The Labrador Retriever and the St. Bernard are two of the most popular breeds when it comes to home companions. They are known as gentle dogs who are great with children. But what do you get when we have a St. Bernard Lab mix breed? Are they good house companions as well or they work better as service and guide dogs?
St. Bernard Lab Mix Highlights
- The Labernard pup is a mix between the St. Bernard dog and the Labrador Retriever. They look like a mixture of these two dogs but usually lean more towards one parent.
- Labernard dogs are large. They can weigh at around 100 to 200 pounds and reaches a height of 23 to 27 inches at the shoulders.
- Their coat is normally short but thick. They are also moderate to heavy shedders and are not hypoallergenic.
- This hybrid dog is an intelligent breed and can learn commands quickly. However, they do have a stubborn streak and can be a little tough to train.
- Exercise is essential to keep them physically fit. But don’t overdo it especially when it’s hotter outside since they can quickly get heatstroke.
- A Labernard adult dog usually eats four cups of dry dog food daily, split into two or three meals throughout the day. They will also need plenty of clean water to avoid heatstroke.
- Two of the major health concerns surrounding the St. Bernard Lab mix is gastric torsion or bloat as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. Getting them checked regularly is advised.
- These dogs are also prone to ear infections, so part of their grooming routine is getting their ears checked and cleaned.
- Getting a Labernard is ideal for those with bigger families. They like having someone to look after them and can act unruly when left alone.
- These dogs are loyal, sweet, friendly. But they’re winning trait is their gentleness, especially towards children.
Here is everything you need to know a St. Bernard Lab mix or a Labernard if you are thinking of getting one.
Labrador Saint Bernard Mix Appearance
Because they are bred from two large dogs, a Labernard will grow to be around the same size as its parents. That means they will also have a muscular build with strong muscle and bone density. Typically, they acquire the wrinkled forehead of the St. Bernard.
However, litters often differ from one another. It all depends on the DNA of both the Labrador and the St. Bernard and which one is stronger. However, they will have an appearance that shows off intelligence and gentleness.
They also have dark brown eyes and a black nose. Plus they have ears that are set rather high up on their head but hang down on their faces.
Size and Weight
The Labrador Retriever is a medium to large-sized dog. However, the St. Bernard is a large breed, often included on the world’s largest dog breeds not just with their height but also their weight.
On an average, a male St. Bernard Lab mix reaches 25 to 27 inches in height and a weight of 102 to 220 pounds. Meanwhile, female dogs reach 23 to 25 inches and weigh anywhere between 98 to 215 pounds.
Labernards could sometimes reach the full size of an adult St. Bernard and the sheer size can sometimes be overwhelming. When you get a pup, expect that they will get larger. You must be aware of this so you can start accommodating to their size, energy level, and needs, especially depending on the space in your home.
Fur and Coat
Labernards often acquire the shaggy coat that’s distinctly that of the St. Bernard. However, it’s usually shorter thanks to the DNA of the Labrador Retriever. The latter keeps its wild-looking fur in check. But their coat is indeed one of their most distinguishing characteristics.
With soft and thick fur, it’s easy to fall in love with this dog. Their fur is also what makes them immune to even the coldest winter night.
But you also have to expect that some Labernard dogs look more like Labrador Retrievers. That means apart from the much shorter coat, they will have a thinner coat and will be more prone to cold weather.
The best thing to do is to check their coat as pups. It will give you an idea of how much they can handle the heat and cold and if they can handle the climate in your location.
The most common fur colors for these dogs are white, fawn, brown, black, and red. Normally, it’s a combination of all those colors.
As with many designer dogs, the specific date St. Bernard Lab mix dogs appeared remains a mystery. However, they seem to have emerged during the 1990s and were bred by breeders who are looking for newer generations of search and rescue dogs as well as home companions.
Since we have no clue as to their origin story, we’ll look back at the history of both the Labrador Retriever and the St. Bernard.
The other half of the Labernard ancestry, St. Bernard dogs, has been around since the 1700s. There are even paintings that recorded they have been around much earlier.
St. Bernards are also known as the Alpine Mountain Dogs or the Alpine Cattle Dogs as they were bred in the snowy mountains of the Alps. These dogs were bred by the monks on the hospice of Saint Bernard.
The hospice was built by St. Bernard of Menthon and the St. Bernard dogs aided pilgrims who were traversing through the dangerous pass of the snowy Alps, hoping to reach Rome. The monks would usually travel along the pass with the dogs and will help any unlucky traveler who was trapped by an avalanche and similar dangers.
However, there were several cases of extreme winters from 1816 to 1818. Many of the hospice’s dogs were buried by the avalanche while trying to rescue people. Fearing that the breed will be lost, the remaining dogs were cross-bred with the Newfoundland in the 1850s.
That is why the original St. Bernard dogs looked much different than today’s breed.
