The Saint Bernard is one of the most easily recognized and beloved breeds around. These gentle giants are especially good with children and are popular among families. Their thick coats and strong bodies originally helped save people in the Swiss Alps. It comes as no surprise that these friendly and hardy dogs have survived through the ages. Read on to learn more about the Saint Bernard.
Description of the Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is instantly recognizable by its massive head, droopy face, and thick fur. He is an imposing sight, but underneath all the fluff is a playful and loving dog.
A member of the working group, these powerful dogs are accustomed to working incredibly long days in horrendous conditions. Humans originally bred the this dog to help locate and rescue trapped travelers going through the treacherous passes of the Swiss Alps.
While not many are doing this job anymore, they are still a great choice for those who love to be active, but can also adapt well to a more sedentary lifestyle.
This dog’s thick coat comes in both long-haired and short-haired varieties. This variation has no effect on their coloring, though, and they are either white with red, or red with white.
Life Expectancy and Size
The Saint Bernard can grow to be as large as, or larger than, humans, and so they tend to live shorter lives. The average lifespan of this gentle giant is 8 – 10 years. Certain health conditions may impact this so always work with a reputable breeder to get the healthiest puppy possible.
These dogs are some of the largest around. Males stand 28 – 30 inches tall and weigh 140 – 180 pounds; and females stand 26 – 28 inches tall and weigh 120 – 140 pounds.
These dogs are often called “nanny dogs,” as they are very watchful and protective of children. But they are quite gentle and friendly with everyone they meet. You can expect an imposing, but welcoming dog in your Saint Bernard.
The Saint Bernard is an eager to learn dog, which is helpful because proper training and socialization are a must for a breed as large as this one. Starting early is essential for training a well-mannered pup.
Taking your Saint Bernard to socialization and puppy classes are a great way to teach him how to control his strength. They can easily bowl over a full grown adult, so imagine how a child may feel when these big dogs come barreling towards them! But with proper training they make great companions for children and adults alike.
Positive rewards-based methods are great for this breed. Treats are especially effective, just be careful to not overfeed as your dog can become overweight.
This breed is actually a quite relaxed breed. While they will be up for any type of adventure, they are just as happy snoozing around the house. Active and sedentary families alike can find a great companion in the Saint Bernard.
What Living with a Saint Bernard is Like
This is an all-around kind breed.
These dogs love children and their families. They do well with other dogs and are quite gentle, despite their intimidating appearance.
Sedentary families will find the Saint Bernard an amiable companion. Just be sure to get them out for at least a half an hour everyday so they stay fit.
Care of the Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is quite adaptable. His biggest requirement is plenty of interaction with his family.
Winter is where this dog is happiest. They love to frolic in the snow and the colder temps are ideally suited for their thick fur. Hot weather can be problematic for this breed, but as long as they have shade and cool water they can be all right.
Despite their size, the Saint Bernard requires only a moderate daily exercise to stay fit and happy. A half an hour spent walking, backyard playtime, or games is a great way to keep your dog healthy and mentally stimulated. These dogs prefer activities that they can do with you.
If you are looking for a very active companion, though, these dogs can also fill those shoes. They may not need a ton of exercise but are more than happy to go on long hikes or walks with you.
Shedding and Grooming
The Saint Bernard come in both a long and short coat varieties, but this doesn’t affect grooming. A weekly brushing will keep your dog’s coat clean and mat free. During the twice-yearly shedding season daily brushing will help keep the flying hair to a minimum.
This breed sheds moderately.
Regular nail trimming and ear cleaning are essential to the health of this breed.
Ideal Home Environment
Adaptable and easy-going, the Saint Bernard does well in any home where he can give and receive love and attention. They are especially fond of children and love to watch over them. These dogs are big, but they have a heart that matches their size.
Orthopedic problems are a big concern for the Saint Bernard. Limiting a puppy’s activity until their joints are fully formed can help prevent the development of certain problems like hip dysplasia. Eye and heart diseases are other problems that can afflict this breed. Regular check-ups can help catch, treat, or prevent these problems.
The Saint Bernard bonds closely with his family so he can suffer serious separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Plenty of daily interaction and proper socialization can help with this.