A big dog with a big heart, the Saint Bernard has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years.
The Saint Bernard’s true origins are unknown, but the breed’s predecessor is believed to have been the heavy Asian Molosser. Romans brought the heavy Asian Molosser to Switzerland in the first two centuries A.D. and bred them with native dogs. The resulting breed, called Talhunds or Bauernhunds, was used for herding, pulling, guarding and drafting.
Sometime around 1660, it is known that farmers gave these dogs to monks living in a remote hospice in the Swiss Alps. The hospice was called the Saint Bernard de Menthon. The monks found the dogs to be highly skilled at guarding and rescuing people trapped in avalanches.
Eventually, the monks bred their dogs with the Newfoundland to add size and help them develop a waterproof coat. The new breed was given the name Saint Bernard in 1880.
The giant Saint Bernard weighs 130 to 240 pounds and measures 28 to 35 inches.
The Saint Bernard either has a long, wavy coat or short, smooth coat. Both coat types shed regularly. Saint Bernards need to be brushed a few times a week and bathed occasionally. Saint Bernards should also have their faces wiped daily; they drool heavily and can develop tear stains.
Like all dogs, the Saint Bernard also needs basic grooming. Brush their teeth, clean their ears and trim their nails on a regular basis.
The Saint Bernard’s biggest desire is to be part of their family. They are sweet and patient, with a quiet dignity.
The Saint Bernard is often used as a therapy dog thanks to their loving and gentle demeanor. They are also known for being great with children. Saint Bernards understand they are large and are very careful not to knock children down or injure them. The Saint Bernard is devoted to their entire family and wants to be around them as much as possible. They are very people oriented and can become depressed if left alone for too long.
The Saint Bernard’s size makes them a great guard dog. They are naturally protective, but not aggressive. The Saint Bernard will bark to alert their family of any strange noises or strange people.
The Saint Bernard can be somewhat stubborn, but is eager to please and generally easy to train. The Saint Bernard should be trained and socialized early before they get too large to handle.
The Saint Bernard is not a highly active dog, especially as they mature. The Saint Bernard needs a daily walk for their health and will also enjoy some time to run around the yard. However, the Saint Bernard is too large to be a jogging partner and needs to be watched closely during the summer months as they can easily get heat exhaustion.