F1b puppies are the most likely to be non- shedding and allergy-friendly. Some breeders have backcrossed a Bernedoodle with a Bernese or a Goldendoodle with a Golden, which results in a dog with more of the Bernese/Golden traits. I prefer not to breed this backcross as there is a greater likelihood of shedding.

F2 – is a second-generation cross, in which a F1 Bernedoodle is crossed with another F1 Bernedoodle or a F1 Goldendoodle is crossed with another F1 Goldendoodle. If this is done for 7 generations, you can apply to register this dog as a purebred. The closer the generations come together the more consistency there will be in the lines, but the genetic problems of the purebreds are more likely to reappear, and hybrid vigor diminishes. Some F2 pups may have improper coats (short and straight) instead of the long, wavy, fleece we love in the Doodles.

While Doodles vary in appearance and coat type, an experienced breeder will be able to give you an idea of what the pup will look like as an adult, based on what the parents have produced in the past and what traits they see in the pup.

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What are the major differences between Tiny, Mini, and Standard Doodles?

In terms of temperament, Mini and Tiny Doodles may have a slightly higher energy level than the Standard Doodles, to reflect the same in the Miniature and Toy Poodle parent. However, using calm Poodles, regardless of size, tends to produce docile Doodles.

As pups, the Tiny and Mini Doodles are more outgoing and take a little more work, but as adults they tend to calm down. The nice thing about the Mini Doodles is they are a great size and you can take them almost anywhere. They are great city/condo dogs. Large dogs cost more to maintain, from food to vet care.

The larger the dog, the longer it takes to mature. Plus, large dogs tend to be shorter-lived.

Beyond that, all sizes of well-bred Doodles have great temperaments, love to play fetch and hike, are great family dogs, and are awesome with kids.

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How do Bernedoodles compare to Goldendoodles?

Bernedoodles and Goldendoodles are quite similar in that they are intelligent, social, fun, playful, friendly, and goofy crossbreeds. Both have incredible character and charisma. The most notable difference I’ve seen between the two is that some Bernedoodles can be a little headstrong, a trait they likely take from the Bernese. This is more pronounced at the puppy stage and tends to disappear when the Bernedoodle is older and trained. With this in mind, I am working hard to find the most easygoing Berners for my breeding program.

Most Goldendoodles enjoy the water because both parent breeds do. Bernese Mountain Dogs are generally not big fans of the water, so while many Bernedoodles enjoy swimming, some don’t gravitate to it.

The Bernedoodle tends to feel the heat a little more than the Goldendoodle, but nonetheless, both do well in warm climates. A cooling mat or K9 cooling coat found at mustluvdogs.ca will make a hot Bernedoodle more comfortable.

These are fairly minor differences. Remember, every puppy has a different personality – and with hybrids, you are getting a blend of traits from Poodles and Bernese/Goldens. But when considering the overall characteristics of both dogs, I find Goldendoodles and Bernedoodles to be quite similar. For both crosses, the curlier the coat the less they shed, and the better they are for people with allergies. Most Doodles have wavy to curly coats and are very low- to non-shedding. At SwissRidge Kennels, I ask what you are looking for in terms of coat type and temperament, and match you to the best puppy for your family.

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What is the difference between male and female Doodles?

Males tend to be larger than females, but beyond that, there is not a major difference between the genders. Males tend to be more affectionate and goofy, but also a bit more stubborn. Females tend to be more independent, but easier to train and less stubborn. These differences are actually quite subtle, and both males and females make amazing pets. I think temperament is more important than gender when matching dogs to owners.

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What are the grooming requirements for Doodles?

Like Poodles, Doodles have hair, not fur, and shedding is minimal or non-existent. That’s the upside. The downside is that they do need to be brushed regularly to prevent matting, and clipped every 8-12 weeks or so, depending on your preferences and the dog’s activities. If your Doodle is very active outdoors, you will likely find a shorter clip easier to maintain. But many owners enjoy the bonding time of regular brushing and choose to keep their Doodle in a fuller coat.

Generally speaking, a curly coat is less likely to shed but more likely to become matted if not brushed regularly. Daily brushing will probably be required, as well as professional grooming every 6-8 weeks.

Make sure to be very specific with the groomer as to how you want your dog groomed; most groomers will not have encountered a Doodle and may default to a standard Poodle clip unless directed otherwise. Be specific and show the groomer photos of how you want your dog to look. I’ve included advice for groomers in my book Bernedoodles: A Head to Tail Guide.

