Saint Bernard Breed Card

Saint Bernard Breed Overview

Group

Working Dog

Height

26-30 inches tall

Breed Recognition

Yes

Weight

120-180 pounds

Country of Origin

Switzerland

Personality

Playful, Charming, Inquisitive

Lifespan

8-10 years

Shedding

Moderate

Saint Bernard History

Saint Bernard dogs were developed in the Alps in Italy and Switzerland. These giant dogs were initially bred for hospice and search and rescue work near the Great St Bernard Pass alongside the Italian-Swiss border.

During the winters between 1816 and 1818, it’s reported that many avalanches killed off a lot of Saint Bernards that were used for breeding.

To keep the breed around, the last few Saint Bernards were crossbred with Newfoundland dogs. They were also reported to be bred with Tibetan Mastiffs and Bernese Mountain dogs. Saint Bernards are known to be great watchdogs, and the breed gained fame after being seen in the movie “Beethoven.”

They are gentle giants, and their large size and deep bark make them great guard dogs. Saint Bernards were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.

Cost âś…

COST LEVEL

Low End: $600

High End: $2000

Saint Bernard Physical Traits

General Appearanceđź’ˇ

Saint Bernards are large, heavy dogs with wide heads, big eyes, and floppy ears. They are powerful, strong, sturdy, and muscular throughout their entire body. They are great at carting, and they have a variety of distinguishable features that sets them apart from other large breeds.

The shoulders and back of Saint Bernard dogs are broad and powerful, while the chest is deep and arched. The legs are straight and muscular, and the hindquarters are solid.

The head is wide and a bit arched. The muzzle is short, but it doesn’t taper, and the jaws are well-developed. Ears are high set and sit a bit away from the base of the head, and the dark brown eyes are set to the front and have a loyal expression. The neck is strong and muscular. The sides of the neck are rounded, and the dewlap is pronounced.

Saint Bernards have a dense and protective double coat that is thicker on the neck and ruff, giving it a mane-like appearance. In terms of coat length, there are two varieties – long-haired and short-haired. The coat color is white with red markings, along with brindle patches.

Size & Weight ❤️

Height: 28-30 inches
Weight: 140-180 pounds

Height: 26-28 inches
Weight: 120-140 pounds

Coat & Color

Eye Color

Dark brown

Coat Color

Red and white, brindle, and white

Coat Length

Medium

Coat Texture

Straight

Saint Bernard Temperament and Personality

Saint Bernards are the perfect companions for any family. They are gentle giants and generally not aggressive. They’re known to be calm, friendly, and affectionate with most people they meet.

Saint Bernards are brilliant dogs who excel at obedience training once you overcome stubborn hurdles. They have the instinct to protect their family members and often prefer having a job to do rather than sitting around all day with nothing to do.

Saint Bernards make great family dogs because they love spending time with people. This breed thrives on human companionship, so you must spend time with your dog daily so they don’t feel isolated or lonely.

Kid Friendly?

GOOD WITH KIDS

Bad Idea

Excellent Nanny

Yes, Saint Bernards are kid-friendly.

They’re exceptionally patient around children of all ages, and they generally put up with a lot. However, due to the sheer size of a Saint Bernard, ensure to supervise your children during playtime.

At the same time, you should also ensure your children are trained on how to behave around dogs.

Good with Other Pets?

GOOD WITH PETS

Bad Idea

Friendly Socialite

Yes, Saint Bernards are generally good with other pets.

Saint Bernards generally get along with other pets but can be dominant toward other dogs of the same sex. The exception is when they are raised together from puppyhood and become best friends.

In most cases, Saint Bernards aren’t aggressive or territorial, but their best behavior only shines when they’re socialized and trained from a young age.

Barks a Lot?

BARKING LEVEL

When Neccessary

Noise Maker

No, Saint Bernards don’t bark a lot.

While Saint Bernards are excellent watchdogs, they will only bark if they sense danger and have a reason to. Interestingly, Saint Bernards have different types of barks depending on how they’re feeling.

If they want to alert you about something, their bark will have a lower pitch and shorter duration than if it’s hungry. The bark will also be different if alerting someone to stay out of their territory.

Can Be Left Alone?

LEFT ALONE

Likes Being Alone

Sepration Anxiety

No, Saint Bernards do not like being alone.

