Saint Bernard | Dog Breed Information & Facts – Pictures

Saint Bernard
St. Bernard dog

The Saint Bernard dog is one of those unmistakable breeds, with its enormous proportions and great height. These dogs are muscular with authoritarian and imposing heads and have the ability to travel rough terrain with calm and smooth movements.

Many people call Saint Bernard a holy dog, all because of the heroism shown by representatives of this breed. The lives of more than one thousand people were saved in the Swiss Alps by the Saint Bernards.


Saint Bernard dog photos

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Physical characteristics

The Saint Bernard is one of the most recognizable breeds. He is a large, muscular and imposing dog with a massive skeleton and a large head. Saint Bernards are able to overcome difficult terrain, their movements are calm and smooth.

The height of an adult male is 70 – 90 cm and the weight is 64 – 120 kg, females weigh 60 – 90 kg with a height of 65 – 80 cm.


Distinctive features

  • Head: Big head. The skull is massive and broad, rounded. The muzzle is square in shape with a uniform width without any sign of tapering towards the nose. The line of transition from the forehead to the muzzle is represented by a steep arc.
  • Jaws: The jaws are powerful and wide. The teeth are large and strong. Tick ​​bite or scissor bite.
  • Ears: The ears are soft, medium sized, triangular, hanging type, proportional. Tied high and wide. The tips of the ears are rounded.
  • Eyes: Deep set medium sized eyes. The color of the iris is dark brown, hazelnut.
  • Frame: The body is majestic, pronounced muscular and strong. The neck is long, powerful with a dewlap near the throat. The withers are clearly visible. The back is straight, wide. The chest is deep and spacious with slightly arched ribs. The lower chest and groin are slightly raised. The croup is long without a pronounced slope.
  • Limbs: The legs are long, athletic, parallel, set well apart. The paws are massive, voluminous. The fingers are strong, arched, tightly adjacent to each other.
  • Coat: Short-haired dogs have a coarse, straight coat with a dense undercoat. In long-haired individuals, the coat is straight or slightly wavy with a thick undercoat. The color is red with white spots or white with red markings, which can be supplemented with a black mask.

Character and behavior

The Saint Bernard is a dog with a sweet, social and kind personality. Despite their large size, these gentle giants are generally calm and less playful than many other breed dogs. However, they require a constant company and can overprotect their loved ones.

It is a dog patient, obedient and faithful, given to its relatives and especially nice. If left in the garden or left alone for long periods of time, they may develop aggressive behavior or behavioral problems related to separation anxiety.

The temperament of the Saint Bernard dog could be summed up by the expression “good giant”. They are friendly, trustworthy and kind dogs, who love family life. They are also very loyal and do not usually bark, although they defend you, as well as your property, if necessary.

He is friendly with strangers, because this breed is completely non-aggressive, so it never attacks without a serious reason. Only attacks when the owner or his family is in real danger.

With the children

They are great with children, they are aware of their responsibility if left alone with them.

With other animals

Other pets are normally accepted, but need early socialization and exposure to cats at an early age.


The pet owner should know what diseases the representatives of the breed are predisposed to:

  • Dysplasia – leads to lameness, accompanied by intolerable pain
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract – diarrhea, volvulus, bloating.
  • Ligament tears.
  • Dislocations.
  • Epilepsy – accompanied by seizures, involuntary bowel movements.
  • Lymphoma is a type of cancer that is defined by the presence of malignant white blood cells called lymphocytes in organs such as the bone marrow, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and some others.
  • Deafness is most often congenital.
  • Pyoderma is a skin disease in the form of an accumulation of pus.
  • Osteosarcoma.
  • Extended cardiomyopathy.

The weak point of the Saint Bernard dog is the eyes. In addition to the fact that they are constantly watering, there are a number of diseases that affect the visual organ of the breed: cherry eye, eyelid volvulus, eyelid inversion, cataract. It is also interesting to note that Saint Bernard dogs have a third eyelid, and it is advisable to remove it.

