Anyone own a St. Bernard?

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
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Loveland, CO
#1
Thinking about getting a new dog down the road (6-12 months). I've always loved big dogs and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with St. Bernards? Are they as friendly as depicted in the movies? Good with kids (mine are older 8+ so they understand that dogs are animals). I'd like to get a puppy from a reputable breeder and train it right. I figure they are pretty active. Would they be ok with the hot summers in California? How much cleaning and grooming do they require? And are there any specific health concerns with them?
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Dallas
#2
Bernards are very heavy on the cleaning and grooming front, but not in the usual ways. They're prone to ear infections -- so you have to clear ears constantly, and they shed like a god damn thing that sheds a ton. Also, they're huge slobberers, so most owners I know literally carry a dish towel with them just to wipe their faces from time to time.

I love Bernards personality-wise, as do I love the other two in the class (New Foundlands and Great Pyrenees), but my favorite of the 3 grooming-wise is the New Foundlands, and personality and just plain coolness, the Pyrenees wins. (Though all three are pretty damn cool.)

I'm a huge breed guy myself, and I've decided on the Great Dane as my next venture (Once my crotchety old man of a Belgian dies), though other things you should consider are:

Mastiffs -- far less grooming issues, though slobber is hit or miss depending on the dog. If you get lucky, I've seen them that have zero slobber issues)

Irish Wolfhound -- Don't know a whole lot, I know they're very grooming friendly, but they're a herding dog who was bred to look just like a sheep to blend into the herd for wolf protection, so they're huge and "wooly", so a shave every now and then is probably sufficient. Check into their personality extensively before going that route)

Rhodesian Ridgebacks -- I, personally love these fucking guys. The only reason I'm not going that route as they've had some in-breeding problems and they can vary from very dumb to overly aggressive. Also, we had one with numerous non-cancer tumors on his spinal cord which cost me a couple thousand before we finally just gave him away to another family through a rescue society. It was too much to handle for us at the time.

Wolf Hybrids, or even full domesticated Wolves -- Look, don't believe the hype, or listen to your local laws. I've had 3 pet wolves in the past, my buddy has 3 right now that he lets run loose with us in our running club, and they're very incredible pets. They hardly shed, they're very maintenance free over-all, and have very few health problems. You need to read a book on wolf cub - rearing, and it's not like owning a regular dog, but by the time they're 3 months old or so they really start to sort of fall in line and become very responsive and obedient. Bear in mind every step of the way, though, that they're 10X a smart as any dog you've ever met, so out-smarting them becomes a daily struggle until you're recognized as alpha of the pack in their eyes. (Your family becomes their "pack). Wolves are not a breed I would suggest for the new to dog training world. They're like getting a .50 cal machine gun for your first firearm, cool as hell, but it'l end up being such a pain in the ass to you you'll regret it almost immediately. (Though, if you want to learn more there's some great books I can suggest -- start off with an author named Bashkim Dibra)

Like I said, I'm going with Great Danes. They're amazing with kids, cool as hell to just lounge around the house. They're very protective, but very intelligent about threat assessment, and you can take them pretty much anywhere because people are so impressed by them they don't really care than they're a dog, because they're generally bigger than the person looking at them. When I get one I'm probably going to buy a service dog vest for it just to see how far I can get away with it. :haha7:

I know I left out some great breeds. Let me know if you're curious about anything.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
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Loveland, CO
#3
I like the Mastiffs, but I heard they have almost as many problems with skin, eyes and hips as English Bulldogs (of which we have one that probably isn't long for this world - pushing 8 years old and a ton of health problems). I've pretty much written them off based on that. I know that the SB's can have some of the same eye problems, but I hope to find a good breeder (something I didn't do with my Bulldog) to avoid some of that.
 
Jun 2, 2005
15,516
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Dallas
#4
If you're locked into SBs, look at New Foundlands and Great Pyrenees. They're essentially the same dog with some minor nuances (such as Newfies being all black, and GPs being all white with some slight variations -- but both are far better on the slobbering and shedding front). GPs are playful, and very cool to have around, and Newfies are a little more serious, but still very fun dogs. They have their own issues as far as hips, eyes, ears, and all the things SBs have, but seems to be a lot less depending on the breeders. GPs especially are VERY sought-after for the show community, so they're a little easier to find very reputable, documented breeders.

Like I said, though, I'm going Great Dane all the way. I've done all this research ad nauseum, including all the breeds I put up earlier, and even though they only have a 7-10 year life span, they have the least amount of problems, grooming maintenance, and a very bad ass personality. My second choice would be another set of wolves, but they're VERY needy when it comes to both training and attention. GD's are far more laid back.