Saint Bernards are prone to separation anxiety, which can lead them to act out in destructive ways when left alone for long periods of time.

If you need to be gone for longer, consider hiring a dog walker to come once a day for 15-30 minutes to play with your dog and take it for a walk.

Saint Bernard Training

Training a Saint Bernard can be challenging. Saint Bernards were originally bred as working dogs, so they are very strong-willed and independent. However, they respond well to positive reinforcement training methods such as treats and praise.

Training a Saint Bernard requires an experienced handler who understands this breed’s temperament and has the patience to deal with its large size. Training should begin as soon as possible after bringing your puppy home from the breeder or shelter so they can learn basic commands such as walking on a leash and coming when called.

As with all dogs, ensure to keep things simple and consistent in your training efforts. When you’re rewarding your Saint Bernard for doing something good, use hugs and gentle pats on the back. Don’t hesitate to show them praise for exhibiting good behavior.

When you’re reprimanding undesirable behavior, do it quickly, but also forget about it just as quickly. Always stand firm and tall when you’re training a Saint Bernard, and act with authority and confidence.

Saint Bernard Needs

Saint Bernards prefer cooler climates instead of hot weather. They need to eat high-quality dog food and consume more calories. Saint Bernards need lots of love, attention, and care from their owners, or they will quickly become destructive. They also need regular exercise and can be high-maintenance in terms of grooming.

Saint Bernards also need a change of scenery every now and then. Bringing them out to a dog park can be a good socialization training method, and the change in scenery can keep them mentally stimulated.

Nutritional Requirements

FOOD MOTIVATED

Picky Eater

Voracious Eater

Once they’re full-grown adults, Saint Bernards can weigh up to 130 pounds or more, so it’s important to feed them high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs.

Saint Bernards should eat dog food that’s specifically formulated for large breeds. Keep a careful eye on how many calories your Saint Bernard is consuming each day to ensure they stay at a healthy weight.

A lot of larger breeds can experience bloat, and Saint Bernards are no exception to that. To reduce the chances of bloat happening, Saint Bernards should be fed smaller meals multiple times a day.

Exercise & Activity Levels

ENERGY LEVEL

Couch Potato

Go-All-Day Stamina

Saint Bernards require a moderate amount of exercise per day. They are content with one long hour walk or around a 30-minute play session every day. Because Saint Bernards love companionship, they’ll be happy to tag along with you on hiking or camping trips.

Saint Bernards are the most content when they are with their favorite people, whether that be pulling children in carts or spending time with family. Saint Bernards tend to become overweight quite rapidly, so it’s important to ensure your exercise schedule is consistent.

Grooming Needs

SHEDDING LEVEL

No Shedding

Shedding Machine

Saint Bernards have a thick double coat that protects them from cold and damp climates. The undercoat is soft and dense, while the topcoat is coarse and wiry.

The St. Bernard’s coat should be brushed once or twice weekly to remove dead hair and keep the puppy looking its best. The breed sheds heavily twice a year — once in the spring and again in early fall. During times of heavy shedding, keep your St. Bernard groomed by brushing every day or so until the coat regains its normal appearance.

Grooming sessions include bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing. These are all important to keep a Saint Bernard in top health.

Saint Bernard Average Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Saint Bernard is 8-10 years.

The life expectancy of a Saint Bernard depends on how well you take care of it, so it’s important to practice routine checkups with your veterinarian.

Commom Health Problems

  • Bloat: Bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus – GDV) develops when the dog eats/drinks too much, too quickly, or immediately after/prior to exercise. GDV means the stomach twists and bloats due to gas accumulation.
  • Obesity: Obesity in Saint Bernards can lead to a wide range of other health issues like back pain, heart disease, and joint pain.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is an orthopedic condition where the head of the femur doesn’t fit properly in the hip socket. It causes pain and impacts mobility.
  • Cancer: Osteosarcoma and lymphoma are common types of cancer in this breed.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts commonly affects Saint Bernard dogs. The hallmark of cataracts is cloudy eyes.
  • Entropion: A condition in which the upper and/or lower eyelids roll inward. As a result, the hair from the eyelid can scrape against the cornea, resulting in irritation and pain.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy: A life-threatening heart condition in which the heart enlarges, thus losing its ability to pump blood efficiently.

