The Saint Bernard is one of the largest dog breeds and also one of the most lovable dogs around. This giant dog is muscular and powerful, yet has a gentle and loyal disposition.
Saint Bernard At a Glance
Size: Weight: 130-180 pounds; Height: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
Coats and Colors: Coat may be short and smooth or long and silky. Colors include white with red, brown or brindle markings.
A black "mask" is typically seen.
Saint Bernard History
The Saint Bernard is a legendary hero of the Swiss Alps. Dating back over 1000 years, the exact origin of the breed is not certain. Some sources suggest that Saints emerged from large Asian dogs brought to Switzerland (perhaps the Tibetan Mastiff or similar) that were bred with native Swiss dogs.
The breed was named for Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon, who founded a Hospice in the Swiss Alps as a refuge for travelers. For centuries they were developed by the Monks as companions, watchdogs, and workers that saved thousands of human lives by finding and assisting lost or injured travelers in the Swiss Alps.
Caring for Your Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard will either have a short, smooth coat or longer, silky coat. Both coats require routine grooming, but the long-haired variety should be brushed out more often. This breed has a relatively high shedding rate which can be controlled with regular hair brushing.
Be sure to clean their ears regularly to prevent ear infections. Though an active Saint's nails may wear down on their own, check the nails at least monthly to make sure they don't need to be trimmed. Also, take note that Saints are likely to be on the slobbery side, so you may need to keep a "drool rag" handy.
Like all dogs, proper training and socialization are both very important for Saints. Due to the dog's giant size, you must be able to control your dog at all times. Pay careful attention to the prevention of jumping, leaning and leash-pulling.
Saint Bernard Health Problems
Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:
Should You Get a Saint Bernard?
The Saint Bernard has a calm, gentle temperament and tends to get along quite well with children. However, the breed might not always realize its size, so be cautious at first. Overall, Saints have the natural instinct to protect and assist people, making them wonderful assistance dogs and affectionate family pets.
No matter the breed, it's important to do your research before you get one.
If you think the Saint Bernard is the right dog for you, be sure to do your homework. Talk to other Saint Bernard owners, reputable breeders, GSD rescue groups, and your veterinarian to learn more.