Saint Bernard

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  • Saint Bernard
  • Saint Bernards
  • Saint Bernards in Great Britain
  • Saint Bernards in the UK
  • Saint Bernard Puppy
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  • Saint Bernard Dog
  • Saint Bernard in the UK
  • Saint Bernard in Great Britain

Working Group

Size:
Grooming:
Exercise Level:
Trainability:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Affectionate:
Protective:
Height: 61 - 70cm M | 61 - 70cm F
Weight: 50 - 91kg M | 50 - 91kg F
Life Expectancy: 8 - 10 Years

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The Saint Bernard is a gentle giant dog breed originally from Switzerland that is famous for mountain rescues. Known to be affectionate, kind and easy-going in spite of its size, this working dog breed is an excellent companion. Saint Bernards are great around children. They are also people-pleasers, so training is easy.

Will you take home thisn huge dog breed? Here is a brief background of this versatile gentle giant.


book icon History

As a powerful, giant-sized dog breed, the Saint Bernard's history is unclear, though it is believed to originate at a monk's hospice, the Great St. Bernard Pass, in the Swiss Alps in 1707. Experts claim that these monastery dogs were bred to be watchdogs, but not long after were repurposed to become rescue dogs, finding lost people even in terrible weather conditions (hence the moniker, mountain rescue dogs).

The breed almost went extinct in the 1830's when the monks tried to interbreed several dogs too much, which resulted in the dogs developing diseases. Nevertheless, the result of crossing the breed with the Newfoundland, the Great Dane and the Great Pyrenees dog resulted in the modern Saint Bernard we see today.

The Saint Bernard was first entered into the Swiss Stud Book in 1884, while the breed standard was later approved in 1888. Since then it has become the Swiss national dog. Today, the Saint Bernard is beloved by anyone who owns it because of its affectionate and devoted nature that make it great human companion and family pet.


comb icon Appearance and Grooming

The Saint Bernard is a giant dog breed that weighs 120 to 180 pounds and stands 65 to 90 centimetres. It has a sizeable imposing head, short muzzle, well-defined stop, and square-shaped nose, dark eyes with a gentle and intelligent expression, and slightly large ears that are reaching the dog's cheeks. The jaw is strong and the neck is well muscled and moderately arched with nicely-developed dewlaps. Its broad shoulders are sloped up at the its withers while the legs are strong, straight and well-boned.

The Saint Bernard's coat is either rough or smooth. The smooth coat is tight and lies close to the body, while the rough coat is thick, flat and more abundant around the neck and legs. The commonly accepted colours are mahogany brindle with white and a red shade with white. Usually, black shading is found on the face and ears. Regardless which type of coat it wears, the Saint Bernard is a bit high-maintenance since its known to be a prolific shedder. That said, make sure to brush its coat a few times a week or daily, if possible. Often, owners hire professional groomers to make it easier for them to maintain the dog's coat.

Dog grooming is an integral part of the well-being of the Saint Bernard, or any dog. Aside from making sure the coat is clean, it is also necessary to pay attention to other physical aspects that require care such as the ears, teeth and the nails. Brush the dog's teeth to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Ears should also be checked for signs of infection and cleaned regularly to avoid problems. Nails must be trimmed at least once or twice a month, or when you start hearing clicking sounds on the floor.


bulb icon Temperament and Intelligence

Living up to its name, the Saint Bernard is a calm, tolerant and gentle dog breed. With that said, the Saint Bernard is a suitable choice for a family with kids. However, its sheer size is enough reason to make sure playtime or any interaction is well-supervised. We don't want the dog accidentally knocking over small kids.

When it comes to guarding, Saint Bernard have no violent bone in their body so they may not be able to ward off thieves. They are also on the quieter side of the canine spectrum, so they are neither watchdogs nor guard dogs. When properly trained, they can be quick to let an owner know if someone is about. Also, their size is enough to scare away people not familiar with the breed.

The Saint Bernard is eager to please and as such, is easy to train. However, do note that this working dog excels in dog sports including cart-pulling (drafting), weight-pulling, obedience trials and tracking, so you might want to enrol this breed in dog training. Also, keep in mind that no matter how gentle a dog breed is based on its genetic makeup, bored dogs can develop undesirable habits and behaviours. Make sure the Saint Bernard is given ample mental and physical exercises daily.

With its friendly nature, the Saint Bernard does not have a very high prey drive and will rarely show aggression to other dogs and small animals alike. However, when the mood strikes it, it may find small animals amusing to chase so care should still be taken.


food icon Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult Saint Bernard is 5 to 6 cups of quality dry dog food per day. A nutritious and balanced diet is essential to keep your dog healthy. Dog diets also depend on several factors such as age, size, activity level, and health. Check with your veterinarian, if you are unsure about its diet.

Typical daily calorie needs of adult Saint Bernard weighing 150 pounds:

  • Senior and less active: up to 2,650 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 2,990 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 3,320 calories daily

Always check package labels for nutritional adequacy, which means the dog food should be appropriate for large adult dogs like the Saint Bernard. Of course, you can prepare home-cooked meals. However, getting the right mix of protein, vitamins, minerals and fats can be challenging. If you want to insist on making homemade diets, you should consult a canine nutritionist to help you outline a healthy diet for your Saint Bernard.


stethoscope icon Health and Exercise

To help the Saint Bernard live an easy and healthy life, it is essential to understand the most common health problems, including the signs and symptoms for early detection. For a Saint Bernard, these common health problems include Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Entropion, Epilepsy, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Cataracts, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, and some allergies.

Regardless of size and activity level, all dogs need to exercise daily. Without activity, the dog will become bored, unhealthy and will develop undesirable behaviours. For the Saint Bernard, being a moderately active dog breed, 60 to 80 minutes of daily exercise will suffice to meet its needs. However, not all dogs are the same. If you are concerned whether your dog can handle long walks or need a specific exercise plan, talk to your veterinarian.


pound icon Cost of Ownership

Can you really afford a Saint Bernard? By afford, the question refers to the dog's lifetime care. A dog could mean financial setbacks from food to pet insurance. For most owners, the lifetime cost to care for a dog and with a Saint Bernard being a large dog, costs will be significantly higher than owning small to medium dogs. The upfront cost to buy a Saint Bernard depends on where it's from. Most Saint Bernard puppies will cost £500 to £1,200, especially a well-bred pedigree puppy.

Puppies will need veterinary care, especially vaccinations against diseases, as well as annual boosters. Costs vary but expect to pay no less than £2,000 per year. You will also need to buy numerous dog items and supplies such as bedding, toys, bowls, and even a dog crate for some dogs. Food is the biggest expense, which will set you back £80 to £100 a month. Pet insurance-wise, the costs vary depending on the provider and the cover you select but expect to shell out £60 for a basic cover and £100 for a lifetime cover. Overall, the average Saint Bernard owner spends about £150 to £220 a month.


Is a Saint Bernard Right for You?

  • The Saint Bernard is a gentle giant dog breed originally from Switzerland.
  • It is affectionate, kind and easy-going, making it an excellent companion.
  • Saint Bernards are tolerant and great around children.
  • They desire to please their owners, so training is easy.
  • They are prolific shedders, so it is high maintenance on the grooming front.
  • They are neither watchdogs nor guard dogs, but their size can scare away people easily.

Are you sure the Saint Bernard is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

Dog Breed Selector Quiz

Do you think the Saint Bernard is too big and expensive for you? Find other dog breeds based on your personality and lifestyle using our Pet Finder

Disclaimer:
The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.
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