St, Bernard

The St. Bernard breed (Saint Bernard) is a huge breed of dog. It originates from the Alps both on the Italian and Swiss side. The breed is famous for its bravery, mainly from rescuing people in the Alps. This brave breed has its roots with the Sennenhunds (Swiss mountain dogs, Swiss cattle Dogs). These were dogs which were used as farm dogs in the Swiss Alps. They had many roles including guarding of livestock, hunting, herding, search and rescue, watch dogs, in all a pretty well rounded working dog. It is supposed that they descend from molosser dogs which came to the Alps from ancient Rome. The oldest records of the written form come from monks from a hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass in 1807 (this is where the name originates from). There are also painting and other drawings which date earlier. The St. Bernard is so famous for its bravery that there is a monument to Barry ( a St. Bernard) who saved between 40 and 100 people. The original St. Bernards look fairly different to the modern day St. Bernard dog, this is due to terrible winters which occurred in the early 1800s which led to avalanches which killed of many of the breed. So to preserve this noble breed they were crossed with Newfoundland dogs which came from Newfoundland in the 1850s. This meant that they lost their ability to rescue in snowy climates as the long fur tends to freeze and holds them down. The St. Bernard is currently the Swiss national dog. Before being named St. Bernard it went under many different names including; Noble Steeds, Saint Dogs, Alpenmastiff and Barry Dogs. It is thought that the St. Bernard shares its ancestry with the Tibetan Mastiff and the Alpine Mastiff.


The St. Bernard has a very distinctive large head. The largest ever dog so far was measured in at 107 cm tall, 89 cm to the withers, and 2.59 m in length. The breed tends to weigh between 64 and 120 kg and has a height to about 70 to 90 cm to the withers. The coat is smooth or rough. The rough coat version tends to be thick and flat, with more hair around the leg and neck. The coat colour tends to be red with white, or brindle with white. The eyes of the St. Bernard are tight and the eyes are usually brown, but can also be blue or white. This breed shares many similarities to the English Mastiff and the Newfoundland. These dogs do tend to drool, but it is mostly after they drink water.



The Saint Bernard is a gentle giant. It is quite happy around children and will put up with their antics. But this dog is powerful so children should be supervised with it. Everybody has bad days and that goes for dogs also. They are well mannered and deliberate in their motions. They tend to be very loyal to their owner and family and love to please. They do need to be socialized appropriately from a young age to be around people and other pets. It is essential that the dog be taught not to jump on humans as this can lead to unpleasant consequences purely to do with the size of this dog. Even though this dog has a kind nature it still makes a pretty good guard dog purely because of its imposing size.

Grooming and care

The St. Bernard comes in two different flavours of coat, but they generally need the same treatment, a good once over with a brush and comb, and bathing is only when needed. This breed tends to shed biannually. The St. Bernard needs a good long walk, while in puppy form it is important to not give them too much exercise as this can lead to badly formed bones, so on restrict to short walks and short play until the dog passes its 2nd birthday. Generally these dogs are quite inactive at home, preferring to sit around the house. They don't really like hot weather so should be monitored and given water appropriately.


The St. Bernard tends to live a relative short life for a dog of about 8 years, due to the medical condition outlined next. These dogs have an extremely fast growth rate for dogs, this can lead to problems with the bones unless the dog has the correct exercise and food routing. These dogs have a high incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia. Bone cancer is a problem which passes down via ancestry in this breed. They can also get ectropion and entropion eye problems. The dogs may also have problems with epilepsy and have heart issues such as dilated Cardiomyopathy.