Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Saint Bernard puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Saint Bernards, the best dog food diet for feeding St. Bernard puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Saint Bernard dog breed

Saint Bernard Health Problems and Raising a Saint Bernard Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in Saint Bernards:

Heart disease (especially cardiomyopathy, but also subaortic stenosis and tricuspid valve disease) is a major problem in Saint Bernards.

Orthopedic diseases are rampant. Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, panosteitis, osteochondritis, wobbler's syndrome – all occur regularly. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 1900 St. Bernards and found 47% dysplastic – the 6th worst rate of all breeds. And the true rate is even higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. Elbows are also bad – 19% of 118 elbow X-rays were dysplastic – the 9th worst rate of 82 breeds. And again, the true rate is higher.

Epilepsy (seizures) is a real concern, especially in such a massive dog.

The most common eye diseases in Saint Bernards are eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), cherry eye, cataracts (often leading to blindness), and eyelash abnormalities.

Cancer (especially osteosarcoma and lymphosarcoma) claims the lives of many Saints.

As with all deep-chested breeds, St. Bernards are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat – in fact, of all breeds, they are the 10th most likely to develop it.

Skin problems include allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to pyoderma), and elbow hygroma.

Hypothyroidism is fairly common in Saint Bernards – according to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 14% of St. Bernards have low thyroid levels.

Blood-clotting diseases in Saints include hemophilia A, hemophilia B, and factor I deficiency.


Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Saint Bernard?

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Saint Bernards today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Saint Bernard puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Saint Bernard puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Saint Bernard puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Saint Bernard lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Saint Bernard
The best diet for feeding your St. Bernard is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Saint Bernard. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Saint Bernard
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Saint Bernard. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Saint Bernard puppy really need? Does your adult Saint need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Saint Bernard. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Saint Bernard. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Saint Bernard.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.