St. Bernard Information

Overview

Although the Saint Bernard is muscular and powerfully built, it is dignified and gentle in temperament. There are both long and short-haired Saint Bernards. This breed of dog was originally used to find lost and freezing travelers during snowstorms. Today, the Saint Bernard uses his strength and intelligence in obedience and conformation competitions and for weight pulling with small carts. With the proper training and exercise, the Saint Bernard makes an excellent family pet. Because of large size, it is best kept in the country or suburbs.

St. Bernard
Basic Info
NameSt. Bernard
Other NameSt. Bernhardshund, Bernhardiner, Alpine Mastiff (archaic), Saint, Saint Bernard
OriginItaly / Switzerland
Size Type Giant Dog Breeds
Breed Group Working Dog Breeds
Life Span 8 - 10 years
TemperamentWatchful, Gentle, Friendly, Lively, Calm
Height25.5 to 27.5 inches
Weight130 to 180 lbs
ColorsReddish-brown Brindle, Reddish-brown Mantle, Brownish-yellow, Reddish-brown Splash, White & Red
Puppy Price$1200 - $1800 USD

St. Bernard

Physical description

Body Type

The Saint Bernard stands between 25.5 inches and weighs 110 and 200 pounds. The body and head are both powerful and imposing. The large skull is wide and slightly arched. The sides of the head slope gently into high, strongly developed cheek bones. A deeply embedded furrow runs the length of the skull from between the eyes to the base of the muzzle. It gradually disappears toward the base of the occiput. The skin forms pronounced wrinkles above the eyes, converging toward the furrow.

The muzzle is short, not tapered and the vertical depth at the base is greater than the muzzle's length. The bridge of the muzzle is straight and slightly broken in some dogs. The sides of the upper lip jaws are strong, not sharply cut, rather curving handsomely into the lower edge to overhang slightly. Sound, strong teeth meet in either a scissors or even bite.

The nose is broad with wide-open nostrils. The ears are of medium size and rather high set. Standing slightly away from the head, they drop and bend to the side. The ear flaps form a rounded triangle, elongated slighted toward the point. Medium-sized eyes are set more to the front than sides.

A strong neck is set high and carried erect at attention. The nape is very muscular and rounded at the sides, giving the neck a short appearance. Sloping shoulders are broad and muscular and the withers are pronounced. The chest is moderately deep, well-arched and remains above the elbows.

The broad back is perfectly straight to the haunches and slopes to the rump before merging into the base of the tail. The hindquarters are well-developed with heavily muscled legs. The long, heavy tail starts broad from the rump and ends in a strong tip. The upper arms are exceptionally strong and powerful. Lower legs are strong and hind legs have hocks moderately angled. Feet are broad with high toes and strong knuckles.

Color

The hair of the Saint Bernard's coat is dense on both the long and short haired varieties. However, is lays flat and feels smooth to the touch. The coat of the thighs is slightly bushier. The base of the tail has denser hair and becomes gradually short toward the tip.


The coat colors are white with markings in tan, mahogany, red, black and brindle, all in varying combinations. Necessary markings for AKC standard are white chest, tip of tail and feet.

Coat

The hair of the Saint Bernard's coat is dense on both the long and short haired varieties. However, is lays flat and feels smooth to the touch. The coat of the thighs is slightly bushier. The base of the tail has denser hair and becomes gradually short toward the tip.

The coat colors are white with markings in tan, mahogany, red, black and brindle, all in varying combinations. Necessary markings for AKC standard are white chest, tip of tail and feet.

Characteristics
Good with Kids
 
Cat Friendly
 
Dog Friendly
 
Trainability
 
Shedding
 
Watchdog
 
Intelligence
 
Grooming
 
Popularity
 
Adaptability
 
Hypoallergenic  No

Grooming

The long-haired and short-haired Saint Bernard sheds twice a year and needs regular grooming. Both are also prone to drool. This must be taken into consideration by the owner. However, both coat types are easy to groom. Brush when shedding with a firm bristle brush.

The Saint Bernard should only be bathed when needed. Excessive use of shampoo may strip essential, water resistant oils from the coat. Always use a mild soap. Eyes are prone to watering. Clean underneath them with a soft clothe.

History

Founded in 980 AD by St. Bernard de Menthon, the Saint Bernard was bred by monks. It is believed that they were crossed with the Great Dane, the ancient Tibetan Mastiff, the great Pyrenees and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. The first dogs of the breed were of the short-haired variety. Long-haired coats tend to collect icicles which would have hindered their snow rescue efforts in the Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy.

Their popularity as rescue dogs grew in the middle of the 17th century. Because they are able to smell people under several feet of snow, they have rescued thousands of lost and injured travelers. The Saint Bernards worked in packs to look for victims. Some of the dogs would warm the victims by licking and laying down with them while others headed back to alert humans of the find.

The Saint Bernard Breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1885. Today it is used for search and rescue, carting, as guard dogs and as family pets.

Temperament

Saint Bernards are gentle, loyal and friendly. They are especially tolerant of children. Always eager to please, they are very obedient, patient and slow-moving. Because of their size, training and socialization should take place early.

An unruly dog of this size can be dangerous when exercised on a leash. Teach the dog not to jump up on people while it is a manageable size. It is imperative that the owner/trainer be the pack leader. Problems can arise when these dogs do not know what is expected of them. They are intelligent and easily trained.


Interesting St. Bernard Facts

  • Saint Bernards seem to have a sixth sense that enables them to predict snowstorms and avalanches.
  •  Although they can survive outdoors, Saint Bernards much prefer being indoors with the family.
  •  It was reported by the New York Times in 1895 that a Saint Bernard named Major F. was 8 feet 6 inches in length, making it the largest dog on record.