Weighing up to 180 pounds, these dogs truly are gentle giants, especially when it comes to kids and other family members.
This should come as no surprise considering they have a rich history of helping others. According to the American Kennel Club, back in the 1000s (!), Saint Bernards helped hospice monks of the snowy Alps locate and rescue travelers who had lost their way or were buried by avalanches. The monk who established the hospice was named Bernard of Menthon, further establishing the truly noble heritage of this breed.
Plus, can we mention again how lovable they are? Yes, they’re large, and hairy, and have a tendency to drool buckets, but they’re also some of the most loyal and good-tempered canines you’ll have the privilege of knowing. They’re great for families who want to spend a lot of time with their pup, since they thrive on human interaction (so don’t leave them alone for too long!).
Now that you’ve learned some things about the big, beautiful breed, here’s what you need to know about grooming them.
First of all, this is a dog that sheds. There are two varieties of Saint Bernard coats, short-haired and long-haired, and they’re both going to leave a good amount of fur around your living room. They tend to shed excessively twice a year—so prepare yourself for that with plenty of brushing, and a reliable vacuum cleaner.
There are some ways you can help reduce that pile of fur, particularly if you take the time to brush your pup often throughout the week with a grooming rake, but we’ll go more into that later.
Saint Bernard Grooming
As mentioned above, there are both long-haired and short-haired varieties of Saint Bernards. Not surprisingly, the short coats are a little easier to deal with—but they both require quite a bit of grooming to keep them in tip-top shape.
Brushing is by far the most important thing you can do to keep them healthy and happy, and it’s best to try and brush every day or two to keep them clean and healthy. A bristle brush just may be your best all-purpose option, with a slicker brush or metal comb subbing in for super stubborn tangles.
A little nervous about giving this giant pup a bath? It may seem daunting, but it’s actually a manageable task so long as you’re prepared (and you have a full-sized bathtub or an area outside). Use a mild dog shampoo so that you won’t irritate their skin, and always rinse carefully to ensure you don’t leave build-up behind. Also, it’s best to brush your Saint Bernard out before the bath to get rid of dead hair, otherwise mats are likely to form.
One last coif-related tip: trim the fur on your dog’s feet (and between the pads) with small scissors—your pup will thank you!
Beyond The Coat
Besides keeping their coats under control, there are a few other things that Saint Bernard families need to keep in mind. One is tear stains, or the discoloration of the hair under the eyes that many white-coated breeds have issues with. Simply wipe the area frequently with a damp cloth to help prevent these.
You should also be sure to brush their teeth to keep them healthy and freshen their breath with products made for dogs. A few times a week would be ideal.
Also, check their ears for dirt and debris, and keep nails clipped to keep them comfy as they saunter around town looking their best.
Should You Give a Saint Bernard a Haircut?
Nope! There are lots of breeds of dogs that simply don’t need haircuts, not only because their hair doesn’t grow past a certain length, but because trims are unhealthy for the dog.
The only time you should shave or trim a Saint Bernard is at your vet’s recommendation, usually due to a health issue. If they scratch enough to wound themselves, it may be in their best interest to shave parts of their hair to apply topical medication or to regrow hair from scratch.
In other words, your Saint Bernard is perfect as is.
Need Dog Grooming?
Does your dog need a fresh trim? A groomer can now come to your house! Rover offers dog grooming in select markets. To learn more, please check out our page here.