So you’re thinking about adding a Saint Bernard to your home–or maybe you’ve just gotten your first Saint.

Congratulations! Those of us who own Saint Bernards know what wonderful companions they can be. These gentle giants really become part of the family. But, as much as we love and enjoy our Saints, we have to admit they are not the dog for everyone. We don’t want to discourage you from considering a Saint Bernard as your family pet, but we do want you to know a little about what’s involved.

First, THEY ARE BIG DOGS. Sure, you know that, but do you know how big they really are? The most common reason the Saint Bernard Club hears from people who want to find a new home for their Saint is “I DIDN’T KNOW IT WOULD GET SO BIG”. It’s one thing to pick up a cuddly twenty-five pound ball of fur, but you’re really buying a dog that will be as big as you are. When you go to look at a Saint puppy, be sure to take a close look at the parents. Ask the breeder to put them on a leash for you, and take them for a short walk. Try putting a grown one in the back seat of a car. And, if you can arrange it, spend some time helping to groom a Saint.

Next, they do shed. And because they’re so big, they shed a lot! Although regular grooming will help minimize the problem, if some dog hair around the house bothers you a Saint is probably not the breed for you.

And, they DO drool. There is no such thing as a “dry mouth” Saint Bernard. While some may drool less than others, all Saints produce saliva in varying amounts. Once again, if you’re turned off by the drool, you may want to consider another breed.

Here are some basic facts you should know:

  1. THERE ARE BOTH LONGHAIRED AND SHORTHAIRED SAINTS. Both coat types are of equal value. While most newcomers are familiar with the longhaired versions, many experienced owners and breeders prefer the shorthaired version, simply because the grooming is a little easier. However, both shed and need regular grooming.
    example puppy select1
    The photo above is a 1 year old long hair male puppy. The photo above is an adult short hair male.

    Please be sure your decision to purchase a Saint Bernard is based on what they look like as adults, not what they look like as puppies.

  2. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PURE, MASSIVE SWISS STRAIN SAINT”, not even in Switzerland. The Saint Bernard originated in Switzerland, so if you trace back pedigrees for several generations you’re sure to find Swiss ancestors. Today, with the relative ease of air transportation and the increased use of frozen and chilled semen, Saint breeders seek the best stud dogs to breed to the best bitches, no matter where the studs reside.
  3. THE VALUE OF YOUR SAINT SHOULD REFLECT HIS POTENTIAL QUALITY- how closely he comes to the written description of the perfect Saint Bernard (THE STANDARD). The fact that his ancestors were in movies or owned by famous people is of absolutely no value.
  4. AN AKC LIMITED REGISTRATION AND/OR A SPAY/NEUTER CONTRACT are documents which indicate that your puppy can’t be used for breeding, and can’t be shown in Conformation classes at Dog Shows.  However, your puppy (at the proper age)  can be shown in Obedience and other Performance Events (weight pulls, drafting, agility).  Many owners have trained and certified their Saints as Therapy Dogs or Service Dogs.  Actually, neutered animals usually make better pets, since you don’t have to put up with the nuisance of bitches in season or male leg lifting.
  5. YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO PAY EXTRA FOR “PAPERS”. When you pick up your puppy, you should receive a bill of sale, a 3 generation pedigree AND the AKC registrations papers. Read all agreements carefully before signing. A Saint is an investment for his lifetime.