Saint Bernard Overview
In the 1600s, the monks of Great St. Bernard Pass kept large sized dogs to use as draft animals and guard dogs. The dogs were then used as rescue dogs in the 1700s. Using their sense of smell, the dogs could find lost people, even under several feet of snow. One dog on the team would run back for help, while the others stayed with the traveler for warmth. Over 2000 rescues by the Saint Bernard have been documented.
Saint Bernard Characteristics
The Saint Bernard comes in both a short and long-haired coat. They feature a large blocky head with big jowls, long fluffy tail, and a plush coat. The breed looks similar to other large Mastiff-sized dogs. They feature several coat colors, however the most common is the traditional white coat with reddish-brown patches.
Saint Bernard Temperament
This dog breed is calm, loyal, patient and willing to please. They may be aloof with some strangers, but most dogs are sociable with everyone. They do great with children and were notable “nanny” dogs in the 1800s with upper-class families. The breed does well in almost any situation.
Saint Bernard Care
The average lifespan of this breed is 8 to 10 years, typical for a giant breed dog. They have several health issues including dilated cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), osteochondritis dissecans, hip and elbow dysplasia, entropion, ectropion, and epilepsy. Their large size also makes them prone to bloat, or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus.
Saint Bernard Coat
Their coat is easy to care for but does require weekly brushing. The longer haired variety may shed slightly more but does well with the same amount of brushing. They are also notorious droolers, so cleaning around the mouth and jowls is needed.
Saint Bernard Training
The Saint Bernard is loyal and intelligent and will take training easily. He may have a few stubborn streaks, but they can be overcome with motivational and positive reward-based training. They do well-learning obedience in almost any situation.
Saint Bernard Activity
They are large but do well with just a long daily walk for activity. They can be involved in more active outings, but are also happy to just be close to their family, participating in any activity they are.