|Group:||Utility (Group 6)|
|Club:||Utility Dog Club Of Victoria Inc|
Background The St Bernard is the original and renowned rescue dog of Switzerland. Since the middle of the 17th century the Hospice du Grand St. Bernard has been home to large mountain dogs that first protected the monks and their belongings, and later were developed to help find and rescue of lost travellers. Today their main function is as a loving companion. The breed comes in two varieties - one with short hair and one with long hair - equal in value in both the standard of the breed and the purchase price.
Average Lifespan When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime. St Bernard live from between 7 to 9 years of age.
Breed Personality/Characteristics/Temperament The breed is friendly, loyal, fun loving (particularly youngsters) and people orientated. Individuals will range from very steady and quiet through to a more cheeky and boisterous personality. It is a breed that loves to please which makes training and socialising your pup from an early age an experience that you will both enjoy. With its history as a protector, many of today’s Saints will also instinctively watch over the family and belongings, barking at strangers and demanding introduction before allowing that person to enter the house. A St Bernard must never be aggressive or fearful.
Compatibility with other pets Like any other dog, a Saint needs to be properly introduced and supervised with new additions. Once a friendship is forged, most Saints take on a life long attachment and consider other pets to be a part of their household. It is important to remember that, as with most dogs, there will be individuals which may chase if allowed to roam.
Care Requirements St Bernard grow rapidly in the first year or so, and sometimes very awkwardly. Because so much stress is placed on fast growing bones and joints, it is necessary to keep a puppy from gaining weight too quickly and becoming fat. There are some excellent commercially prepared diets that provide complete nutrition for your new puppy and avoid the addition of unnecessary amounts of calcium and other supplements. Alternative diets must be discussed with an experienced vet to determine suitability for a giant breed. Allow the pup to exercise itself during play sessions at home. Limiting formal walks and training in the first 10-12 months of life will protect the growing pup from small injuries and stresses that may affect it well into adult life. The mature Saint only requires a moderate amount of exercise. Solid fencing of at least 2 metres in height is recommended, along with secure locks on all gates to prevent wandering.
Please Take Note St Bernard - as with other giant breeds - can be prone to various complaints that may reduce their lifespan and enjoyment of life. While some of these, including heart disease, cannot be tested for when buying a pup, other problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, can be tested for in breeding stock. Responsible breeders will advise prospective buyers accordingly.
Ideal Owner/s Families, couples, those living alone - in short, just about everybody!
In Conclusion Now you know a little about the St Bernard and have decided this is the dog for you or you want more information, make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs.