Thank you for visting the "Saints Among Us" - ISBR website. To help us use our staff's time more effectively and to answer any questions you may have, please look through our Frequently Asked Questions first, to see if your question has already been answered. If your question hasn't been addressed, you can contact us by visiting our Contact page or you can email us using any of the contact info at the bottom of the page!

Again, thank you for visting ISBR and make sure to check out the Adoption page, where there are saints waiting to find their forever home!

  • Do you have a shelter where I can visit the available dogs? What are your hours?

    No, we do not have a shelter you can visit. Illinois Saint Bernard Rescue is a rescue group, not an animal shelter or animal control facility. All of our dogs live in private foster homes with volunteers and their families. We have public events throughout the year at many Chicagoland locations. Please see our list of events on the Adoptable Saints page of this website. You will only be able to view a dog privately if you are approved to adopt.

  • What is the adoption process and how long does it take?

    The adoption process begins with filling out an adoption application at Once we receive your application, a volunteer will review your application. If your application fits our criteria, the application will be processed with both personal and veterinary references checked thoroughly and if approved, a home interview will be scheduled with all parties involved in the adoption process. If our adoption counselor approves your for adoption, we will help match you and your family with an appropriate candidate. The entire process can take up to 3 weeks or until a suitable dog can be found for your situation.

  • How much is your adoption fee and what does it include?

    Our adoption fee is $350 for dogs 6 months of age and over. For puppies under six months, our fee ranges from $400-500. The adoption fee includes spaying/neutering prior to adoption, DHLPPV, Bordetella, Rabies, Heartworm and parasite tested, treated if necessary, a microchip implanted, and monthly preventative for heartworm and fleas while the dog is in rescue.

  • What are your requirements to adopt?

    All applicants must be 18 years of age and older. All family members must want to adopt the dog and agree to care for it. If you currently have pets, all dogs and cats in the family must be current on vaccines, heartworm tested and on preventative at least 9 months of the year. All pets in the household MUST be spayed or neutered prior to adoption of one of our dogs. If you rent, you must provide a notarized letter from your landlord. If you own a pool, the pool must be fenced and gated. If you live in a residential area, your yard must be fenced.

  • Do you adopt out of state?

    Generally we do not adopt out of state. We adopt only to Illinois and Northwest Indiana residents.

  • Do you require a fenced yard?

    Our group does require a fenced yard for all applicants who live in a residential area. An Invisible Fence generally does not work well with this breed and is not considered a fenced yard however, we will consider this type of fencing if installed by The Invisible Fence Company.

  • I want a dog who can live outside in my yard or on my farm, will you adopt to me?

    We will not adopt to anyone who wishes for their Saint Bernard to reside outdoors. Saints are family dogs, companion animals, who require socialization and constant interaction. They cannot tolerate extreme temperatures.

  • Do you adopt to families with small childern?

    Generally, we will not adopt to a home with children under five years of age unless we know the specific history of the Saint Bernard. 99% of the dogs we acquire come from shelters and animal control agencies where they are admitted as strays or they have been abandoned. We take special care in placing dogs in homes with small children and will do so with a proper match.

  • Do you ever get puppies in resuce?

    Puppies are very rare in rescue. Most people do not relinquish their Saints until they are much older. The average age for a Saint in rescue is 2-5 years. If you are determined to have a Saint puppy, we suggest researching reputable breeders and not one purchased from a pet store or newspaper. Puppies that do come into rescue are placed with applicants that have been thoroughly evaluated and educated. We do require enrollment in an obedience class within one month of adoption for any Saint 18 months and younger.

  • I can no longer keep my Saint Bernard, can you take my dog into your program?

    Our rescue group is dedicated to saving the lives of Saints in dire need. We rescue dogs from high kill shelters and animal control agencies. It is very rare that we have room to assist a dog which resides with a loving family. We will make every effort to help counsel you with the issues you are having with your Saint. With the help of our web site, we can post your dog for you and help gain exposure for your dog so that you can find it an appropriate home. Our space is limited and is only available to dogs that need immediate attention. We do not accept mixed breed dogs into our program. Should we have room to assist you, we do ask for a $50 donation for dogs who are altered and $100 for unaltered animals. You will be required to sign a formal document relinquishing your rights of your Saint Bernard.

