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We have inherited a St Bernard dog, help!

(55 Posts)
makingdoo Wed 17-Dec-14 23:45:50

I've never owned a dog. We now have a 2 year old St Bernard female to look after. Tomorrow I need to go and purchase the basics. She's gorgeous and very friendly and calm. I think I'm more nervous than the dog!

I'd be really grateful for any tips on looking after this breed.

RockCrushesLizard Wed 17-Dec-14 23:54:57

They are lovely natured dogs, but be prepared for the drool. Lots of drool. Even on the ceiling after it shakes its head. I can't overstate how much mess bernies make.

They don't need as much exercise as you might think, for their size, but an adult male can hit 12 stone easily, so really good training is a must - if a St Bernard decides it is/isn't going somewhere, you aren't moving it!

A washing up bowl makes a good food dish, and a heavy duty collar and lead.

How did you end up with one? It's not a breed to take on lightly!

makingdoo Thu 18-Dec-14 00:02:48

Thanks Rock - I keep reading about the mess they make and its my biggest concern! I love my modern clean house (we don't have DC yet)

DH did some work for the owner last year and got to know the dog over a few months. He was always talking about it. He got a call out of the blue from the owner yesterday to say he couldn't look after the dog and did we want it.
The dog was left to Its own devices really, not allowed inside the house and was really dirty. DH was worried what would happen to it so we agreed we would take it on.

It's a lovely kind dog but I can't even get it to c o me inside the house at the moment!

LoathsomeDrab Thu 18-Dec-14 00:28:41

I don't know a massive (hah!) amount about the breed but talk about throwing yourself in at the deep end shock grin

I'd try getting in touch with the United St Bernard Club and the English St Bernard Club. They should be an excellent source of information about the breed and most breed clubs are very happy to help newcomers.

Definitely get yourself stocked up with "slobber cloths" grin

ladybird69 Thu 18-Dec-14 00:38:49

Lol I had a mastiff. He constantly 'wore' a bib so that his mouth could be wiped. But oh boy such a loving dog. If you can get past the mess they are such sweet dogs best of luck.

makingdoo Thu 18-Dec-14 00:40:43

I know Drab - I like to challenge myself grin

Thanks for the links, we have so much to learn. I really want this to work out as its a lovely dog but has already had 2 previous owners who didn't treat it like a pet imo

WhyYouGottaBeSoRude Thu 18-Dec-14 01:03:18

I am so jealous! grin i love them. When i am rich with a massive house i'll have loads of them.

Good luck OP! Big commitment but big reward too.

WhyYouGottaBeSoRude Thu 18-Dec-14 01:03:52

And boo to those shithead previous owners! angry

makingdoo Thu 18-Dec-14 09:29:40

Well we survived our first night and she seems ok. She's so sullen, I don't think she had much affection before. She was mostly chained up for her first year and then just left to her own devices on a farmyard for her 2nd year sad

At the moment she's in our garage until we can get things sorted. She's filthy dirty so need to take her to get groomed properly ASAP.

Any practical advice on must haves? Collar and lead? Food recommendations?

I'm at a loss here!

foolonthehill Thu 18-Dec-14 10:45:39

Lots of St B's are intolerant of heat and find centrally heated homes uncomfortable....a cool room or even making the garage comfortable for the dog to retreat to might be a good idea.

She is only just fully grown at 2, and probably not at her full weight.

Some people notice that drooling happens more after drinking and eating and take evasive action (dog goes outside for a bit).

My friend who has kept St B's all her life says be careful with food...they are giant not large breed and as such might do best on normal dry dog food (assuming you are not doing raw food/bones) rather than large breed which may have too much protein.

Washing up bowl for feeding/water.

No idea about collar/lead but if she has not been used to walking on a lead you may need .some specialist advice and a head collar or harness because I guess she weighs as much as you.

maleenteringfemalefacilities Thu 18-Dec-14 10:49:53

Get her insured - DD's friend had one, he had some joint problems and needed an op and medication - the insurance was a few hundred a year but the cost of the treatment in his first year topped five grand.

