Having Saints in the south requires a special brand of determination. I cannot think of an environment more in contrast with the natural settings of this breed than the land of extended summers with our high temperatures and high humidity, but it can be done.

North Florida, in my opinion, is about as south as the breed should go; at least this area has seasons with cooler winters and in truth, the summers are no worse than are experienced in the north, they just last longer here. But many folks manage well in South Florida too with most Saints being kept indoors with air conditioning during the heat of the day.

Good air flow and plenty of shade are keys to the special considerations needed in southern summers to help ease the heat

Good air flow and plenty of shade are keys to the special considerations needed in southern summers to help ease the heat. This can be achieved by providing large fans and even misters for the outside dogs.   Air conditioning (which has the added benefit of removing humidity from the air) is available to indoor dogs and some breeders even provide enclosed areas that are cooled for their outside dogs.  It is also a good idea to provide kiddies’ pools for your Saints to step into or even lay in for cooling off purposes. Temperatures can be significantly lowered with these methods and you will see the positive results with less panting by the dogs.

My own kennel was an “open air” pole barn with an extended roof overhang to add more shade to each run.  We installed a French drain that caught rain runoff and prevented flooding of the grassed runs.  We chose to install 1’ square patio stones instead of a poured concrete slab because they allowed us to leave spaces between the stones into which we installed small gravel so the water would not puddle but instead run into the French drain that surrounded the structure. Our runs were as much as 100’ feet long to allow the dogs plenty of room to run and exercise.  There was also a gate at the end of each run that allowed them access to an even larger area.  We chose to go with large dog houses that would accommodate two Saints and put a heavy layer of cedar shavings in each house.  In order to prevent the dogs from lying on the patio stones, we placed two 3’x3’ rubber mats in each run for them to lie upon. These were the type sold in Sam’s for chefs to stand on to ease discomfort from standing long periods of time. It all worked beautifully.

Everyone knows we are the mosquito capital of the free world…

Everyone knows we are the mosquito capital of the free world so we had to be diligent in controlling heartworms. This was accomplished with the use of liquid Ivomec that was squirted into their mouths each month.  I preferred the minimal dose of 1/10th of a cc per 40 pounds of body weight and we never had a case of heartworm in any of our dogs. Fleas were managed with regular bathing of the dogs and sprinkling 20-Mule Team Borax into all the areas where fleas are known to hide; mostly shady areas, dog houses and any other places where the dogs spend the most time. Ticks were managed best by our goats when they ate the low brush where the ticks hid. We also had Guinea Fowl for a while but after two raccoon-led massacres, the last two hens decided to vacate the premises.

When they were no longer being shown, it was my experience that heavy-coated long-haired Saints did better when trimmed of furnishings and had a shedding comb used to keep excessive undercoats under control for the summer months.  We never cut their body hair or shaved them, but a good trimming did the trick and made them easier to groom. There was decidedly less drooling when they were relieved of the excess hair and I swear they smiled more too.

When left to their own devices, most Saints will remain quiet through the hotter parts of the day

When left to their own devices, most Saints will remain quiet through the hotter parts of the day as well they should. So it is wise to prevent situations that will cause them to get excited when it is hot; cool and calm is the order of the day. We all recognize the need for outdoor activities and exercise for our breed and early morning and/or evening hours are best for these needed activities, like training sessions, but it is best if they are kept short.

Common sense dictates we do whatever we can to keep the dogs’ environment as cool as possible and limit their activities during the heat of the day. One benefit of our climate in the south is that the dogs are not subjected to the extremes in either the heat or cold temperatures experienced in other parts of the country and when managed wisely, few dogs are lost due to heat causes.  I think being prepared is the answer.

Donna McPhate, Florida
December, 2013