Saint Bernard

Grooming Advice

The mystical romance of the Saint as a rescue dog to helpless victims in snow disasters is well founded in his history as the “Hospice Dog” to the monks who founded their hospice for travellers and pilgrims in Switzerland’s St. Bernard Pass. With origins dating back to the second century to Molossus dogs brought by the Roman armies, the breed has evolved through the careful custodianship of the monks and the valley farming communities as a watchdog , guardian and companion.

His strength and size are of importance to his duties as well as correct coat to be able to work in icy conditions. The words, powerful, strong, muscular etc and an overall request for an impressive appearance are the watchwords for the silhouette this dog is required to make.

Your “Alpen Dog” or “Sacred Dog” as the Saint has been referred to in past lives, requires his coat to have a substantial undercoat and like most Alpine/Arctic breeds, a coat texture that withstands the ice and elements. Tough without feeling rough is the call for this coat. His coat is also either white with red or red with white in all forms of red shades and needs constant care in most warm climates to prevent coat fade and damage. Red hair just seems to burn or dehydrate faster than other colours doesn’t it? Coupled with a request for the coat not to be too wavy and definitely not curly, you don’t need the sun and elements to accelerate the dehydration thus causing flipping ends and the wave to appear more pronounced.

So, a good solid looking dog with strong legs and body and a good somewhat smooth lying coat with good dense undercoat all gleaming with health and vitality! Frankly this dog needs quite a lot of things to have happen to his coat when working and living in climates outside his native Alpine region. Protection and moisturising of the hair will ensure the coat routine prior to show day is an easier one. Oil this coat as prevention is better than cure. Use Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 litres water sponged liberally through the coat or squished through to the skin with a hydrobath - leave in and don‘t rinse. Use this instead of conditioner. Conditioner will flatten and soften and your standard calls for a tough coat. (Use this prior to showing too after the shampoo, in place of conditioner and leave in - do not rinse. ) Daily use of Plush Puppy Sunshade applied liberally along the topline, will help prevent “flipping ends”. Those reds can burn easily.

When brushing during the week and for a show day grooming spray, use Plush Puppy Revivacoat a fabulous, non greasy moisturiser in an aerosol mousse form, best worked for even distribution and speed on a large dog at one - two golfball amounts to 2 cups water and sprayed through . Use this as often as you need without fear of overdoing it. This will keep the coat hydrated and tangle free with maximum elasticity to the hair.

At some stage you will have pretty much worked your way through all of the shampoos as the Saint coat changes seasonally going through the various phases of just right, old coat, no coat, new coat and often yellowing on the whites. There is no blanket overallapproach with any show dog and with double coated breeds you are constantly chasing a coat as it sheds. So, when in correct full coat, use for the body areas, the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo 5:1 (5 parts water to one part shampoo) on the main body of the coat for maximum shine. When the coat is old and dehydrated, use Plush Puppy Conditioning Shampoo with Evening Primrose on the dehydrated areas to address matting, felting or flipped ends and All Purpose on the rest of the body. Then when out of coat, switch to the Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo packed with Wheatgerm proteins to enhance what coat there is. Use this shampoo wherever and whenever there is not enough bulk or coat to make the desired silhouette. Follow all with the Seabreeze Oil (1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 lt water) and leave in, don’t rinse.

For all white areas such as legs, bib and face, use Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted 3:1 and leave for a few minutes whilst bathing the rest of the body and then rinse. This is a toning shampoo and will help to reduce unwanted warm tones. Can be used on those faded red areas too to add the cool tones back into the warm coloured areas that have lost their cool tones due to sun bleaching. If you prefer a creamier white rather than a pearly white, use Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo on the white areas. Can leave this on for 5 minutes or so for maximum whitening. Use this either diluted at 3:1 or undiluted on a wet coat. I like this for whites on a warm coloured dog but many prefer the pearly white finish. I just figure a cool toned white does not match a warm toned coat but that is my hairdresser background speaking.

Now for the drying process. I use a turbo dryer that shoots cool air out in gale force! This is a big dog to dry and the drying can help reduce those wavier areas and give more lift to the areas that need more bulk. Apply a liberal mix of 1 tbspn Plush Puppy Volumising Cream to 1 cup water to the areas requiring more lift. For the legs add Plush Puppy Puffy Dog a good strong hold mousse that is totally water soluble and not sticky. You can add 1 dspn Plush Puppy Swishy Coat with 1 dspn Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to one cup water and apply liberally over the topline - this when blow dried with the Plush Puppy cushioned Pin Brush till 3/4 dry and finished with the Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush against the growth of the coat, will reduce and practically eliminate any wave or too curly situations.

Show day will see your Saint ready for final titivation and tweaking. His coat texture should look perfect and his silhouette fitting into that ideal shape you have in your mind and from the standard. Use Plush Puppy Coverup Cream applied sparingly with a barely damp sponge to his white areas that need a more pristine look and keep reapplying with light dabs in layers till the required coverage is achieved. Finish with loose chalk to dry and brush prior to ringtime.

For disasters, use Plush Puppy Wonder Wash a great self rinse that gives a really clean result or Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Regular Coats a new innovative powder that cleans and deodorises - dust on and work in with the brush or hands and brush out or blow out. Voila! Instant clean. Very handy for those wet mouth situations.

Now a dash of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb for that last minute glamour shine and a spritz of Plush Puppy Odour Muncher so he smells divine, and your Saint is ready to work if not to rescue you but to save the day in the show ring. Long haired or short haired, this massive dog has a majestic appearance with his strong boned and powerful stride.

His intelligence, his mystical ability to sense disaster, his legendary role as a saviour and companion, deserve all the hard work you will have put into his show form. All the wonderful stories of this dog are entirely true and it is your role to make sure you get to work for him in appreciation.

- Cheryl Le Court