Shoulder height: 65 – 90 cm
Weight: 75 – 85 kg
Age: 8 – 10 years
Color: white with red-brown patches or continuous cover
Use: family dog, companion dog, guard dog
St. Bernard – the Swiss national dog – is an extremely impressive sight. With a shoulder height of around 90 cm, it is one of the giants among dogs but is considered to be very gentle, loving, and sensitive.
Origin and history
St. Bernard descends from Swiss farm dogs, which were kept by the monks of the hospice on the Great St. Bernard as companions and guard dogs. The dogs were also used as rescue dogs for travelers lost in snow and fog. St. Bernard was best known for the avalanche dog Barry (1800), who is said to have saved the lives of over 40 people. In 1887 St. Bernard was officially recognized as a Swiss dog breed and the breed standard was declared binding. Since then, St. Bernard has been considered the Swiss national dog.
The early St. Bernhard’s dogs were built smaller than today’s type of dog, which is hardly suitable for avalanche work due to selective breeding. Today, St. Bernard is a popular house and companion dog.
With a shoulder height of up to 90 cm, Saint Bernard is an extremely large and imposing dog. It has a harmonious, strong, and muscular body, and a massive head with brown, friendly eyes. The ears are medium-sized, set high, triangular, and lying close to the cheeks. The tail is long and heavy.
St. Bernard is bred in the coat variants short hair (stock hair) and long hair. Both varieties have a dense, weather-resistant top coat and plenty of undercoats. The base color of the coat is white with patches of reddish brown or reddish brown cover throughout. Dark borders often appear around the muzzle, eyes, and ears.
St. Bernard is considered to be extremely good-natured, affectionate, gentle, and fond of children, but he is a real dog personality. It shows strong protective behavior, is alert and territorial and does not tolerate strange dogs in its territory.
The lively young dog needs consistent training and clear leadership. Saint Bernard puppies should be socialized and used to anything unfamiliar from an early age.
In adulthood, Saint Bernard is easy-going, even-tempered, and calm. It enjoys going for walks but does not demand excessive physical activity. Due to its size, however, St. Bernard needs sufficient living space. It also loves to be outdoors and is more suitable for people with a garden or property. St. Bernard is not suitable as a city dog or for people with sporting ambitions.
Like most large dog breeds, Saint Bernard has a comparatively short life expectancy. About 70% of St. Bernards barely live to be 10 years old.