More than one traveler stranded in the snowy Swiss Alps owes the ponderous Saint Bernard his life. Monks in the Alps actually developed this massive dog to be used as a rescue dog. The Saint Bernard breed is quite an old one, going back as far as the 1700s.
A Look at the Saint Bernard
The American Kennel Club places the Saint Bernard in the Working Group. These big dogs weigh from one hundred twenty to two hundred pounds and stand twenty six to twenty eight inches tall. This breed can be short haired or it can have a long haired coat. Originally, all Saint Bernards had a short haired coat, since snow did not stick to the short hair easily. However, when these dogs became popular as pets in Victorian England, Saint Bernard fanciers bred them to have longer hair. They also worked to make them bigger and bigger.
Unfortunately, some breeders today still are more concerned with appearance than they are with personality. Before buying a puppy, make sure that your prospective Saint Bernard's parents are outgoing and sweet tempered dogs. Otherwise, you may end up with a fearful or aggressive dog. Please don't underestimate the importance of choosing a puppy with a good temperament.
The Saint Bernard is usually a gentle giant and plays well with children and other dogs. However, a young Saint Bernard and small children is usually a bad combination, since these dogs make awkward, clumsy puppies. More than one toddler has been accidentally knocked down and injured when trying to play with a Saint Bernard puppy. Older dogs are usually more graceful and are careful not to knock children down.
The Saint Bernard does not do well in apartments or town homes. These dogs need a lot of room and are not happy without a home that has a fenced yard. If they do not have enough exercise, Saint Bernards tend to get into a lot of trouble. A bored puppy of this size can sure make a lot of damage.
Saint Bernards are loyal, loving dogs with a strong desire to please. However, their enormous size means that they can be hard to control. You may want to consider enrolling your puppy in obedience classes while you still outweigh him. These classes will help you train him, but they also play another important role, socializing your puppy. He will meet plenty of strangers and their dogs in the classes.
Saint Bernards eat a sizable amount of food, so it is no surprise that feeding a Saint Bernard increases the grocery bill. Since this breed suffers from hip dysplasia, you may want to use a food that is formulated to help large breed puppies grow healthy and strong. Saint Bernards are also prone to heart disease and tumors.
Short haired Saint Bernards need very little grooming. Even long haired dogs don't require too much work, since they are not heavy matters. Just be sure you brush through your dog's hair once a week.
The Saint Bernard is a wonderful companion dog. As long as you don't mind having a dog who is bigger than most people, a Saint Bernard may be the right choice for you.