The right St. Bernard, that is, a healthy one bred in ideal conditions,
will provide a lot of enjoyment to his or her new family. But the pitfalls of rashly selecting a breeder, one who is not seriousabout the breed and just makes money, can cause a lot of pain for the dog owner.
The first step to selecting a healthy St. Bernard is to not immediately pick the cheapest advertisement, as you may sacrifice quality. Visit several breeders, even if the price is a few hundred dollars higher. A higher price doesn't necessarily mean quality, but it might be indicative of a more experienced breeder who utilizes better medical care.
It's also a bad idea to ever buy a dog, no matter what breed, from a pet store. These puppies are not only products of "puppy mills," inhumane sites that breed and often neglect and abuse multiple breeds of dogs, they're just not getting the care and attention they need being caged at a pet store.
Once you visit a breeder, be sure not to let emotion over a cute puppy get in the way of getting the right information. Questions to ask include the following:
Has the mother been bred every season?
If the answer is yes, this could mean the mother's health is compromised by so many births, causing problems at birth to the puppies such as deprived oxygen.
Are the parents on site?
If so, look at them. Do they seem happy and healthy? How many dogs do you breed? How many breeds? If he or she breeds more than just St. Bernards or seems to be breeding many dogs, this is indicative of a possible at-home puppy mill.
Do you give a health guarantee? If your new St. Bernard puppy gets sick, or sadly, dies quickly, will she give you a new dog or refund the money?
Any good breeder will allow you a 48 hour period to take the new puppy to your vet to make sure it really is healthy. What papers do you have on the dog?
AKC-registered doesn't necessarily guarantee
a healthy or nice puppy, but in this kind of decision, any paperwork is an important
Do you have references?
Don't be afraid to ask for the names and numbers of customers, and even other breeders who will vouch for this person's character and puppies.
What do you know about the St. Bernard breed?
Sometimes even the nicest person with the healthiest puppies is just not prepared for a breeding career. This "backyard breeder" often thinks it would be fun to breed his or her dogs, and knows little about the birthing process or the health problems any puppies might face in the future.
Always remember, the best breeder is probably the one who has a mid-range price, thus is not just in it for money, and will vouch for the health of their puppies. He or she is known in the animal community for fairness, good conditions, and most of all, a real love and concern for St. Bernards.