All 5 of these breeds are extremely protective, and very great to have around your family. (even with very small children -- yes, even the wolves) You will never feel the need to arm an ADT system with one or two of these in your house.
 
Jun 2, 2005
15,516
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Dallas
#5
I like the Mastiffs, but I heard they have almost as many problems with skin, eyes and hips as English Bulldogs (of which we have one that probably isn't long for this world - pushing 8 years old and a ton of health problems). I've pretty much written them off based on that. I know that the SB's can have some of the same eye problems, but I hope to find a good breeder (something I didn't do with my Bulldog) to avoid some of that.
As far as Mastiff health problems, it's all about the breeder and the diet you have them on. Don't skimp on food, at minimum Iams or Nutro large breed, and throw them a couple cooked chicken breasts once a week or so. They're fine under proper conditions, it's the people who just fill a bowl with Mighty Dog or Pedigree their entire lives that see problems. I knew a guy with two Mastiffs that used to get full top sirloins or Rib Eyes every other day. They were as healthy -- and as big as horses.

Make sure to get a hip guarantee on every one of these breeds except for wolves.
 

NikkorTheMonk

Registered User
Apr 26, 2005
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#8


Bernese Mountain Dog FTW....
 

MTJonny

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#9
Wolf Hybrids, or even full domesticated Wolves -- Look, don't believe the hype, or listen to your local laws. I've had 3 pet wolves in the past, my buddy has 3 right now that he lets run loose with us in our running club, and they're very incredible pets. They hardly shed, they're very maintenance free over-all, and have very few health problems. You need to read a book on wolf cub - rearing, and it's not like owning a regular dog, but by the time they're 3 months old or so they really start to sort of fall in line and become very responsive and obedient. Bear in mind every step of the way, though, that they're 10X a smart as any dog you've ever met, so out-smarting them becomes a daily struggle until you're recognized as alpha of the pack in their eyes. (Your family becomes their "pack). Wolves are not a breed I would suggest for the new to dog training world. They're like getting a .50 cal machine gun for your first firearm, cool as hell, but it'l end up being such a pain in the ass to you you'll regret it almost immediately. (Though, if you want to learn more there's some great books I can suggest -- start off with an author named Bashkim Dibra)
I have a wolf/shepherd hybrid. Cooler then shit, very playful, good with people, and way to fucking smart. I emphasize, way to smart. His first two years were incredibly hard to deal with. He can climb a six foot fence like nothing, open windows and doors unless their locked (He has actually unlocked doors before), and he even used to hide the things he did wrong. If he ate something he wasn't suppose to (He loves loaves of bread for example) he would hide the wrapper in a closet or behind the couch. Me and the wife were not prepared for the level of activity he demanded. He is almost 4 now, and after some intensive training he is the coolest dog you could have. He was always great with my black lab, good with kids (Other peoples kids so far, I got a little boy due in 6 weeks though), and a phenomenal guard dog. If you think about getting any kind of wolf hybrid , make sure you prepared psychically and financially prepared. The amount of damage he did before he was trained made the dog in "Marley and Me" laughable.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Dallas
#10
Bernese Mountain Dog FTW....
I've heard great things about these guys, no personal experience, though.

I have a wolf/shepherd hybrid. Cooler then shit, very playful, good with people, and way to fucking smart. I emphasize, way to smart. His first two years were incredibly hard to deal with. He can climb a six foot fence like nothing, open windows and doors unless their locked (He has actually unlocked doors before), and he even used to hide the things he did wrong. If he ate something he wasn't suppose to (He loves loaves of bread for example) he would hide the wrapper in a closet or behind the couch. Me and the wife were not prepared for the level of activity he demanded. He is almost 4 now, and after some intensive training he is the coolest dog you could have. He was always great with my black lab, good with kids (Other peoples kids so far, I got a little boy due in 6 weeks though), and a phenomenal guard dog. If you think about getting any kind of wolf hybrid , make sure you prepared psychically and financially prepared. The amount of damage he did before he was trained made the dog in "Marley and Me" laughable.
:haha7: oh, the memories.

Ringo and Loki destroyed a couch. I mean frame and all. Our entire place was covered in foam, upholstery, and wood shards. Loki (the female) when she was just 6 weeks old would find the box of treats in the cabinet, open them carefully, dump then out on the ground, put the box back in the cabinet, and close the door to cover her tracks. If she hadn't bit the box slightly too hard and left a slight fang mark, I never would have known. I thought the wife was just spoiling them.

I could go on and on with cool wolf stories. if anyone's interested, I could fill a fucking thread.

