The Saint Bernard dog breed is one many of us over a certain age will remember as a breed featured in several types of television advertisements for goods like tobacco and cognac back some decades ago, and one that a lot of us grew up with a special soft spot for as a result.
This huge canine giant has a lovely calm and gentle personality to go with their large size, and they have a high level of appeal to many people, often being a particular favourite with children, which dogs of the breed tend to be very good with in their turn.
If you have the room to accommodate a giant dog, the Saint Bernard has a lot to recommend them – but they are not a breed to choose to buy lightly, and it is vital to be sure you know what you’re getting in to before you commit to buying a dog of this type.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Saint Bernard dog, before you go ahead and buy one. Read on to learn more.
First of all, the Saint Bernard is a giant dog breed but their sheer physical size still comes as a surprise to some people seeing a dog of the breed for the first time.
Dogs of the breed can stand up to around 90cm tall at the withers and weigh up to around 120kg, which is more than the average person, to give you some frame of reference!
This means they need a large home and accessories, and are also rather costly to feed.
Caring for a Saint Bernard is not a cheap undertaking, and dogs of the breed are also quite costly to buy in the first instance too. According to Pets4Homes statistics, the average asking price for pedigree Saint Bernards for sale in the UK as of September 2019 is around £1,015 each, and for non-pedigrees, around £812 each.
Large and giant dog breeds tend to live shorter lives than smaller dogs, and the Saint Bernard is no exception.
The average lifespan for dogs of the breed is 8-10 years, although this can of course be somewhat variable in different breed lines.
If you’re looking for a really smart dog that will be able to learn and execute a wide range of different commands, the Saint Bernard is generally not the best pick. Dogs of the breed fall right down in 123rd place out of a total number of 138 different dog breeds in the Coren ranking of canine intelligence, and so they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer, not that this stops them from being lovely pets!
The Saint Bernard has very thick and relatively long fur, and they shed copious amounts of it all year round, and this tends to collect all over their homes and their owners’ clothes! Twice a year they go through an even heavier seasonal coat shed too, and so if you’re keen to avoid picking a dog that sheds a lot, avoid the Saint Bernard in particular.
The Saint Bernard coat tends to be quite high maintenance as well as heavy shedding, and dogs of the breed ideally need to be brushed and groomed on a daily basis in order to keep their coats in good condition. They need regular baths too, which often means visiting a groomer due to their sheer size and the logistics of it all.
As well as shedding a lot of fur, Saint Bernards are also very slobbery dogs that often have trails of spit hanging from their jowls, and they tend to wipe this over their people and the things immediately around them! Dogs of the breed are also somewhat messy eaters, and so if you are house proud or looking for a neat and tidy dog, this is probably not a breed to consider.
Saint Bernards are large dogs with a long stride, but they are also fairly laid back and don’t need huge amounts of daily exercise to keep them happy. A couple of 45 minute daily walks with some off the lead time and socialisation is generally perfectly sufficient to keep the average Saint Bernard happy and fit.
Prospective buyers of dogs of the breed are strongly advised to choose puppies from breeders that undertake pre-breeding hip scoring of their parent stock, and that achieve good scores in relation to the breed norms.
The Saint Bernard requires a large and spacious home and an owner who isn’t going to get upset if their dog is rather messy, and that isn’t looking for a breed that can be trained to follow a wide range of commands or learn tricks.
They’re not a good fit for everyone, but they can make for fantastic family pets for families that are looking for a fairly quiet and very personable all-rounder that is notably good with kids.