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Family livestock dog, sheepdog, mastiff
Life Span 9-11 years
Avg Size of Male: Height: >27.5 inches, Weight: 120-200 pounds
Avg Size of Female: Height: >25 inches, Weight: 120-200 pounds
Original Function: draft, search and rescue
Overall Rating (out of 5)
This slow-moving gentle dog makes a great family pet. Although not particularly playful, it is good with children. Care should be taken to prevent accidents because of its large size, especially around small children. It can be stubborn, but is loyal to its family and willing to please.

The St. Bernard Dog is a large breed of dog originally bred for rescue and as a working dog. A full-grown male can weigh between 150 and 220 lb (68 and 100 kg). There are two varieties of the breed: the short-haired or smooth-coat variety and the long-haired or rough-coat variety.

The Saint Bernard is known for its loyalty and vigilance and is tolerant of both children and animals. Because of these traits, it has become a family dog. They also make good watchdogs, as their size can be intimidating to strangers, though their temperament is gentle.

The ancestors of the St. Bernard are the herding dogs of Swiss farmers as well as hunting dogs and watchdogs. Their history has also been connected with the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass. First reports of the dogs' presence at the pass date to the 17th century, and they remained loyal companions to the monks there until 2004, when the monks began to divest themselves of the dogs and focus the time they spent on the dogs to minister to people.

The most famous St. Bernard to save people at the pass was Barry (sometimes spelled Berry), who reportedly saved somewhere between 40 and 100 lives. There is a monument to Barry in the Cimetière des Chiens, and his body was preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne

The classic St. Bernard looked very different from the St. Bernard of today, but an avalanche killed off many of the dogs used for breeding so they crossed the remaining dogs with other dogs, but in the process they lost much of their use as rescue dogs. The St. Bernard is the heaviest dog breed in the world. The heaviest and largest (not tallest) dog in known history was a Saint Bernard named Benedictine, which weighed 336 lbs (152.5kg). Successive studies suggest show that Benedictine was in fact 357 lbs.


St. Bernards are very gentle giants. They are often fond of children and are loyal to their family, but, as with any dog, should not be left unsupervised with young children. It is highly recommended that owners be very patient because this breed of dog can be very stubborn. It is imperative that St. Bernards should also remain very socialized because they can become overly protective of their territory. They are also very prone to anxiety if left alone for long periods of time and may destroy their owner's belongings. It is recommended that a suitable safe environment be made available during times that the owner cannot be home. This could range anywhere from a fenced yard to a suitably sized crate (normally Extra Large). They commonly get along very well with other dogs and love high amounts of attention.


The Saint Bernard requires a weekly brushing, with more grooming during its twice yearly shedding. Bathe when necessary with a mild soap, paying extra attention to its eyes. This breed is known to drool excessively. The Saint Bernard requires exercise to remain in shape, however its needs are better met with short walks than a long and vigorous playtime. It does best in a house with a fenced yard, so that it can go outside to exercise. The breed can be raised outside in temperate to cold climates, but does not do well in hot temperatures. It stays fairly inactive indoors and needs to be around its family. Obedience training is wise for puppies due to their large adult size.


The very fast growth rate and the weight of a St. Bernard can lead to very serious deterioration of the bones if the dog does not get proper food and exercise. Many dogs are affected by hip dysplasia.

St. Bernards are prone to eye disorders called entropion and ectropion. The breed is also susceptible to epilepsy and seizures, a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, and eczema.

Height: 25.5-35.5 inches ( 61-90 cm.)

Weight: 110-220 pounds (50-100 kg)


The Saint Bernard probably originated when the native dogs in Switzerland were bred with the Asian “Molosser” which was brought to the area by Roman armies. The dogs were used in valley farms and Alpine dairies for the purpose of guarding and herding and were referred to as the Talhund (valley dog) or the Bauernhund (farm dog). This large mastiff-like dog arrived at the St. Bernard Hospice, a refuge founded by Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon as a shelter for travelers crossing between Switzerland and Italy. Originally used to help pull carts and as watchdogs, the monks soon discovered their abilities in the deep snow. The monks used the breed help locate lost travelers, and it soon became known for helping to save lives. The dogs would find a lost traveler, lick his face to revive him, and then lie beside him to keep him warm in the snow. The Saint Bernard saved over 2000 lives in the three centuries that it was in service there. In the 1800s a Saint Bernard named Barry (or Berry) became famous after rescuing a small boy and carrying him to safety. Barry saved over 40 lives before his death. The breed had been known by many different names, including hospice dog, however Barry’s incredible fame caused the dogs to be called Barryhund in his honor. Barry’s body has been preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne. In 1810, the first Saints came to England, where they were still referred to by various names, including sacred dog. In 1880, the name Saint Bernard became official. In 1830, it was crossed with the Newfoundland in an attempt to strengthen the breed after many were lost from severe weather, disease and inbreeding. The result was the longhaired type of Saint Bernard. The new type of Saint Bernard could not be used for rescue work, because snow and ice clung to the long coat, hindering it in rescue attempts. In 1888, the Saint Bernard Club of America was organized, however it disbanded and wasn’t reformed until 1898. It is one of the oldest specialty clubs in the United States, and still acts in the best interest of the breed. By 1900, the Saint Bernard had gained popularity and is still one of the most popular of the giant breeds.






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