Most common health problems in Saint Bernards, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Saint Bernard

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Saint Bernard, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Saint Bernard already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Saint Bernard dog breed

Saint Bernard Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Saint Bernard health problems

Cancer claims the lives of many Saints. Heart disease is a major problem in the breed.

Orthopedic diseases are rampant in St. Bernards. Hip dysplasia – 49% affected. Elbow dysplasia – 16% affected. St Bernards are prone to tearing the cruciate ligament in their hind leg. All of these orthopedic problems cause lameness and pain and often require expensive surgery.

Saint Bernards are prone to eyelid abnormalities, and cataracts often lead to blindness.

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

Saint Bernards are the 10th most likely breed to suffer an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat, which can kill a dog within hours.

Other health concerns are degenerative myelopathy (leading to paralysis), hypothyroidism, and blood-clotting diseases.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Saint Bernard have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, hereditary eye diseases, and degenerative myelopathy, your Saint Bernard has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Saint Bernard, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Saint Bernard puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


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

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
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" 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 Bernard need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


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


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


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.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Saint Bernard health problems

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 2300 St. Bernards and found 49% dysplastic – the 6th worst rate of all breeds. Elbows are also bad – 16% of 300 elbow X-rays were dysplastic.

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.

A neurological disease called degenerative myelopathy gradually causes paralysis in St Bernards.

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

Hypothyroidism is fairly common – 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.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.