You should take your pup to the groomer only after their full set of vaccines (at around 14-16 weeks). To get them used to the process, ask the groomer not to use clippers. Just have the pup bathed, clean their ears, and cut their nails. The next time you visit, you can have the pup clipped.

Avoid bathing your Doodle too often, as it strips essential oils from the coat.

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Are Doodles hypoallergenic?

While there is no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic dog, Doodles tend to be allergy-friendly. Most people with allergies to dog dander (i.e., those who experience sneezing and watery eyes) are fine with a Doodle.

Every Doodle has a different coat. The curlier the coat the less it will shed. Most Doodles have the wavy type coat that is low- to non-shedding.

Straight Coat: Like the Bernese/Golden coat and it may have a slight wave to it. This coat will shed – less than a Bernese or Golden, but noticeably. I see very few pups with straight coats.

Wavy Coat: Most Doodles have a wavy coat, which gives them the typical doodle look. This type of coat is low- to non-shedding and fine for most people with allergies to dog dander.

Curly Coat: Similar to the Poodle coat and will not shed. A curly coat is your best bet if you have more severe allergies to dander.

If you are allergic to dog saliva, however, you will most likely be allergic to all dogs, including Doodles. (I find this depends on each dog’s saliva make-up.) You will know if you are allergic to saliva if your skin breaks out in hives when a dog licks you. If you still want a dog, it would be best to go with a smaller dog (doodle or otherwise) as they produce less saliva than larger dogs.

I always suggest that prospective clients meet some Doodles if they can. The SwissRidge Facebook group is a great place to find Doodle owners in your area.

Like most responsible breeders, I allow people a couple of weeks to see if they are allergic to their puppy and to return it if there’s a problem. This has happened very rarely.

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How long do Doodles live?

The hybrid vigor plays a role in creating the longer life expectancy of a hybrid dog. The smaller the dog the longer they usually live: Doodles typically live an average of 12-15 years, with Tiny Doodles living longer, as a rule, than the standards.

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What are the health concerns for Doodles?

While Doodles tend to be healthier than their parent breeds, they can still be prone to conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and certain eye problems. Skin problems, such as hot spots and allergies, are also seen. Genetic testing can reduce the risk of many diseases. A reputable breeder will perform a number of tests and will provide evidence of the successful results. It’s important for prospective buyers to understand that breeders invest a great deal of money upfront in finding healthy breeding stock and doing the required testing. This investment is reflected in the higher cost of the puppy for the buyer. A higher upfront cost will most likely reduce vet bills down the road. At SwissRidge Kennels, we perform all the below tests on the parent breeds before they are entered into our breeding program. These tests consist of DNA tests, X-rays, and heart and eye exams, as well as physical exams. Please do your research and make sure breeders are performing the testing below.

Tests required for breeding of Bernese Mountain Dogs:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Heart  OFA
  5. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A and SOD1-B) – VetGen
  6. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  7. Patellas – OFA

Tests required for breeding of Golden Retrievers:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A) – VetGen
  5. Heart – OFA
  6. Patellas – OFA
  7. PRA (GR-PRA1) – VetGen
  8. PRA (GR-PRA2) – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Standard Poodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A) – VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. MTC – VetGen
  11. NEWS – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Miniature and Toy Poodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A)  VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. MTC – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Bernedoodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A and SOD1-B)  VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. MTC – VetGen
  11. NEWS – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Goldendoodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A) – VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. MTC – VetGen
  11. NEWS – VetGen
  12. PRA (GR-PRA1) – VetGen
  13. PRA (GR-PRA2) – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Australian Labradoodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A) – VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. NEWS  VetGen
  11. PRA (GR-PRA2)  VetGen
  12. EIC – VetGen
  13. SD2 – VetGen
  14. Cystinuria – VetGen

Tests required for breeding of Golden Mountain Doodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A and SOD1-B) – VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. MTC – VetGen
  11. NEWS – VetGen
  12. PRA (GR-PRA1)  VetGen
  13. PRA (GR-PRA2)  VetGen

Tests required for breeding of SwissRidge Doodles:

  1. Hips – OFA, PennHip, or OVC
  2. Eyes – CERF
  3. Elbows – OFA
  4. Von Willebrand’s Disease – VetGen
  5. Sebaceous Adenitis – OFA
  6. Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1-A and SOD1-B)  VetGen
  7. Heart – OFA
  8. Patellas – OFA
  9. PRA (rcd4) – VetGen
  10. MTC – VetGen
  11. NEWS – VetGen
  12. PRA (GR-PRA1)  VetGen
  13. PRA (GR-PRA2)  VetGen
  14. EIC – VetGen
  15. SD2 – VetGen
  16. Cystinuria – VetGen

The DNA testing that we offer through VetGen is something very different than what the majority of Goldendoodle and Bernedoodle breeders offer. Many breeders do not test for things like PRA, MTC, NEWS, EIC, SD2, or Cystinuria. I feel this sets us apart as we are truly going the extra mile to make sure our dogs are clear of every possible disease that we are able to test for. As you can see from the test results on every dog’s individual page, all of our breeding dogs have passed every test with flying colors before they are ever bred.

