Saint Bernard Dog Breed

Though large in size, the Saint Bernard is actually gentle and easy-going with its human family and friends.
By: PawCulture Editors
Saint Bernard Dog Breed

About the Saint Bernard Dog Breed

The Saint Bernard is one of the most popular giant dog breeds. But don’t let its size fool you; the breed is considered gentle and easy-going with its human family and friends.

Saint Bernard Physical Characteristics

The Saint Bernard has an enormous stocky build with a large block-shaped heads and dropped ears. Its tail is long and bushy and its skin and lips are droopy. 

Color(s)

Commonly seen in a reddish brown color with white markings.

Coat

Either short or long. Both the short coat and the long coat are dense, but the long coat tends to have more waves and curls.

Saint Bernard Personality and Temperament

Activity Level

Moderate 

Positives

The Saint Bernard is a loving and gentle giant; it gets along well with children and other animals.

Things to Consider

Saint Bernards tend to be heavy droolers.

Saint Bernard Care

Ideal Living Conditions

Saint Bernards fare well in country or city settings. 

Special Requirements

The breed requires daily exercise and regular grooming.

Saint Bernard Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in Saint Bernards:

 

Saint Bernard History and Background

Originating from the Roman Molossian dogs, the Saint Bernard developed into the impressive life-saving dog from 1660 to 1670. During this time, the first batch of these big dogs were brought to the St. Bernard Hospice, which was a refuge center for travelers moving between Switzerland and Italy.

Originally, the breed helped in turning spits, pulling carts and may have acted as companions or watchdogs, but soon the monks discovered that the dogs were exceptional pathfinders in snow. A Saint Bernard would track lost travelers, lick the lost person’s face, lie next to him to provide warmth and help revive him. The dog served this prized role for more than 300 years and saved as many as 200 lives.

The most renowned of the St. Bernard dogs was Barry, who saved some 40 lives. Prior to this dog’s death, the Saint Bernard were known as “Hospice Dogs,” among other names. However, when the famous Barry died, the dogs were named Barryhund, after him.

In the early 19th century, numerous dogs died due to disease, severe weather and inbreeding. In 1830, a few of those remaining were crossed with Newfoundlands, creating the first long-coated breed of the Saint Bernard variety. It appeared that long hair could protect the dog in very cold snow, but it was a hindrance as the snow stuck to the coat. Therefore, the long-haired varieties were not used for rescue work.

The breed was exported into England in the mid-1800s, and were first referred to as the “Sacred Dog.” By 1865, the breed was commonly referred to as Saint Bernard, and was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1885. At this time, U.S. dog lovers took a fancy to the breed, making the breed extremely popular by 1900. Saint Bernards remain one of the most popular giant breeds today.