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Owning a Saint Bernard : Breeder Recommendations

If you are looking for a friendly, loving, smart, and well-behaved dog, the Saint Bernard is an excellent choice. However, just as with any breed, you want to purchase your dog from a reputable breeder, someone who specializes in raising Saint Bernards.

Remember, you are looking for a dog with which to have a lifelong relationship so choosing the right puppy is essential. The most important thing any buyer can do is ask tons of questions.

If the breeder is offended, too bad – while that might sound harsh, the truth is that any breeder that bulks at answering questions would raise some doubt.


Things to Know Before Getting a Saint Bernard

Keep in mind that all reputable breeders are more than happy to answer any question you might have. As the potential buyer, you have the right to ask questions pertaining to the mother and father dog, the puppies, and breeding practices.

In addition, you should expect to be asked questions as well. A good breeder would want to make sure the Saint Bernard puppy is going to a good, loving home so be prepared to provide information to the breeder as well.

As a general rule, breeders should follow the following guidelines in accordance with the official standard set by the American Kennel Club.


Owning a Saint Bernard


In this regard they shall:

  • Maintain high standards of health, care, safety and humane treatment of their dogs.
  • Remember that a very small percentage of St. Bernards are of breeding quality.
  • Use only physically sound stock, free from crippling hip dysplasia, eye malformations and poor temperaments. SaintBernards with outstanding defects should be spayed or neutered.
  • Refuse stud service to any bitch that is unregistered or shows any of the above obvious defects.
  • Study and know the good and bad points of their own stock never doublingup on known or visible faults, or faults represented in the pedigrees of the dogs concerned.
  • Ideally, Xray for evidence of hip dysplasia at the age of one year or older, treating the mild cases as they would any other fault, and excluding from breeding programs dogs with evidence of severe hip dysplasia. Xrays should be read by recognized authorities on the disorder. Not every veterinarian is competent to take or pass upon such xrays.
  • Refrain from breeding the bitch until her second season, preferably waiting until at least 18 months of age. A bitch shall br bred no more than two out of three seasons; this depending upon the size of the litter whelped and her condition. It is suggested that in most cases a period of one year lapse between litters.

You definitely want to buy your Saint Bernard from a breeder – never a pet store. The reason is that the puppies sold at pet stores often come from backyard breeders or puppy mills, which means people out to make a buck and not so much interested in the quality of puppy produced.

Most often, puppies coming out of pet stores will have issues pertaining to temperament and health. Therefore, find a qualified breeder through a Saint Bernard club, the American Kennel Club, or even your veterinarian’s office.

One excellent option for finding a Saint Bernard puppy is by attending a pet show in which this breed will be featured. There, you should have plenty of opportunity to talk to a number of breeders. Just remember, these people are busy so ask for information about breeding and obtain contact information rather than standing there asking tons of questions.

In addition, if a breeder insists you talk at the car, you probably want to look for a different breeder. True, the breeder may find time to talk outside but this could also mean the breeder has something to hide.

If the Saint Bernard breeder is USDA licensed, you should be wary. The reason is that this type of licensing is what people have when selling to pet stores. Instead, you want a breeder that has a strong reputation for producing quality puppies.

Although seeing the father dog can be difficult, you should definitely see the mother and preferably, both parents. You then want to look at the Saint Bernard’s pedigree so you can see the bloodline. If you see any breeding done between a brother and sister, or a father and daughter, move on.

The best option for buying a Saint Bernard is finding a breeder that is registered through the American Kennel Club. This way, you know the breeder follows very strict breeding practices. Although you might pay a little more for an AKC dog, it is well worth the investment.

Finally, learn the markings of the Saint Bernard, looking for puppies that match, especially if you plan to show or breed the dog.


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