Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Saint Bernard

Information and Pictures

The right side of a short haired brown with white and black Saint Bernard dog walking across a muddy surface looking to the right. Its mouth is open and its large, long tongue is hanging out. There is a body of water next to it and the dog is walking on the shore line. The dog has a long tail that has a ring curl at the end of it.

Stella the shorthaired Saint Bernard at 2 years old

Other Names

Alpine Mastiff

Bernhardiner

St. Barnhardshund

St. Bernard

Saint

Pronunciation

saint bur-NARD

Description

The Saint Bernard is a giant, strong, muscular dog. As long as the weight stays in proportion with the height, the taller the dog the more prized it is. The massive head is powerful. The muzzle is short, wider than it is long. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. The nose is broad, with wide open nostrils, and like the lips is black in color. The medium-sized eyes are set somewhat to the sides and are dark in color. The medium-sized ears are set high, dropping and standing slightly away from the head. The legs are muscular. The feet are large with strong, well-arched toes. The long tail is broad and powerful at the base held low when the dog is relaxed. Dewclaws are usually removed. There are two types of coat: rough and smooth, but both are very dense and come in white with markings in tan, red, mahogany, brindle and black, all in various combinations. The face and ears are usually black. In the rough-coated dogs, the hair is slightly longer and there is feathering on the thighs and legs.

Temperament

Saint Bernards are extremely gentle, friendly and very tolerant of children. They are slow moving, patient, obedient, extremely loyal, eager and willing to please. Be sure to socialize this breed very well at a young age with people and other animals. It is highly intelligent and easy to train; however, training should begin early, while the dog is still a manageable size. Teach this dog not to jump on humans starting at puppyhood. Bear in mind that an unruly dog of this size presents a problem for even a strong adult if it is to be exercised in public areas on a leash, so take control right from the start, teaching the dog to heel. The Saint Bernard is a good watchdog. Even its size is a good deterrent. They drool after they drink or eat. Be sure you remain the dog's pack leader. Dogs want nothing more than to know what is expected of them and the St Bernard is no exception. Allowing a dog of this size and magnitude to be unruly can be dangerous and shows poor ownership skills. Saint Bernards have a highly developed sense of smell and also seem to have a sixth sense about impending danger from storms and avalanches.

Height, Weight

Height: 25.5 - 27.5 inches (61 - 70 cm)
Weight: 110 - 200 pounds (50 - 91 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to "wobbler" syndrome, heart problems, skin problems, hip dysplasia, tumors and extropion—a folding outward of the eyelid rim, usually on the lower lid. Twisted stomachs should be watched for. As these dogs are prone to bloat, it is best to feed them two or three small meals a day instead of one large meal.

Living Conditions

The Saint Bernard will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. These dogs are relatively inactive indoors and a small yard is sufficient. They can live outdoors, but would much rather be with their family. They have a low tolerance for hot weather, warm rooms and cars. Can wheeze and snore.

Exercise

A long walk each day is needed to keep the Saint Bernard in good mental and physical condition. Puppies should not have too much exercise at one time until their bones are well formed and strong. Short walks and brief play sessions are best until the dog is about two years old.

Life Expectancy

About 8-10 years

Grooming

Both types of coat are easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. Shampoo may strip the coat of its oily, water-resistant properties, so use a mild soap. The eyes, which may be inclined to water, need special attention to keep them clean and free of irritants. This breed sheds twice a year.

Origin

The Saint Bernard was founded in 980 AD by St. Bernard de Menthon and bred by monks, most likely by crossing the ancient Tibetan mastiff with the Great Dane, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Great Pyrenees. The first Saint Bernards were of the shorthaired variety, as the longhaired variety's coat tended to collect icicles. They were used by the Hospice, a refuge for travelers through the dangerous Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy. In the middle of the seventeenth century, the Saint Bernard became popular as a rescue dog working to save people from avalanches in the snowy passes near the Hospice. The dogs are able to smell a person under many feet of snow. They have saved thousands of people searching out and finding lost or injured travelers. The dogs would work in packs looking for the victims. When found they would lick and lie down with them in order to keep them warm. While a dog or more would lie with the body(s), another dog would head back to the Hospice to alert them that they found the humans. A full rescue team would then be sent out. The Saint Bernard has also been known to be able to predict storms and avalanches. This may be possible because of the dog's ability to hear very low-frequency sounds which humans cannot. The Saint Bernard was recognized by the AKC in 1885. Some of the Saint Bernard's talents are search and rescue, guard dog, watchdog and carting.

Group

Mastiff, AKC Working

Recognition

ACA = American Canine Association Inc.

ACR = American Canine Registry

AKC = American Kennel Club

ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club

APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.

CKC = Canadian Kennel Club

CKC = Continental Kennel Club

DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.

FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale

KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain

NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.

NKC = National Kennel Club

NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club

UKC = United Kennel Club

Front side view - A huge tan with white and black Saint bernard is laying across a field and it is looking down and forward.

George the Saint Bernard puppy at 7 months old—"George is the most laid back easy going pup around!! You really have to give him a nudge to get him up and going! He is super friendly towards strangers and other animals and he LOVES kids!!!"

Close up front view - A large headed, brown with white and black Saint Bernard is laying over the edge of a porch staircase.

George the Saint Bernard puppy at 7 months old

Front side view - A large breed, brown and white with black Saint Bernard is sitting across a porch, it is looking forward and its mouth is slightly open.

Jimmy the purebred Saint Bernard at 1 year old from India

A large brown and white with black Saint Bernard puppy is laying across a table and behind it in a wicker chair is another smaller brown and white with black Saint Bernard puppy thats head is tilted to the right.

Hercules at 5 months and the new pup Dr. Seuss AKA Doc as a 7-week-old puppy

A shorthaired, white and brown with black Saint Bernard is sitting at the top of a staircase in a house, it is looking forward and its head is slightly tilted to the left.

Shorthaired Saint Bernard

Two huge brown with white and black Saint Bernards are laying and sitting in a yard. They have gental leaders wrapped around their snouts.

Shelby Dakota and Gretchen

Close up front view head and upper body shots - Two brown with white and black Saint Bernards are sitting in grass, they are looking up and they both are panting.

Shelby Dakota and Gretchen

Close up - A tan and white with black Saint Bernard is looking forward and there is a girl in a hot pink hat laying on its back.

Leo the Saint Bernard at 2 years old with his happy owner in India

A person is lifting a big fluffy tan and white with black Saint Bernard puppy in the air.

Leo the Saint Bernard as a puppy

A tan and white with black Saint Bernard puppy is wearing a pink harness sitting across a blacktop surface and it is looking to the left.

Saint Bernard puppy