A deeper look into the genetic testing:

OFA – Hips and Elbows: Hip and elbow dysplasia are common diseases in many  dog breeds, and all breeding dogs should be tested for this before they are entered into a breeding program.

Hip X-rays are taken to ensure the hips are well seated within the hip socket and that the hip joints are not loose or arthritic and are well formed. OFA rates hips as excellent, good, fair, borderline, mild, moderate, and severe.

Elbow dysplasia can involve many abnormalities within the elbow joint. The two most common forms of elbow dysplasia are osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is the separation of a piece of cartilage off the joint, and fragmented or ununited medial coronoid process (FCP or FMCP), which is caused by a developmental defect of the coronoid processes, two small bony protrusions on the end of the ulna within the elbow joint. In this condition, one of the coronoid processes develops a fissure or crack and separates from the rest of the bone.

OFA – Cardiac: The heart is a huge muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. If it is not working properly, it can cause many problems throughout the body, including death. All breeding dogs are cleared by a board certified veterinarian for any heart murmurs.

OFA – Patellas: The patella is the kneecap, which is part of the stifle joint (knee). If this joint luxates, it can pop out and dislocate. This causes pain and may require surgery if severe enough in some dogs. Patellas should be tight and not able to move off the stifle joint.

OFA – SA (Sebaceous Adenitis): This is a hereditary skin disease where the sebaceous glands in the skin become inflamed and die. Hair loss can occur and skin can become scaly, have a musty odor, or develop lesions, and a secondary skin infection can occur. Poodles are most commonly affected with this disorder. There is no DNA test. A biopsy of the skin is taken to make sure all breeding dogs are clear of the disease.

CERF – Eyes: All dogs’ eyes are examined by a board certified veterinarian ophthalmologist for any eye diseases. See a list of all the diseases the dogs are cleared for on this form.

VetGen – DM-SOD1-A and DM-SOD1-B (Degenerative Myelopathy): This is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that occurs in many breeds of dog. To date, the major mutation associated with this disease has been detected in 124 breeds, with a second mutation, SOD1-B, limited to the Bernese Mountain Dog. The test for this second mutation is DM-exon1.

The disease is an adult-onset condition that has ALS-like symptoms: progressive limb weakness and muscle loss, tremors, difficulty rising, and stumbling. Affected animals develop spinal and hind end problems later in life. It is inherited as a recessive disease based on these mutations, but there is also ongoing work to determine other factors that may play a role in severity and age of onset.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website

VetGen – vWD (von Willebrand’s Disease): This is characterized by the abnormally low production of a protein found in the blood called von Willebrand’s factor, which plays a key role in the complex process of clotting a damaged blood vessel. Breeds with the severe form produce no von Willebrand’s factor.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

VetGen – PRA (GR-PRA1) and PRA (GR-PRA2) (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): This is a condition of the retina in the eye. PRA is a general term encompassing many diseases which all progress over time and eventually lead to blindness. The first sign of this disease is typically night blindness. There is no pain associated with PRA and dogs seem to adjust very well to their blindness. There are many types of PRA that affect different breeds. PRA1 and PRA2 effect Golden Retrievers.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

VetGen – PRA (rcd4) (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): This is a condition of the retina in the eye. PRA is a general term encompassing many diseases which all progress over time and eventually lead to blindness. The first sign of this disease is typically night blindness. There is no pain associated with PRA and dogs seem to adjust very well to their blindness. There are many types of PRA that affect different breeds. PRA(rcd4) is seen in standard poodles.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]  

VetGen – MTC (Macrothrombocytopenia): This is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait The name is derived from the words macro (large) and thrombocyte (platelets), cells that assist in the blood clotting function. It is characterized by low platelet values and the presence of some larger than normal platelets in circulation. Unlike acquired macrothrombocytopenia (thrombocytopenias secondary to infectious agents, medications, immune-mediated causes), this form does not respond to treatment. A mutation in the beta-1 tubulin gene has been identified as the cause in a number of breeds.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

