What do you get when you cross a Labrador retriever with a Bernese mountain dog? If you ask a dog breeder, the answer is Labernese puppies!
Labernese puppies are very cute.
They have the large, floppy ears of both parent dog breeds and their soft puppy coats make them so cuddly.
But Labernese puppies can also be a lot like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you are never sure exactly what you are going to get when they grow up!
Because of this, it is especially important to understand more about the range of possible traits, from appearance, to grooming, to health, that may be present in a Labernese puppy.
By taking time to learn more about each parent dog’s traits and how they might combine in a Labernese litter, you can decide whether this designer dog is the right choice for you.
Now read on to learn about one type of wonderful hybrid dog, the Labernese!
What is a Labernese?
Each Bernese Labrador puppy comes from two distinguished purebred dog lines, the Labrador retriever and the Bernese mountain dog.
Both the Labrador retriever and the Bernese mountain dog are amazing purebred dogs!
Both purebred dogs come from a proud “working dog” background, which means they are smart, determined, strong, trainable, and eager to please.
To learn more about each breed, let’s take a look at each Bernese lab mix purebred parent dog in turn.
The Labrador retriever is a household name in most parts of the world today.
The Lab has held the top spot on the American Kennel Club’s popularity list for the last 26 years in a row, and that certainly says something significant about all that this breed has to offer!
The Lab is known to be a very sociable, friendly dog that has energy to spare.
Originally, there were two distinct types of Labradors: working dogs and show dogs. Over time, the show dog line became more dominant, and most pet Labs today are descended from the show dog line.
Today’s Labs have further divided between pure show standard dogs (now called English Labradors) and pet dogs (now called American Labradors).
For our purposes here, however, we will assume that the Labernese is bred from English Labradors who conform to today’s American Kennel Club breed show standards.
(To learn more about the English and American Labrador retrievers, we invite you to read this article).
Bernese mountain dog
The Bernese mountain dog can trace its origins all the way back to the rural farmland of Switzerland.
Nicknamed “Berners,” these sizable canines are known to be calm, hard-working, alert, and eager for human affection and interaction.
The Bernese mountain dog is currently ranked 27th on the AKC’s most popular pet dog list, where it has fluctuated from number 32 to number 29 in previous years.
Bernese mountain dog breeders are quick to point out that this purebred dog breed is not the right choice for every dog lover, and that these dogs require the right environment with plenty of interaction and activity to thrive.
Because Bernese lab puppies have one parent dog (Labrador retriever) who is a medium size breed and one parent dog (Bernese mountain dog) who is a large size breed, it isn’t possible to predict in advance how small or large any Bernese Labrador mix puppy may be.
In any Labernese litter, some of the puppies may take more after the Labrador parent and grow up to be medium in size.
However, some of the puppies may take more after the Bernese side and grow up to be quite large!
For estimate purposes, let’s take a quick look at the size differences between the two parent dogs!
Labrador retriever size
As a medium size purebred dog breed, the Labrador typically weighs in between 55 and 80 pounds, with adult male dogs weighing about 10 pounds more than adult female dogs.
At full adult height, a Lab will stand between 21.5 and 24.5 inches, with adult males standing about one inch higher than adult females.
Bernese mountain dog size
As a large size purebred dog breed, the Bernese mountain dog generally weighs in between 70 and 115 pounds, with adult male dogs weighing anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds more than adult female dogs.
At full adult height, a Bernese mountain dog will stand between 23 and 27.5 inches tall, with adult males standing around two inches taller than adult females.
Learning the parent dog’s measurements gives you a good idea of the size and height variance you can expect within a litter of Bernese mountain dog and lab mix puppies.
One puppy may weigh 55 pounds and another puppy may weigh 115 pounds, and you may not find out what size your puppy will be until he actually grows up!
Both the Labrador and the Bernese mountain dog are quite good-looking dogs! Both are tall and strong, with striking coat coloration and lovely fur.
This means Labrador Bernese mountain dog mix puppies will be attractive regardless of which traits they inherit from either parent.
However, the puppies may still look quite different from one another and from their parents depending on which appearance traits are passed along in any given litter.
Labrador retriever appearance
The Lab has a friendly, open face that always seems to wear a smile.
This breed is said to have “kind” eyes, making the Lab a top pick for therapy and service animal roles.
The Lab has a thick, double layer coat that can be yellow, chocolate brown, or black in color.
The outermost layer is thick, coarse, medium-length, and waterproof, while the under layer is downy soft and insulating.
