The St Bernard: A Complete Guide

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St Bernard is primarily a family companion or show dog, beloved for his calm and patient temperament.

He has many good qualities, but he may also have health and temperament issues.

If you want the calm, protective dog of legend, be prepared to do a lot of homework to find him and put in plenty of effort training and socializing him once you bring him home.

St Bernard is a member of the Mastiff family, as evidenced by his huge head and tall, powerful body. He is gentle, but his size alone is enough to deter many would-be intruders or assailants.

He is only moderately active, making him suited to homes with small yards. He is known to be a drooler.

A St Bernard sitting in a forest
The St Bernard is calm, sensible, and patient.

He is also sensitive to heat, so he must stay in an air-conditioned area during really hot weather.

This is a giant breed. A young St Bernard puppy certainly looks manageable, but he will eventually weigh 120 to 180 pounds, or even more.

His size is what attracts people to him, but the downside is his heartbreakingly short lifespan.

If you reach your home by stairs and should ever need to haul him up and down, you might be in trouble. If none of that fazes you, a St Bernard may well be your dog.

Contrary to his size, the St Bernard’s food and exercise needs are modest. He doesn’t eat more than any other large breed dog, and he will be satisfied with a couple of short walks daily.

St Bernard puppies are chewers. Because of how big they are, they can do more damage than other puppies of other breeds.

They are prone to ingesting items such as socks and dish towels, resulting in veterinary visits or even surgery for intestinal blockages.

Though you may consider him as an outdoor dog, the St Bernard loves his humans and will long for human companionship.

He is also prone to heatstroke and should never be left outdoors for a long time in hot weather.

He should have access to a securely fenced yard. But when the family is home, he should always be with them indoors.

St Bernard Puppies – Before You Buy…

What Price are St Bernard Puppies?

The price of St Bernard puppies is between $800 to $2,000.

How to Find Reputable St Bernard Breeders?

A reliable and reputable breeder is someone who understands and seeks advice on genetics, nutrition, structure, and movement because he is primarily concerned with producing dogs that measure up against the breed standard.

He is a member of affiliated breed clubs. He abides by the rules and regulations and upholds the codes of practice and code of ethics.

He is committed to the interests of his breed and provides a safe and clean environment for his dogs.

He gives individual attention to raising and socializing each puppy in clean and healthy surroundings.

A reputable breeder is happy to show you their dogs and takes the time to discuss the breed and its issues with you.

They offer after-sales support and are happy to assist you with tips about feeding, training, and grooming.

Reputable breeders never use high-pressure sales tactics. They encourage you to study the breed, visit other breeders and investigate other breeds before making a final decision.

3 Little-Known Facts About St Bernard Puppies

  1. St Bernard was known to save stranded travelers in the Swiss Alps.
  2. This dog drools.
  3. St Bernard excels at dog sports such as obedience trials, weight-pulling, and drafting.

Physical Traits of the St Bernard

A St Bernard puppy walking in the snow
The St Bernard loves to romp in the snow.

Commanding but lovable is how you can describe the appearance of the St Bernard.

The head is broad with well-developed cheekbones. The muzzle is not tapered. A deep furrow runs from the muzzle.

The ears are medium in size, set high atop the head. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The nose is black, large, and has well-developed nostrils. The eyes are dark brown and deep-set.

The neck is thick and has a pronounced dewlap. The tail is long and bushy and may be carried slightly bent upward.

The coat can be short or long, and it can be red, brindle with white, or red with white. A St Bernard should be brushed at least three times per week.

During periods of heavy shedding, a shedding blade should be used to prevent mats from forming. St Bernard does not need to be bathed frequently.

How Big is a Full-Grown St Bernard?

Male St Bernards stand at approximately 27 inches while females stand at around 25 inches.

Their weight varies from 120 to 180 pounds.

What is the Life Expectancy of the St Bernard?

The life expectancy of the St Bernard is 7 to 10 years.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the St Bernard

A St Bernard walking towards you
The St Bernard is both a family companion and a show dog.

The St Bernard is calm, patient, and gentle. He doesn’t need to be aggressive toward strangers because his size alone is enough to scare most people away.

The St Bernard can be a great choice for families with kids. He’s big enough that a little roughhousing isn’t going to hurt him.

But he’s also big enough to accidentally knock over a toddler. It might be best to wait to get one until the kids are big and strong enough.

The perfect St Bernard doesn’t come ready-made from the breeder.

Any dog, no matter how saintly, can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging, counter-surfing, and other undesirable behaviors if he is bored, untrained, or unsupervised.

Any dog can be a challenge to live with during adolescence. In the case of the St Bernard, the ‘teen’ years can start at 9 months and continue until he is about 18 months old.

Fortunately, St Bernards are sensitive, smart, and always eager to please.

The St Bernard’s Diet

Like most dogs, St Bernards will likely accept any meats offered to them. Meat should be the base of any dog diet, and most dogs crave it.

The St Bernard’s genetic makeup is coded to recognize foods from their original geographic location. In this case, these include lamb and poultry.

Although meat forms the base of the diet, you should also feed them vegetables. Breed-appropriate vegetables include root vegetables and green vegetables.

Any dietary change should be done gradually to reduce the risk of tummy upsets or other adverse reactions.

If your St Bernard is not used to eating meats, vegetables, and other table foods in their whole, fresh form, cook them and give them small amounts.

A general guideline is to add 10% to 25% of new food per week and monitor their response.

How Much Exercise Does a St Bernard Need?

The St Bernard does not need vigorous exercise. But because of his size, exercise is important for weight maintenance.

Daily moderate to long walks about 25 to 60 minutes each at a steady pace is recommended. Low key hikes and short 15-minutes runs are also good.

He also loves games and having interactions with his humans.

If the weather is too hot outside, play with your St Bernard indoors. When it’s snowing, your St Bernard will love to play and roll around in the snow.

St Bernard Health and Conditions

The St Bernard can develop certain health problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, eye problems, osteochondrosis, hypothyroidism, and gastric torsion.

The St Bernard can also suffer from joint issues. Growing St Bernards should not be allowed to exercise or eat too much.

Both can lead to injuries and problems that can be crippling.

Not all these health conditions are easily detectable in puppies, and it can be hard to predict whether your St Bernard will be free of these maladies.

This is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible.

My Final Thoughts on the St BernardThe St Bernard dog breed

A well-bred St Bernard is calm, sensible, and patient. Some are more outgoing while others are more introspective.

Adult St Bernards are calm and quiet indoors, but all St Bernards need space and deserve a spacious home with a fenced yard in the suburbs or country.

This breed needs daily exercise to stay fit. But long daily walks will do, together with opportunities to stretch out and lounge around.

He loves to romp in the snow, pull a cart, or carry a backpack. This gives him a purpose.

Companionship is of prime importance to this sociable breed. Left alone too much, he becomes dispirited and destructive.

St Bernards are generally relaxed and accepting of everyone.

But because he is such a massive dog, he requires early, frequent excursions into the world so that he grows up to trust and respect people.

Most St Bernards are fine with other animals when raised with them. But there can be dog aggression, which can be frightening to experience because of his sheer bulk and power.

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