Like MT_Jonny said, though, they're by far the coolest canine pets you could ever have once you get them to relax a little bit. You also have to be very careful about breeders... Some will try to pass off Eastern Timbers as Tundra hybrids, and the Timbers are fucking dangerous. I had one for about 6 weeks before I finally gave him to a guy in town who owned a big junk yard with some aging dogs. I told him to keep him caged during the day, and let him roam at night and no one would ever fuck with his place again. He was ecstatic. (At 5 weeks old he wouldn't let me do the most basic food removal exercises. I mean extremely violently so. I kept at it for weeks, but it was obvious he was never meant to be domesticated)
 

Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
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Jan 14, 2002
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#11


Bernese Mountain Dog FTW....
That's what I got great dog!
As with all the large hairy breeds..Hips, joints, ears can be a problem.
Find a good breeder that doesn't breed directly in same bloodline. (ie: mother= son)
Had a Newfie as a kid..drooled like a retard and wasn't much smarter.
 

Stig

Making America So Great You Won't Believe It.
Jul 26, 2005
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#12
I love big dogs, but I'm happy with a Golden Retriever. If I was going to go the super huge route, I think I'd go for the Bernese
 

NikkorTheMonk

Registered User
Apr 26, 2005
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#13
My buddy has a Bernese and his three kids just adore this dog. The girl paints his nails, the boys bounce off his head all day long. He just rolls over and shows his belly and asks for more. They shave him down in the spring to help keep him cool and it's funny as hell. Soon as he gets his shave he rolls around in the grass on his back kicking his legs and looks like a horse in the mud, If you've ever seen that. When the kids leave the house he looks all over for them and when they get home it's game time. Next to my other friends Boxer it has to be the coolest dog ever.
 

Stig

Making America So Great You Won't Believe It.
Jul 26, 2005
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#14
My buddy has a Bernese and his three kids just adore this dog. The girl paints his nails, the boys bounce off his head all day long. He just rolls over and shows his belly and asks for more. They shave him down in the spring to help keep him cool and it's funny as hell. Soon as he gets his shave he rolls around in the grass on his back kicking his legs and looks like a horse in the mud, If you've ever seen that. When the kids leave the house he looks all over for them and when they get home it's game time. Next to my other friends Boxer it has to be the coolest dog ever.
And you can use them as slaves.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Dallas
#15
Interesting reading about the Burmese, from Wikki:

Health surveys of Bernese Mountain Dogs in Denmark, Britain, the United States, and Canada show that this breed is very short-lived compared to breeds of similar size and purebred dogs in general. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a median longevity of seven years in Denmark, the U.S., and Canada and eight years in the UK surveys.[8] By comparison, most other breeds of similar size have median longevities of 10 to 11 years.[9] The longest lived of 394 deceased Bernese Mountain Dogs in a 2004 UK survey died at 15.2 years.[10]
Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs in general, but Bernese Mountain Dogs have a much higher rate of fatal cancer than other breeds; in both U.S./Canada and UK surveys, nearly half of Bernese Mountain Dogs died of cancer,[10][11] compared to about 27% of all dogs.[10] Bernese Mountain Dogs are killed by a multitude of different types of cancer, including malignant histiocytosis, mast cell tumor, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.[11]
Bernese Mountain Dogs also have an unusually high mortality due to musculoskeletal causes. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate ligament rupture were reported as the cause of death in 6% of Bernese Mountain Dogs in the UK study;[10] for comparison, mortality due to musculoskeletal ailments was reported to be less than 2% for purebred dogs in general.
[edit]Mobility


Bernese puppy
Owners of Bernese Mountain Dogs are nearly three times as likely as owners of other breeds to report musculoskeletal problems in their dogs.[10] The most commonly reported musculoskeletal issues are cruciate ligament rupture, arthritis (especially in shoulders and elbows), hip dysplasia, and osteochondritis.[10][11] The age at onset for musculoskeletal problems is also unusually low. For example, in the U.S./Canada study, 11% of living dogs had arthritis at an average age of 4.3 years.[11] Most other common, non-musculoskeletal morbidity issues strike Berners at rates similar to other breeds.[10]
In short, prospective Bernese Mountain Dog owners should be prepared to cope with a large dog that may have mobility problems at a young age. Options to help mobility-impaired dogs may include ramps for car or house access, lifting harnesses and slings, and dog wheelchairs (ex: Walkin` Wheels). Comfortable bedding may help alleviate joint pain.
So basically, among all large and giant breed dogs, they love the shortest, have the most problems with arthritis and hip dysplasia, and all sorts of other things.

Of course, it's Wikki, but definitely worthy of more research before making the plunge.
 