VetGen  – NEWS (Neonatal encephalopathy with seizures): This is a recessive developmental brain disease. Affected pups exhibit extreme weakness, and those that survive the first week generally develop progressively worse ataxia, or inability to move properly. This is often accompanied by severe seizures. None have survived to 7 weeks of age.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]  

VetGen – EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse): This is a recessively inherited condition, which results in hind limb weakness after relatively short periods of high intensity exercise. EIC is most well known from the Labrador Retriever but has now been identified in a number of other breeds. The test VetGen offers is based on the findings at the University of Minnesota that identified the causative mutation.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

VetGen – SD2 (Skeletal Dysplasia 2): This is a conformation related test based on research done at the University of Bern in Switzerland. The group of European researchers identified a mutation in a collagen gene responsible for a very mild form of dwarfism. This is NOT a test for the more extreme form of dwarfism found in Labrador Retrievers. While originally described in Europe, we have detected this in the U.S. population, although too few dogs have been tested to know anything of frequency.

This is a recessively inherited condition. Labradors affected (2 copies) with this mutation will have a shoulder height that is on average only about 5 centimeters lower than the breed standard accepts. There is a great deal of overlap between affected animals and “normal” animals that just happen to be small. No other joint or ocular problems seem to be associated with this condition. It is found primarily in working lines.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

VetGen – Cystinuria: Cystinuria in dogs is indicated by the presence of cystine stones in the kidney, bladder or ureter. Failure by the kidneys to reabsorb amino acids results in the formation of cystine crystals and sometimes stones in the urine, which can lead to blockage of the urethra. While the disease is not genetically sex-linked, it is diagnosed in male dogs more frequently than females due to anatomical differences. We offer a test based on the research done at the University of Pennsylvania which identified mutations responsible for cystinuria in several breeds.
[This description has been taken from the VetGen website]

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How much exercise do Doodles need?

Doodles require a moderate amount of exercise. Most will do well with three half- hour walks per day. They’ll enjoy hiking with you in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter, city walks, or country runs. Then, when you sit down for a rest, they’ll happily join you for a cuddle. They are very versatile and social dogs. You can take them almost anywhere and they acclimatize well to new situations. This is why their popularity is growing. They are the perfect overall family dog with moderate exercise requirements.

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Do you require dogs to be spayed/neutered?

Yes, every SwissRidge dog needs to be spayed/neutered. If you would like a dog for breeding, I make exceptions in certain situations.

I require proof of spay/neuter to be mailed or emailed to me by the time the dog reaches 18 months of age. All dogs are sold with non-breeding agreements, unless arrangements are made beforehand. If anyone who has signed a non-breeding agreement subsequently breeds the dog, there are serious consequences.

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What is your health guarantee?

SwissRidge guarantees all dogs for two years against hip dysplasia or any hereditary disease. If your dog develops a hereditary disease that makes them unsuitable as a pet or in need of extended veterinary care, please contact me immediately. I am extremely concerned about the health and welfare of each and every pup, and need to be informed so that I can make decisions about future breeding.

I will require a note from a board certified veterinarian. I will either replace the dog or refund half the purchase price of the pup to cover any extended veterinary care. This is your decision.

We also give clients the option to purchase a four- or six-year health guarantee with their puppy at the time of purchase.

Please note that puppies may pick up common parasites, such as giardia, coccidia, roundworm, etc. I do everything in my power to prevent and eliminate these parasites by putting dogs and pups on a strict deworming program. However, mother dogs tend to be more vulnerable to parasites when they have puppies, and may pass parasites along to the pups. Depending on the life cycle of the particular parasite, it is possible that a few pups will go home with one. You must have your puppy checked by a vet within 72 hours of taking them home. Please make sure the vet checks for parasites.​ We do not cover parasites within the health guarantee.

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Are Doodles registered with any associations?

Doodles are mixed breed dogs and therefore cannot be registered with the American or Canadian kennel clubs.

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What is your long-term goal for your breeding program?

I intend to continue to produce healthy, gorgeous, great-tempered Goldendoodles, Bernedoodles, and Golden Mountain Doodles, in all sizes, as long as they are beloved by dog owners.

At the same time, I have developed a unique SwissRidge Doodle that is currently representing my kennel by combining my favorite breeds in a perfect, medium-sized, multi-colored, non-shedding package. It goes without saying that the SwissRidge Doodle has an excellent pedigree.

