FAQ about Saint Bernards
HOW MUCH DO THEY EAT?
A Saint Bernard will not eat you out of house and home. The fact is a Saint Bernard can be raised and maintained on no more food than required for other more active breeds. Since Saints are basically placid dogs, they generally require less food per pound of body weight than smaller, more active breeds.
HOW MUCH DO THEY WEIGH?
Saint puppies weigh about one and one-half pounds at birth and grow rapidly during the first year, although it may take as long as three years before they reach full maturity. Adult males may reach a height of 28-32 inches at the shoulder and will normally weigh between 140 and 180 pounds. Females are somewhat smaller at about 26-28 inches at the shoulder and typically range from 120 to 140 pounds.
ARE THEY GOOD WITH CHILDREN?
A Saint with the proper temperament will have an understanding of a child’s way and will be amazingly careful not to injure a child. They are excellent supervised babysitters and companions. Naturally, a child must never be allowed to torment any dog, regardless of breed, and children should never be left unsupervised with any dog. A Saint without this proper temperament is a danger and should be regarded as such.
ARE THEY EASY TO TRAIN?
Because of the size of the animal, Saint Bernard MUST be trained and this must be done early in his life. Fortunately, Saints are eager to please and will begin responding to commands as soon as they understand what you want of them. Their level of intelligence and willingness to co-operate make them a joy to train and spend time with!
DO THEY SHED?
Yes. Twice a year, usually in Spring and Fall, they lose much of their coats to help them adjust to the changing seasons (Saint people call this blowing the coat… the phrase is very descriptive!) For the remainder of the year there is seldom much annoyance from shedding.
DO THEY DROOL?
Yes. Depending on the weather, the level of excitement, and the shape of the dog’s jowls, most Saints will drool on occasion. Technically, there is no such thing as a
IS IT OK TO CLIP A SAINTS SALIVA GLANDS?
Absolutely not! Saliva helps dogs digest their food. By clipping the saliva glands, you put the dog a great risk of bloat as the kibble is not able to digest as easily. The only way a dog is able to release body heat is by sweating, but dogs don’t sweat like people. They sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting, which produces saliva. If you clip the glands, you take away their only mechanism to cool off. If you dislike the drool, look for other tighter-lipped breeds.
ARE THEY GOOD WATCHDOGS?
The Saint’s size and bark will discourage most intruders, yet he will learn to recognize your friends and receive them cordially. If an intruder gets by the size and barks, your Saint may decide to lead him straight to the family silver since he would much prefer to be a friend to all. The one exception to this is when a member of the family is being threatened. The Saint’s instinct to protect those he loves becomes very apparent at this time.
WHY DO SOME SAINT BERNARDS HAVE SHORT HAIR?
The original Saint Bernards were all short-haired dogs. Over 150 years ago, the Monks in Switzerland found it necessary to bring some new blood into their breeding and interbred the long-haired Newfoundland with their Saints. Today, the influence of that breeding is still with us and we have both long and short-haired Saint Bernards. Both are of equal value.
HOW MUCH ROOM DO THEY NEED?
The Saint by nature does not require acres and acres to roam. They are not as active or nervous as some breeds and are content to remain close to home for the most part. Consequently, a small fenced yard or kennel run is enough just so long as there is some place for regular exercise. The apartment dweller must be walked frequently to make up for the exercise he would normally take at his leisure.
SHOULD I GET A MALE OR A FEMALE?
This is strictly a matter of personal preference. Both are equal in pet qualities. The male, being larger, is more impressive when first viewed. The female, however, must be considered his equal in all other respects. Modern veterinary practice recommends neutering of non-breeding animals of both sexes as a means to a healthier, better pet.
HOW DO THEY HANDLE THE HOT WEATHER?
The dog will do well as long as there is a cool dry place to nap and plenty of fresh cool water. He will cut down both his food intake and his amount of activity. It must be remembered that going from an air-conditioned place into the boiling heat can be disastrous. Abrupt changes in temperature are extremely hard on a Saint.
WHAT IS A RESCUED DOG?
There is a lot of confusion over this because Saints are bred to perform rescues from avalanches. A rescued dog doesn’t do this. A rescued dog has been abandoned by his/her family, for any one of a thousand reasons – he got too big; he drools; he sheds; he plays rough with the kids; he’s dug up the backyard; he barks; the owners want a pool, but can’t have one with the dog living back there; he’s unruly; he’s not housetrained, etc.
WHAT IS A RESCUE?
A rescue (or rescue worker) takes in the above-mentioned abandoned dog, and teaches him manners, provides medical attention (spay/neuter, bringing shots up-to-date, heartworm testing and treatment, etc.), provides security and love to dogs that, many times have not had any real human contact in all the years they’ve spent chained to the doghouse in the backyard. Rescue workers take in the dogs that have been abused and neglected to the point where the general public thinks they’re hopeless cases and we work with these dogs to help them forgive and forget their mistreatment. Dogs are incredibly forgiving creatures… they just need a gentle hand to remind them that they can forgive.
HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU MAKE, DOING RESCUE?
Those people doing rescue aren’t doing it for money. Do the math: Call your vet, and ask how much he charges to spay/neuter a 150-pound dog. Then, ask him how much he charges to treat that same dog for heartworm. While you’re at it, ask the cost of heartworm preventative, worming, the basic shots including rabies, and the office exam. Then, remember that we also feed and re-train these dogs while they’re in our possession – which sometimes takes months. This is why rescues request an adoption donation. Every once in a while, a dog comes into rescue not needing anything done before placement; they’re rare, but they do come along occasionally. These dogs help to pay the way for the dogs needing intensive treatment or is paid by the rescue worker out-of-pocket. Most rescues operate in the red… we rely on the donations of necessities to continue in our work.
SO, WHY DO YOU DO RESCUE WORK?
For the same reason that many people work with children or elderly people on a volunteer basis: we love these dogs. They’re defenseless creatures (yes, really!). They didn’t ask to be brought into this world and only ask to be allowed to adore their people… they ask very little in return. We feel a basic responsibility to atone for the maltreatment of these dogs by their owners. Humans domesticated dogs for their own use – it’s our responsibility to demand humane treatment and responsible ownership.
DO YOU ACCEPT MEAN OR AGGRESSIVE DOGS INTO RESCUE?
Sadly, no. Those dogs deemed aggressive (in any way) are not adoptable. There are many reasons for this: There are many, many non-aggressive Saints that are dying in shelters for lack of funding, space, and volunteers – it’s not fair to them, to take in dogs that have a known bite history. It’s also not fair to the rescue workers and their families and dogs to ask them to cope with a dog with known aggressive tendencies, and it’s not fair to the adoptive families for the rescue workers to offer these dogs for adoption. Every aggressive dog that is adopted out sacrifices both the integrity of the breed and the credibility of the breed-rescue. It’s not fair to anyone.