Common names: Saint Bernhardog, Bernhardinner
Dog Breed Group: Working
Life span: 7-10 years
Weight: 130-180 pounds
Height: 25.5-27.5 inches
The Saint Bernard is a very large working dog breed from the western Alps in Italy and Switzerland. Their name came from the hospice of Saint Bernard, where the monks at the hospice used the dogs to seek out and rescue lost travelers. These days, the Saint is primarily a family companion or a show dog, beloved for his calm, collective and patient temperament. It especially loves to play and take care of kids, but owners should be careful because this dog can unintentionally knock over and hurt small children. The Saint is a gentle giant, but its size would certainly overwhelm new dog owners.
The Saint Bernard is a working dog, so its size is built to fit this kind of lifestyle. As a giant dog, it towers over 25.5 to 27.5 inches and weighs around 130-180 pounds. The coat can either be smooth or rough; the smooth coat being close and flat while the rough is dense, flat, and more profuse around the neck and legs. The coat has two colors: red shade with white and a mahogany brindle with white. Black shading is usually found on the face and ears.
Since the Saint is a very large breed, conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia may be present. It may also develop bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition. Owners should learn the early signs and symptoms of this condition and what actions to take should they occur. This breed does fairly well in a hot climate provided they have a cool place to rest and lots of water. It is important to make sure that they don’t go from air conditioning to high heat because this can cause serious distress.
The Saint’s coat has two varieties: long and short, and both types require the same amount of attention and care. Weekly brushing is recommended to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Tangling of the hair may occur, but it can be easily worked out with a slicker brush or metal comb. Shedding season occurs twice a year, and brushing will become a daily activity. As with all breeds, trimming of nails should be done regularly, as overly long nails can cause pain and discomfort.
Despite being a giant breed, Saint Bernards only require a moderate amount of exercise. One long walk or half-hour play session per day should be enough to keep him healthy physically and mentally. Of course, the Saint can also go for longer walks or hikes if the owner wants to. Overall, a Saint is happiest when he is doing activities together with its owner.
High-quality dog food ideal for large breeds and appropriate to the dog’s age is highly recommended. Some dogs, especially the Saint, are prone to getting overweight and bloat, so make sure to feed them moderately. Treats can be important for training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Because of their large size, it’s important to begin training Saints at an early age, while they’re still easily manageable. Though they’re intelligent and willing to please but they need an owner who is strong, patient and dedicated because they can be a stubborn breed to train. The best approach is to make all training exercises fun for both dog and handler.
- The Saint Bernard drools. Don’t believe a breeder who claims to produce “dry-mouth” Saints.
- Saint Bernards excel at dog sports such as drafting (pulling a cart), weight-pulling, and obedience trials.