I had my first litter of SwissRidge Doodles in 2015 and have had several litters since. I used dogs from my own thoroughly tested, long-lived lines to produce this special hybrid.

I expect this line to continue to evolve. I consider myself a breeder-inventor and, as such, am never fully satisfied.

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Why are you adding Australian Labradoodle lines to your breeding program?

I decided to infuse Australian Labradoodles (ALD) into my lines because I was becoming discouraged with the challenge of finding quality Miniature/Toy Poodles. Health testing is a priority for me. I like to make sure all my lines are health-tested at least 3-5 generations back – and most go back much further. Despite great effort, I have had a hard time being able to accomplish this with Poodles. In particular, it is very difficult to find breeders who do all the required health testing on Miniature Poodles. It is also difficult to find Miniature Poodles with the calm, docile temperament I need for my program.

In view of these challenges, I decided to explore a different approach to creating Doodles. I first started by crossing a Bernese with an ALD and later went on to crossing a Goldendoodle with an ALD. Reputable ALD breeders must health-test their dogs if they belong to the Australian Labradoodle Association of America. In addition, reputable breeders can produce docile dogs with the fleece coat I need for my lines.

I currently own a handful of ALDs that I’m mixing into my lines. The pups have blocky builds, with great proportions and square heads. The temperaments are amazing, calm, playful, loving, easygoing family dogs. They also have beautiful, soft, wavy, non-shedding coats. I couldn’t be happier with mixing the ALDs into my lines!

Subsequently, owners have given nothing but rave reviews. The pups are sweet and easy to train. To see what owners are saying about them, look at the Australian Bernedoodle and Australian Goldendoodle testimonial sections of this website.

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Why do I need to get on a wait list?

I wish I could meet the demand for Doodles more quickly, I really do. I realize it is stressful for people not to be able to nail down a time frame for their pup’s arrival and to be on a wait list. If you are lucky, sometimes I will have a puppy available right away so it’s always a good idea to contact me to see what I have available.

But there are reasons my Doodles have become so popular: they’re beautiful, they’re healthy, and they have great temperaments. That’s not idle bragging; every single day I get emails telling me about how much people love their Doodles.

As I explained in my book, however, it takes time to create a great breeding program. I’ve been breeding Doodles (Goldendoodles) since 1998 and I’ve been developing my Bernedoodle lines very carefully since 2003. Excellent breeding stock is incredibly hard to come by, whether it’s Goldens, Bernese or Poodles of any size. There are no short-cuts. I must track down breeding dogs with potential from reputable breeders, wait like everyone else for pups to be born, raise them, test them for health and temperament, and only then can I breed them. If a dog doesn’t work out for any reason, it’s back to the drawing board.

I’m always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Dogs come into heat only twice a year. Bernese more so than other breeds are known for unpredictable heats and for failing to conceive when expected. Even when they do, their litters may be smaller than hoped, and the sad truth is that they are not the best moms. Despite diligent interventions (bottle-feeding is more the rule than the exception), not all pups thrive.

When a large litter arrives and thrives, I rejoice, but it may not produce exactly the pup you’ve requested. When your number comes up, if you’ve identified a tri-colored female with a curly coat and the litter hasn’t produced one, you may be out of luck at that time. Even if the litter produces a pup with the right specs, but it has the wrong temperament for your circumstances, I will encourage you to wait. It’s worth waiting to have the right puppy because this dog will be with you for the next decade. The few months to a year you might have to wait for that perfect dog is worth it.

But please do keep in mind that a pup with the ideal temperament for you may come earlier if you are open-minded about gender, coat type and color. Eventually, nature will produce a pup to your exact specifications. If you can be flexible, however, chances are good that your number will come up faster. Many clients decide that black-and-white pups, fondly described as “Oreos,” will suit them just fine, and end up with a pup far sooner than if they’d held out for a tri-color.

An owner says… “When we decided to go from wanting a tri-colored Bernedoodle to being less selective, we went from number 32 on Sherry’s list to being notified that we had a pup… seemingly overnight. [Our pup] is wonderful. We don’t have any regrets. The wait is worth it.”

An owner says… “Another reason the wait is worth it is that Sherry is personally evaluating the temperament of each puppy and reviewing individual applications to make the right match. I realize more and more people are wanting one of these amazing dogs, but I also recognize that there is a limit to the number of puppies that can receive this screening process. SwissRidge cannot just increase puppy production without sacrificing the quality of care and the unique matchmaking process. I hope that everyone gets a dog, but I also hope that Sherry will never expand beyond her capacity of providing the individualized adoption process that has been so successful. You will have a wonderful doodle!”

