Canine Breed Menu



Breed Organization
Saint Bernard Club of America
Native Country
Other Names
Saint Bernard, Alpine Mastiff, St Barnhardshund
Life Expectancy
Approximately 8-10 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-8 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Working, Mastiff
Breed Appearance
The Saint Bernard is a breed of very large working dog from the Italian and Swiss Alps, originally bred for rescue. The breed has become famous through tales of alpine rescues, as well as for its enormous size. There are now three Saint Bernard standards; a modified old Swiss version still used in the United States, the English version, and a much revised Swiss version adopted by all FCI countries in 1993. The Saint Bernard Club of America (Saint Bernard Club of America) maintains that the only standard that correctly describes the original hospice type is the Swiss Standard adopted in 1884. Since the currently approved American Kennel Club standard differs only slightly from the original Swiss Standard, it is the position of the Saint Bernard Club of America that this is the only standard that is acceptable.

Breed Description
Head: Powerful and imposing. Broad, slightly domed skull. Straight nose bridge. Short muzzle. Large nose.
Ears: Medium size, set on high, triangular, drop.
Eyes: Fairly large. Dark brown color. Dark rims.
Body: Imposing. Powerful neck. Withers strongly pronounced. Ribs well sprung.
Tail: Long, heavy, hanging down and reaching the hocks.
Hair: Two varieties: - Short-haired: Dense, tough, lying smooth; abundant undercoat. - Long-haired: Straight. Culottes, feathering, bushy tail. Short on the face and ears. Abundant undercoat.
Coat: White with moderately large reddish-brown markings. Reddish-brown brindle is permissible. Dark shadings on the head are favored.
Size: Dog: at least 70 cm Bitch: at least 65 cm
Weight: 55 to 100 kg.

The Saint Bernard is thought to be descended from ancient Molosser dogs that crossed the Alps with the Roman legions. This breed's roots can be traced to Switzerland where monks at the Grand Saint Bernard Hospice (founded in the Middle Ages) developed the breed around the twelfth century. The St. Bernard quickly developed a reputation as a mountain rescue dog. The most famous Saint Bernard in history, Barry, born in 1800, saved forty people over a period of ten years. Prior to 1830, Saint Bernards had short coats. They were later crossed with the Newfoundland, and the long-haired variety was created. It is the long-haired variety that is now most common. Called at different times in history the Mountain Dog, the Alpine Mastiff, and the Barry Dog, this breed was officially recognized as the Saint Bernard in 1880. The Swiss Saint Bernard club was formed in Basel in 1884, and the St. Bernard's standard was fixed in Bern as of 1887.

This tranquil, calm, gentle, friendly dog is very sociable, devoted to his owners, and adores children. Wary around strangers, the St. Bernard can be aggressive if the situation warrants. Firm training is required.

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 genetically affected by hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) has been shown to be hereditary in the breed. They are susceptible to eye disorders called entropion and ectropion, in which the eyelid turns in or out. The breed standard indicates that this is a major fault. The breed is also susceptible to epilepsy and seizures, a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, and eczema.

This breed requires considerable space and long walks every day. Energetic daily brushing is required. The St. Bernard does not tolerate heat well.

Guard Dog, Mountain Rescue Dog, Pet.

Horse Herd