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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard

Origin: Switzerland

AKC Group: Working

Height: Minimum 27.5 inches (70 cm) for males, 25.5 inches (65 cm) for females (Male)

Weight: 110 pounds (Male)

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Origin: 
Switzerland
Male height: 
Minimum 27.5 inches (70 cm) for males, 25.5 inches (65 cm) for females
Male weight: 
110 pounds
Coat: 
Saint Bernards come in two coat types: rough, which has a dense and medium-long, slightly wavy coat that is more profuse at the back of the thigh; and smooth, which is short, hard, dense and close-lying.
Colors: 
Red with white or white with red, brindle patches and white. White markings occur on the chest, feet and tail tip; the breed also has a white nose band and a white spot or collar at the nape of the neck. Some Saint Bernards feature a white blaze; a dark mask around the eyes and black marking on the ears may also occur.
History: 

The history of the Saint Bernard goes back centuries. Between what are now Italy, at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) above sea level, is the oldest pass through the western Alps, dating back to at least the Bronze Age. From ancient times, travel through this pass was risky - not only was there the threat of marauders, but it was difficult to traverse the permanent snow cover. In the 10th century, Bernard of Menthon, an Augustine monk, established a monastery and a hospice at the pass to aid travelers. Because of the help he gave and the people he saved, Bernard was made a saint, and the place came to be called the Great Saint Bernard Pass. A hospice and monastery continued on the site for centuries.

In the late 1600s, the monks began to keep large dogs as draft animals and guard dogs. They were probably descended from mastiff-type dogs first brought to the area by the Roman armies. By the year 1700, possibly because they had accompanied the monks on patrol after bad storms, the dogs had evolved into a role as rescuers. A team of dogs would use their keen sense of smell to find a lost traveler, sometimes under feet of snow. One dog would run back to the monastery for help, while the others crowded around the traveler to keep him warm. There have been more than 2,000 documented rescues by these noble dogs.

Personality: 
Saint Bernards ("Saints") have fantastic temperaments - they are friendly, patient, loyal, eager to please, tolerant and intelligent. Their look, carriage and whole being is one of self-confidence. They are very reliable and can be trusted in almost any circumstance. Some Saints may be aloof with strangers, but most are warm and outgoing.
At home: 
For such a large dog, the Saint can do remarkably well in an apartment, provided he's given moderate exercise and a chance to explore the outdoors. He's calm and placid at home, and this working dog expects to spend as much time as possible with his beloved family. The Saint Bernard loves the cold weather but does not fare well in extreme heat.
Exercise: 
The Saint needs a moderate amount of daily exercise. With young dogs whose bones are still forming, it is best to keep walks and play sessions fairly short. By the age of two, though, the Saint will benefit from a long daily walk.
Feeding: 
Feed the Saint Bernard the highest-quality diet possible to help him enjoy the fullest life.
Training: 
Given the Saint's adult size and weight, he must have the opportunity to learn proper manners and basic commands early on, while he's a manageable size. Although he can be stubborn on occasion, the Saint is loyal, biddable and intelligent and takes well to training.
Compatibility: 
Saints are especially noted for their tolerance of children. They also get along well with other dogs and small animals.
Health: 
The average life span of the Saint Bernard is 8 to 10 years. Breed health concerns include autoimmune disease; bloat; epilepsy; heart disease; hip dysplasia; skin problems; and Wobblers syndrome.
Fun fact: 

In 1962, a Saint Bernard named Beggar was named "Dog Hero of the Year" after he pulled three-year-old Bobby Mitchell out of a flooded river, saving his life.

Grooming blurb: 
Both coat types shed twice a year but other than that are very easy to care for. A good brushing once a week or so with a stiff brush should suffice. Do not bathe the Saint unless it is absolutely necessary.
Disclaimer: 
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.