Life expectancy

Unfortunately, the average life expectancy of Saint Bernard dogs is not very long. With proper care, such a dog can live 8-10 years.


A St. Bernard dog has several negative aspects – this is increased salivation and a large amount of hair falling out during molting. You need to comb the St. Bernard 2-3 times a week, trim the claws three times a month. Clean eyes daily and keep ears clean.

They do not bathe more than 2-3 times a year.

Saint Bernard Puppies : Rules Of Care And Education


The puppies of Saint Bernard should be exercised very gradually to avoid overexertion in their bones and tissues during growth and, even in the case of adults, care should be taken to perform the exercise gradually.

That said, it is a dog that, considering its size, does not need large amounts of exercise. One hour per day will suffice in the case of adults.

Fun facts

  • The first name of the breed was “Barry”, which means “bears”.
  • When the Saint Bernard was sent in search of a man in the snowy mountains, a barrel filled with brandy was attached to his collar. When the rescue dog found a person under a snow block, the frozen sufferer could refresh himself with a warming drink. It is believed that this story is just a legend, but there is some truth in every myth.
  • Between 1800 and 1812, a Saint Bernard named Barry saved 40 people. Once this dog carried a small child through the deep snow. The dog had to walk 5 kilometers to bring the kid to the saving monastery.
  • Before becoming lifeguards, St. Bernard dogs were used as pack animals. On their broad backs, food was transported along the mountain route that connected Italy and Switzerland.
  • More than two thousand people have been rescued by the Saint Bernard dogs over the past two hundred years.
  • The St. Bernard dogs are great movie actors. Filmed many films with the participation of representatives of the breed: “Beethoven”, “Kujo”, “Back”, “Bagheera”, “Felix”.

History of the breed

The birthplace of Saint Bernard is Switzerland. The name of the breed in translation sounds like “the dog of Saint Bernard.” The origin of the name has its own history. In the eleventh century, a monk named Bernard founded a refuge for travelers on the Great Saint Bernard Pass. The territory on which the shelter was located was at an altitude of about 2472 m.

This site is very dangerous, travelers on the trail were trapped by many dangers: robbers, strong winds, avalanches, steep mountain passages. At Bernard’s refuge, travelers had the opportunity to rest, eat and sleep before continuing on the dangerous journey. Local dogs were called Saint Bernards, they were irreplaceable helpers to their owners, and later became consummate rescuers.

The origin of the Saint Bernard dog is not precisely established. According to some information, representatives of this breed originated from fighting mastiffs, who arrived in the Alps with the Romans. There is also another version, according to which the St. Bernards descended from Asian mastiff dogs (Tibetan Mastiffs). In both the first and second cases, mastiffs were crossed with local dogs, the resulting puppies were named Saint Bernards.

In the seventeenth century, the monks, appreciating the abilities of the St. Bernards, decided to use them to save people caught in avalanches. The fact is that the representatives of the breed have an exceptional scent, thanks to which the dog could smell a person under a thick layer of snow. These dogs also have a thick skin that protects from snow, ice and frost. Often the Saint Bernards were taken with them on the road. They not only protected the owners from predators and robbers, but also warned about the approach of avalanches. A dog of this breed is able to feel an avalanche 20 minutes before it descends. Such a gift helped save many lives.

The ancestors of the Saint Bernards were different from their modern descendants. They were not so heavy, their physique could be called more graceful. This made it easier to move on the snow and made the dogs agile and fast. Today’s representatives of the breed are much heavier, more powerful, but at the same time they are less agile.

Close breeding of purebred St. Bernards began at the end of the nineteenth century. Despite the fact that mountain rescuers now have all kinds of equipment at their disposal, dogs are still used in rescue work. But in most cases,Saint Bernards are excellent guards, companions, accompanying dogs and just pets.


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