In This Article...
- What is the Best Saint Bernard Dog Food?
- Understanding a Saint Bernard’s Diet Requirements
- Special Dietary Considerations for St. Bernards
- St. Bernard Feeding Chart
- The Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards: Our Top 15 Picks for 2023
- FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Large-Breed Recipe
- Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Salmon Recipe Dry Food
- Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food
- NomNom Fresh Food Delivery Service
- Blue Buffalo Basics Grain-Free LID Lamb & Potato Large Breed Recipe
- Merrick Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Large Breed Recipe
- 3 more Top Rated (5 Star) St. Bernard Adult Foods
- 3 More Top Rated (5 Star) St. Bernard Puppy Foods
- 2 More Picks for Senior St. Bernard Foods
- Our FAQ and Saint Bernard Feeding Guide
- St. Bernard Dog Food – A Final Word
If you know anything about the Saint Bernard breed, it is probably that they used to be sent on rescue missions in avalanche zones wearing a barrel of brandy around their neck.
While you probably won’t see a St. Bernard doing anything like this today, the modern breed still has a protective nature about him. These dogs make a lovable family pet because they are excellent with children, dogs, and other pets. They are very affectionate with family and generally respond well to training, though some dogs develop a stubborn streak.
The St. Bernard is a wonderful breed but a big one – he stands 25.5 to 27.5 inches tall and weighs up to 180 pounds at maturity. To accompany his massive size is a short lifespan of just 7 to 10 years. The best way to maximize your dog’s lifespan is to feed him a healthy diet and keep him active.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:
What is the Best Saint Bernard Dog Food?
Understanding a Saint Bernard’s Diet Requirements
All dogs require a diet rich in protein to support lean muscle mass with fat as a concentrated source of energy. Both protein and fat are best when they are sourced from animal products like meat, poultry, and fish because your dog’s body is evolved to digest and metabolize animal products better than plant products. Plant-based fats can be used to ensure the right balance of omega fatty acids.
In addition to protein and fat, a high-quality dog food for St. Bernards will contain digestible carbohydrates to provide a lean source of energy as well as fiber and essential nutrients. For most dogs, whole grains are a digestible source of carbohydrates, but St. Bernards have a higher risk for food allergies than other breeds and grains are a common culprit. Look for vegetables, beans, or legumes instead and aim for a fiber content around 3% to 5%.
- Puppy St. Bernards Diet – As a puppy, your St. Bernard needs a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat in his diet to grow strong muscles. A large-breed puppy recipe will ensure that his nutritional needs are met while also controlling his growth to reduce the risk for musculoskeletal issues later in life.
- Adult St. Bernards Diet – When your St. Bernard reaches his full size, switch to a large-breed adult or healthy weight recipe to maintain lean muscle mass and prevent obesity. Look for a recipe that contains between 20% and 26% protein and 8% to 12% fat for controlled caloric density.
- Senior St. Bernards Diet – As your St. Bernard gets older, his metabolism will slow down so you’ll need to switch to a large-breed senior recipe or stick to your healthy weight formula and adjust his feeding according to his age and size.
In addition to meeting your dog’s basic needs for protein, fat, and carbohydrates, a high-quality dog food for giant breeds will contain natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. Calcium and phosphorus are also important to support healthy bones and teeth. Other beneficial supplements may include prebiotic fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion, chelated minerals as a biologically valuable mineral supplement, and fresh fruits and veggies for antioxidants.
Special Dietary Considerations for St. Bernards
The St. Bernard is a giant and beautiful breed known for his sweet temper. Unfortunately, these dogs have a very short lifespan between 7 and 10 years as well as susceptibility to a variety of serious health problems which have the potential to affect that lifespan.
Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the St. Bernard may be prone:
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Gastric Dilation
- Hip Dysplasia
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans
Let’s take a closer look at some of these health problems.
Many of the health problems to which the St. Bernard is prone can be categorized in groups such as eye problems, musculoskeletal conditions, and inherited health problems. Some of the eye problems to which the breed is prone include cataracts, entropion, and ectropion. A cataract is an opacity that forms in the lens of the eye and can cause a partial or total obstruction of vision. Entropion occurs when the eyelid (usually the lower lid) rolls inward and causes irritation to the eye. Ectropion is the opposite, when the eyelid rolls outward.
