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St. Bernards should be in the Swiss Alps, not in Delhi

Many Indian pet owners, obsessed with breed and beauty forget that exotic breeds like St. Bernards, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamute are not meant for a tropical Indian weather.

more lifestyle Updated: Apr 21, 2016 10:20 IST
Namya Sinha
Namya Sinha
Hindustan Times
Delhi,Summer,St Bernard
An abandoned St. Bernard at an animal shelter, rescued from the Delhi-Gurgaon Highway.(Hindustan Times)

The pet industry in India is booming and pet owners are spending loads of money to bring home exotic breeds, but how feasible is this? Breeds such as St. Bernards, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, originally bred to be in extremely cold weather, are being kept in the harsh hot climate of Delhi that crosses 45 degree Celsius in summer. The result: Most develop ailments or end up being abandoned, if the owner is unable to take care of the dog’s special needs.

Breeds such as St. Bernards, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, originally bred to be in extremely cold weather, are being kept in harsh hot climate of Delhi that crosses 45 degree Celsius in summer (iStock)

“Last week, we rescued an abandoned St. Bernard who was suffering from tick fever and had dangerously low platelet count,” says Shreela Debi, who rescues dogs in distress. “These breeds have such heavy fur that it’s like humans wearing a thick overcoat in summer. While some owners of these breeds do their best and try keeping them in an air-conditioned environment, 24x7, but the dog is being kept in unnatural surrounding and is hardly getting any exercise. You might give it air conditioning throughout the day, but it has to be walked and that means going out in this weather. A heavy set coat in a tropical environment leads to tick infestation and they become prone to tick fever.

St. Bernard puppies for their cute and cuddly looks and Siberian Huskies for their blue eyes and thick fur have become a rage. Bought for all the wrong reasons, many pet owners aren’t able to handle the rise in cost incurred to take care of these breeds such as providing air condition, 24x7, increased visits to the vet since the dog is in the wrong environment and rise in cost of feeding these large breeds. This leads to them being abandoned without a second thought. Most perish but some are lucky to be rescued.

Read: Chief cuddling officer-- How pets ease stress in offices

Veterinarian Dr Vinod Sharma says, “Every breed has a different characteristic. Breeds such as St Bernards, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamute are not meant for this climate. They are born in snow and meant to be in that kind of climate. Even if they survive, which many do, they aren’t happy. The harsh summer leads to many health complications. They get prone to heat stroke, stop eating and suffer from dehydration, weakness and gastroenteritis. Some even develop heart ailments.”

Sharma adds, “What people often end up doing, is shaving off the heavy coat of the dog, thinking that it will make the dog feel cool. The fur is there for a purpose and it protects them from harmful UV rays. The moment you remove the fur, they get exposed to these UV rays.”

“Dogs are man’s best friend but keep one only if you have the time, space and money,” Sharma adds.


Zorro a St Bernard is looking for a loving home.

Zorro, a St Bernard who is 3 to 4 years old, was kept tied up outdoors day and night in Delhi heat. Rescued from the hell hole, he was sent to a foster home in Dharamshala for a few days where he was very happy. He now needs a compassionate master and loving home. He is tall, a little underweight for his age (50 kg), but otherwise healthy. Since he is rarely walked and always confined he has so much pent-up energy that he is sometimes hard to control when greeting you or when out on walks.

He needs human attention and will react well to training as he seeks their approval. He is extremely loving and loyal to those who care for him. He is also very protective of those he sees as his human companions and may jump on people he sees as threats. He wasn’t socialised well at a young age and is aggressive towards male dogs. However he seems to get on much better with puppies and female adult dogs. He needs a large outdoor space and a cool, AC room in summer, or better still a farm in the hills with a patient family or even a dedicated caretaker with an experience of giant breeds who will not tie him up.

Read: Flashy collars to rescue apps- How people are embracing stray dogs

He hates being left alone for long periods. He is not a very big eater but needs to put on some weight and he needs daily walks. He needs to be trained in certain house manners. Anyone who can spare the love, time and resources needed to care for such a special dog and has experience of handling St Bernards will find that love amply rewarded with unswerving loyalty and untiring devotion. Call 09871233919 or email

Pre-adoption house checks and other adoption formalities are mandatory. It is best if he is neutered but you have to take the final call. The operation if needed can be done at his current place.

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First Published: Apr 20, 2016 11:20 IST