Saturday, 29 March 2014

A mix of tricks: The highly intelligent Saint Bernese dog breed

A mix of tricks: Learn more about the highly intelligent Saint Bernese dog
Photo by Stacey Gonzalez
By Stacey Gonzalez- Examiner.com
Information available about training pure dog bred dogs is vast and never-ending. Which dog is the best, most intelligent and most trainable seem to be common questions. Why not mix it up and spend some time looking at a highly trainable mix breed that dog lovers may be overlooking- the Saint Bernese.
Most responsible pet owners do some breed research before they adopt and rightfully so- different lifestyles cater to different breed characteristics. The American Kennel Club (AKC) released its list of the top 10 dog breeds of 2013 and the top three dogs were repeats from the previous year- Labrador retriever, German shepherd and the golden retriever.
In the book The Intelligence of Dogs: Canine Consciousness and Capabilities author Stanley Coren came to the conclusion that the best breeds for training are the Border collie, Poodle and German shepherd. The Border collie is thought to be the most intelligent of all dog breeds according to canine dog experts worldwide.
What doesn't exist is well documented information about hybrid breeds. Some popular hybrids include the Puggle (Pug mixed with Beagle) and Labradoodle (Lab mixed with Poodle.) I own a Saint Bernese- three year old Keira.
Photo courtesy of www.valleyranchkennel.com
The Saint Bernese hybrid is a mix of two mountain dogs: the Saint Bernard and the Bernese mountain dog. Both breeds have things in common and things that set them apart. According to Marc Dubé- a breeder of the Saint Bernese cross- these dogs are not only intelligent but they are extremely loyal.
Marc and his wife Sylvie own Valley Ranch Kennel, a family run dog breeding kennel specializing in giant breeds. Located in Boulter, Ontario this family has been breeding big dogs since 2002 and have a great reputation due to their high standards. He breeds pure bred Saint Bernard’s and Saint Pyrenees (Saint Bernard mixed with Great Pyrenees) and is in his third year of breeding the Saint Bernese cross.
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Marc does not believe in inbreeding the dogs and guarantees a healthy environment so that they can socialize and have room to grow before they move on to their forever homes. He keeps in contact with his customers and enjoys hearing about the pup’s progress – you can tell just by looking at the Valley Kennel Ranch Facebook page.
“Almost every owner that gives us feedback about this cross has said that they are first of their class in the puppy class,” stated Marc.

The puppies spend 8 weeks at Valley Ranch Kennel before they are adopted out. In that time the Dubé’s provide the pups with proper socialization with people, children and other dogs. Training should start early.
“For training they should be walked every day,” said Marc, “and it’s great for (the dogs) if they have a big yard to play and run.”
In my experience with Keira it’s the temperament that makes this hybrid so easy to train. Saint Bernard’s are known to be calm, quiet and highly intelligent. Bernese mountain dogs are also smart, loyal and make great family dogs. Keira is a calm, submissive and loving dog. She gets to release her energy when we play outside but otherwise she’s a couch potato. A calm submissive dog is easy to train- Marc and his customers agree.
“People who adopt them say that they have very good temperament, that they are as laid back as the Saint Bernard and as loyal as the Bernese,” he said.
My only issue I have had in my experience with Keira is that she has a stubborn streak and if she decides that she is not going to do something she is not doing it. Otherwise her training has advanced with little effort. She picks up words as easily as a Border Collie or a Jack Russell terrier. Keira knows over 40 words and commands- see the list here!
“Those two breeds are very easy to train and loyal to their family,” Marc reaffirms.
For the most part, when you adopt a Saint Bernese the biggest gamble you are taking is with the size- these can be big dogs. Keira weighs in at 74 lbs. Marc posts puppy news to his website and some dogs are close to the size of Keira while others are the size of a pure bred Saint Bernard.
As an owner of a Saint Bernese the size gamble is worth it- the payout is a loyal, patient and quiet dog that is a highly intelligent people pleaser. This hybrid may not top any lists but it is in a class of its own.
To get in touch with Marc and Sylvie via their website Valley Ranch Kennel.
 

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