As a giant breed, the St. Bernard has a very high risk for musculoskeletal problems. If your puppy grows too fast or doesn’t get the right nutrients and exercise, his risk for musculoskeletal problems is even higher. As an adult obesity is a major factor in determining the severity of these problems. Some of the musculoskeletal issues to which the breed is prone include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and osteochondrosis dissecans. Elbow dysplasia is a deformity of the elbow joint which in which the bone doesn’t sit properly in the socket. Hip dysplasia is a similar deformity of the hip joint and both can lead to joint inflammation, joint damage, and arthritis.
Some of the inherited health problems to which the breed is prone include dilated cardiomyopathy, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and osteosarcoma. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged which affects its ability to beat properly and can lead to congestive heart failure. Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland and osteosarcoma is bone cancer.
In addition to these health problems, most large and giant breeds like your St. Bernard are particularly prone to a condition called gastric dilation or bloat. This is a condition in which the stomach fills with air and twists on its axis, cutting off blood flow and causing a life-threatening condition. It happens when your dog eats too much, eats too fast, or swallows too much air while he is eating. The risk is particularly high in deep-chested breeds and you can reduce your dog’s risk by making sure he eats slowly and by avoiding raised dog bowls.
In terms of special dietary considerations, know that the most important thing for your St. Bernard is to maintain a healthy body weight. You should also know that this breed is more highly prone to allergies than other breeds, so you should make sure to feed him a diet made from wholesome natural ingredients (ideally a limited number of them) and make sure it is highly digestible.
St. Bernard Feeding Chart
Throughout your St. Bernard’s life, it will be a priority to help him build and maintain lean muscle mass. Lean muscle is the best defense against obesity in dogs, particularly for giant breeds. Start with a large- or giant-breed puppy food and feed your St. Bernard according to the feeding recommendations on the package. You’ll have to adjust his feeding every few weeks while he is growing, so keep checking the package. Make sure not to overfeed your puppy because rapid growth can increase his risk for musculoskeletal issues in adulthood.
As a giant breed, it could take your St. Bernard two years or more to reach his adult size. Keep feeding your dog puppy food until about 18 months then check to see if his growth is slowing down. If it is, it may be time to switch to a large-breed adult recipe. Depending on your dog’s activity level, a healthy weight formula may also be appropriate because these tend to be made with lean proteins and are lower in fat to control calories. By the time your St. Bernard reaches senior status, around 5 or 6 years, he may need a healthy weight formula anyway to prevent obesity.
The Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards: Our Top 15 Picks for 2023
Now that you have a better understanding of your St. Bernard’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for a healthy giant-breed dog food! Remember, the best St. Bernard food will be made from all-natural ingredients including lean animal proteins, moderate levels of healthy fat, and digestible carbohydrates. A limited ingredient diet formulated for large breeds may be best to reduce the risk for food allergies. Here are our top 15 picks:
Overall Best Food for St. Bernards: The St. Bernard has a higher risk for allergies than many breeds, so a limited ingredient diet made with a premium source of novel animal protein would be the ideal diet. This FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Large-Breed Recipe fits the bill because it contains a low number of main ingredients and features wild herring as a single source of novel protein. This recipe comes in a larger kibble size for controlled eating in large breeds, and it contains the ideal balance of lean protein and healthy fats. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and glucosamine for joints.
- Pros: Single source of novel protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in essential fatty acids, limited number of main ingredients, chelated minerals, glucosamine, large kibble size
- Cons: May be too high in fiber for some dogs, expensive to feed as a staple diet, 500 calories per cup
Most Affordable Food: There aren’t many dog foods out there specifically for giant breeds, but this Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Salmon Recipe Dry Food is a good one. Made with real salmon as the main ingredient, this recipe is rich in protein but also contains plenty of omega fatty acids for your St. Bernard’s long coat. This recipe features sixteen whole vegetables and four fruits to provide natural sources for key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, plus there are prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion.
