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Breed Profile: Saint Bernard


Saint Bernard Dog Breed Photo - Picture of Saint Bernard Dog Breed Photo © Oni Saints on flickr




The Saint Bernard is a legendary hero of the Swiss Alps. Dating back over 1000 years, the exact origin of the breed is not certain. Some sources suggest that Saints emerged from large Asian dogs brought to Switzerland (perhaps the Tibetan Mastiff or similar) that were bred with native Swiss dogs.

The breed was named for Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon, who founded a Hospice in the Swiss Alps as a refuge for travelers. For centuries they were developed by the Monks as companions, watchdogs and workers that saved thousands of human lives by finding and assisting lost or injured travelers in the Swiss Alps.


Weight: 130-180 pounds
Height: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder

Coats and Colors:

Coats: may be short and smooth or long and silky
Colors: White with red, brown or brindle markings; black "mask" typically seen

Health Problems:

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

About the Breed:

The Saint Bernard is among the largest of dog breeds, but is also one of the most lovable dogs around. This giant dog is muscular and powerful, yet gentle and loyal disposition. Take note that Saints are likely to be on the slobbery side, so you may need to keep a "drool rag" handy.

The Saint Bernard will either have a short, smooth coat or longer, silky coat. Both coats require routine grooming, though the long-haired variety should be brushed out more often. This breed has a relatively high shedding rate which can be controlled with regular hair brushing.

Like all dogs, proper training and socialization is important for Saints. Due to the dog's giant size, careful attention should be placed upon prevention of jumping, leaning and leash-pulling. Additionally, routine exercise is essential to keep your Saint fit and stimulated.

The Saint Bernard has a calm, gentle temperament and tends to get along quite well with children. However, the breed might not always realize its size, so be cautious at first. Overall, Saints have the natural instinct to protect and assist people, making them wonderful assistance dogs and family pets.

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