So, while the wait may be long, I’m hoping that my clients understand that I am breeding the very best dogs I can in terms of health, pedigree and temperament. All the time and work that goes into producing a quality pup will pay off when a client tells me their long-awaited pup exceeds their expectations.

While the wait may be frustrating, it does allow people to think about their decision very carefully. Getting a puppy is a major life change, and not something to be done on impulse. During the wait for your SwissRidge Doodle, you can do some reading, find a vet and a trainer, get all the necessary supplies, and figure out exactly how you will handle your pup day to day. I will say that people appear to be far better prepared now for their pups than they used to be. So the wait has had an unintended upside!

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Why can’t I choose my own puppy?

Many breeders allow clients to choose their puppy from a litter, often in the order of deposits made. I used this approach myself when I started out, but I found that people tended to choose pups with their hearts, rather than their heads. This is not the best way to select a companion that will be with you for well over a decade.

No matter how much I tried to steer people towards the pup I thought would best suit their circumstances, they usually chose the puppy they found the cutest. Frequently, people let the puppy “choose them.” The pup that galloped over and showered them with kisses was “the one.” Needless to say, the puppy that’s first to approach a stranger tends to be the boldest and most dominant in the litter. While this temperament suits some people, for many, a more low-key puppy is a far better fit.

I knew there was a better way to match people and puppies, so I devised a system that has allowed me to improve the success rate of puppy placements.

For the last 15 years, I have been evaluating puppies’ personalities using both observation and a formal temperament test, and matching them against the adoption forms completed by prospective owners. I take this process very seriously, because I know that the wrong puppy can bring stress to a family. It’s a huge leap of faith for people to trust me to know which puppy is best for them. I consider that trust an honor and I do my very best to live up to it.

Happily, my approach has worked amazingly well. Since implementing my “matchmaking” system, I can count the number of puppies returned on one hand. And several of those involved allergies or changes in family circumstances.

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How do you assess a pup’s personality?

For the first few weeks of a pup’s life, I keep a low profile, allowing pups to learn how to be a dog from each other and their mother. We handle pups from day one to get them used to human touch and to enhance bonding. Because my kennel is large and I often have multiple litters at the same time, I have staff who help with this important aspect of puppy care. I make sure to consult with everyone to gather perspectives, as we may see the pups at different times in the day.

A pup’s personality starts to show at the age of 4-5 weeks. Like most breeders, I have an intuitive understanding of puppy temperament from observing so many litters over the years. From the age of 5-8 weeks, in particular, I look at where they rank in their litter, and how they interact with their mother, their littermates, and their caregivers. Do they sit back as you come in, or are they the first to come up, jumping at your hand? When they’re tumbling around with their littermates, are they always on the bottom or the top? Are they starting the fights, stopping the fights, or just walking away? The answers to these questions tell me a great deal about their personalities.

A puppy that is relentlessly picked on by its littermates, for example, is likely to have a more submissive nature as an adult and be the omega of the pack, regardless of all the socialization and training it might receive. But that personality will be perfect for one of my clients, perhaps a retired person with a quieter lifestyle. The boldest pup in the litter, on the other hand, will be perfect for an athletic young couple that is constantly on the go. Most of the puppies – like most of my clients – rank somewhere in between.

While I understood much of this intuitively, I wanted a way to formalize and quantify it. I decided to develop an assessment based on the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, or PAT.  Jack and Wendy Volhard are internationally recognized experts in dog training, health, and nutrition. They believe that if their test is administered at exactly 7 weeks – the point at which the dog’s neurological development is complete, yet it hasn’t learned much about the world – it will accurately predict inherited behavioral tendencies and how the puppy will turn out as an adult.

Although I have adapted the test slightly to suit my needs, like the Volhards, I assess the following in each puppy: attraction to people; comfort with restraint; startle response; acceptance of social dominance by a person; acceptance of dominance while in a position of no control; willingness to do something for you; and degree of sensitivity to touch, sound, and sight.

Each element is scored out of 6, with 1 being the boldest and 6 being the most timid. A pup that scores mostly in the 1-2 range will be quite dominant and best suited to experienced dog owners who know how to lead. A pup that scores mostly in the 5-6 range will be quite independent and shy, and will suit a quiet, structured home.