Jun 30, 2005
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outsiddah Boston
#16
My sister had a St. Bernard...HUGE piles of shit on the lawn...GIANT...You have to stay on it or you won't be able to mow your lawn. They eat a lot of food too...Several Lbs a day. They make a mess at their water dish, and can eat anything on the counter/sink/table...Watch out for degenerative hip issues and they will live about 8 years...

Nearly ALL pure bread dogs now have hip/joint issues and the larger the dog the more likely it is to happen...

Muts FTW
 

NikkorTheMonk

Registered User
Apr 26, 2005
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#18
All large dogs have the same problems. A ex's mother used to raise Great Danes and 7 was considered old.
 

Sct Ptersns Twn

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Dec 4, 2005
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#19
I have a wolf/shepherd hybrid. Cooler then shit, very playful, good with people, and way to fucking smart. I emphasize, way to smart. His first two years were incredibly hard to deal with. He can climb a six foot fence like nothing, open windows and doors unless their locked (He has actually unlocked doors before), and he even used to hide the things he did wrong. If he ate something he wasn't suppose to (He loves loaves of bread for example) he would hide the wrapper in a closet or behind the couch. Me and the wife were not prepared for the level of activity he demanded. He is almost 4 now, and after some intensive training he is the coolest dog you could have. He was always great with my black lab, good with kids (Other peoples kids so far, I got a little boy due in 6 weeks though), and a phenomenal guard dog. If you think about getting any kind of wolf hybrid , make sure you prepared psychically and financially prepared. The amount of damage he did before he was trained made the dog in "Marley and Me" laughable.
Reminds me of my Siberian Husky (long gone now). Cool fucking dog, but tore some shit up.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Dallas
#20
All large dogs have the same problems. A ex's mother used to raise Great Danes and 7 was considered old.
Read the whole article. It says the Burmese have 3X the instances of said problems and they begin as early as 2-3 years, the average being like 4.2 years. That's fucking young.

Not to mention they're not even in the same range as Danes. You shouldn't be having those problems with a dog that averages 100 lbs. Danes range 150-200 in some cases.
 

Stig

Making America So Great You Won't Believe It.
Jul 26, 2005
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#21
Nearly ALL pure bread dogs now have hip/joint issues and the larger the dog the more likely it is to happen...

Muts FTW
Mutts do seem to take the best qualities of their crazy, mixed-up gene pools. I had a Sheltie-Samoyed and a Chow/Shepherd/? that were both awesome dogs, and healthy as hell. Well, the Chow grew a giant tumor that took up most of his insides and pushed all his organs around, but he lived to be almost 13, and was the better part of 100 lbs. Ah, Nigel. He was the bessssst...
 

Motor Head

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#22
My brother had a St. Bernard named Thor. He was a big sweet boy, but was a chewer. He got bored one day waiting for my brother to come home and turned a Lazy Boy recliner into a pile of sticks and foam. That was his first incident. My brother kept an old muscle car in his backyard under a tarp. Somebody (me) accidentally left the window open on the car, while showing it off to some friends. He FUCKED up the interior of that car beyond all measurements known to man. To this day, my brother still doesn't know who left the window open.
 

Absolutely

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Jan 25, 2006
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#23
I want more "Wolf stories"...
The only dog I've ever had was a 25-30lb "Mutt" we got from a shelter. She wasn't dumb or anything, but not smart either.

I can't believe that any kind of dog would be able to go into a pantry or whatever, get some treats out, seal the box back up, put it back.
Or would be smart enough to hide evidence.
That's awesome... Makes me want to get a dog, but the 2 cats we have would have to permanently live under a sofa I think. So that's not really fair.
 

MTJonny

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#24
About a year before I moved to Denver, me and the wife lived in a shithole apartment and our hybrid, Apollo, was about 1 year old or so. I left on vacation for about 5 days and as so as i left, Apollo started acting like the alpha immediately after i left, generally causing all sorts of problems for the wife. It took him about a day to figure out how to open the front door, so my wife started locking it. It took him two days to figure out the lock, so she started dead bolting it. Then the day before I came home, he scratched and chewed his way through the fucking door. My wife sent me a video of her coming home and seeing 110lb of wolf barrel through the locked door, excited to see her. Because my wife wasn't taking the position as "pack leader" Apollo was doing whatever he wanted. We almost got rid of him after that, but i decided to really train him and had my wife become much more dominating. Ill try to find the video and post it when I get home.
 
Jun 2, 2005
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Dallas
#25
Our female was the alpha of the two, so we didn't really have too many challenges like that, but she was a spiteful bitch.

She figured out the door knobs and locks too, but her favorite thing was to lock us out. We had one of those deadbolts with no outside key access, and yeah... I ended up removing the fucking thing because it became her favorite game.