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The Saint Bernard: What You Need To Know

Updated on May 17, 2015

Saint Bernard

Cozmo 1 & 1/2 years old.
Cozmo 1 & 1/2 years old. | Source

What You Need To Know

If you have ever thought about getting a Saint Bernard just because they are so cute and you just have to have one after seeing the movie Beethoven? Think again, because before you decide to adopt your new giant friend you might want to make sure you are prepared for the huge effect it is about to make on your life. You might be saying to yourself, "oh, it couldn't be that bad or people wouldn't own them." Which is true, but the lives of those people are completed and 100% dedicated to this dog and the breed of dog. Here are some examples for instance:

  • The Hair - Even the short haired ones shed, and I mean shed A LOT! I personally have broken 2 vacuum cleaners vacuuming my house because of all the hair. You will have Saint Bernard hair everywhere and not even know how it is possible, the dog doesn't even go in there. Hmm.
  • Constant Brushing- Because of all the shedding issues and the breed of dog, he/she will have to be brushed A LOT! Brushing the dog might not seem to bad, but when you are doing it everyday to help keep the shedding down as much as possible, but your still eating dog hair in your food, it can get aggravating and feel pointless.
  • Dog Food- Now this might not sound that bad, but Saint Bernard's can eat and will eat you out of house at home. My Saint would go through 4, 50 pound bags of dog food a month sometimes 3 if I was lucky and could make it stretch. We bought Iams brand for him to eat because we had no choice due to his allergies to other foods.
  • The Drool - Oh my the drool. DRY MOUTH MEANS NOTHING! Remember that, if the breeder or whoever tells you that the dog/pups are dry mouth and they don't drool as bad, they are flat out lying. They drool horrendously especially after drinking water. They leave the water bowl and as they walk away it just strings out of their mouth all over the house. Gross ! Mine likes to come up to me (as if he was doing it deliberately) and wipe it on my arm or my leg.
  • The Dirt- No matter what you do, every time your beloved giant goes outside, he/she brings a pound of dirt inside with him each and every time. I sweep my kitchen floor twice a day and still have enough sand and dirt to build sand castles with. Yay Me !
  • Water Dog- I haven't seen or heard of a Saint Bernard that does not like water. They will get into and find water where ever they can, and whatever it takes. This means that if it rained outside and there are still puddles, you can rest assured you will have a huge dog covered in mud when they come back in the house. They like to lay in the puddles and play in them because it helps cool them down.

Cozmo

Cozmo 2 years old
Cozmo 2 years old | Source

What Else Should You Know?

  • Cooler Climate Breed of Dog- Yes there are Saint Bernard's in all 50 states I am sure, but you can not have this dog in Florida and expect to leave him/her outside all the time. The dog will die from heat exhaustion faster than you can run to the store to get his dog food.
  • Stubborn Temperament- All dogs can and will be stubborn, but the Saint Bernard tops the list as one of the most stubborn and hard headed dogs there are. Because of their massive size they are always struggling with the dominance issue wanting to be the leader of the pack. Because of how stubborn they are, it can be more difficult to train them. I'm not saying it is impossible to train them, it just takes more time and patients.
  • Exercise- You would think these dogs are lazy and wouldn't need much exercise, but you would be extremely wrong. Because of their massive size, they actually need more exercise than the average medium size dog. If you get a Saint Bernard be prepared to walk him/her for 2 hours a day, 1 hour for each walk. Without proper exercise it can effect their mood and even make them aggressive. Hint: Just putting the dog outside in the yard does not count as exercise.
  • Health Issues- They are known to have problems with their bones as they get older because of their size and weight. Skin issues such as seborrhea and frequent ear infections.
  • Vet Costs- Because of the Saint Bernard's size everything is more expensive. Neutering the dog itself costs over $200, just because of his/her size. Medication prescribed by vets are more pricey too because of how much they must take because of their weight.
  • No Apartment For You- Yes you read that right, 1st off it would not be right to keep such a large dog in such small quarters, just common sense. 2nd most landlords won't rent to you because of the size of this breed of dog even if it is not an apartment. I have been turned down by many many places, even ones that had acres of property, just because of the size of my Saint.
  • Just remember everything is more, costs more when it comes to the Saint Bernard.

