Type: Guardian Dog
Height: 24 - 30 inches. Females are typically a few inches shorter than males.
Weight: 110 - 220+ lbs.
Life Span: 8 years is average. Unfortunately, this breed is not very long lived.
Litter Size: 6 - 8 puppies. Although the world record for most puppies whelped at one time was by a Saint Bernard appropriately named
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Activity: Indoors - Low. Outdoors - Medium.
Watch-dog: Very High. They are quite alert dogs.
Guard-dog: Low. Saint Bernards are rather friendly and get along well with almost anyone.
Description: The Saint Bernard is powerful, strong, and muscular with a somewhat sad looking expression. They are a faithful, gentle, kindly breed who love children. It requires no training for their work since generations of service seemed to have stamped the rescuing instinct upon their character. Because of their size it does not make a breed for an apartment dweller as they need plenty of space and large food rations. Their size is a eye-catching, weighing up to 220 lbs! The Guiness Book of Records recorded a Saint Bernard to have weighed in at 305 pounds. Although they are heavy and large, they are not the tallest dogs in the world. They are manageable, but should be trained as a puppy not to pull their leash. Training and socialization is a must with this breed, as they are large and powerful dogs. A well-trained Saint Bernard is a mellow, affectionate, lazy dog who will protect your home. Until the bones are fully formed in puppies of Saint Bernards it is best to keep their activity to a minimum. These dogs are rather tranquil and benevolent. When they are protective, however, they can be rather threatening-looking and if provoked can be an intense adversary. Regularly, though, the Saint Bernard is a big, friendly, peaceful ball of fluff.
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Other Names: Saint, St. Bernhardshund, Alpine Mastiff, St. Bernard
Colors: Orange, mahogany-brindle, red-brindle or white with patches on the body in any of these colors or with black. They often have a white blaze on the face, and white on the muzzle, collar, chest, forelegs, feet and end of the tail. They often have black shading on the face and ears.
Coat: Dense, short, smooth and lying close to body. There are two varieties of the breed: Smooth and smooth or medium and long hair. The longer haired version has been said to be less effective in the Alps rescues due to it forming icicles in the cold winters.
Temperament: Saint Bernards are tranquil and benevolent. They are friendly to almost everyone, getting along well with children and other pets. They are, however, unstable if left alone for a long time, as they can get separation anxiety. They should be with someone most of the time, and given an outlet if left alone. They can become destructive otherwise. Saint Bernards are intelligent, trainable, playful. They can be rather affectionate, loving to give slobbery kisses to their owners. They are fun loving but are poor guards. They are great watchdogs, however, and they will alert their owners to anything unusual.
With Children: Yes, they get along well with children.
With Pets: Yes, especially if raised with them. Should definitely be socialized when they are young.
Special Skills: Search and rescue dog and family pet.
Care and Training: Comb or brush the Saint Bernard frequently, bathe only when necessary with a mild soap. Considerable shedding happens twice a year. Pay special attention to keeping the eyes clean. Remember, the Saint Bernard drools excessively. Daily short, regular walks are better than long sessions. Saint Bernards must receive obedience training as a puppy because of their tremendous size as an adult. They must be trained to not pull on a leash when young. They should also be socialized as young as possible in order to ensure a good temperament.
Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Medium. Problem Solving - High.
Special Needs: Protection from the heat.
Living Environment: Apartments should not be considered. A house with a large backyard is preferred. Saint Bernards need people in their life, and should not be left alone for long periods of time. They have a tendency to suffer from separation anxiety. An owner should be a patient, confident leader who prefers a lazy, friendly, slow-thinking pet that always wants to be with them. The best owner for this breed would be someone living in a rural or suburban home where neatness is not a major concern. This breed requires quite a lot of space.
Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, albinism, bone problems, heart defects, and a short life span. Epilepsy, skin allergies, laryngeal paralysis, temperament problems and osteosarcoma, a bone cancer which has been shown to be hereditary in this breed, are also health concerns. Finally, bloat is a threat to this breed due to their deep chests. Bloat is a health concern to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs. It is also known as gastric torsion or twisted stomach.
History: Developed in the High Swiss Alps by the monks who built a monastery Hospice du Grand, the Saint Bernard was used to helped locate lost travelers. In Roman times, the Romans built a temple dedicated to Jupiter on their way to Europe. Between 1660 and 1670 A.D., a monk named Saint Bernard built the Hospice du Grand over this spot in order to forever serve the people who passed through that dangerous mountain pass. After years of trying to save lives on this treacherous pass, the monastery discovered using dogs would be a significant help in their rescues in 1707. They decided to create their very own breeding program. Various theories have been presented to the origin of the breed but most say they are a descendant of the large Mastiff-type dogs that were brought to the area by the Romans. The monastery developed the breed and called them Alpine Mastiffs, initially. Edwin Landseer forever immortalized the Saint Bernard as well as created a false rumor in a single painting he made when he was 17. The painting, titled "Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler" showed two St. Bernards rescuing a man in the snow, one barking out a rescue call and the other licking the man's hand, trying to reanimate him. The dog licking the man's hand had a brandy cask around its neck, giving rise to the rumor that these dogs always carried brandy around their necks to warm their rescued people. This rumor, however, has been denied by the monks for as long as the question has been asked. The most famous Saint Bernard was a dog called Berry who, in the early 1800s, rescued a small boy and carried him to safety. This Saint Bernard then went on to rescue more than forty people. Berry was unfortunately killed by the person he was trying to rescue on his 41st mission, in a "fit of cowardly terror." Berry's body is now preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne. In 1810 the breed was unofficially "renamed" the Berry hound. In the 1830s the breed's quantity as well as quality went down severely due to bad winters, losses, diseases and interbreeding. The breed was revived by crossing the remaining short-coated Berry hounds with the Newfoundland, resulting in the long-haired Saint Bernards we have today.
First Registered by the AKC: 1885
AKC Group: Working Group
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 2), KC (GB), UKC