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St. Bernard Grooming: 8 Health and Care Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

saint bernard dog standing near the pond

St. Bernards are giant dogs, and their grooming needs can seem intimidating. If you are considering adopting one, you will likely wonder what it takes to keep the animal looking its best. How much grooming do St. Bernards need?

The grooming routine for this dog breed is pretty standard. Although some assume short-haired St. Bernards require lesser grooming efforts, both short and long-haired dogs of the breed require the same type of care to keep their coats in tip-top condition.

Hopefully, your labor of love will save you from vacuuming mountains of fur from your living spaces.

Read on to learn more about the grooming needs of St. Bernard dogs. We will share eight tips and tricks to make getting your furry friend dolled up a tad easier.

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The 8 St. Bernard Grooming Tips

1. Brush the Coat Regularly

St. Bernards are native to the Western Alps in Italy and Switzerland, where it can get extremely cold, especially during winter. Although the breed has short-haired and long-haired varieties, both have double coats that serve as a natural insulator to protect them against adverse weather conditions.

Brushing their coats multiple times a week is crucial to prevent matting and tangling.

Skipping more than a few days can lead to the formation of cobweb matting on the thick undercoat. The longer the concern goes unaddressed, the likelier it is for your pet to develop skin issues.

Whether short or long-haired, St. Bernards shed a lot all year round. They shed even more during the shedding season in spring and autumn, making it imperative to up your grooming routines. Coat brushing is a crucial part of keeping your dog healthy and happy.

st. bernard dog getting combed
Image Credit: Alyaalya, Shutterstock

2. Take a Bath Once a Month

St. Bernards have a gentle demeanor and a cute, cuddly appearance.

Unfortunately, they are not so nice to cuddle if they don’t take consistent showers. These canines are among the smelliest dogs around. Their drooling tends to worsen matters, and their smell can quickly get overbearing.

Ensure you use the right products to achieve optimal results with each shower. Use the right shampoo and conditioner based on your pet’s coat type.

Also, dry the fur and skin thoroughly to prevent the buildup of a nasty “wet dog” smell. Start by using a clean towel, then use low blow-dryer settings to get the top and undercoat perfectly dry.

Bathing your pet can be challenging, but the right shampoo will make it a lot easier! We have two favorite shampoos for the job, both are safe, all-natural shampoos designed with your pets in mind. Our soothing shampoos are pH balanced, made in the USA, and free of glutens, dyes, sulfates, and phthalates. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural cucumber & aloe scent
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Rinsing required
Rinsing required:
Rinsing required:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Lathers easily
Lathers easily:
Lathers easily:


3. Don’t Overwash the Coat

When it comes to St. Bernards, you could feel tempted to bathe your dog more frequently. Don’t. Overwashing can cause skin problems that will only make the odor more problematic.

Instead of taking more baths, make sure each bath counts. Apply a generous amount of shampoo and work it down to the skin. You must also rinse thoroughly to remove all the product and apply a light conditioner to hydrate the hair strands.

It would help to use a scented spray designed for dogs to keep your dog smelling nice for longer. Most importantly, don’t forget to clean the bedding. It is counterproductive to bathe your St. Bernard only for it to sleep on smelly bedding.

saint bernard dog getting a bath
Image Credit: Marco 1978 Pereira, Shutterstock

4. Check the Skin’s Condition

The skin is your dog’s largest organ, making up 12% to 24% of its overall weight. As such, it is imperative to do a nose-to-tail skin check during grooming sessions.

Run your fingers through the coat and feel the skin for anomalies like bumps and cuts. Also, part the fur and examine the skin for cuts, sores, redness, bald spots, or rashes. You must also check for external parasites like fleas and ticks that may be hiding inside the coat.

5. Regularly Wipe the Ears

St. Bernards have long, floppy ears that lie flat against the head. They can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to a foul smell or ear infections. Regularly check them and clean out debris with a wet cotton ball.

Only wipe the underside of the ear flap and at the ear canal’s entrance. Once done, tie the ear flaps loosely on top of the head using a hair tie to allow proper drying.

Before you start cleaning your dog’s ears, prepare for a mess. It’s best to handle the job outside and arm yourself with a towel. If your St. Bernard feels ticklish, it will likely shake its head and throw yucky ear debris around.

saint bernard dog hugged by the female owner
Image Credit: Fotokostic, Shutterstock

6. Brush Teeth Multiple Times Weekly

Dental problems are expensive to treat. Like all dogs, St. Bernards need teeth brushing several times weekly to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Brushing eliminates bad breath, prevents gum disease, and removes tartar and plaque that can increase the risk of dental cavities.

Most dogs don’t like having their teeth cleaned. The secret to ensuring a different turn of events for your furry friend is to begin teeth brushing as soon as it gets home. Brush with caution to avoid hurting the gums, and use the right dental care products as recommended by your vet.

Again, it pays to prepare yourself for your sessions. Get all the tools and products ready and create a calming environment for your pet. Also, arm yourself with some tasty treats to help motivate your St. Bernard to cooperate.

7. Trim the Nails Once a Month

Nail trimming is an essential part of your dog’s grooming routine. Like teeth brushing, nail trimming can also be an anxiety-laden experience for your St. Bernard. It is best to start handling your pet’s feet from a young age to get it used to the process.

Furthermore, trim the nails at least once each month. Long nails can cause pain when walking, especially given the size and weight of these dogs. They can also lead to injuries because of reduced traction.

Since they have thick nails, it is vital to use the right clippers and remain calm and confident throughout the process.

dogs getting nails trimmed
Image Credit: Duet PandG, Shutterstock

8. Make Your Grooming Sessions Enjoyable

Dogs don’t mind foul smells. As such, good grooming is not as important to them as it is for humans. It is vital to encourage them to like the process. For instance, you want to be generous with treats to increase the odds of your sessions going smoothly.

Moreover, keep your sessions as short as possible. You can accomplish this by gathering all the necessary products and supplies before you start. Also, grooming more frequently can keep the work manageable and ensure each session takes 15 minutes at most.

Another trick to make grooming enjoyable is to give compliments like crazy. St. Bernards respond to positive feedback. A pile of praises and a generous number of free treats can keep your dog looking forward to your next grooming date.

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Final Thoughts

Although the breed is a heavy shedder, its hair does not grow past a specific length. Coat brushing and bathing is sufficient to keep your furry friend looking and smelling nice. You can only give it a haircut if a vet recommends it because of a health concern.

We hope the above tips make grooming your St. Bernard a breeze. With a proper grooming routine and some effort, you will have better chances of enjoying bonding and cuddling sessions.

Featured Image Credit: Pictureguy, Shutterstock

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