6 Month Old Saint Bernard

A Little Clarity

I just wanted to clarify that I am not bashing the breed by any means. I love my Saint Bernard, but if I would have known about all of this prior to adopting him, I just might have thought otherwise. Maybe next time I will write about why I love my Saint Bernard for those of you who have them already and deal with all of these things mentioned above and just don't care because your love is so strong. For doing so I congratulate you and appreciate you being there for your fury friend. It takes a lot to be the parent of a Saint Bernard.

Do You Still Want A Saint Bernard?

  • If you are still considering getting a Saint Bernard please do your research on the breed: make sure your landlord, property manager or homeowners insurance will allow you to have this breed of dog.
  • Remember the Size and account for a 200 pound dog in your home. They are little and cute when they are puppies, but they can grow into massive monsters.
  • Check, double check and check again when it comes to references on the breeder (if you are going that route.) Many breeders breed brother and sister, father and daughter, so on and so on because these dogs are not cheap to purchase.


Lot's Of Walking...

Cozmo 2 years old 179 pounds.
Cozmo 2 years old 179 pounds. | Source

What Do You Think?

Would you still consider getting a Saint Bernard after knowing what you know now?

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Many Faces of Cozmo

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Cozmo and our birds.Cozmo 2 years old.
Cozmo and our birds.
Cozmo and our birds. | Source
Source
Cozmo 2 years old.
Cozmo 2 years old. | Source
Source

Comments

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    • Mary Vivier profile image
      Author

      Mary Vivier 3 years ago from Lake Erie Ohio

      Theophanes,

      These days and ages it is hard for anyone to be able to afford anything especially a large dog. I felt the need for this article because of that reason exactly. Since I have had my Saint I know exactly how expensive and hard it can be to own one, and yet I have seen so many of them tossed to the side; I ask these people why and their excuses are sad, they say it got to big, we can't afford to feed it, he/she is just to dirty to keep in the house, or they can't afford their medical treatment.

      It really saddens me when I see animals adopted as puppies, but then thrown away when they are full grown because they are no longer new and cute fury little things. So even though I love my Saint Bernard, I would have to say, I wouldn't be in as much of debt if I didn't have it. Yes I could get rid of him and save a ton of money, which is what most people do. I can't do that to him though, he means more to me than a few thousand dollars.

      How do you feel about adoption of rescues from shelters? Have you ever gotten a rescue?

      Thank you for your kind words. Following ! = )

      Mary

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 3 years ago from New England

      Oh goodness, I am in the US - Massachusetts to be exact. There are services here for cats sometimes that are decent but you have to catch them, they're infrequent. The only other cheap neutering program I know of is for Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes for $50, once a month for one specific city's residents. To put that in perspective that's what I paid to have a rat neutered once... I know a lot of people around here do their bunnies so I imagine it'd be the ballpark for that too. Once you get into the big dogs... man, I don't know how any one can afford it!

    • Mary Vivier profile image
      Author

      Mary Vivier 3 years ago from Lake Erie Ohio

      Theophanes,

      You are absolutely right about their lifespan. They are only suppose to live till around 8-10 years of age, although there have been cases in which I have personally seen them live into their teens.

      I live in the U.S.A and our neutering services are fairly cheap. We even have nickel (5cent) spay and neuter days, but those are for much smaller pets in a mobile vehicle. I cannot remember exactly what they were wanting to charge me for it, but I do know they were wanting to charge me so much more because of his weight and how much anesthesia he would need because of his size.

      As far as the hair, I actually gave some to a friend of mine who spins her own yarn and she had said it was kind of difficult because the hair is so wiry and brittle. But it is a thought.

      Thank you for your kind words and your advice. I really do appreciate it so much.

      Mary

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 3 years ago from New England

      I love big dogs but I could never get past the drooling - it just grosses me out so bad! I think I could deal with the hair though by putting it to use, it'd make for a lot of nice yarn! (Says the angora bunny owner...)

      And I don't know where you are but neutering a dog over 25 pounds for $200 is a steal!! That's just about what the higher end vets around here charge for spaying a cat....

      Good article, lots of good points. Perhaps you could mention their really sadly short lifespans compares to the wee ankle biters? That's the only other thing that make me reconsider. :(

      Voted up!

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