In their search for the perfect family dog, many people are turning to specially bred hybrids, or so-called “designer dogs.” And one crossbreed of interest may be the Pit Bull St Bernard Mix.
Bred in the hopes of combining the gentle and patient nature of the St. Bernard with the courage and tenacity of the Pitbull. A Pitbull St Bernard mix should display the protective nature of the larger breed with the playfulness of the smaller ones.
Origin And History
It may be hard to define the exact nature of a pit bull. The name itself may refer to a number of breeds, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pitbull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Terrier.
These breeds originated as fighting dogs, bred to bait bulls and other large game. Although no longer used in the dog-ring, at least legally, these dogs still maintain a reputation as fierce fighters, perhaps not deserved.
The St. Bernard is considered the gentle giant of the canine world. They are descended from Molosser dogs brought to the Swiss Alps by the Romans, where, over time, they became the go-to farm dogs of the region.
They are used for everything from herding, hunting, drafting, and rescue. They are intimately connected to the Great St. Bernard Hospice, at the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Alps.
While the breed has long been a part of the fabric of the area, with written records going back to 1797 and drawings and paintings stretching back much further, the breed was not officially established until 1888.
Temperament And Behavior
Just as with any hybrid animal, the product of the union will exhibit characteristics of both its parents. A successful mix of both breeds should result in a gentle and affectionate animal, playful and protective.
A successful outcome can also depend largely on the training provided, just as it does with any puppy, but you should not be put off by the largely unfounded reputation for viciousness attributed to Pitbulls.
Pitbulls are not intrinsically vicious. They may have been bred to fight, but this drive was not directed toward their human companions.
There is no evidence that proportionally speaking, Pitbulls are responsible for more bites than other breeds. A large number of bites reported may simply be a result of their popularity.
In addition, the severity of the bite from a pit bull may add to its dangerous reputation. The bite force applied, as well as the increased presence of repeated bites, may make anecdotal evidence seem far worse than it is.
Despite the lack of substantive evidence that this breed is inherently dangerous, there has been certain legislation regarding ownership/ Certain neighborhoods will not allow them, some airlines refuse to carry them as support animals, and your apartment building may prohibit you from housing one.
Despite all these measures, there has been no decrease in the reporting of dog bites incidents.
Saint bernards, on the other hand, have a decidedly benign reputation. They are often called gentle giants, and they are indeed both gentle and giant.
They are noted for being calm, patient, and sweet with adult family members, and particularly so with children. The biggest risk to a small child appears to be being knocked over by an overly affectionate pet.
St. Bernards are famous as the rescue dogs of the Alps, famously trudging through the snow to stranded travelers, with a keg of brandy around their necks.
It’s interesting to note that the dogs never received any life-saving training from the monks at the Hospice, but were trained by their parents to carry on the work.
St. Bernards are not aggressive animals, but their size alone can make them formidable adversaries, and serve to deter intruders into your home.
Your Pitbull/St. Bernard mix can share many of the physical characteristics of its parents. This means it can come in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
In most cases, however, it has been found that the hybrid will retain the white chest of its St. Bernard parent.
Size can vary widely, for, while the St Bernard is far from a small dog, it is dwarfed by the size of its small co-parent.
The Pitbull is not a distinct breed of dog, but this is a name applied to at least four related breeds. This being so, it stands to reason that there is a wide variety in appearance.
Depending upon the specific breed, the dog may vary anywhere from 13 inches to 27 inches at the shoulder, and weigh anywhere from twenty-seven to one hundred and fifteen pounds.
The St. Bernard, by contrast, is truly large. This breed can weigh anywhere from one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds and stands twenty-eight to thirty-five inches at the shoulders.
This difference in size can cause trouble for small pitbull females when carrying and birthing large St. Bernard fathered puppies.
The coloring of the mixed breed puppy can vary dramatically.
Pitbulls come in an array of colors, up to eighteen different shades and nine different patterns. St. Bernards, on the other hand, are relatively uniform, white with brown patches, with a scattering of black possible on the face and neck.
Most of this type of hybrid, however, seems to retain the characteristic white chest of its St. Bernard parent.
Their coats can vary greatly as well. Pitbulls tend to have short to medium coats, while the St. Bernard counterparts are long-haired and fluffy.
Everything about the pitbull’s appearance seems to speak of strength and determination, while a St. Bernard is simply cute, despite its massive size.
Grooming your new mixed-breed pet will depend on which parent he or she takes after.
Pitbulls have short. Lustrous coats that do well with a minimum of care.
A diet rich in vitamin E, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as cooked eggs, will enhance the shine of the coat, which should be brushed daily.
Remember to use a shampoo formulated for dogs, without any added chemicals or pesticides. A good conditioner will only enhance the luster of your pet’s coat.
If your pet has a coat more closely resembling his St. Bernard parent, your grooming tasks may be more complicated. The longer, thicker coat will require more brushing.
First, run your finger through his fur to remove any large mats. If this is not possible, you may have to snip the mats with some shears.
Next, use a slicker brush to remove small mats, followed by a grooming rake to remove dead and loose hair from his undercoat.
At least twice a week you should brush your pet with a large pin brush to control shedding and keep his coat looking smooth and healthy.
Your pet will also need to be bathed regularly, and this could be a daunting experience if he/she approximates the size of a St. Bernard.
Fill the tub with six to eight inches of water, and thoroughly wet down your pet by pouring some of it over his body. Lather him up, working the lather into his undercoat as well as the fluffier outer layer.
Rinse thoroughly, and dry with a large towel. Complete the drying process using a blow dryer on the lowest setting.
