Clinical mastitis is typically coded as presence/absence during some period of exposure, and records are analyzed with linear or binary data models. Because presence includes cows with multiple episodes, there is loss of information when a count is treated as a binary response. The Poisson model is designed for counting random variables, and although it is used extensively in epidemiology of mastitis, it has rarely been used for studying the genetics of mastitis. Many models have been proposed for genetic analysis of mastitis, but they have not been formally compared. The main goal of this study was to compare linear (Gaussian), Bernoulli (with logit link), and Poisson models for the purpose of genetic evaluation of sires for mastitis in dairy cattle. The response variables were clinical mastitis (CM; 0, 1) and number of CM cases (NCM; 0, 1, 2, ..). Data consisted of records on 36,178 first-lactation daughters of 245 Norwegian Red sires distributed over 5,286 herds. Predictive ability of models was assessed via a 3-fold cross-validation using mean squared error of prediction (MSEP) as the end-point. Between-sire variance estimates for NCM were 0.065 in Poisson and 0.007 in the linear model. For CM the between-sire variance was 0.093 in logit and 0.003 in the linear model. The ratio between herd and sire variances for the models with NCM response was 4.6 and 3.5 for Poisson and linear, respectively, and for model for CM was 3.7 in both logit and linear models. The MSEP for all cows was similar. However, within healthy animals, MSEP was 0.085 (Poisson), 0.090 (linear for NCM), 0.053 (logit), and 0.056 (linear for CM). For mastitic animals the MSEP values were 1.206 (Poisson), 1.185 (linear for NCM response), 1.333 (logit), and 1.319 (linear for CM response). The models for count variables had a better performance when predicting diseased animals and also had a similar performance between them. Logit and linear models for CM had better predictive ability for healthy cows and had a similar performance between them.