I average the results across all elements of the test to get an overall ranking for each puppy. Since I began using the test, all of my pups have fallen within the range of about 2.8 to 4.4. The majority fall between 3.2 and 3.8, and I have found pups in that range to be best-suited for my clients. In fact, I work very hard to find the right breeding stock to produce exactly those middle-of-the-road puppies.

Subtle variations in the scores can make all the difference in matching dogs to owners. A puppy that ranked 3 is likely to be significantly more active and dominant as an adult than the one that ranked 4. Of course, I also factor in everything I’ve learned through close observation of the puppies when making final assessments.

By the time a pup reaches 7-8 weeks, I have a very good idea of what it’s going to be like as an adult, assuming it gets the proper socialization and training in its new home.

Training actually plays a critical role in helping a dog achieve its full potential and become your perfect dog. It’s important to establish your leadership the moment a pup enters your care, and maintain it consistently through your life together. Obedience training will improve your bond, and will help the puppy integrate into your lifestyle. Even with a well-matched puppy, it takes work to raise a good dog. But it’s so worth it!

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How do you decide which puppy best suits my circumstances?

Once I’ve done the temperament test and gathered observations, I read the adoption forms and study them carefully. People generally provide a very detailed description of their lifestyle, as well as their preferences in terms of color, coat type, size, and gender. I look at their family composition, experience with dogs, day-to-day schedule, and activity level. It’s important to view the family as a whole, and see where the dog would fit in. I also need to take into account any allergies to determine the best coat type.

Then I find the optimal pairing of the available puppies with the prospective owners.

When I am torn between two potential pups, I will often describe both and allow my client to make the final decision. Even a slight nuance in personality can make a difference in fit, so I do my very best to consult and include the client.

I stand behind my dogs and my decision-making, and if, for any reason, someone needs to give up their dog, it always has a home with me. I have successfully re-homed the very few dogs that have been returned.

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How do I go about adopting a puppy?

If you are interested in a SwissRidge Doodle, please fill out the Adoption Form. The information you supply will help me decide which puppy would suit your needs. If your adoption form is approved, I will contact you and will request a $300 deposit to reserve a puppy. Deposits are NON-REFUNDABLE unless I am unable to offer you a pup within two years of the date of your deposit. If you decline a pup when it becomes available, you may lose your deposit unless you roll your deposit towards a future litter. You will also lose your deposit if you cancel at the last minute and I have already booked the flight.

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Why are deposits non-refundable?

I view a deposit as a sign of a client’s commitment to me that they want a puppy from my kennel and are willing to wait as long as it takes for a SwissRidge puppy. I base the number of breedings each year on the deposits we have, so that supply never exceeds demand. I want to be certain that all my puppies have good homes.

Making deposits non-refundable also encourages people to think long and hard about whether getting a puppy is the right choice for them before taking the step and getting on the waiting list.

I run a very structured breeding program – and it works. I have never not placed a puppy in a good home.

However, I do recognize that a client’s preferences or life circumstances may change after making a deposit, so you may choose to switch litters or transfer your deposit to another breed.

Further, you may defer adopting a puppy until your life circumstances are just right – even if that takes years. As an example, if you reserve a puppy in 2015, but decide to wait three years to adopt, your deposit will still apply in 2018. However, if my prices have risen in the meantime, your deposit will be deducted from the higher price. The price quote you are given at the time of deposit applies for only one year.

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Can I visit the kennel and see my puppy and its parents?

I only allow visitors to my kennel on the day people pick up their puppies. My first priority is protecting the health and safety of my dogs, and I cannot risk introducing disease. Many breeders have been devastated by Parvo that was unwittingly carried in by visitors.

I understand that people want firsthand knowledge about the parents and kennel before they purchase a puppy. That is why I include so many references on my website and I encourage prospective owners to contact them. In addition, there are 5,000 members on the SwissRidge Kennels group on Facebook, where you can engage with owners directly. Many owners have visited the kennel and met me and the parents of their pups.

Please join the group and ask questions about anything on your mind. You’ll be amazed at the speedy, frank, and thorough responses – I always am!

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Do you ship and is it safe?

Yes, we ship our puppies all over the world. We have pups all over North America and Europe, and as far as Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. Our pups are world travelers. Shipping ranges from $495 for an 8-week-old pup to $595 for pups that are 16 weeks and have stayed for imprinting. If your puppy is being shipped to the US, there is an extra $200 customs charge. These are the shipping prices throughout Canada and the U.S. only. Shipping prices for other countries are higher. If you live in another country and are interested in knowing shipping costs, please contact me.

