Saint Bernards are dog breeds that originated in the Western Alps of Switzerland. In the past, people trained these dogs to be working dogs. They are usually found in hospice centres to assist health workers. People also turn to them for help locating missing people. Saint Bernards are burly dogs, which also makes them ideal guard dogs. With all of these characteristics of this breed, people often wonder: “How long do St. Bernards live?” Here is some information about the life expectancy of Saint Bernards, the common health diseases encountered, and measures to prolong their lifespan.
How Long Do St. Bernards Live?
The size of the dog determines its life expectancy. Since St. Bernards are large breeds, they are expected to live around 8–10 years, much shorter compared to the small to medium breeds, which live 10–13 years.
Large breeds have shorter lifespans because the body needs to put in more work for maintenance as compared to having a smaller build. When a dog has a large build, it also follows that the heart pumps more to deliver blood to the different parts of the body. When the dogs gain weight, it makes the heart work harder, making them more susceptible to heart problems.
However, there are reports that St. Bernards can live beyond their life expectancy. This information shows that owners can help prolong their dog’s life through proper healthcare and regular checkups.
What Are The Common Health Problems of Saint Bernards?
A fur parent needs to know the common health diseases of a St. Bernard. This will help in early detection when a health problem develops. Here are the most common problems affecting this large breed:
Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy
When the heart works too hard for long periods, it makes the muscle walls thin and weak. When this happens, the heart can no longer perform its functions well. It is unable to supply enough blood to the body.The heart also becomes dilated because the blood that is not pumped out will stay inside the heart, giving it a balloon appearance.
When dogs have this problem, they will have abnormal heart rates and rhythms. They may also tyre easily, have difficulty breathing, develop a cough, or develop a large abdomen. When a dog owner detects these signs, he should bring his dog to the veterinarian immediately so that proper treatment can be done and prevent more complications.
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A cataract is when the lens of the eyes of the dog becomes cloudy. This often occurs in senior dogs. A small cataract will not affect the vision of the dog but if it becomes large, it can lead to blindness. Thankfully, this is only a minor health issue and can be resolved easily thru surgery.
Joint dysplasias are problems involving the formation of the cartilages and surrounding structures of the joints of the elbow and hip, which are called elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia, respectively. Most large breeds are prone to this disease because they are heavier compared to other types. When the bodyweight is heavier, it exerts more force on the joints. Other factors that predispose large breeds to this disease are genetics, diet, and trauma to the joint.
Elbow dysplasia happens when the surrounding tissues of the joint cannot hold it together and cause a slip. The same is true for hip dysplasia, but the location is only different. Hip dysplasias affect the ball and socket joint. The head part of the thigh bone constantly slips out of the ball part of the hip. These conditions are generally treated with corticosteroids.
How to Prolong Life Expectancy of Saint Bernards?
Giving St. bernards healthy and balanced meals is important to maintain health. Choose a well-balanced dog food that gives adequate amounts of energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber per meal. It is a plus if the dog food is formulated specifically for Saint bernards.
Dogs need to exercise daily to prevent obesity. This keeps their heart in tip-top shape as well. Moderate exercise, like long walks, is best for large dogs because it is easy on the joints.
Regular Health Checkups Vaccinations
Regular visits to the vet can help detect health problems when it first happens. It’s easier to manage this way. In addition, giving dogs their yearly shots keep them away from infectious diseases.
Soon-to-be dog owners may wonder how long do St. Bernards live. Just like other large breeds, they can live 8-10 years, because of genetics and breed diseases. However, dog owners can still help St. Bernards live more than it is expected by giving them a healthy lifestyle and environment and frequent vet visits.
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