Is St. Bernard a healthy dog?

Are you familiar with the lovable and iconic image of a St. Bernard with a mini barrel strapped around his neck, gallantly navigating through snowy mountains to rescue lost travelers? This picture, usually associated with the Swiss alps, adds to the charm and admiration for this breed.

Now let’s embark on an exciting adventure, exploring the health of this gentle giant named after the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Alps.

St. Bernard, also known as Alpine Mastiffs or Bernhards, boasts a rich and noble lineage dating back to 980 AD. They were initially used by Augustinian monks in Switzerland to guard their estates and later developed into a specialized breed for search and rescue missions in heavy snow.

One cannot ignore the immense size of St. Bernard. Weighing up to 180 pounds, they are one among the giants of the canine world. Their bodies are muscular yet well proportioned, presenting an impressive and powerful sight. But like every cloud has a silver lining, such size also presents a unique set of health challenges.

The average lifespan of a St. Bernard is about eight to ten years. It may seem less compared to smaller dogs that can live up to 15 years or more. But, the fact is giant breeds generally tend to have shorter life spans than their smaller counterparts. This isn’t exclusive to St. Bernards.

But how healthy a St. Bernard is? That’s a million-dollar question, isn’t it? Let’s dive deeper and find out.

St. Bernards are reasonably healthy dogs. However, they can be prone to specific health conditions. One such condition is Hip Dysplasia – a hereditary ailment that affects their hip joints leading to pain and mobility issues. Elbow Dysplasia is analogous to Hip Dysplasia but affects the elbow joints.

Another disease that these gentle giants can be predisposed to is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is a severe form of heart disease where the heart becomes enlarged and struggles to pump blood efficiently.

St. Bernard is a deep-chested breed, making them prone to developing a life-threatening condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, commonly known as bloating. In this state, the stomach becomes twisted, preventing the escape of air and food leading to a life-threatening situation.

But don’t let these possible health conditions deter you! Life with a St. Bernard can still be fulfilling and joyful. There are numerous ways to promote their good health and longevity. Let’s look at few.

First off, make regular vet visits a priority. This helps in early detection of any possible health issues they’ve inherited. Genetic screening tests are also available for certain health issues like hip dysplasia.

Just like us humans, diet plays a crucial role in their health. A balanced, low-calorie diet will prevent them from becoming overweight, which can lead to debilitating health issues. And remember, puppies’ food composition should be different from adult ones, so make sure you’re feeding them with recommended products suitable for their age.

Don’t forget the significance of regular and moderate exercise. Taking them for a leisurely walk or involve them in moderate physical activities can help prevent obesity and keep their joints healthy. However, over-exercising, especially when they are puppies, can put pressure on their swiftly growing bodies.

St. Bernards are quite agile and energetic as puppies but mellow down as they grow into adults, becoming calm and patient. They’re known to be great family dogs and possess an amicable nature that makes them good companions for children. Quite a few have even grown up to become famous celebrities in their own rights like Beethoven from the movies and Nana from the Peter Pan stories.

Having a St. Bernard at home means owning a piece of history, a symbol of bravery and selfless devotion, an icon of rescue and help, a gentle giant that is fiercely protective yet get along heartily with children. Yes, they may be prone to certain health issues, but early detection and regular health care, along with a balanced diet and moderate exercise, can work wonders in ensuring a vibrant, hearty companion.

Health, after all, isn’t just about absence of diseases, it’s about the overall positivity, love, and happiness a companion can bring. And in that sense, owning a St. Bernard can indeed be a healthy investment!