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Other names: Alpine Mastiff, St Bernhardshund
Dog Group Kennel Club: Working (AKC, KC)
The Saint Bernard is one of the instantly recognisable breeds, this gentle giant has a strong muscular body with a massive head and drooping ears.
There are two varieties of St Bernard: smooth shorthaired (short, thick, and dense coat), or rough longhaired (medium length and slightly wavy coat). Both types have double coats. Colours include: red-brown and white or brindle and white
Weight: 110 – 200 lbs
Average Life Span: 8 – 10 yrs
Saint Bernard’s are gentle giants that are loyal, protective and courageous. They are good-humoured, trustworthy, sensible, gentle, and patient. This is a breed that loves family life and revels in the company of children. They can become depressed if they are left alone. They make excellent watchdogs and good family dogs.
- They do not bark very much. However drooling is a problem in this breed. The drooling usually comes after and during exercise, eating, drinking, or excitement.
- St Bernard’s need a lot of room and would not be suitable for a small home.
- The St Bernard is a big dog and needs a large amount of food. Therefore feeding can become quite expensive
St Bernard’s are highly intelligent and easy to train. Saint Bernard’s must receive obedience training as a puppy because of their tremendous size as an adult. They must be trained to not pull on a leash when young.
The soft-coated Saint is much easier to groom than the rough-coated. Saint Bernard’s shed a lot, both varieties need to brushed 2-3 times a week.
Exercising St Bernard puppies must be done very gradually until the bones are well formed and strong. Short walks are best until the dog is about two years old. From then walks should be made gradually longer to meet their moderate exercise level. Adult Saint Bernard’s need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating.
Saint Bernard Health Issues
Bloat (gastric torsion), though not a hereditary condition, frequently affects many breed including the st bernard. This is a very serious condition. When a dog bloats, the stomach can turn and block, causing a build up of gas. Unless treated quickly, bloat can be fatal. Signs of bloat include futile attempts to vomit and to salivate. Bloat, which may lead to cardiovascular collapse, usually occurs when exercise too closely follows eating. The incidence of bloat may be lessened by feeding adult dogs twice a day and, of course, by allowing a dog time to digest before taking him for a run in the park. Click Here for more information
Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): is an autosomally (not sex-linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time (somewhat similar to hemophilia in humans) and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available. Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they ARE at risk whenever they need to have surgery or have an accident. Some unlucky affected dogs will actually bleed out from a needle stick or minor wound.
Epilepsy: is a seizure disorder which has been found in this breed. Seizures vary between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your pet falling on his side, barking, gnashing his teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling his limbs. Seizures usually appear suddenly and end spontaneously, and can last from seconds to minutes. The disorder has no known cause, however it is important for your veterinarian to determine your pets general health and make sure there is no underlying disease that may be causing the seizures. Treatment can include anticonvulsant medications. Always ask your vet for advice.
Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
Saint Bernard History
The Saint Bernard is a descendant of the Roman Molossus, the original Mastiff stock in the Swiss Alps. The first Saint Bernard was bred by Monks at the Hospice of St. Bernard de Menthon around 1660. The hospice was snow free only a few months during the warmest part of the summer, it was very dangerous for foot travellers journeying to or past the hospice. These good-natured giants are world renowned for their long history of rescuing these travellers and climbers on the Swiss Alps. During the three centuries that the dogs served as rescue workers at the hospice, it is estimated they have saved over 2,000 lives. The most famous St. Bernard in history, Barry, born in 1800, saved forty people over a period of ten years.
In 1830 Newfoundland blood was introduced in an attempt to give the breed added size and vitality. this resulted in the longhaired variety of the breed. Up until that time all Bernard’s were short-coated. It is the long-haired variety that is now most common. Called at different times in history as the Mountain Dog, the Alpine Mastiff, and the Barry Dog, this breed was officially recognized as the St. Bernard in 1880.