Lucy and Norman are sweet and friendly, 200-pound, smooth-coated Saint Bernards living in Courtice, Ontario, Canada just east of Toronto. They hail from Nerthus Kennels in Stratford, Ontario, and acquired many of their traits from the mastiff line of Saints. Lucy is 6.5 years old, and Norman is 3.5 years old. Lucy is technically Norman’s aunt.
Owning a Saint
Lucy and Norman lead glamorous, indulgent lives, but owning a Saint Bernard is not for everyone.
Please don’t invite a Saint into your family without serious consideration. Saint Bernards are BIG and cost a lot of money to own. Spend lots of time with the breed and the breeder, read everything you can, ensure you have time and space to train and care for them, talk to your vet, and really imagine having your life turned upside down before adopting one.
As a breed, Saint Bernards are known for being calm, watchful, fun-loving, sweet, gentle, strong, and patient. All of this is true. But, based on our experience with this gorgeous Swiss breed, there’s a lot more to know about Saint Bernards...
Dealing with Drool
Our Saints drool at the sight of food, in hot weather, after drinking, when excited or upset, etc. Pretty much ALL THE TIME. Despite carrying drool towels around and wiping the dogs frequently throughout the day, our walls, truck, clothes, furniture, friends, etc. all show traces of drool. We use plain soap and water or Lysol wipes to get off tough, dried drool. And, we wear a lot of light-coloured clothing to hide both the drool and the dog hair.
Maintaining their Coats
Lucy and Norman have been to the groomer a few times but, due to the amount of swimming they do, admittedly they don’t go to the groomer very often. Even after rolling in mud, somehow their coats always naturally revert back to white (where there is supposed to be white, at least)!
The dogs love to be brushed and, as you might expect, brushing produces MOUNTAINS of excess fur. Even though they have short hair, we use a Firmarator brush to address their undercoats. We have never shaved Lucy and Norman, except for when they’ve had to undergo a vet procedure.
Truth be told, Lucy and Norman shed more than any breed we’ve EVER encountered. We know two very furry Newfs who shed less! We could vacuum twice per day and it still would not be enough.
We’ve tried several vacuums, but the Dyson seems to deal with the fur best. We try to tame the chaos but, basically, if you live with a Saint, your house, furniture, car, friends, and clothes will be covered in fur. ALWAYS.
Training a Saint
Saints are intelligent, eager to please, and take well to training. They prefer to be inside with people (opposed to being outside), require an average amount of exercise, and make wonderful family pets, but they can accidentally hurt small children or aging family members (watch your knees!) and drag you around at their whim while on a leash. Adequate socialization when they are puppies is essential for this breed. With training and socialization, you are less likely to encounter situations that endanger people, the Saint, and other animals. A nervous, scared, or aggressive Saint is very difficult to control – PLEASE take the time to train your dog. We used a local dog training company, and it took only a few weeks.
Feeding Giant Dogs
Lucy and Norman eat 2 – 3 pounds of food, twice per day, but they’d eat more if we let them! We have them on a highly varied raw food diet (to reduce the amount of poop they produce!) and get most of our food and treats from Raw4Dogs and The Offal Good Treat Company, family-run companies near Barrie, Ontario. If we could offer one word of advice on food, we would encourage you to invest in the highest quality of food you can afford – unhealthy Saints can lead to huge vet bills! We’re not going to lie, it costs hundreds of dollars to feed our beasts every month – about $6,000 per year. Saints are not for the faint of heart or empty of bank.
Travelling with Saints
Lucy and Norman LOVE to travel, so much so that we had to buy a bigger vehicle (Dodge RAM truck) and a bigger camp trailer (37 feet, with air conditioning) to accommodate them! They fill up the entire back seat of the truck and stretch across the entire floor of the trailer! And, both dogs need help getting into the truck – we have to push on their butts and give them a boost into the cab every time.
Getting Along with Other Dogs
Lucy and Norman are dog lovers – small dogs, big dogs, fancy breeds, and plain, old mutts. Their best friends are Echo, a 20 pound Havenese and Grady and Ariel, two giant Newfoundland dogs.
Meeting new dogs at the dog park or on their own turf has never been a problem for Lucy and Norman. They have never fought with other dogs (or each other) and avoid confrontation at all costs. We’ve actually fostered other dogs so that Lucy and Norman can model good behavior and assume a mentoring-type role.
When Lucy and Norman meet smaller dogs, they actually try to make themselves appear smaller to reduce the intimidation factor. When aggressive dogs lunge at them, they turn to their humans for guidance and protection.
Getting Along with Cats and Other Pets
Lucy and Norman are sweet, gentle and pretty much love all people and all creatures. They've met horses, flying squirrels and even a Mexican Coati that gave Lucy a hug at local dog events!
Styling and Dressing Saints
Large breed dog owners often ask us where we buy collars, sweaters, accessories, brandy kegs, etc. for our Saints. We have no one style source. Often we pick up cool stuff at dog events and specialty stores around Ontario and on our travels. Eventually, we are planning to offer select large-breed products on this site... stay tuned!