Originally the Saint Bernard Dog breed was used to guard the grounds of Switzerland’s Hospice Saint Bernard as well as to help find and save lost and injured travelers.
The breed takes its name from the Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard Pass. The Pass was founded in AD980 by St Bernard de Menthon as a refuge for travellers through the dangerous Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy.
St Bernards stand tall with massive frames which make them so remarkable. They are muscular Dogs with powerful, imposing heads, and are capable of covering very rough ground with unhurried, smooth movements.
Grooming and Physical Needs
- Grooming Needs: Saint Bernards have a lot of hair to get through and need to be combed daily to remove loose hair. The ears should be kept clean and the eyes checked very regularly, especially Dogs with drooping eyelids.
- Coat Type: They can come in shorthaired (coat is smooth but dense) and longhaired (coat is slightly wavy but never curly or shaggy). Their hair is slightly bushy on the thighs, and the tail is covered with long, dense hair that becomes shorter toward the tip.
- Moulting: They are heavy shedders and shed, or blow, their coat twice a year.
- Exercise Needs: The Saint Bernard does not need a lot of exercise. They are not a jogging companion and will wilt in hot climates. They also suffer from heat exhaustion quite easily and need access to shade and plenty of fresh, cool water during hot weather.
- Average Life Span: 8 to 10 years
- Family: The easygoing Saint is gentle and patient with children if not necessarily playful. He's great to snuggle with while reading or watching television, but he can be a bit much for younger children, accidentally knocking them over with a swipe of his tail.
- Temperament: They have a steady, benevolent temperament and are kind and careful with children. They love attention but aren't as demanding of it as some breeds.
- Trainability: Train your Saint Bernard using a happy and relaxed approach. Lay down ground rules and be consistent in requiring that he follow them.
- Sociability (Other Pets): Saint Bernards are naturally friendly. Don't ignore their sociability because of this though, as an unstrained Saint will have trouble knowing how rough they are playing and not be aware of their surroundings as much.
- Barking: Saint Bernards are not known for barking without cause, but are generally quiet otherwise.
The Saint Bernard is versatile and excels in the show ring and in obedience trials, drafting (pulling a cart or wagon), and weight pulling competitions.
Keep your Saint Bernard cool in hot climates at all costs. Otherwise enjoy your friendly, fluffy and slobbery companion.