Breed of the Month–Saint Bernard

1December 2015

Saint Bernard

Color:  White with various red shades, white and brindle, white markings.
Height:  Males:  27.5-35.5 inches/  Females:  25.5-31/5 inches
Weight:  120-200 lbs
Life Span:  8-10 years

Breed Health Concerns:  epilepsy, elbow and hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, osteochondritis dissecans, ectropion, and osteosarcoma.

Coat:  Two types:  1) Longhaired:  profuse undercoat/ plain medium-length outercoat,
2)  Shorthaired:  profuse undercoat/ dense, smooth, coarse, close-lying outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Switzerland

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

This breed worked alongside monks to help people through a dangerous pass between what are now Switzerland and Italy, named the Great St. Bernard Pass, after an Augustine monk, Saint Bernard of Menthon.  The monks and their dogs would travel the pass after heavy storms, searching for possible survivors.  The Saint Bernard made a good draft and guard dog for the monks, and used his keen nose to sniff out survivors.  The Saint Bernard’s sheer size aided in his ability to push through large drifts of snow.

The Saint Bernard is noted for being able to tolerate rambunctious children.  He is loyal, tolerant, intelligent, patient, and friendly.

Puppies under 2 years of age should be restricted in activity to help protect their growing bones.  After 2 years of age the Saint Bernard needs regular daily walks.

Both types of coats shed twice yearly.  Weekly brushing is important to maintain the coat; the Saint Bernard should not be bathed unless truly necessary.

The Saint Bernard must be socialized and taught proper manners from an early age.  These dogs grow quickly and grow to be very large animals.  The breed can be stubborn at times, but is loyal and aims to please.  Positive reinforcement training is recommended.