He was a lovely dog - so placid, DD's friends little sister and brother basically lay all over him and he never batted an eye!

(I am so jealous, when I win the lottery I'm going for a St Bernard pup)

makingdoo Thu 18-Dec-14 15:11:37

Thank you. I've spent today running around trying to get stuff sorted for her. She seems more settled and certainly less timid today! I got some fantastic advice from the dog groomer today too about food and training. We will definitely g e t her insured as well.

She is now at the groomers getting cleaned up so hopefully she will come inside tonight smile

nellieellie Thu 18-Dec-14 16:07:34

I don't want to rain on your parade, but this does ring a few alarm bells for me - maybe unfairly, and it is clear that you have the very best of intentions. However, it does sound like this was a bit "on impulse". This is your 1st dog - you did not, I don't think, decide you wanted a SB, but there was one needing a home so you took her.

You are proud of your clean home. Dogs are dirty creatures, and in the winter, large furry dogs are truly awe inspiring in their constant muddiness. Any walk in the park/country will leave the legs and underbelly muddy and needing to be washed when you get home. The bigger the dog, the more hassle. I have a large breed so know what its like. She will want to walk out in the garden when it's wet and then come back in - usually when you are in the middle of something, and then you need to get a towel and wipe wet paws.

Also, this dog is 2yrsand from what you say, has not been trained, socialised, or even lived as a pet. There is a crucial period for puppies- the 1st 12 weeks when they need to be introduced to different situations, people, children ,animals. Once this period is gone, it then becomes quite hard to get a dog well socialised and to react well to unfamiliar situations. Do you know what this dog is like with other dogs? Or on the lead/off the lead? If she does not want to come in the house, it may be difficult to get her used it, or she may react badly if she feels confined. She has not been used to responding to people from what you say - as it seems they have not responded to her - chaining her up or just letting her wander about on her own. You could end up with a dog that is not the companion you envisaged. Yes, SBs generally have lovely natures but if not socialised from an early age they will still be affected. What is she like with the noisiness and unpredictability of children for example?

The Breed Association will be a good place to start for information - but please do think about the expense and commitment a dog will be - apologies if you have done this. Insurance will be expensive - the chances are this dog was from non -health tested parents as a responsible breeder would take back an unwanted dog. large breeds are prone to joint problems - Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, not to mention heart conditions. These can be very expensive to treat. - operations for these conditions can be £6000 or more, so I would suggest getting pretty good cover. I would just mention that all breed associations would run or know of a breed rescue - often with people waiting for dogs who have experience of the breed, so if you feel this may be too much, you could contact them. The last thing this dog needs is someone to take her on just to let her go a few months on.

If you do keep her, then I wish you loads of luck, I just want you to know it may be difficult!

picklesanne Thu 18-Dec-14 20:24:45

St Bernard's are lovely have owned 3 in my lifetime. Please get the best insurance you can afford the vets bills will be huge if she gets sick. I'm sure now she is groomed she will look lovely and smell better. They don't need much exercise but if she's not used to a collar and lead will pull so A Halti may be a good idea. Try not to feed her around exercise time as they can get bloat which is life threatening.
Would love to see a pic of her.

LoxleyBarrett Fri 19-Dec-14 07:51:54

We had a fantastic St Bernard - not much of a drooler to be honest. Vets bills were huge though - a stomach twist when quite young and 4 years of treatment for cardiomyopathy.

Have fun, never underestimate their strength or appetite!

pebblepots Fri 19-Dec-14 08:06:33

Would love to hear updates on how you get on smile

makingdoo Fri 19-Dec-14 10:58:09

Well she returned from the groomers a different dog! She seems very happy to be cleaned up and free from all her matted hair and she smells lovely.