Shipping is safe, and, in my opinion, much safer than traveling a long distance in a car. I have been shipping puppies for almost two decades and all of my puppies have arrived safe and secure at their new homes.

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What are your prices?

Please contact me for information about pricing for the specific type of Doodle you’re interested in adopting.

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Do you have a contract?

You can find a copy of my contract here.

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Do you recommend pet insurance?

Yes, I think pet insurance is very important. Even though we do everything in our power to make sure you are getting a healthy puppy, accidents can happen. With every puppy I sell, I provide a trupanion form for a 30-day free trial of pet insurance. To sign up your puppy for this trial, please visit the Trupanion website.

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Why are your prices higher than those of some other breeders?

The price of my dogs reflects my credentials, knowledge, skills, investment, and excellent track record as a breeder. I am fully confident in the quality of my dogs and my ability to provide excellent service to my clients. While I constantly strive to improve, clients are so satisfied with their SwissRidge experience that they are increasingly coming back for a second dog, or even a third.

I believe I have the best breeding program around, and I’ve invested a great deal of time, effort, and expense to make it so. I source dogs from all over North America and Europe, and have visited hundreds of kennels in person. I research pedigrees five generations back – and more where possible – before deciding whether to buy breeding dogs that typically cost from $5,000-$20,000.

Few breeders go to such lengths to find their stock, but this approach has allowed me to gather some of the finest dogs from varied, quality lines.

I raise my breeding dogs to maturity and then invest more in testing for genetic diseases. In the meantime, I constantly assess the temperament of my dogs to make sure I’m only breeding those that meet SwissRidge standards.

If any breeding dog I purchase does not pass health or temperament testing or fails to develop into the dog I expected it to be, I don’t use it in my program. Further, if a dog that I deem to be excellent doesn’t produce the quality of pups I expect, it is retired.

I work very hard to breed the best dogs to produce healthy, happy pups, and then I individually match them to your unique circumstances. It’s a comprehensive, exhaustive approach, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Creating the Bernedoodle breed and building a solid program over the past decade has been very rewarding, but also complicated, labor-intensive, and costly. It has taken a lot of trial and error to try and breed the perfect Bernedoodle, and I’m still learning. I can’t imagine anyone having more knowledge of this hybrid than I do. I know what to look for in breeding dogs, how to match the right dogs, and what my matches will produce.

On top of all that, I operate a large, busy kennel. My dogs live in immaculate conditions, get plenty of exercise and individualized attention, and are fed very high-quality food. As a veterinary technologist, I know how to provide the best care for my dogs. That dedication has meant I’ve passed each annual kennel inspection with flying colors.

The key to providing this level of care is great staff, and plenty of them. I’ve been fortunate to find some wonderful dog lovers who care nearly as much about my dogs as I do. They work very hard to keep adults and pups happy and healthy, and provide the socialization and playtime the puppies require to develop into well-rounded pets. Staff are on duty from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., tending to every need of the SwissRidge pack. I even employ a full-time groomer to make sure my dogs always look their best!

Beyond this, I also make sure we offer high-quality customer service to all SwissRidge clients. That means answering any and all questions related to the health or behavior of my dogs once they’ve gone home. With my partner being an expert dog trainer, I find we can address nearly every issue that comes our way.

In short, I believe my prices are appropriate. When buying a puppy from SwissRidge, you are choosing to go with the breeder with the deepest knowledge – a breeder with premium breeding dogs, and one who stands behind her dogs and her clients for life.

Investing upfront in this important member of your family will likely avoid costs down the road. A well-bred, carefully raised puppy will be a healthy member of your family. There are few surprises with a SwissRidge pup.

If you decide to go with another breeder, please do your homework and ask to see all the parents’ health certificates. Ask about the temperament of the parents. And speak to as many references as possible. My book, Bernedoodles: A Head to Tail Guide, contains more information on how to find a reputable breeder

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How do I contact you?

SwissRidge contact information is posted on the CONTACT page.

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We wrote the first book on Bernedoodles

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This comprehensive, easy-to-read and entertaining book covers everything you need to know about this amazing hybrid. Since Bernedoodles can vary significantly in size, build, coloring, and even personality, prospective owners need advice from someone who knows the breed inside out. Who better than the breeder who created them?

Pawsh Magazine – “… insightful tips for finding the right breed and puppy for your family dynamic.”

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Thinking of adopting a SwissRidge puppy?

Often people will want one of my dogs because they are irresistibly adorable. Please take the time to consider if this breed is the right choice for you and your family. Click the link above to answer some questions to help you see if our doodles are the best match for you.

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