Debunking the Myths

MYTH: “I heard there is only one kennel that has the massive, giant, totally Swiss Saint.”

The fact is that there is no massive, giant, totally Swiss Saint Bernard in any country. While it is true that Saints had their origin in the Swiss Alps, the North American Saints of today are the result of many years of carefully bred dogs from many different lines and kennels in the U.S and Canada. If a kennel advertises that it has the only kennel with massive, giant, totally Swiss Saints, it is not telling you the whole truth.

MYTH: “Is it true that there are three coats for a Saint – long, short and medium?”

No it is not true. The St. Bernard may have either a shorthaired coat, referred to as a smooth, or a longhaired coat, referred to as a rough. There is no in-between.

MYTH: “If you breed a long haired dog and a short haired bitch, all the pups will be medium coated dogs.”

A longhaired dog bred to a shorthaired bitch will produce some puppies with long hair, and some puppies with short hair. All the puppies could be short haired or long haired.

MYTH: “I heard that white heads and half masks are winning in the show ring today, and this means that they should therefore cost more now than the well marked Saints.”

Absolutely not. White faced show dogs or half-masked show dogs should cost no more than any other St. Bernard show dog.

MYTH: “A breeder told me that there should not be any common parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents in a pedigree or the dogs will be too small.”

Not true. Common ancestors in a pedigree help produce qualities in dogs that we wish to preserve.

MYTH: “I just heard of a litter of all blue eyed puppies. The mother has blue eyes and her father did too. Are these very rare and better than brown eyed Saints?”

Blue eyes are a fault in St. Bernards. Such dogs should not be bred, and they should not be allowed in the conformation ring.

MYTH: “My dad always gave his St. Bernard beer to have more milk for her litters.”

Beer or any other alcoholic drink should never be given to dogs, whether pregnant or not. Alcohol can severely damage the unborn puppies in a litter.

MYTH: “You don’t have to remove the dew claws if they are well attached, and my breeder knows how to pinch them to see if they are attached really good.”

Dew claws on rear feet need to be removed at two to three days of age by a vet or by a very experienced breeder.

MYTH: “My lady dog has 12 pups and we let her lay in the whelping box which is 4′ x 4′ and nurse the puppies whenever she wants, but some of them aren’t gaining any weight.”

A bitch may not be able to feed such a large litter, and supplemental hand feeding may be necessary to assist proper growth of the puppies. The whelping box should provide more space for mom and pups to move around.

MYTH: “What colour are Saint Bernards? I want one and don’t care if it is white, or black or brown.”

There are no solid colour white, black or brown St. Bernards. A true Saint must have some of each of these three colours in order to meet the standard.

MYTH: “My vet says I don’t have to worm the puppies because the mother will lick them and the worms will be eaten by her and be gone.”

All puppies need a fecal exam and most probably need to be dewormed. Their mother does not take care of this problem.

MYTH: “I want a smart puppy – after all, Beethoven was a St. Bernard and he was smart!”

All Saints can be easy to train if you begin training at an early age, and continue throughout the dog’s lifetime. Like people, some are smarter than others and some have more drive.

MYTH: “I want a St. Bernard that is going to be over 200 pounds, like the one I had when I was little.”

Very few Saints weigh 200 pounds or more. Saints appear larger than they really are to children who compare them to their own size. As adults, they expect a dog to be proportionately the same size to them as when they were children. Dogs range in weight from 140 to 180 and sometimes more. Bitches can weigh 120 to 160 lb.

MYTH: “It’s unmanly to ‘fix’ a male. After all, God wanted them to reproduce!”

A male dog will be a male whether or not he is ‘fixed.’ Only the very best of the males should be allowed to reproduce.

MYTH: “A breeder told me that you have to feed the right vitamins if you want your dog to have a big head.”

Feeding vitamins to a dog will not ensure that he has a big head. Your dog’s head is the result of the genetic codes given to him by his parents.

MYTH: “A breeder told me that any dog that is CKC registered should be bred, or CKC wouldn’t register them.”

All CKC registered dogs do not need to be bred. Only the very best dogs should be bred. Many breeders sell their pet puppies on a limited registration agreement which means that the pup is not allowed to be bred. In Canada, the breeder should provide CKC registration will all pups sold.

MYTH: “I was told the Pups are in the kennel in a dog house, that’s where they were born, and that’s where they are the most comfortable. Bring your check and I’ll pull them out for you to look at and you can have any one you want!”

What a ridiculous statement! Puppies should not be kept in a kennel dog house. They need to be in a separate area with mother, where they will be warm, clean, secure and not exposed to diseases and other problems. They need to be closely monitored and cared for by the breeder. They must be properly socialized and evaluated and they should be handled by the breeder daily while they are young. The breeder needs to closely screen where each puppy will go to live. Money should never be the first consideration.