While the naming came from the hospice, the name Saint Bernard wasn’t used as much until the 19th century.
Today, there are St. Bernard dogs that are used for search and rescue operations. However, most of them are therapy dogs, guide dogs, and well-loved home companions. They are also known as “nanny dogs” because of their gentleness towards kids, making them the perfect pets for families.
The Labrador Retriever was also known as St. John’s dog at one time. They have been around since the 1700s and were imported to England during the 1800s. Nonetheless, their exact ancestry remains a mystery. Still, many experts believe it would either be the French St. Hubert’s dog or the Greater Newfoundland dog that bred them.
In the past, the Labradors were assistants to hunters — retrieving downed game for their masters. They’d hunt waterfowl or upland games. Their name came from the Earl of Malmesbury in 1887 when he wrote a letter and called them his Labrador dogs.
Since then, these dogs are comfortable in water which is apparent even with today’s Labrador Retrievers. They make good swimmers and were also trained to rescue people who were drowning.
Apart from being good search and rescue dogs, the Labrador Retrievers have also become a favorite when it comes to becoming security, therapy, and guide dogs. But they are also one of the most popular breeds to become family pets because of their calm and gentle demeanor.
Labrador Saint Bernard Mix Trainability
The Labernard is a smart animal as both its parents are also intelligent. That makes training a bit of a roller coaster. If you hit a dead end or when you’re a new owner, you can call a professional trainer or a nearby obedience school.
While they are smart and can learn any commands and tricks faster than most breeds, they also have a mind of their own. They have a stubborn streak and won’t follow what you say sometimes. They can also get distracted especially when they aren’t in the mood to train.
Being extra firm is the key. You need to become the leader instead of the friend. Plus, you also need some patience since it can take a while before you can get their attention and follow you. In addition, they also work and learn best when you praise them.
Positive reactions such as praising and rewards have often worked even with the most stubborn dogs. Surely, this will also work with a St. Bernard Lab mix pup.
Depending on which parent it comes after, the level of exercise could vary. If your Labernard is more of a Labrador Retriever, they will require more exercise daily. Maybe a few minutes of walking or jogging and some agility exercises such as playing frisbee.
If your dog leans more towards the St. Bernard DNA, then a leisurely walk with them may suffice. Playing with them from time to time also gives them ample exercise. You may also provide them with treat-hiding activities to keep their minds alert.
However, your Labernard does not do well with heat — even when they have thinner coats than usual. If you’re exercising with them, be sure that you always have plenty of water with you. You might also want to cut down a little on the intense exercise as they can get heat strokes easily.
Moreover, mental exercises are also essential for intelligent dogs. You can always do some simple puzzles and obstacle courses for them.
St. Bernard Lab Mix Temperament
When it comes to getting a dog, one of the main things you should always consider is their behavior and personality. You need to find the right type that suits for your status. For example, the Labernard is a very well-behaved and gentle dog. They are great for big families and especially for those who have special needs, as they can become amazing service dogs.
Apart from their gentle demeanor, St. Bernard Lab mix dogs are pretty patient and friendly. They also work well with other animals and kids. They often look after the tiny ones and protect them however they could.
But despite their big size, they aren’t the aggressive type of protectors. These dogs are alert, but they usually signal their humans for any trouble. In the event the worst has happened, they will spring into action.
However, if you want an aggressive guard dog and someone you can train to be intimidating, Labernard dogs aren’t the choice. Most of the time, people may be intimidated by their sheer size, but they are not implicitly aggressive when you first see them.
If there’s a downside to having this designer dog, it’s that they can get a little problematic when left alone. They can cause chaos around the house when left alone for a while. That’s why they suit bigger families more — there’s usually someone left behind to care for them.
It’s no secret that larger dogs will need more servings than the average adult dog. Your Labernard will need at least four cups of dog food a day. Sometimes, they may even need more especially when they are exercising and moving around a lot. That’s because they burn energy quickly and they need to replace it soon after.
However, don’t just give them those four cups straight. It’s best that you split it into two or three meals a day with the best possible feeding plan. For that, you should visit your vet to determine what’s the best time for your dog to eat. You can also observe them so you can come up with a meal plan that suits them.
When it comes to food, some dogs will like wet dog food than dry and vice versa. But no matter what they prefer, their diet should have enough nutrients to keep them healthy. Dog food with a high-quality source of animal protein is a good choice.
Always choose a dog food that lists meat as the first ingredient. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also essential nutrients to help avoid hip dysplasia.
Also, the kibble size should be larger to promote proper chewing. Typically, large dogs gulp down smaller kibbles and this disrupts their digestion.
Apart from food, they also need access to water regularly — especially when it’s hot or if it’s summertime. These dogs get hot quickly because of their fur. Avoid health risks by giving them plenty of clean water.