  • How much do they eat?

    A Saint Bernard will not eat you out of house and home. The fact is a Saint Bernard can be raised and maintained on no more food than required for other more active breeds. Since Saints are basically placid dogs, they generally require less food per pound of body weight than smaller, more active breeds.

  • How much do they weigh?

    Saint puppies weigh about one and one-half pounds at birth and grow rapidly during the first year, although it may take as long as three years before they reach full maturity. Adult males may reach a height of 28-32 inches at the shoulder and will normally weigh between 140 and 180 pounds. Females are somewhat smaller at about 26-28 inches at the shoulder and typically range from 120 to 140 pounds.

  • Are they good with children?

    A Saint with the proper temperament will have an understanding of a child's way, and will be amazingly careful not to injure a child. They are excellent supervised baby-sitters and companions. Naturally, a child must never be allowed to torment any dog, regardless of breed, and children should never be left unsupervised with any dog. A Saint without this proper temperament is a danger, and should be regarded as such.

  • Are they easy to train?

    Because of the size of the animal, the Saint Bernard MUST be trained and this must be done early in his life. Fortunately, Saints are eager to please and will begin responding to commands as soon as they understand what you want of them. Their level of intelligence and willingness to co-operate make them a joy to train and spend time with!

  • Do they shed?

    Yes. Twice a year, usually in Spring and Fall, they lose much of their coats to help them adjust to the changing seasons (Saint people call this "blowing the coat"... the phrase is very descriptive!) For the remainder of the year there is seldom much annoyance from shedding.

  • Do they drool?

    Yes. Depending on the weather, the level of excitement, and the shape of the dog's jowls, most Saints will drool on occasion. Technically, there is no such thing as a "dry mouthed Saint," but most Saints do not drool to an offensive degree.

  • Is it ok to clip a Saint's saliva glands?

    Absolutely not! Saliva helps dogs digest their food. By clipping the saliva glands, you put the dog a great risk of bloat as the kibble is not able to digest as easily. The only way a dog is able release body heat is by sweating, but dogs don't sweat like people. They sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting, which produces saliva. If you clip the glands, you take away their only mechanism to cool off. If you dislike the drool, look for other tighter-lipped breeds.

  • Are they good watchdogs?

    The Saint's size and bark will discourage most intruders, yet he will learn to recognize your friends and receive them cordially. If an intruder gets by the size and barks, your Saint may decide to lead him straight to the family silver since he would much prefer to be a friend to all. The one exception to this is when a member of the family is being threatened. The Saint's instinct to protect those he loves becomes vary apparent at this time.

  • Why do some Saint Bernards have short hair?

    The original Saint Bernards were all short-haired dogs. Over 150 years ago, the Monks in Switzerland found it necessary to bring some new blood into their breeding and interbred the long Newfoundland with their Saints. Today, the influence of that breeding is still with us and we have both long and short-haired Saint Bernards. Both are of equal value.

  • How much room do they need?

    The Saint by nature does not require acres and acres to roam. They are not as active or nervous as some breeds and are content to remain close to home for the most part. Consequently, a fenced yard is enough for regular exercise. The apartment or condo dweller must be walked frequently to make up for the exercise he would normally take at his leisure. They are great dogs for the city because of their laid-back personalities. However, every dog needs exercise, so if you do live in the city, plan for a few nice walks per day, even in the winter! And, you need to think about your living arrangements long-term. If you live in a condo building or flat and you're not on the lower floors, and you're planning to be there for a long time, there should be an elevator to make sure that your Saint doesn't have any issues as he or she becomes an "old-timer". (This is true for any dog, but you sure can't pick up a saint and carry him over your shoulder!)

  • What is a crate and how is it used?

    All of the dogs in our rescue group are crate trained. This means that they are introduced to a large metal crate/cage for housetraining and behavior modification. Most of the dogs in our program do not require a crate but have a natural instinct to den. A crate is a great idea to help transition a Saint from our rescue group into its new home. It provides a level of comfort for the dog and peace of mind for the new owner that the dog is safe while you are away from home.

  • Should I get a male or a female?

