Saint Bernards are one of the largest dog breeds and were bred to be rescue dogs, rescuing people out of bad weather conditions and situations. They have an incredible ability to sniff out people who have been injured in the snowy mountains of the Alpines. They are thick-coated and can handle harsh, cold weather conditions and have the endurance to do a long day’s work in the cold. They are also used for hunting and watchdogs. Over the years, more and more people wanted to keep them as house pets and they began to merge into homes to be enjoyed as part of the family. These dogs aren’t for everyone, and they are especially not for small homes or apartments. This breed needs room to roam. It’s best if you know about the breed before embarking on taking one home for you and your family, however, if you feel confident that a St. Bernard puppy would be a good fit for you, then keep reading to learn some helpful tips for caring for St. Bernard puppies.
1. Get those booster shots
Your breeder should have had all the shots your pup will need until you get him home. Once you get your puppy home, you will want to very soon, have your pup checked out by your vet to make sure he is in agreement that he is healthy and get him lined up for his puppy booster shots. Keeping your pup on track with all his vaccinations helps to ensure that he will stay healthy. Keep following up with your vet on the scheduled appointment times, which there will probably be several appointments over the first few months, until he reaches a year.
2. De-worming your dog
St. Bernard dogs need to be de-wormed once every three months. In the beginning, it is much more often, but once they reach 12 weeks old, it’s recommended to be done once, every three months. This helps to keep any worms getting into their digestive system and reeking havoc on their stomach and intestines.
3. Start leash training right away
The St. Bernard breed is obviously large, and they are not really fast moving dogs, or super energetic like some breeds. The medium-to-large breeds that are energetic and unruly, need leash training to help keep them in line and obedient so that they don’t cause terror in public. Well, the St. Bernard is not like that, however, although they are typically obedient and calm, only because they are large and strong, if they do not know how to behave on a leash, the one time they see something they want and go for it while you’re at the other end of the leash, it will be enough to make you wish you had trained him. These dogs do have the potential to take off in rare occasions they see something they really want, to train them well on a leash, starting from a puppy, will make walking them on a lead, much more enjoyable and safe.
4. Do not over feed
Over-feeding a large dog, like a St. Bernard, can be dangerous for them. These types of dogs tend to overeat, if given the opportunity, and this can lead to bloat, a serious stomach condition. You will want to be strict with their diet and monitor what they eat. They need a very high quality dog food, and typically, a full-grown St. Bernard will eat between 6 and 12 cups of food a day, which should be spread out into separate meals. Never give them all their food in one feeding a day. This will surely encourage Bloat to happen. Ask your breeder or the vet how much food your particular puppy should be getting each day and how often you should increase his intake.
Your St. Bernard won’t require a ton of grooming, but here is what he will need. His eyes should be kept cleaned and wiped daily. They tend to get leaky eyes, which can cause visual disturbances and stains around the fur. They do not get real dirty, so regular baths are not required, but occasionally they will need a good bath. These are shedders and in order to help keep their fur free of loose, shedding fur, brush through their layers regularly to help reduce shedding. Clip their toenails regularly to prevent problems with their feet and trouble walking. Check their teeth on a regular basis to make sure they look clean and healthy, and wipe them down or offer your pup a dental cleaning bone or stick.
6. Socialize your pup
These are large dogs; we’ve already established that, so you can understand why it is important to socialize this breed well. Taking your puppy to places where they can get used to being around other dogs, people, kids, and other situations where they may come in contact with at some point, is important. The last thing you want is a 100-plus dog who is unruly, nervous, or aggressive towards people and animals.
Yes, all animals require exercise and so will your St. Bernard. Although these are somewhat working dogs, they are not extremely active, although puppies will be puppies, and they want to play. It is important they get exercise and playtime every day, however, you do not want to over exercise your pup as his bones are still growing and growing fast. It can be hard on their muscles and bones to get too much exercise. After 18 months of age, you can work your dog a little harder and have fun playing more.