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How Much Does a Saint Bernard Cost?

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How Much Does a Saint Bernard Cost?

Saint Bernards are one of the defining gentle giants of the dog world. In fact, these beautiful, slobbery sweethearts are the third biggest dog breed on the planet. Despite their imposing size, they are calm, gentle dogs with big hearts and brains to match. They have a unique history in Alpine mountain rescue and make the perfect family pets. If you’re interested in owning a Saint Bernard, you’re probably wondering how much they cost. 

The average cost of a Saint Bernard puppy is between $1000 – $1500. Adopting a Saint can cost anywhere between fifty to a few hundred dollars. Let’s break down the factors that influence different prices, as well as how much it costs to bring up and care for a Saint Bernard throughout their lives.

Table of Contents

How much is a Saint Bernard puppy?

The cost of a Saint Bernard pup will largely depend on the breeder you buy from. Purchasing a puppy from a big, commercial breeder will be a lot more pricey than buying from a small-time or hobby breeder. 

The average cost of a Saint Bernard puppy is currently around $1000-$1500 in the US, but they can cost anywhere from $550 to $2000. However, budding buyers should know that a bigger price tag doesn’t necessarily mean better quality of care. In fact, smaller breeders tend to provide better, more personal care to their dogs and puppies than big-time breeders. 

Unfortunately, puppies are twice as likely to come from illegal breeders than legal breeders in the United States, and this includes inhumane puppy farms. These farms keep dogs caged in dark rooms and essentially use them as breeding machines. They’re usually very unsanitary and the dogs receive little to no care or quality of life. 

Puppy farms can disguise themselves as legal breeders when posting advertisements online. So, it’s best to only buy from breeders with good reputations and lots of positive reviews. Always remember to ask breeders for proper health documentation and visit the puppies before buying if you can.

Other factors that can influence the price of a Saint Bernard puppy include the dog’s lineage and coat color. Pups that have been bred from show dogs, for example, are a lot more expensive than those that are bred from companion dogs. 

A Saint’s coat color may also affect the price. Saint Bernards have a coat that is primarily white with patches of red, whether it be a brownish-yellow red or a bright or dark brown-red. All of the above are in line with the American Kennel Club’s breed standard, but localized Saint Bernard clubs have different views. This means that where you are in the country could affect the price of Saint Bernard pups with certain coats depending on what is considered to be the most “desirable” to the local or state club. 

Saint Bernard half-face

Saint Bernard health tests

If you buy a puppy from a breeder, remember to request the proper health documentation if it isn’t readily offered to you. Puppy health documents should declare that the pup has been checked over by a vet, that they have received all of their essential vaccinations, and that they have been tested and cleared of any breed-specific genetic conditions. Altogether, this should cost you a few hundred dollars. All documentation should also be signed by a vet to ensure legitimacy.

The American Kennel Club suggests that all Saint Bernard pups are genetically tested for degenerative myelopathy and hip and elbow dysplasia. Degenerative myelopathy is a heartbreaking, progressive disease of the spinal cord that affects dogs in old age. It begins with the loss of coordination of the hind legs and progresses very quickly to total paralysis. Dysplasia of the hip or elbow are manageable conditions that cause the joints of the affected area to form abnormally, become wobbly, and eventually leads to arthritis. 

The AKC also suggests getting an ophthalmologist evaluation and a cardiac examination by a vet. This is because the breed is prone to experiencing eye and heart problems.

Puppy health guarantees are often declared by breeders on their websites, but you should always ask for a signed copy to keep for yourself. Some contracts also offer monetary compensation to help with vet bills should your dog become ill with something that they were supposed to be protected against.

Saint Bernard on a white background

Adopting a rescue Saint Bernard 

Adopting a dog from a rescue shelter will only cost the adoption fee. This can cost anywhere from fifty to a few hundred dollars. The exact price will depend on the shelter you adopt from, and they usually list their fees on their websites.  

Rescue centers that are well-known nationally may charge lower prices as they receive a good amount of publicity and donations. Whereas smaller, localized shelters may be more expensive. Breed-specific shelters also tend to be pricer than generic shelters housing different dog breeds because they’re more exclusive and provide breed-specific care. 

To adopt a Saint Bernard, you can either browse rescue centers near you online or visit them in person. Once you fall in love, you will have to fill out and submit an adoption form letting the shelter know which dog you want, as well as some personal information. 

Once your form is received, the rescue staff will assess your compatibility with the dog you want to adopt based on the information you have provided. They may get in touch to discuss this with you further. If you are approved, they will ask you to come in and meet the dog to check that you are a good match. Finally, a home visit will be carried out to inspect the suitability of your premises before the adoption is finalized. 

The cost of owning a Saint Bernard

According to the website PetBudget, first-year expenses for owners of Saint Bernard puppies are said to average around $3,500. During their first year, Saint Bernards will grow very large, very quickly. This means they will go through more than a few toys, beds, and collars, as well as all of the usual living expenses. Owners will also have to pay for those crucial initial veterinary visits and possibly some training aids too. 

