Great choice in a dog
Hope some of the following helps.
we got 2 St Bernard-Bernese crosses from a breeder in Wexford nearly 19mts ago now during the heavy snows (which meant they weren't socialsed in time) - (her Bernese got into her St Bernard that she was breeded).
Were told bone scores etc were all fine, no history of issues in the mother but never checked the papers and to our shame never saw the mother. Our trust here has come back to haunt us - just wanted to get home while the roads were reasonably open before the next snow fall.
We did however get pet insurance - saved our lives and our bank balances.
For the first while all seemed fine - then when getting them neutered we chose to get an x-ray of their hips just on the off chance of any issues - gawd - both of them have really really bad hip dysplaysia - for a year now we have been bringing them to hydrotherapy every single week...
Some other things to watch out for.
1. Do research on the right food - you want to ensure you don't get a food that encourages growth. We are now feeding ours Orijin and boiled chicken and rice. As well intentioned as vets are they are dealing with sales guys so do your research online and talk to a number of breeders.
2. Walks - the Bernard does NOT need long walks - start very very slowly - say 5 minutes max and following vet guidance increase per month. We now walk ours a max of 30 minutes a day. With a rest day after the swim.
3. Begin training immediately - and I mean asap - ours are quite good on the lead - though then they get excited at seeing another dog they can pull a bit - combined they are nearly 15stone - but normally they are great - we use the front harnesses. Be careful of collars you want to protect their necks. Also you may have to repeat the training cycle 3 or 4 times as much as for another dog - St Bernards sometimes really need a command drilled in. For us - Stay sometimes works; Come here - well depends; Sit - can't use with the hips; Look - very good now.
4. Stairs - keep them off stairs - again can impact the onset of hip dysplasia.
5. Socialisation - expose them to as much good experiences as possible. Mine unfortunately had issues with some kids our neighbours mind while left alone a few times. Now meeting kids is a big problem... Similarly when they meet old folk with hats and sunglasses they get spooked. Cannot stress this enough - we found when we put ours into day care it worked wonders for us outside as our short walks just could not introduce enough new dogs. They are now great with other dogs mostly - just not people - one had a hip socket pop out so missed out on some early people socialisation - we are getting there though.
6. House proof - ours have
> chewed our skirting boards - destroyed sections.
> Licked the plaster off the wall back to bricks.
> Chewed wooden furniture to make it rickety - including our really good antique table and chairs - cost a fortune a few years ago - but who cares they are happy.
> Ate their way into a section of our leather sofa - a blanket and tape hides this.
> Ate and tore up some small trees and shrubs - they love wood - and for some reason sometimes like muck - so a few holes in the garden now.
7. House Training - we were using paper etc - and it was a mess. Someone suggested crate training - and this worked fantastically. For the first week get up every hour or so and take the puppy out to the toilet, and slowly extend the time. When introducing to the crate don't close the door straight away - again check online for guides on crate trainging - worked wonders for us and for another guy in work who used to get up to an absolute mess every morning.
8. Jumping up on you - Don't ever ever encourage this - your dog will soon be 7 or 10 stone - this will crush a kid if they try to jump up in excitement.
9. Bite inhibition - start it very early - use the yip to train the dog.
10. Handling - get your puppy used to you checking it all over - with their coats it is easy to miss a tic or a cut.
11 Eyes - check that the eyes are not too diamond shaped - this can cause problems but again you can find more online on this - we were lucky so don't need to worry about it.
Be prepared for everyone to come racing over to pet "Beethoven" - while this is good control it so that your little puppy doesn't get scared and learn to dislike interaction - always praise them afterwards and reward them.
I personally find this breed to be really really intelligent with very expressive faces when you know what to look for. They have definitely have firm ideas of self - so quite often you might find that if you say want them to go outside they will decide "fopp you matey" and stay where they are.
Take as many photos as you can - in a few months they will be huge - you won't see much of a difference but trust me without the photos you won't believe how little it was.