A torrential downpour less than two hours before the scheduled start pushed the opening bounce back by 30 minutes.
The Bulldogs rooms bore much of the brunt of the heavy rainfall, interrupting their pre-match preparation.
But it didn't stop them bolting out of the blocks in the wet, eventually winning 0.10.7 (67) to 1.7.5 (56).
With speedsters Lachie Hunter and Luke Dahlhaus looking dangerous in attack, the Bulldogs registered the opening eight scoring shots to lead by 33 points shortly before the first break.
St Kilda finally got on the board in the dying seconds of the first quarter with a clever goal from last year's best and fairest award winner Jack Steven.
As dominant as the Bulldogs were in the first quarter, St Kilda matched that effort in the second term.
Leigh Montagna slotted a spectacular nine-pointer from a tight angle and further goals to lively rookie Eli Templeton and Beau Maister saw St Kilda trim the margin to two points at the long break, having held the Bulldogs scoreless in the second quarter.
The Saints hit the lead for the only time in the match early in the third quarter when Maister kicked truly, only for the Bulldogs to wrest back control of the contest and take an 11-point lead into the final change.
Impressive Bulldogs youngster Natahn Hrovat came off midway through the third quarter with a suspected fractured cheekbone after an accidental clash with teammate Koby Stevens.
The teams managed only one goal apiece in a low-key final quarter.
The rain returned during the second half of a match where the quarters were shortened from 20 minutes to 17 minutes plus time on.
The Saints were missing a host of their biggest names including skipper Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, Sam Fisher and James Gwilt.
Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen was also an absentee, as were Bob Murphy, Jordan Roughead and Liam Jones.
The Bulldogs' better players included midfielders Tom Liberatore and Stevens, while
Jarryn Geary and Steven were among the Saints' leading lights.
The Bulldogs' second NAB Challenge match is against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium next Wednesday while St Kilda travel to Wagga Wagga to play Greater Western Sydney on March 1.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5.3 0.5.3 0.9.6 0.10.7 (67)
ST KILDA 0.1.0 1.3.4 1.6.4 1.7.5 (56)
Nine pointers: Western Bulldogs: Nil. St Kilda - Montagna.
Goals: Western Bulldogs - Dahlhaus 3; Hunter 2; Tutt, Stevens, Boyd, Crameri, Liberatore. St Kilda - Maister, Templeton 2; Steven, Montagna, Dennis-Lane.
Best: Western Bulldogs - Liberatore, Stevens, Dahlhaus, Picken. St Kilda - Steven, Geary, Montagna, Armitage.
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Andrew Mitchell, Matthew Leppard.
Venue: Simonds Stadium.