Owning a fully-grown Saint Bernard will cost an average of around $2,225 per year or $185 per month. This is typically split into $270 for food and treats, $485 for medical expenses, and $535 for grooming supplies, toys, and accessories. 

As your dog ages, their expenses may fluctuate depending on any health problems they experience. The average lifespan of a Saint Bernard is 8-10 years and the average lifetime cost of owning one is around $21,455. Although, they have been known to cost a lot more, making them one of the most expensive breeds of dog to own. 

Training costs

Although Saint Bernards are intelligent and naturally keen to please, doesn’t mean that training is always a walk in the park. Saint Bernards also tend to have a stubborn side, so owners should focus on forming a strong bond with their Saint first. 

Saint Bernards are generally calm, well-behaved dogs. Saint pups, however, like all young dogs, can be hyperactive and destructive as they grow, teethe, and learn. Saint puppies tend to be particularly destructive chewers as puppies, because of their big, strong jaws. 

They will naturally grow out of their hyperactivity, but training should start as early as possible to teach them what is and isn’t theirs to chew. Novice owners and owners of especially stubborn pups may benefit from the help of a professional trainer.

One-on-one private sessions with dog trainers can cost around $175 an hour. Group classes are slightly less expensive, costing around $500 for a handful of classes. SpiritDog offers at-home training classes that are both affordable and effective and backed by plenty of positive testimonials

Socialization should also start as early as possible with Saint Bernard pups. This is true for all dogs so that they can grasp social cues and learn how to interact with others. Without it, the lack of understanding can create anxiety and cause defensive behavior. 

In Saint Bernards, a lack of socialization tends to cause extreme shyness. They are naturally a very social breed, and so this should be avoided for their overall well-being. The socialization of young Saints can be done at home by inviting trusted people and family dogs over to meet them and by interacting with friendly dogs on walks.

Saint Bernard activity

Medical costs

Your initial vet expenses will depend on the treatment that your pup received whilst in the breeder’s care. Dogs that originate from puppy farms are over 40% more likely to develop health problems than those that are bred ethically. This is because puppy farms are often unsanitary and many don’t provide the essential care that dogs need in their first weeks of life. 

Some puppy farms even forge the paperwork saying that their dogs been vaccinated and tested for genetic conditions, so it’s always best to get your new pup checked over by a vet just in case. 

Young Saints who haven’t received yet any veterinary care will need vaccinations, microchipping, parasite preventatives, and a vet should check their overall health, particularly their eyes and joints. Depending on the state of your pup’s health, this can cost as much as $500. Healthy pups should still undergo a general examination. New owners will also eventually have to spay and neuter their pets, which can cost anywhere from $50 – $500 depending on the dog. 

After that, medical costs will reflect the health of the dog. The average Saint Bernard in good health costs just under $500 per year in medical expenses, this includes vet bills, pet insurance, and expenses such as flea and tick preventatives. All dogs should attend annual vet check-ups and vaccination boosters, even if they appear to be healthy. It allows your vet to monitor all aspects of your dog’s health and gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns or questions you may have. 

A Saint Bernard’s medical and insurance costs will almost certainly increase with age, as the likelihood of illness also increases. For example, older Saint Bernards are almost always affected by arthritis because of their size, so they will probably require regular joint supplements and pain killers to ease symptoms. Vets also sometimes recommend living aids and non-surgical therapies like hydrotherapy and acupuncture, which can be costly. 

(By the way – this is happens in many large and giant dogs. Other breeds affected by these conditions are King Shepherds and Shiloh Shepherds).

As mentioned above, common health problems for Saints include sight problems like distichiasis, heart problems like dilated cardiomyopathy, and skeletal problems due to their size. In fact, musculoskeletal diseases such as Osteosarcoma are the leading causes of death in Saint Bernards. They are also prone to skin sensitivities and are at high risk for obesity, which can make bone and heart problems worse, so owners need to make sure they provide a healthy diet to keep this at bay. 

Distichiasis is when extra eyelash hairs to grow on the inside of the eyelid and rub on the surface of the eye, it is thought to be hereditary and is quite common and treatable. Most dogs with the condition don’t experience pain or irritation and won’t need treatment. However, those that do may blink excessively, squint, and you may notice inflammation, discharge, and tears coming from the affected eye. It’s easily diagnosed with an eye exam and owners can usually manage the condition at home with daily eye medicine. In extreme cases, surgery may be required.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the degeneration of the heart that ultimately leads to heart failure. It’s thought to be hereditary and is common in giant breeds because their hearts have to work extra hard to pump blood around their big bodies. It can be sudden or progressive in onset and affects dogs later in life. It is a very serious, often fatal condition, but treatment can stabilize the heart for a few months to a couple of years depending on the dog. Clinical signs include rapid breathing, coughing, a decreased desire to exercise, and fainting, and it can be diagnosed by vets with an ultrasound of the heart.