The Lab’s tail is flat and otter-like to help with buoyancy and navigation in the water.
Bernese mountain dog appearance
The Bernese mountain dog has a strong, sturdy body with a long, lush, luxurious, double layer coat.
The upper layer is weather resistant and the under layer is soft and insulating, which speaks to these dogs’ traditional working roles on chilly Swiss farms.
In fact, a Bernese mountain dog’s thick coat makes this dog breed best suited to live in colder climates (70 degrees Fahrenheit or below). In warmer climates, this dog will need to live indoors to stay comfortable and healthy.
Coat coloration is typically tri-colored, with a white splash on the chest, black on the head and body, and brown on the paws.
As you can tell from reading about each Bernese mountain lab mix puppy’s parents, you just never know what coloration the puppies will turn out to be in any Labernese litter!
Coat colors can range from the traditional yellow, black, or brown of the Lab to the striking tri-color coat (black, brown, white) of the Berner.
Coat length may be medium or long, meaning your puppy may fare well or not so well in a warmer climate.
You may not know until after the first year, when your puppy’s adult coat begins to grow in, what your adult Labernese dog will actually look like.
At that time, you may discover you have a Bernese mountain dog black lab mix or a whole other coat color on your fast-growing Labernese dog!
Labernese grooming and shedding
Thus far, you have been learning about the natural variances that occur when two different purebred dog breeds, such as the Labrador and the Bernese mountain dog, are bred to produce Labrador Bernese mountain dog puppies.
But there is one area where you can count on knowing in advance what you will get, and that is in the category of grooming and shedding.
Both the Lab and the Berner have natural double layer coats that vary in thickness seasonally. Both the Lab and the Berner will shed year-round to keep their fur healthy and functional.
For these reasons, both the Lab and the Berner will likely make you want to hug your vacuum cleaner (and your broom) on a daily basis.
Not for allergies
Neither dog breed (or their Labernese puppies) will be a good choice if you have allergies to pet dander proteins or you really like everything you own to be dog hair free.
These dogs will require regular brushing and grooming, especially during seasonal shifts when shedding becomes more prominent.
Because both parent dogs shed frequently and heavily, the only real variance you can expect to see in Labrador retriever Bernese mountain dog mix puppies is the length of the coat and the color, in that some Labernese puppies may have longer or thicker fur than other puppies.
The health of any Labrador and Bernese mountain dog mix puppies will absolutely depend on the health of each purebred parent dog.
Since both Labradors and Bernese mountain dogs are associated with certain serious genetic health conditions, doing adequate research into the health history of both parent dogs is the most important preparatory step you can take when selecting a Labernese puppy.
While any reputable breeder should provide you with this information willingly, you can also do your own research with a little help from CHIC, the Canine Health Information Center.
CHIC maintains a purebred breed profile that includes a running list of known genetic health issues for that breed.
For each health issue, CHIC also notes if there are evaluations or tests that can be done to detect serious genetic health issues.
Now let’s take a look at known heritable health conditions that can affect purebred Labs and purebred Bernese mountain dogs.
Labrador retriever health
CHIC’s database indicates that Labradors are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, exercise induced collapse, muscle wasting disease (centronuclear myopathy), eye issues, and cardiac issues.
Labs are also known to suffer from bloat, ear infections, epilepsy, endocrine system problems, and autoimmune system problems.
Bernese mountain dog health
CHIC’s database indicates that Bernese mountain dogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, cardiac issues, degenerative myelopathy (spinal paralysis), histiocytic sarcoma (invasive cancer), and autoimmune thyroiditis.
The Bernese mountain dog club also mentions bloat, skin conditions, and coat conditions as health issues that can affect this dog breed.
As you can see, both purebred dog parents share hip and elbow dysplasia in common. Both can also suffer from eye problems and cardiac issues, and both can be afflicted by bloat and skin conditions.
Just when you were starting to get a handle on the various permutations that might arise when a Lab and a Berner have puppies, along comes the Bernese labradoodle mix.
The Labradoodle was actually the first “real” recognized designer dog.
The original breeder, Wally Conron, crossed a Labrador retriever with a standard Poodle, hoping to breed a hypoallergenic service dog to help a blind woman and her dog-allergic partner.
Mr. Conron was successful… beyond his wildest dreams.
Today, the Labradoodle is one of the most popular designer dogs in the world. As such, the Labradoodle hybrid is now being crossbred with other purebred dog breeds, including the Bernese mountain dog.
This pairing has created yet another hybrid dog breed, the Bernese mountain dog labradoodle mix!