Recommended Health Tests

  • Hip evaluation
  • Elbow evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist evaluation
  • Degenerative myelopathy DNA test
  • Cardiac exam

Tips for New Saint Bernard Owners

Here are some tips to keep in mind to make parenting a Saint Bernard easier:

Tip 1

Find a Reputable Breeder: A trustworthy breeder will have both parents tested to reduce the risk of genetic diseases. They’ll have the applicable certificates from all of the health and genetic tests to prove it, and they’ll be fully transparent about everything involved, including the lineage of the puppies.

Tip 2

Get Puppy/Dog Products in Advance: Get some supplies ahead of time, such as leashes, toys, food bowls, beds, and collars. The more prepared you are, the less you have to worry about when you receive your new puppy.

Tip 3

Give Them Attention: Saint Bernards are loyal companions requiring much attention. Be prepared to spend a lot of time taking care of them and giving them exercise throughout the day. If your schedule won’t allow for walks a few times a day, then this isn’t the dog for you.

Tip 4

Don’t Let the Water Bowl Run Dry: Make sure that your Saint Bernard’s water bowl never runs dry during the day or night. Saint Bernards can consume a lot of water, and there should always be some available for them to drink.

Tip 5

Be Prepared for Drool: Saint Bernards drool more than other breeds, so expect slobber to get everywhere. The drool doesn’t just collect on their face; those long, heavy jowls cause slobber to travel down toward the ground no matter what you do.

Saint Bernard Similar Breeds

– Bernese Mountain Dog
– Caucasian Shepherd Dog
– Pyrenean Mastiff

Saint Bernard Supplies You Need

You’ll need a few essential supplies for a Saint Bernard. Because Saint Bernards have thick necks, a Martingale collar will work best. Along with a suitable collar, Saint Bernards will need a sturdy and durable leash because of their weight and power. The leash should be comfortable for you to use and safe for the dog at the same time.

You’ll need a large-sized bed for your Saint Bernard. The bed should be soft, comfortable, and high-quality to support the dog’s weight capacity.

You should get identification tags or microchips to ensure your dog won’t get lost. Ensure to keep dog tags on the collar at all times.

Get a large dog bowl for your Saint Bernard. Because of their size, these dogs spend a lot of time eating. The same goes for a water bowl. Saint Bernards drink plenty of water, so getting a large water bowl will ensure you won’t be refilling it nonstop throughout the day.

Best Dog Beds for Saint Bernards

Big Barker 7" Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed

Big Barker Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed

$239.95 Get it on Amazon
Furhaven Chaise Orthopedic Pet Bed

Furhaven Chaise Orthopedic Pet Bed

$63.99 Get it on Amazon

Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters

$5.99 Get 30% Off The Honest Kitchen
Just Food for Dogs Pantry Fresh Joint & Skin Support

JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Joint & Skin Support

$107.40 Get it on JustFoodForDogs

Best Dog Supplements for Saint Bernards

Honest Paws Turkey Tail Mushroom

Honest Paws Turkey Tail Mushroom

$26.06 Get it on Amazon
PetLab Co. Joint Care Chews

PetLab Co. Joint Care Chews

$32.36 Get it on Amazon

Saint Bernard Fun Facts

There are many fun facts to know about Saint Bernard dogs:

Fun Fact 1

Saint Bernards are often referred to as snow dogs because they were bred to work as rescue dogs in the snowy Italian-Swiss Alps.

Fun Fact 2

Historically, Saint Bernards were often used as draught dogs pulling carts or wagons.

Fun Fact 3

Saint Bernards have a high tolerance for cold weather, making them so valuable in the mountains of Europe.

Fun Fact 4

Swiss Alpine Farmers and shepherds who needed help transporting heavy goods up steep mountain paths used Saint Bernards for that purpose.

Why Trust Us?

This article was written by pet parents, for pet parents, and reviewed by our expert veterinary panel. We understand you want to ensure you are only using the best products to support your pet’s health and happiness. At veterinarians.org our mission is to provide you with the most up-to-date information and resources you need on the products you buy for your pet.

Our specialized content team of writers, reviewers, and veterinarians analyzes all of the information for you and presents it in an easy-to-understand format. We independently research and test the best products so you can make an informed decision since your pet only deserves the best.