Osteosarcoma or bone cancer causes malignant tumors on the bones of sufferers, typically on the limbs. It’s thought to be caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors and is more likely to affect giant breeds like Saint Bernards in old age. The tumors are visibly noticeable and painful and are diagnosed through blood work, urinalysis, and X-rays. 

Unfortunately, the prognosis is not good as bone cancer tends to spread quickly, but chemotherapy can be used to slow it down. Medication can also be used to treat the pain. Amputation is the best course of action, but limb-sparing surgeries can be done in some cases. Most dogs with osteosarcoma live for up to a year following a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. 

Food costs

Naturally, food is one of the more costly aspects of owning a Saint Bernard. Although, they don’t typically eat as much as other dogs their size because they are relatively low-energy dogs. They need 4-8 cups of food per day, depending on their age, size, and activity level, preferably divided into two meals. During the first year of life, their caloric needs will be higher since they are still growing.

As with all dog breeds, they should eat a healthy diet filled with high-quality kibble and thrive on lean, natural protein sources such as chicken and fish. It’s also a good idea to include nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to support strong bones and a healthy heart.

As mentioned above, Saints are prone to skin sensitivities and obesity. There are actually commercial kibbles on the market that relieve skin allergies, which may be something you want to consider if your Saint has particularly problematic skin. Feeding them meal scraps and low-quality commercial dog foods containing filler ingredients should also be avoided. Not only can this contribute to obesity, but it can aggravate skin sensitivity too.

Saint Bernard sitting

Grooming costs 

Saint Bernards have double-layered coats consisting of a coarse, water-resistant outer coat and thick, insulating undercoat. They can be long-haired and short-haired, but both types are heavy shedders, particularly in the summer and winter months. 

Their thick coats were ideal for keeping them warm in the cold conditions during their work as mountain rescue dogs. However, nowadays, their coats can cause them to overheat very easily, particularly in the summer months.

To help to keep them cool, owners should brush their Saint Bernards fur most days, if not every day, to remove loose fur. They also need bimonthly baths to remove any dirt and debris that may get trapped in their extremely thick coats. It’s important that the shampoo you use is all-natural and gentle as these dogs are prone to skin sensitivities. 

Although they require fairly regular grooming, it’s nothing that can’t be done at home and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Owners need only invest in a good brush or de-shedding tool and some good-quality shampoo. Saint Bernards also don’t require haircuts, either. So there is no need to pay for a professional dog groomer – unless you want to! 

Toys & other costs 

Because they are so huge, Saint Bernards tend to wear things out a lot faster than smaller dogs. This means they go through a lot more beds and things like food bowls need replacing faster because they see so much usage. 

Another costly part of owning a Saint Bernards is toys. It’s important that Saint Bernards have toys of all kinds because they are a sensitive, intelligent breed that is prone to loneliness and boredom. So, they need plenty of love and mental stimulation to prevent unhappiness. In Saints, this can result in social withdrawal and destructive chewing. 

This means plenty of comfort toys, active toys, and interactive and mentally stimulating toys such as puzzle games, slow feeders, treat dispensers, and sensory toys. However, finding the right products can be a challenge for Saint Bernard owners because they need particularly hardy toys. 

All dogs like to chew, but Saint Bernards are particularly heavy chewers because of their huge, strong jaws. Owners should invest in some high-quality, long-lasting chews so that their dogs can exercise their instincts properly and safely, and so that they don’t waste their money! Durability is also important to avoid breakages that could cause harm to your dog’s mouth, or even cause a choking hazard or an internal blockage. That said, take your dog’s age into consideration. Teething pups and older Saints should not have anything that is too hard as it could cause damage to their teeth.

Although no dog toy is indestructible, there are plenty of hardy rubber chew toys on the market that are designed for heavy chewers. The pet brand Kong, for example, is famous for their heavy-duty toys of all kinds, including comfort toys, tug toys, balls, and their classic treat dispensers. All of Kong’s toys are well priced and engineered to be as mentally stimulating as possible, with different shapes, colors, patterns, textures, and sounds. 

Edible chews such as buffalo horns and caribou antlers are also great for heavy chewers like Saint Bernards. Plus, they’re natural, nutritious, long-lasting, and contribute to good dental health. 

However, they’re not suitable for teething pups, older dogs, or dogs with poor dental health because they are very hard. They can also be a bit smelly and some owners just aren’t into the idea. Commercial chew sticks and frozen carrots are a great alternative and they’re super affordable too.

The bottom line

Saint Bernards are big eaters, heavy shedders, and even heavier chewers! They’re often said to be one of the most expensive dogs to own. Whether you decide to buy or adopt your Saint Bernard, you need to be sure that you can provide everything they need. This means plenty of food, plenty of toys, and plenty of love and care!

About the author
Laura is a dog-lover with an animal-related degree and plenty of hands on experience. She is passionate about dog health & welfare and wants to arm owners with all of the essential info they need!
border collie on beach
Laura
Writer and Border Collie Mom
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