However, many dog lovers don’t realize there is still just as much heritable variability within the relatively new Labradoodle hybrid line as there is with any other purebred-to-hybrid litter.
So when you add a Labradoodle into the parent dog mix (standard Poodle, Labrador, Bernese mountain dog), you add in yet another level of genetic unknowns for future litters of puppies.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does add more research to your search for the healthiest Bernese labradoodle puppy!
Picking a Labernese puppy
You may find it takes some time to locate a Bernese cross Labrador puppy, since the Labernese is one of the less well-known designer dogs.
Labernese puppy cost
Because Labernese puppies are less widely available, you may also need to prepare your wallet in advance for sticker shock, because your puppy probably won’t come cheap (and if it does, you will want to dig deeper and find out why before you buy).
The average cost of a purebred Bernese mountain dog from a reputable breeder will generally range from $1,800 to $2,400.
Since Labrador retrievers are so popular, they are more widely available, so here, you can count on spending anywhere from $800 to $1,200 for a Lab puppy.
This means you may find Bernese mountain dog cross Labrador puppies priced anywhere from $800 to $2,400.
The price may depend on the lineage of the parent dogs, the breeder’s own quality control guarantees, the gender, birth order, and appearance of a given puppy, and other similar variables.
Do your research
Before you select your puppy, do your own research on the potential breeder. Ask for references to past clients. Look online (and not just on the breeder’s own website) to search for reviews and testimonials.
Find out what the breeder’s initial health guarantee and return policy is (and if neither exists, RUN).
Make sure you are provided with verification that all required vaccinations have been given.
Be sure the breeder permits you to meet and spend time with each parent dog so you can get a sense for traits your puppy may have inherited.
Most importantly, choose a friendly, curious Labernese puppy with clear eyes and ears, plenty of energy, and a willingness to be held and played with.
Labernese – yea or nay?
A Labernese is a dog born of parents from two separate purebred dog breeds.
As this dog’s name suggests, in the case of the Labernese, one parent is a Labrador retriever and the other parent is a Bernese mountain dog.
As such, a Labernese dog will always exhibit traits and characteristics of both parent dogs, and there is no way to predict in advance which traits from which parent any given Bernese lab mix puppy may inherit!
For Labernese breeders and enthusiasts, this is all part of the wonder and joy of this hybrid dog breed.
But not every dog lover is enthusiastic about hybrid dog breeds (which are also sometimes called mixed breeds or designer dog breeds).
If the designer dog is a F1 (first generation) hybrid dog, the controversy surrounding this new dog breeding trend is compounded further.
Purebred dog breed lovers don’t want to see their beloved purebred dog breed lines diluted or confused by mixed breed puppies.
And mutt lovers think the fancy hybrid dog names and high price tags are unjustified.
(To learn more about the ongoing controversy between purebred and mixed breed dog lovers, we invite you to review this informative article).
Which side are you on?
The truth is, there are many pros and cons to purebred dog breeds and to mixed breed dogs.
The biggest “con” to purebred dogs is also the biggest “pro” to mixed breed dogs, which is that mixed breed dogs can add genetic strength and vigor to future canine generations.
(To learn more about hybrid vigor in dogs, you can read this article).
Conversely, the biggest “pro” to purebred dogs is also the biggest “con” to mixed breed dogs, which is that while you can largely predict a purebred puppy’s temperament, personality, and health, nearly every trait a hybrid puppy may inherit is up for grabs! This can make choosing a Labernese puppy nerve-wracking, to say the least.
As long as you go into the selection process understanding both the benefits and the risks of selecting a hybrid dog such as a Bernese mountain dog lab mix, you will be better able to choose the right dog for your lifestyle and what you have to offer.
Is a Labernese the right dog for you?
Picking a new canine companion is never an easy task. You have so many choices and puppies are so cute it makes it even harder to choose!
We hope this Labernese overview has helped you decide if this unique hybrid dog is the right dog for you!
References and Further Reading
- Chan, M., “The Labrador Retriever Is Still the Most Popular Dog Breed in America,” Time, 2017.
- AKC, “Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Information,” American Kennel Club, 2018.
- AKC, “Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Information,” American Kennel Club, 2018.
- BMDCA, “About Bernese Mountain Dogs,” Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, 2014.
- LRC, “Labrador Retriever Breed Standard,” The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., 1994-2016.
- Coren, S., PhD, “A Designer Dog-Maker Regrets His Creation,” Psychology Today, 2014.
- Boyle, S., “The Must-Have Mixed Up Mutts,” The Daily Mail, 2017.
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