Saint Bernard


A large sized Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard Quick Summary
Also Known As
Height (at withers)24-33in (61-84cm)
Weight110-200lbs (50-91kg)
Hair Colour(s)White with markings
Lifespan8-10 years
Energy LevelMedium
Litter size6-8
Barking TendencyMedium
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingMedium
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftLow

The Saint Bernard is a large and lumbering dog. The imposing body is muscular with a broad and strong back, a deep chest with well sprung ribs, straight and heavy boned legs and a long and heavy tail. The large head has a short muzzle, a broad black nose, brown eyes, and high-set triangular ears. The characteristic thick coat comes in two varieties: the rough coat and the smooth coat, and the colouring tends to be white with red, mahogany, brindle and black markings. One relatively famous example of a Saint Bernard is the dog in the film Beethoven (1992).


Saint Bernards are very patient, faithful and affectionate dogs. These gentle giants show fierce loyalty and vigilance to their owners and make superb companions and family pets. They need plenty of space and exercise, and also attention, and are not suited to those with little time for their pets. These are calm, quiet and sensible creatures but they can tend to be slobbery and drool a lot, and so are not suited to those that are overly houseproud. These dogs are eager to please and extremely intelligent and trainable, although they can be a little lazy too, and training should be started early because their huge size can pose problems. As a result they are more suitable for experienced dog owners rather than novices, as confidence and assertiveness will be required, especially during training. Saint Bernards get along well with older, more considerate children, although early socialisation is still recommended, and they are too large to safely be around smaller kids. When properly socialised they also get along with other pets too, although some may display aggression towards other dogs, and they are mostly fine around strangers. Unfortunately they are a little too docile to make effective gaurd dogs, but they do make good watch dogs thanks to their intimidating size and bark.

History & Skills

Saint Bernards originate from Switzerland, where they were used by farmers as herding, hunting and watch dogs. They were also thought to be loyal companions of the monks at the hospice located at the Great St. Bernard Pass. Saint Bernard was famous for helping lost travelers, and keeping them warm if they were stranded in the cold. This notion is entwined with the image of these dogs carrying a barrel of rum on the collars for the same reasons. Originally short haired, these dogs were crossed with the Newfoundland to preoduce the long haired variety, which was an advantage against the cold of the mountains.

Breed Specific Ailments

Saint Bernards tend to live between 8-10 years, and some of the health problems noted in the breed include hip dysplasia, bloat, ectropion, entropion, heart defects, cancer, epilepsy, and OCD.


Saint Bernards are high shedders that also shed even more heavily on a seasonal baisis, and so are not suitable for allergy sufferers. Their grooming requirement are not execessive and the coat will need brushing around twice a week, increasing to daily during periods of heavier shedding. They should only be bathed when necessary, because shampooing tends to strip the coat of its oily, water-resistant properties. The eyes should be cleaned thoroughly but only with water to free them from irritants.

Exercise & Environment

Saint Bernards are ideal for cooler climates thanks to their thick and dense coats. Puppies should be limited to brief play sessions and short walks until they reach two years of age in order to allow the bones to fully develop, afterwhich they will need a daily half-hour walk. They are not suitable for small homes due to their large size, and they will need access to a garden or yard area where they can play freely and develop their strength. These dogs need plenty of space!


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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