Most often, a Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog is created by crossing a regular Bernese Mountain Dog with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This tends to produce puppies that look like much smaller versions of the standard Bernese. However, first generation mixes can still be unpredictable. And, these little puppies will be at risk of the health problems that either purebred parent suffers from, including conformation-related issues from their King Charles Spaniel parentage.
Is There A Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog?
There is no official miniature Bernese Mountain Dog breed. However, like most large breeds, there is growing demand for a smaller version. There are a few different ways breeders can create a smaller Bernese Mountain Dog breed, but the most popular method is to mix a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog with a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that has similar coloring.
Since both of these parent breeds can look quite similar, breeders hope to achieve puppies that look just like a Bernese Mountain Dog but that grows to a much smaller adult height and weight. Since these puppies are mixed breeds, there is no way of knowing what traits they will inherit from either parent until they arrive. So, results can be quite unpredictable. And, although this mini Bernese may look similar to the purebred Bernese Mountain Dog, its temperament, care needs, and health can be very different. Some are much more like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent.
Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog Appearance
The main reason that breeders choose to combine the Bernese with a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel when creating a miniature Bernese Mountain Dog is that these two purebred dogs can have similar appearances. Particularly in their coloring and markings. The Bernese tends to have a black body with white markings on its chest and face, and tan markings on its legs and face. This tri-color pattern is also seen in the King Charles Spaniel, often with the markings falling in the same places.
Generally, because of this, you can expect their mixed breed puppies to look similar. However, these puppies may also inherit the shortened muzzle and more bulging eyes of the spaniel parent. They will usually have a dense, double layered coat to keep them warm and will require regular grooming, especially to help with any shedding.
How Big is a Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog?
The main motive of this mix is to create a smaller version of the standard Bernese Mountain Dog breed. However, first generation mixes can be very unpredictable. So, whilst some puppies may be smaller, others may grow to a similar size as the Bernese parent!
On average, these puppies will fall somewhere between the sizes of their two parents. So, they can grow anywhere from 12 to 27 inches tall, weighing anywhere between 13 and 115 lbs. To get a more predictable, smaller size, breeders may work through several generations of puppies.
If your heart is set on a smaller dog, you may want to look for second or third generation mixes. Or, puppies that have been backcrossed to the smaller Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent. Additionally, females tend to be smaller than males, so you could choose a female puppy.
Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog Temperament
Like appearance, temperament can be unpredictable in mixed breed dogs. Especially first generation mixes. Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog puppies can inherit any blend of traits from either purebred parent.
Fortunately, both parent dogs have very similar temperaments. So, you can expect a miniature Bernese Mountain Dog to be affectionate, friendly, and gentle. Both parent breeds tend to get on well with children and other animals, especially when well socialized from a young age. They are also eager to please and social, but will enjoy curling up with you for a cuddle as much as they’ll enjoy an energetic game.
Of course, personality can differ from one dog to the next. And, a puppy’s upbringing can also have an impact. So, make sure to train and socialize your miniature Bernese mix well from a young age.
Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog Training and Exercise
Despite its name, there’s still a chance that a miniature Bernese Mountain dog will be quite large. So, their exercise level can vary. Both parents tend to be quite energetic, so this mix will need some time to burn off energy every day. This could be in the form of hikes, running, energetic games in a large enclosed yard, or more. But, this breed will still be happiest in a home with plenty of space to explore and play, particularly one with a safely enclosed yard for them to run about in.
Training is important for all dogs, even ones known to be as friendly as the miniature Bernese Mountain Dog. Socialize and train your mix from an early age to ensure they are confident and well-behaved as adults. Although this mix is smaller than a standard Bernese, they are still strong, and can be quite large. So, basic obedience training, including not jumping up at people, is very important.
Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog Health and Care
Although it’s true that mixed breed dogs can be healthier, thanks to their wider gene pool, they can also be prone to the same hereditary health issues as their parents. The Bernese Mountain Dog parent can pass on the following issues:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Histiocytic Sarcoma
- Degenerative joint disease
- Gastric dilatation volvulus
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also prone to a number of health issues, including some conformational problems. Here are some major issues to be aware of:
- Hip dysplasia
- Patellar Luxation
- Heart murmurs
- Dental disease (due to overcrowded teeth)
- Otitis externa
- Mitral valve disease
- Corneal ulcers
What This Means for Your Mix
It’s highly important to choose a reputable breeder when looking for a miniature Bernese Mountain Dog, since there are so many potential health issues that puppies can inherit. Particularly from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent. On this side, many of the more serious health issues are related to body and face shape. These dogs have shorter muzzles than many other breeds, and can face issues related to their eyes, teeth, breathing, and more as a result. If your miniature Bernese Mountain Dog has a shorter muzzle too, they can be at risk of these same problems.
Parent dogs with heritable health issues should not be bred to create a miniature Bernese Mountain Dog. You may also want to choose a puppy with a longer muzzle, to try and avoid some of these potential issues.
Finding Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog Puppies
If your heart is set on the mini Bernese, make sure to choose a reputable breeder that prioritizes health above all else. Because there are so many potential health issues that could pass on to this mix, health should be your priority over any particular appearance. And, remember that these puppies can inherit any blend of traits. So, if they’re a first generation mix, they might not grow to look like you expect, especially in terms of their size.
These puppies can vary in cost depending on their appearance, location, and more. But, as the popularity of this mix grows, it’s likely to become easier to find puppies. Choosing a reputable breeder will become ever more important, as puppy mills and backyard breeders may jump on the trend for this mix.
Another alternative to consider is rescue. It may be quite hard to find a miniature Bernese dog in rescue centers, but it’s still possible. Especially as the mix grows in popularity. Rescue dogs are often cheaper than puppies, and will potentially have some level of training before you bring them home.
Do You Have a Miniature Bernese Mountain Dog?
Do you already have this interesting mix at home, or are you considering bringing one into your family? Although the mini Bernese can be a very cute and friendly dog, it’s vital to remember the potential health issues it can face. Particularly conformational problems that can come from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent. If your heart is set on this mix, despite these health problems, rescue can be a great avenue to go down!
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References and Resources
- Beuchat, C. ‘The Myth of Hybrid Vigor in Dogs…is a Myth’, The Institute of Canine Biology (2014)
- Abadie, J. (et al), ‘Epidemiology, Pathology, and Genetics of Histiocytic Sarcoma in the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed’, Journal of Heredity (2009)
- Klopfenstein, M. (et al), ‘Life Expectancy and Causes of Death in Bernese Mountain Dogs in Switzerland’, BMC Veterinary Research (2016)
- Erich, S. (et al), ‘Causes of Death and the Impact of Histiocytic Sarcoma on the Life Expectancy of the Dutch Population of Bernese Mountain Dogs and Flat-Coated Retrievers’, The Veterinary Journal (2013)
- Summers, J. (et al), ‘Prevalence of Disorders Recorded in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Attending Primary Care Veterinary Practices in England’, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2015)
- Wijnrocx, K. (et al), ‘Assessing the Relative Importance of Health and Conformation Traits in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2018)
- Mitchell, T. (et al), ‘Syringomyelia: Determining Risk and Protective Factors in the Conformation of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog’, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology (2014)
- Packer, R. (et al), ‘Impact of Facial Conformation on Canine Health: Corneal Ulceration’, Plos One (2015)
- Plessas, I. (et al), ‘Long-Term Outcome of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dogs with Clinical Signs Associated with Chiari-Like Malformation and Syringomyelia’, Vet Record (2012)
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