St. Bernard Lab Mix Health and Care
Sadly, bigger dogs don’t live as much as smaller dogs. The St. Bernard Lab mix has a lifespan of eight to 12 years, depending on their overall health condition. Take good care of them and it’s possible that they will reach a few more years in their lifespan than the average large-sized dog.
To make them healthy, you need to know which health issues their breed is more prone to. While hybrid mixes tend to be healthier than purebred dogs, they can acquire any illness or disease that their parents had.
This is another reason to buy a pup from a reputable breeder. They can guarantee that the parents are healthy, so the litter is safe from any health problems when they’re born.
Know which health issues both the St. Bernard and the Labrador Retriever normally contract so you can plan the best course of action when it comes to your pup’s health.
The following are common health issues of St. Bernard dogs.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Gastric torsion/Bloat
- Von Willebrand’s disease
Meanwhile, here are the most common health threats that trigger Labrador Retriever breeds:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Gastric Torsion/Bloat
- Ear infections
- Retinal dysplasia
- Caudal myopathy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Pulmonic Stenosis
- Tricuspid valve dysplasia
Labernard breeds’ major concerns are gastric torsion as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. Minor health concerns include entropion, cataracts, otitis externa, and PRA. Heart problems and epilepsy are among the occasional diagnoses.
Note that these problems do not show any symptoms when your dog is still young. That’s why you need to observe your pup as they grow and bring them to the vet for a regular check-up. They’ll need regular x-rays, eye and ear examinations, and full physical examinations.
While they do need exercise to fight obesity, be sure that you don’t overdo it.
Labernard dogs shed moderately, but there are seasons when they shed more. You will likely need to invest in a good vacuum to keep clumps of fallen hair from scattering around your home.
Brushing their coat also lessens shedding. Buy a good brush specifically for a coat like theirs and brush your dog every day or every other day. A pin brush would be a good choice. Brushing helps remove any loose hair and also keeps tangles from forming.
In the event your dog’s fur is longer, you may want to brush them daily. Longer hair or fur means they are more prone to tangles and matting.
As said, they will shed heavily on certain seasons. During this time, you can buy a shedding blade. It’s also an excellent choice to invest in a flea comb as it can be tough to get rid of ticks and flea with such a thick coat.
Bathing is only necessary when they get too dirty. Otherwise, you can bathe them every once in a while. However, it is essential that you clean their ears and observe any irritation or infection. They are prone to dirt and ear infections, which can be bad for their general health.
St. Bernard Lab mix dogs are not hypoallergenic. If you have allergies, asthma, or other pulmonary problems, they may not be the best choice for you. They also drool a lot so you should keep that in mind.
Of course, clipping their nails is necessary if they are getting longer. But you should be experienced or at least knowledgeable on how to cut their nails as they have nerves near their paws. Clipping too short could hurt them.
You also need to have the proper tool for that. If you are having trouble with dogs who dislike nail grooming, you can bring them to a professional groomer.
Lastly, brushing their teeth now and then also helps avoid tartar build-up. Plus, it can keep bad breath away.
St. Bernard Lab Mix Puppies
Because Labernard dogs are big, they start out as big pups too. They also grow faster than other breeds as they have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to muscle and bone growth. That’s why you have to create an effective feeding plan for them as a pup and as an adult.
As a young pup, your dog will love the outdoors. You can bring them along on hikes and camping; however, you should observe their behavior. Some pups will start acting out when they get used to being outside.
Puppies need more nutrients that can support them as they grow up. Protein is still the number one nutrient they need.
Their puppyhood is also the time when they should get vaccines to help avoid certain health issues such as rabies, parvovirus, and distemper.
How you care for your puppies will determine how healthy and strong they grow as adult dogs. This is also the time that you can train them. This will also determine how well-behaved they will be when they become adults.
Suffice to say, Labernard dogs are expensive. That’s why if you’re buying a pup, you should be ready to shell out some money.
The average price for a St. Bernard Lab mix pup is around $1,500. Well-known and more reputable breeders will likely have a higher price range compared to other. If they are also vaccinated and spayed/neutered, the price will be higher as well.
Apart from the initial price of buying a Labernard pup, you’ll also have to spend at least a thousand per year for them, especially with the food. The monthly cost for their food can be around $80 to $90. That does not include their medical services, toys, treats, and accessories.
If you want, you can adopt a Labernard pup if you find one at a local shelter. This gives you a chance to save their lives as well.
The Labernard is recognized by the Dog Registry of America, Inc. or DRA. Since they are not purebred dogs, they are not acknowledged by the American Kennel Club.
St. Bernard Lab mix dogs are fantastic family pets. They are gentle towards young children and despite their size, are really sweet creatures. Getting them may have its share of cons, especially when it comes to the money you have to spend. But all the positives surely outweigh the negatives.