- Pros: Ideal protein and fat ratio for giant breeds, wholesome natural ingredients, digestible carbohydrates, premium animal source of protein, glucosamine and chondroitin, probiotics
- Cons: supplements aren’t chelated, not a grain-free recipe
Most Popular Food: If you’re not sure what the best dog food is for your St. Bernard, you can’t go wrong with a popular choice like this Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food. This recipe is loaded with premium animal proteins and digestible grain-free carbohydrates to provide your dog with a wholesome source of premium nutrition. It features salmon meal as a concentrated source of protein as well as a rich source of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. There are plenty of supplemental sources of fiber to ensure regular digestion with probiotics for added support. This recipe also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.
- Pros: Novel source of animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, prebiotics and probiotics
- Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
Super Premium Food: If you want the best of the best for your St. Bernard, you can’t do better than a fresh food company like NomNom. NomNom is a fresh dog food delivery service that sends fresh, custom meals right to your door on a monthly basis. Signing up takes just a few minutes and all you have to do is type in some basic information about your dog. From there, you can select your recipe from the collection and they will automatically be customized according to your dog’s nutrient and calorie needs. Every recipe is made with the freshest natural ingredients to guarantee the highest quality nutrition and plenty of natural flavor.
- Pros: Made with the freshest ingredients, custom meals for your dog, delivered fresh to your door, perfectly portioned pouches, automatic shipments
- Cons: Limited number of recipe options, very expensive to feed, delivery restrictions in some areas
Best Food for St. Bernards with Allergies: If your St. Bernard suffers from food allergies, as many dogs of this breed do, this Blue Buffalo Basics Grain-Free LID Lamb & Potato Large Breed Recipe might be a good choice. It is a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein, but it is more affordable than many large-breed formulas on the market. It contains deboned lamb as the main ingredient with potatoes, peas, and tapioca for grain-free carbohydrates. It is supplemented with a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as fresh fruits and veggies to provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals.
- Pros: Balanced for large breeds, limited number of ingredients, deboned lamb as first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin, probiotics
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
Best Food for St. Bernards with Sensitive Stomachs: Digestibility is key for a St. Bernard with a sensitive stomach and this Merrick Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Large Breed Recipe offers just that. It is made with real chicken as the main ingredient which is a lean source of protein and a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe features grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas, with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joints as well as L-carnitine to support lean muscle and a healthy metabolism.
- Pros: Highly digestible, protein-rich chicken as main ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, glucosamine and chondroitin, chelated minerals, probiotics
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients
3 more Top Rated (5 Star) St. Bernard Adult Foods
To limit your St. Bernard’s risk for food allergies, this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Large Breed Recipe is a great choice. It features a limited number of main ingredients with real lamb as a novel source of protein. It contains a rich blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.
If you’re concerned about digestibility in your St. Bernard’s diet, try a grain-free recipe like this Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Large Breed Adult Recipe. This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient with grain-free carbohydrates. It contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support with calcium and phosphorus for strong bones.
If you’re looking for a recipe that provides the optimal balance of protein and fat for your St. Bernard, try this Adirondack Large Breed Recipe Dry Food. This recipe features premium-quality nutrition with 23% protein and just 12% fat. It contains a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, as well as digestible whole-grain carbohydrates for energy and fiber.
3 More Top Rated (5 Star) St. Bernard Puppy Foods
If you’re on a budget then this Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy Recipe could be a good choice for your St. Bernard puppy. Surprisingly affordable for the level of quality, this recipe contains slow-cooked chicken with wholesome fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It also contains rich sources of antioxidants for healthy immunity with DHA for brain and eye development.
If you’re concerned about allergies or food sensitivities with your St. Bernard puppy, this Wellness CORE Grain-Free Deboned Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe could be a good option. It features a high concentration of animal protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates. It also contains only natural ingredients, no artificial additives, fillers, or byproducts to upset your puppy’s stomach.
To get your St. Bernard started on the right foot with a nutritious diet, consider this Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Puppy Recipe. This recipe features 100% fresh turkey, salmon, and duck with a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also contains added taurine for healthy heart and vision, plus prebiotics and probiotics for optimal digestion.
2 More Picks for Senior St. Bernard Foods
As your St. Bernard gets older, his metabolism will slow down, and obesity becomes a greater risk. This Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Weight Control Adult Recipe is a great option because it contains plenty of lean protein for weight maintenance as well as omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This recipe also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.
