While the exact origin of the St. Bernard is unclear, the breed is most commonly known as the breed used as rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps. At the end of the 10th century, Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon founded his famous hospice in this region. According to breed historians, Bernard of Menthon was the first individual to introduce the breed to the hospice in 1660. The monks operating out of the local monasteries used the dogs for protection and search and rescue missions. One of the reasons the monks valued this breed so much was because of its unique ability to sense oncoming avalanches. In 1815, the first St. Bernard to set foot on British soil was imported from the hospice. By the late 1870s the breed was well established in England. And in 1888 English imports were used to start the St. Bernard Club of America.
The St. Bernard has a pleasant, outgoing temperament. They make excellent pets for children and are usually very protective of their owners and home. Extremely intelligent dogs, they are eager to please train easily with patience and calm assertion. They need to be socialized a lot and from an early age, as they can become overly protective of their families without the proper socialization. Saints are very loyal and gentle, often not showing much playfulness.
- Working Group
- Males are 27 ½ minimum inches at withers, 150 – 200 pounds
- Females are 25 ½ minimum inches at withers, 120 – 150 pounds
- Average litter = 2 - 14 puppies
- Average life span is 8 – 10 years
- Very dense, rough feeling short hair. There is also a longhaired type with medium length, slightly wavy hair
- Colors = White with Red, Red with White, Brindle Patched
- Exercise: Young St. Bernards should not be over-exercised, as this could harm their growth. Adult St. Bernards enjoy daily leisurely walks.
- Feeding: It is best to feed two or three meals a day instead of only feeding once. A St. Bernard should never be exercised one hour before feeding or for two hours afterwards. And they should never be allowed to gulp water.
- Grooming: Brush your St. Bernard weekly, three times a week if you have the longhaired version. Teeth and ears should be checked and cleaned when needed. And nails should be trimmed when you can hear them clicking as the dog walks across the floor.
- Attention: The St. Bernard is a breed that needs a lot of human attention in order to allow its intelligence to be developed to its full potential. They should be allowed to live indoors with their family members.
- Hip Dysplasia
- Entropion / Ectropion
- Heart Disease
- Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
Am I Right for You?
- I tend to drool a lot
- I cannot tolerate hot temperatures, warm rooms or warm cars.
- I will do all right in an apartment as long as I get my daily walks, but prefer a house with a decent sized yard.
- You must be willing to be consistent with socialization, as I will become very protective of my home and untrusting of humans if I am not properly socialized.
- I am prone to anxiety if I am left alone for long periods of time.