She still doesn't want to come into the house which is fine, all in her own time. We have a big yard and comfortable garage for her to use. She seems content in there.
We are going to build an outside area for her too so she can roam freely. Our yard isn't secure enough at the moment to just let her out.

She has settled a lot and understands basic commands such as sit and stay. She had always been around other dogs in her previous home without incident and also they had children so I think she will be ok with that although ill be careful until I know for myself.

I will post a pic later smile

Nellie I appreciate your honesty. I know it seems daft and we have just launched into this on impulse which is true but we will do everything we can to make this work. DH knows the dog as he worked on the farm yard of her previous home and looked after her in the day. She recognises him and responds well to him. I am proud of my home and it does worry me how dirty she will be but I will have to adapt and I'm willing to. The last thing we want is for her to have to go somewhere else. We have the time and space to make this work and we are willing to put in the effort.
Sorting insurance today good job I kept my Xmas bonus

makingdoo Fri 19-Dec-14 11:20:49

Here she is!

Hippychick73 Fri 19-Dec-14 14:42:40

I have a French mastiff so similar sort of dogs

If she is happy outside then allow her to live outside in a nice kennel

Ours sleep on hay in there kennel and love it

If she don't want to be inside it will only stress her out

Rather than a traditional leather lead which cuts your hand to pieces if you have a 12 stone dog that pulls we use a horse lead with a couple of knots in them - advantage is that they are longer and stronger than your normal dog lead and with the knots you won't get rope burn

Insurance get a policy that reinstates the covering amount each year and not one that is per amount per condition

So for example one that's has £3000 per condition means that if your dog has a lifetime condition like diabetes once that £3000 is used up for that condition you can't claim again for diabetes but you would have £3000 per condition for other stuff & Treatment but if it's linked to the diabetes you probably won't be covered

But one that is say £3000 per year means that each year you get £3000 to use ( for a SB minimum would be £7000 a year as some of the stomach so can easily hit £5000

If your not sure use that example of diabetes when speaking to the insurance company as they often word things so that you think your getting cover and your not

Argos platinum pet insurance is very good for a lifetime policy
and also Pet Plan

Eve Fri 19-Dec-14 14:45:28

ahhhh... shes lovely.

grumpyoldgitagain Fri 19-Dec-14 15:06:33

What a gorgeous dog she is

SnakeyMcBadass Fri 19-Dec-14 17:43:56

Beautiful dog. What's with the pink spray?

makingdoo Fri 19-Dec-14 18:03:05

Great advice Hippychick thank you. I wouldn't have known that about the insurance.

She has come inside and is making herself at home. She is currently lying sleeping in front of the fire!
She's settled so well, she's able to tell us she needs out to go to the toilet. We went for a muddy walk everywhere so I'm adjusting to the about of dirt she can bring in. It was fun trying to wipe her down afterwards! I've surprised myself with how well I'm adjusting to her.

Snakey the pink dye was on her when we got her and it'll have to grow out. I think it's the dye the use on the sheep.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Fri 19-Dec-14 18:11:07

Lovely to hear she's inside.

We got a rescue girl who had never been in a house- for the first four days she refused to come in and slept in the shed, we left the door open and eventually curiosity got the better and she came in.
Now, she'd be offended if we put her to sleep in the shed!

The fact that yours has come in so quickly must be a good sign.

hmc Fri 19-Dec-14 18:12:15

Well done on adopting her makingdoo.

I want to reinforce what one poster said regarding bloat - do not exercise her until 2 hours have elapsed following a meal. Bloat is often fatal

I used to have a Bernese Mountain dog - similar, a giant breed and a very heavy shaggy coat. You will have to vacuum / mop after every dog walk; they just attract mud and bits of thorn and forest get entwined in their coat; but you will grow to love her and will be tolerant to it (if occasionally exasperated). It's useful to put food and water bowl elevated a bit on a stand to make it more comfortable for her to eat and drink....

Good luck x

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