St. Bernards are enormous and lovable dogs. As members of the working group of dogs, they were originally bred to help with mountain rescues in Switzerland. They are loyal, good-tempered dogs that are wonderful with children and make great pets if you have the space. However, don't buy a St. Bernard unless you are prepared to spend some time and/or money on grooming.
Since these dogs originated in snowy and cold Switzerland, St. Bernards have a thick dense coat. There are both longhaired and shorthaired varieties of the breeds. The grooming is a little easier for the shorthaired type.
A bristle brush is a good all-purpose brush for the breed but the St. Bernard coat can also benefit from some specialized brushes. A slicker brush can be used to remove matting and dead hair, especially during the shedding season. Your dog will shed its under coat twice a year. To stimulate your St. Bernards circulation and remove a maximum amount of loose hair, try brushing the coat opposite to the way it lays naturally.
Brushing your St. Bernard every day is key to managing shedding and keeping your dog clean. The process, once mastered, should only take about 5 minutes a day. Bathing your St.
Bernard can be a daunting task. Unlike other smaller breeds, St. Bernards must be bathed outdoors or in a full sized bathtub. Use a hot water hose and gently soak your dog's coat. Once the coat is thoroughly wet, shampoo your dog with a mild pet shampoo.
You want to avoid using anything too harsh, no matter how dirty your dog gets. A gentle shampoo will not strip the natural oils from your dog's hair. It is recommended that you wash and rinse your St. Bernard with the shampoo at least twice.
Rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue left in the dog's undercoat. You can dry your dog to a damp dry state with towels and, depending on the season, let the dog air dry or blow dry the coat. Many St.
Bernard owners use special varieties of shampoo to help brighten the white part of the dog's coat. The white parts of the coat can be stained by dirt of other debris. These products can be added to the normal shampoo, or used in replacement of a regular dog shampoo. Certain varieties of whitening shampoo need to be left in the coat for five to ten minutes before rinsing it out.
If you'd like to soften your St. Bernard's coat you can use a small amount of human conditioner. As a final step, you can use a flea rinse.
Generally, flea rinses protect your dog for 10 to 14 days after use. Be very careful when administering the flea rinse. Read all instructions carefully and dilute the product properly. Avoid your dog's eyes when applying the rinse. St. Bernards are prone to eye weeping which can cause staining on the face.
There are special products available such as "Diamond Eyes" that can gently remove these stains. In between treatments, you can wipe away any reside gently with a washcloth.
Robin Darch, of PRT Specialised Services Limited has a website, My Pet Dog to help you find all the information you need about pet dogs, dog grooming and training.