A long-haired pet’s feet should also be checked for signs of matting between the toes. Use a small pair of sharp scissors to trim any fur longer than his foot pads to prevent the formation of such mats.
And all dogs ears should be checked regularly for infection, If you spot a problem, call your vet.
To help prevent an ear infection, clean your pet’s ears on a regular basis. Apply a small amount of ear cleaning solution, massage the ear to distribute it, and then clean the ear with a cotton ball.
Training And Exercise
The amount of exercise your pit bull st bernard mix requires can vary greatly depending on the individual animal, and which side of the family he takes after.
Pitbulls are highly energetic canines, with loads of stamina. They are heavily muscled and require quite a bit of activity to keep them in peak form. Prepare to spend at least an hour each day on this type of dog, walking, running, and playing with him.
This is a minimum, as there is no maximum when it comes to exercising a pit bull. The dog will keep on going like the Energizer bunny if you let him.
A Saint Bernard, on the other hand, can be rather chilly and require only a moderate amount of exercise, about half an hour a day.
Both breeds can be rather affectionate and will enjoy time playing with their owners.
If you are the proud owner of this type of hybrid canine, you may have to feel your way through training sessions. Both breeds are highly intelligent, but in the St. Bernard, this very intelligence can make them rather stubborn when it comes to training.
Pitbulls, on the other hand, are eager to impress their owners with what they have learned, thus gaining their affection. A pitbull, due to its strength and musculature, may not respond well to leach training, or any training which involves punishment. Sp it may prove to be more bothersome to you to try to discipline a Pitbull mix.
Positive reinforcement, being rewarded with treats and affection, will work all the better.
The same can be said of a St. Bernard, not because of their resistance to negative measures, but simply because of their stubbornness. But they do love basking in the glow of their owner’s love and affection, and a few well-placed pats and treats will go a long way toward bending them to your will.
It should also be noted that, because of the pitbull’s history as a fighting dog, early socialization is important, Make sure that they are exposed at an early age to people of all sizes and shapes, and, especially, other dogs and smaller animals.
The pitbull has not been bred to be aggressive towards humans, but other animals may be problematic. Early socialization should curb any negative behavior.
In addition, your pitbull mix should be trained early on to focus on you, as opposed to his surroundings. Teach him to LOOK at you, to COME when called, and to STAY by your side as ordered.
Lifespan And Health
Your newly acquired Pitbull/St Bernard mix puppy is likely to be with you for quite some time.
The average life expectancy of a Pitbull is twelve to sixteen years.
As is usually the case, being a larger dog, the St. Bernard lifespan may be shorter, about seven years on average, but one in five of this breed lives to be over ten years of age, with the longest recorded life being twelve years and nine months.
There are a few health conditions that may affect this mixed breed, inherited from their parents. Both breeds have a tendency toward hip dysplasia, a malformation of the ball and socket hip joint, and both may suffer from heart disease.
The Pitbull, in particular, may suffer from a congenital condition known as aortic stenosis.
Moreover, both breeds are susceptible to eye problems, such as cataracts.
Pitbull may also suffer from hypothyroidism, a condition easily treated with drugs, while St. Bernards may develop bloat, a condition peculiar to broad-chested animals which involves a sudden onset of symptoms in the digestive tract and can lead to death if not treated post haste.
Despite the fact that St. Bernards are native to the snow-covered Alps, they can tolerate warm weather as long as they have a cool place to relax.
Sudden exposure to extreme heat can be detrimental, however. And, oddly, as strong and robust as a Pitbull may seem, they tend to be prone to allergies, both from the environment, such as grass, pollen, and dust, and internal ones, such as food allergies to beef, rice, wheat, and corn.
Finding A Pitbull/St. Bernard Mix
The first rule in looking for a hybrid, or designer, dog such as a Pitbull/ St. Bernard mix, is to locate a well-known and responsible breeder. Just because you are looking for a mixed breed doesn’t mean your search is any less important than a search for a purebred animal.
Once you have located a breeder, ask the following questions.
Have the parents been tested for disease or inheritable conditions? Have the puppies themselves been tested for diseases and congenital problems?
Ask about what health problems are common to the breed, and how to identify these problems should they arise.
Are the parents on the premises, and available for inspection? Have the puppies been vaccinated and dewormed? And how has your prospective puppy been treated by the breeder? This puppy should be well socialized at an early age, exposed to being handled by humans.
Ask for a tour of the facility to ensure that the puppies and their parents are treated humanely, and, finally, ask for references from previous satisfied customers.
A reputable breeder should be willing to answer all your questions and comply with your requests. If they won’t, take your business elsewhere.
Pros And Cons Of A Pit Bull St Bernard Mix
Only you can decide what your criteria are for the newest addition to your family, and what you are willing and able to do to make that addition appropriate.
This type of designer dog can be a loving, loyal, and likeable addition, but may require a bit of effort to make it so.
Exercise requirements may be high to dissipate some of their energy, and lots of patience will be needed during the training process.
These dogs are relatively healthy but can suffer from some health issues, most of which are mild and non-life-threatening.
There can also be a social stigma attached to owning a Pitbull mix, as their reputation, to a large extent undeserved, precedes them.
These dogs tend to be on the large side and require some space for exercise and recreation. And, being large, a breed such as the St. Bernard may have an abbreviated lifespan.
Is A Pit Bull St Bernard Mix A Good Family Dog?
With the proper training and socialization, these dogs can be an excellent addition to the family unit. They are affectionate, gentle, and loyal.
The St, Bernard in them should make them especially good with children.
They can be an excellent guard dog, the Pitbull part making them strong and protective, and the St. Bernard genes making them intimidating through size alone, a gentle giant with the skills to defend your home and family.