If you’re looking for a large-breed formula to control your senior St. Bernard’s weight, consider this Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Weight Management Senior Recipe. This recipe features 100% fresh turkey, salmon, and duck for lean protein with a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It also contains green mussels as natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin.
Our FAQ and Saint Bernard Feeding Guide
Not only do you need to pick a high-quality giant-breed dog food for your St. Bernard, but you also need to think about practical things like choosing a dog bowl and keeping your dog’s food fresh. Because you’ll be feeding your St. Bernard up to 6 cups of food per day, that’s as much as three cups per meal. You’re going to need a big dog bowl. Before you go shopping, you should know what to look for. Materials like stainless steel and ceramic are easy to clean and they won’t scratch which means they won’t harbor dangerous bacteria. Stainless steel is generally the best because it is the most durable and even a large bowl will still be lightweight.
Again, because you’ll be feeding your St. Bernard so much, you need to think about how you’re going to buy and store his food. It will be more cost-effective to buy it in large bags but think about how you’re going to keep it fresh. The inside of a dog food bag is treated to help keep the product fresh, but it will start to lose some of its nutritional integrity as soon as you open the bag. If you have a big enough bin, the best idea is to place the entire bag in an airtight container.
And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding a St. Bernard:
How much food should I feed my Saint Bernard?
Your dog’s needs for calories will depend on his age and body weight. Generally speaking, however, giant breeds have slow metabolisms and only need about 20 calories per pound of body weight per day. If you want to see exactly how much to feed your St. Bernard, start by choosing a high-quality dog food formulated for large or giant breeds and then refer to the feeding directions on the package according to your dog’s age and weight to determine his daily portion. As an estimate, you’ll be feeding your St. Bernard somewhere between 5 and 6 cups of food divided into two meals.
How many times a day should I feed my St. Bernard?
When it comes to feeding large and giant breeds like your St. Bernard, you need to avoid feeding them too much at once to limit their risk for gastric dilation. To help your dog eat more slowly, consider using a slow-feed dog bowl. In terms of the number of daily meals, most dogs do well with two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Take the daily feeding recommendation from the package and divide it into two meals.
What kind of food do Saint Bernards eat?
The best dog food for any giant-breed dog is made from high-quality, all-natural ingredients and formulated to meet his calorie and nutrient needs. If you want the best for your dog, consider dehydrated, freeze-dried, or fresh food for your St. Bernard. These foods offer the best nutritional quality and they are also highly digestible. The problem is, they can be very expensive. If you can’t afford premium-quality food, buy the highest quality dry food you can consistently afford. Because St. Bernards have a high risk for food allergies, a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein is best.
What vegetables are good in a St. Bernard food?
All dog foods contain vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure balanced nutrition, but your dog can still benefit from the inclusion of fresh fruits and vegetables in his diet. These provide natural sources for key nutrients which are always more biologically valuable than synthetic supplements. Here are some of the best vegetables for St. Bernards:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Sweet potato
Even if your dog’s food does contain fresh vegetables, it isn’t a bad idea to give him a few bites as a healthy snack. In fact, fresh veggies are a low-calorie snack that work great for giant breeds who need to be on a calorie-controlled diet. Just make sure that the vegetables you choose are safe for dogs to eat and that you clean them well before feeding. You should also feed small amounts to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach from an overload of fiber.
Do St. Bernards need grain-free dog food?
Whether or not your St. Bernard needs a grain-free diet depends on the individual dog. Before you decide, you should know that there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the long-term safety of grain-free recipes for dogs. There is a study that showed an increased risk for dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs on a grain-free diet, but the fact remains that there is no conclusive evidence as of yet. Keep in mind that St. Bernards do have a higher risk for allergies than other breeds but, unless your dog is allergic or sensitive to grains, a grain-free diet may not be necessary.
St. Bernard Dog Food – A Final Word
Now that you know the basics about your St. Bernard’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best Irish St. Bernard food. Remember to look for a product that is made from all-natural ingredients including lean animal proteins, moderate levels of healthy fat, and digestible carbohydrates. A limited ingredient diet formulated for large breeds may be best to reduce the risk for food allergies.
If you’re still not sure where to start in choosing the best St. Bernard dog food, try one of our top 15 picks reviewed above!