    This is strictly a matter of personal preference. Both are equal in pet qualities. The male, being larger, is more impressive when first viewed. The female, however, must be considered his equal in all other respects. Modern veterinary practice recommends neutering of non-breeding animals of both sexes as a means to a healthier, better pet.

  • How do they hande the hot weather?

    The dog will do well as long as there is a cool dry place to nap and plenty of fresh cool water. He will cut down both his food intake and his amount of activity. It must be remembered that going from an air-conditioned place into the boiling heat can be disastrous. Abrupt changes in temperature are extremely hard on a Saint. Saints are not dogs who can reside outdoors.

  • What genetic problms can Saints be prone to? How long do they live?

    The average life span for a Saint Bernard is 8-12 years. Because they are large breed dogs, Saints can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. They can be prone to Bloat, Epilepsy, Addison's Disease, Osteosarcoma, and Cardiomyopathy.

  • What is a rescued dog?

    There is a lot of confusion over this, because Saints are bred to perform rescues from avalanches. A rescued dog doesn't do this. A rescued dog has been abandoned by his/her family, for any one of a thousand reasons - he got too big; he drools; he sheds; he plays rough with the kids; he's dug up the back yard; he barks; the owners want a pool, but can't have one with the dog living back there; he's unruly; he's not housetrained, etc.

  • What is a resuce?

    A rescue (or rescue worker) takes in the above-mentioned abandoned dog, and teaches him manners, provides medical attention (spay/neuter, bringing shots up-to-date, heartworm testing and treatment, etc.), provides security and love to dogs that, many times have not had any real human contact in all the years they've spent chained to the doghouse in the backyard. Rescue workers take in the dogs that have been abused and neglected to the point where the general public thinks they're hopeless cases and we work with these dogs to help them forgive and forget their mistreatment. Dogs are incredibly forgiving creatures... they just need a gentle hand to remind them that they can forgive.

  • How much money do you make, doing rescue?

    Those people doing rescue aren't doing it for money. Do the math: Call your vet, and ask how much he charges to spay/neuter a 150-pound dog. Then, ask him how much he charges to treat that same dog for heartworm. While you're at it, ask the cost of heartworm preventative, worming, the basic shots including rabies, and the office exam. Then, remember that we also feed and re-train these dogs while they're in our possession - which sometimes takes months. This is why rescues request an adoption donation. Every once in a while, a dog comes into rescue not needing anything done before placement - they're rare, but they do come along occasionally. These dogs help to pay the way for the dogs needing intensive treatment... the balance comes from the Illinois Saint Bernard Rescue, or is paid by the rescue worker out-of-pocket. Most rescues operate in the red... we rely on the donations of necessities to continue in our work.

  • So, why do you do rescue work?

    For the same reason that many people work with children or elderly people on a volunteer basis: we love these dogs. They're defenseless creatures (yes, really!). They didn't ask to be brought into this world and only ask to be allowed to adore their people... they ask very little in return. We feel a basic responsibility to atone for the maltreatment of these dogs by their owners. Humans domesticated dogs for their own use - it's our responsibility to demand humane treatment and responsible ownership.

  • Do you accept mean or aggressive dogs into rescue?

    Sadly, no. Those dogs deemed aggressive (in any way) are not adoptable. There are many reasons for this: There are many, many non-aggressive Saints that are dying in shelters for lack of funding, space, and volunteers - it's not fair to them, to take in dogs that have a known bite history. It's also not fair to the rescue workers and their families and dogs to ask them to cope with a dog with known aggressive tendencies, and it's not fair to the adoptive families for the rescue workers to offer these dogs for adoption. Every aggressive dog that is adopted out sacrifices both the integrity of the breed, and the credibility of the breed-rescue. It's not fair to anyone.

Contact Information

City of Chicago:
South Suburban:
West Suburban:
North Suburban:
Northwest Indiana:
Central and Southern Illinois:

Found/Lost/Rescue Coordination/Fundraising:

Emily Jones
(217) 825-5243

General Inquiry

If the above topics do not address your concerns, please call (217) 825-5243 during normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. or email us at
and a rescue coordinator will contact you shortly.

For volunteer & foster opportunities, fundraising inquiries, and general questions relating to our rescue please contact:Emily Jones, President

Write to Us:

"Saints Among Us"
P.O. BOX 255
Williamsville, Illinois 62693