St. Bernard

The St. Bernard dog is a giant-sized dog breed described as “very powerful” and “extraordinarily muscular.” Its coat can either be long-haired or short-haired and comes in various colors – red and white, brown and white, and brindle and white. The St. Bernard breed also features a wrinkled brow, dark eyes, and short muzzle. It’s a dog breed loved for its versatility and good behavior. He makes an excellent family pet and is very gentle and patient with children.

St. Bernard

St. Bernard Statistics

Dog Breed GroupWorking
Breed SizeGiant
Height28-30 inches (male); 26-28 inches (female)
Weight140-180 pounds (male); 120-140 pounds (female)
Lifespan8-10 years

St. Bernard Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Playfulness
Trainability
Shedding
Grooming
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

History

Saint Bernards were known to have originated from the Swiss Alps along with other mountain breeds. They are believed to have been created from crossing Mastiff-type dogs and dogs native to the Alps. And during the first millennium, all dogs from the Swiss Alps were known as Talhund.

The history of the St. Bernard started when Bernard de Menthon arrived at the St. Bernard Pass in 1962 AD. This Pass is known to be very dangerous, so Bernard de Menthon decided to found a hospice to aid any travelers coming through the pass.

So, initially, the hospice dogs were used to guard the hospice grounds. And when the monks look for lost travelers, they bring these dogs for protection and find paths as well. It is unclear, however, when the monks have started using the dogs for this job. At the same time, St. Bernard dogs were refined to withstand harsh weather conditions so they’ll be more effective in their search and rescue missions.

For three centuries, the hospice dogs have saved more than 2000 travelers in the Pass. Unfortunately, they still didn’t have a name until 1880.

There have been a lot of name suggestions – Sacred Dogs, Alpendog, Barryhunden – but the Swiss Kennel Club finally decided on the St. Bernard.

From then, the popularity of the St. Bernard started soaring up high. And by 1888, the St. Bernard Club of America was founded.

Today, St. Bernards are seen everywhere, even on big screens, and they still are one of the most popular dog breeds in the US. It is said that there are still a lot of them left at the Hospice in Switzerland, but this time, they no longer search for lost travelers.

St. Bernard Facts

Temperament

Although giant dogs, a St. Bernard will never intimidate you. They are generally playful, charming, and curious, especially as puppies. But an adult St. Bernard is typically calm and relaxed.

If you have a fear of large dogs, St. Bernard will change your mind. They are very friendly, even to strangers. But, the St. Bernard is still protective of their family when danger comes. They also love it when you give them enough attention, but they are not demanding dog breeds.

If you have children, then there is very little that you have to worry about. St. Bernards are known to be very gentle with children. And because they are very understanding and patient, you can rest assured that they won’t hurt your kids.

They also get along well with other animals raised with them. However, some may show aggression to other dogs if early socialization is not done.

Make sure that you also provide your St. Bernard with an ample amount of space for a large dog to move around. If you plan to let him off your backyard, then make sure that it’s secured.

Training is essential for any dog breed, and that includes the St. Bernard. But there isn’t much that you need to worry as these dogs are willing to please. Just make sure that you deliver things consistently, and food rewards are a great idea for A St. Bernard.

Early socialization is essential too to ensure that he never becomes aggressive to things that are new to him. At the same time, you get to control his temperaments.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: The St. Bernard is a giant dog breed that requires a high-quality and well-balanced meal. The most important part of their meal is protein and carbohydrates. You can get your protein from high-quality animal meat, and your carbohydrates from whole grains. You can add some fruits and vegetables too. If you’re going to feed him commercial dog food, make sure that it does not contain any ingredient with little to no nutritional value. It should not contain artificial flavors, by-products, and fillers as this can affect your St. Bernard’s health.
  • Grooming: St. Bernard dogs, regardless if they have short hair or long hair, requires weekly brushing. Brushing helps remove any dirt or tangles, and also remove any dead hair. At the same time, you’re keeping his coat healthy. However, when shedding season comes, you might need to brush his coat daily if you don’t want loose hair scattered all over your floor and furniture. For baths, a St. Bernard needs one occasionally. However, ears should be regularly checked and cleaned to remove wax. This will also help prevent ear infection. Like any other dog breeds, nails should be kept short to save your St. Bernard from pain and discomfort caused by long nails.Exercise: St. Bernard may be a powerful breed, but he only needs a moderate amount of exercise. This means that long walks or 30-minute play sessions are enough to keep him healthy. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take him along in hiking. Because as a matter of fact, St. Bernards enjoy this type of activity too. They can even help pull the children in a cart. In other words, he enjoys more activities if he’s doing it with his owner or family.
  • Health: St. Bernards don’t have a very long lifespan, and they are prone to several diseases. Some major ones are canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, osteosarcoma, distichiasis, entropion, and ectropion. You should watch out for minor ones such as heart diseases, cardiomyopathy, osteochondritis dissecans, diabetes, seizures, and hot spots. It is highly recommended that you take your dog for an examination of diseases that have screening tests. This way, you get to determine existing disorders at an earlier stage.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of St. Bernards is 8-10 years.

St. Bernard Dog Breed

Famous St. Bernards

  • Beethoven: The famous St. Bernard from the comedy film Beethoven
  • Barry: A rescued St. Bernard who also saved between 45 to 100 people.

Fun Facts About The St. Bernard

  • St. Bernards descended from a group of big dogs, the Molossers.
  • They originated from the French Alps.
  • St. Bernards are named after “St. Bernard de Menthon,” the patron saint of skiers and mountains.
  • They have an oily, water-resistant coat; they should not be over bathe.
  • They are the first registered dog breed of the Swiss Stud Club.
  • They have been called other names – Barry Dogs and Alpine Mastiff.
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