If you are looking for a new pet dog for your family ( with kids) and a St Bernard ranks high on your list, I am sure you would like to know if this breed gets along well with children. Let’s find out together if St Bernard is a good choice for families with kids.
St Bernards are usually described as sweet-tempered, gentle giants and therefore are a great match for families with children. This stands for well-trained and socialized dogs, of course. Although this breed is rarely aggressive good training and early socialization are a must. Also, note that St Bernards are mega-slobbers and heavy shedders which can be a challenge for sensitive kids prone to dog allergies. St Bernard’s short life span (8-10 years)is a really heart-breaking reality that your children could grieve over.
Do St Bernards Get Along Well With Children? Why?
St Bernards usually get along very well with children. These dogs are sometimes called nanny dogs. There are several reasons for that :
- Personality – St Bernards are gentle, tolerant, and calm dogs with a friendly attitude. They are faithful and intelligent dogs with big hearts. When you choose the perfect dog for your kids you should look for a calmer dog with an agreeable temperament. St Bernards are just like that!
- Size – Dog size is directly related to dog personality. Therefore larger dogs tend to be tame and docile, unlike smaller dogs that are easily agitated. But I have to emphasize that the size of St Bernards can be also a downside when it comes to smaller children. Note that these dogs are giant ( 120-180 lbs, depending on gender) and that they can accidentally knock over a small child.
- Energy level – St Bernards are working dogs but they are originally bred for rescue work so unlike other working breeds they have a moderate level of energy. They are a bit lazy and they don’t need a lot of daily exercises. They like to play with children but won’t make chaos like some other high-energy breed would do. The good thing is that both active and sedentary families can fit St Bernard into their lifestyle easily.
At What Age Should A Child Get St Bernard Dog?
This is almost a completely different topic but in reality, it’s closely related to the main question ”Are St Bernards good for families with kids?”. Generally, yes, they are but when is the right time for your kid to get St Bernard.
Some rule of thumb says that kids should get a dog at the age of 4 but I would suggest you wait until your kid is 5 or 6 years old to get St Bernard. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have a dog even before your little one is born or that you cannot surprise your teen with a new pet.
If you already have a toddler and you are thinking about getting St Bernard then you should pay attention to the following :
Size – Previously we said that size is a good thing and it is, but again it can be a downside as St Bernard can accidentally knock over a smaller child, a toddler. So that’s why it’s better to postpone a purchase/adoption of St Bernard until your child is a bit bigger/older.
Dog training and socialization – St Bernards are great with kids but only if they are trained properly. I heard in some cases, that St Bernards didn’t respond well to high-pitched sounds children tend to make. Although this breed is rarely aggressive, they can become hostile, even hurt a child if they are not used to children, if they are not socialized. So it is super important where you get your St Bernard from and his/her age. Is he/she socialized, and did he/she go through any training? If you tend to adopt a grown-up dog be very careful about these questions.
Slobbery and shedding – People usually don’t have health issues related to St Bernard slime and slobbery as well as hairs/shedding but some kids, especially smaller ones and those who are sensitive and prone to dog allergies might have serious issues. St Bernards shed a lot and the larger the dog, the more dander is produced. Because of all this, it is better to get St Bernard when your child is not a toddler anymore and when his/her immune system is a bit stronger. Of course, even adults can be affected by dog allergies.
Can St Bernard Be Jealous Of My Child?
It can happen that your dog becomes jealous of your child, especially a baby that recently arrived at your home. Although St Bernards are calm, docile, and loving canine companions, they can show some signs of jealousy.
Be aware if you notice :
St Bernard becomes aggressive – if he starts to growl or hiss or even try to bite your baby or toddler, you may be certain that your dog is jealous
Completely house-trained St Bernard starts to pee/poop inside – this is his/her way to show you that he is not satisfied, that he is sad. If you have a newborn it might be a sign of jealousy.
St Bernard ignores your baby/toddler – if your dog leaves the room every time the baby comes then he has some problem with your infant. Most probably he is jealous!
St Bernard asks for more of your attention – if you notice that your dog is trying to get more of your attention by sitting or laying on you, and all of this happens far from the baby, he is most likely jealous.
How To Train My St Bernard to Be Good With Kids?
- Socialize your St Bernard as early as possible ( obedience training, puppy kindergarten, long walks during which your dog will be able to see other people, children, animals, and other pets…). Teach them not to jump as they are simply not aware of how big they are! They are docile and relaxed dogs but if they are not socialized on time, they can become very shy and fearful which may lead to aggressive behavior in adulthood. In the case of giant breeds, aggressive behavior can be very dangerous.
- Use positive reinforcement, and reward your dog every time he behaves well around your kid.
- Teach your kid to respect your St Bernard. Kids also need to learn how to behave around dogs, they shouldn’t be allowed to pull St Bernard’s tail or ears, play rough with him, or hit him. There is a great article about teaching young children to respect dogs, so take a look.
- Never leave your child alone with St Bernard, every mutual interaction should be supervised by an adult.
St Bernards are gentle giants, very patient and loving canine companions. If trained and socialized on time they can be a perfect match for families with kids. Kids should be around 5 or 6 years old when getting St Bernard. It is very important to make a strong bond between the dog and the child. Parents’ behavior and attitude play a major role in this. Adults have to teach a child to respect a dog but also to train a dog how to behave around children.