Pros and Cons
INTELLIGENCE: Pro: Saints are very intelligent and learn very easily. Once learned, a lesson is never forgotten. Con: Saints are very intelligent and learn quickly. They are also very independent and need rules to follow consistently. They never forget and can learn a bad habit just as readily as a good one.
TEMPERAMENT: Pro: Good Saints are sweet, patient, and gentle. They have a sense of property and are protective of both their family and place. Con: Bad Saints can be overly guardy and aggressive about property. They can also be hyperactive and very destructive. Saints with poor temperament are more dangerous because of their incredible strength and agility.
SIZE: Pro: A Saint’s enormous size is very impressive – that alone makes him a deterrent to any sort of wrongdoer. Their strength is unbelievable and they can perform tasks that seem impossible. Considering their size, they are also quite agile. Con: Saints are “tail-high” to almost all kinds of tables. They do not mix well with fragile knick-knacks. Your dining table, stove and cabinets are never out of reach.
HEALTH: Pro: Saints are not sickly dogs. They do not seem disposed to many of the minor ailments that plague some other breeds. Given sensible care and normal precautions, they are able to live a normal lifespan free from colds, tonsillitis and so on. They are able to stand the harshest cold weather with no more than a cozy doghouse. Con: Genetically, Saints rank in the top ten breeds for known problems. Most common are the various bone and joint problems related to their rapid growth and great size. They are prone to bloat and gastric torsion. Various types of cancer are also well documented and they have a relatively short lifespan (about 8 years is average). Eye problems, notably entropion, are increasingly common.
ENVIRONMENT: Pro: Because they are not an active breed, Saints can be kept in almost any situation. In fact, they actually require less room than do many smaller dogs. They are quiet dogs and make good neighbors. Con: Because they are not active dogs, Saints require an incentive to exercise. Toys may not interest them, so an owner must plan on spending enough time with the dog to see that he stays in good shape. You should also realize that it will not be as easy to keep a Saint’s area clean as it is with a smaller dog. If the area is small, you should be prepared to pick it up at least twice a day. Saints who are bored can be very destructive to your landscaping and it is best that your Saint have a run of his own where he can be safely, comfortably confined if he is to be alone for long periods of time.
TRAINING: Pro: Saints are working animals and enjoy learning. With a reasonable, consistent program of training, they can be taught to do almost anything. They enjoy carting, obedience, weight pulling, agility, hiking, skiing, and anything else that will keep them with the family. They usually love to ride and are good travelers. Con: Saints were trained for hundreds of years to work independently from man. If you do not make an effort to train your Saint, this independence can become aloofness. He must learn to respect you and know his place in the family “pack.” He will resent the use of any physical force, so training must be reasonable and very consistent.
There is no better dog in the world than a good, well-bred, well trained Saint Bernard. There are many dogs who are easier to acquire, raise, train and breed than a Saint Bernard. You will need time, patience, ability and motivation to turn a cute, 15-pound pup into a responsible, mannerly and responsive 175-pound adult. It’s a lifelong commitment. Think about it before you start.
Author: Jerri Hobbs