Saint Bernard: Complete Guide, Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Saint Bernard

Last Updated on September 23, 2023 by Fumipets

Saint Bernard: Complete Guide


The Saint Bernard is a beloved giant dog breed known for its gentle and friendly nature. Here’s a summary of key characteristics:

  • Size: Saint Bernards are giant dogs with a strong and tall build, often weighing between 140 to 180 pounds (64 to 82 kilograms).
  • Temperament: They are affectionate, gentle, and tolerant, making them excellent family pets. They are known for their patience, especially with well-behaved children.
  • Friendliness: Saint Bernards are generally friendly not only towards their families but also towards strangers and other household pets.
  • Loyalty: They are incredibly loyal to their families and have a love for people in general.
  • Appearance: With a massive head and a powerful body, Saint Bernards have a distinctive appearance that reflects their Mastiff family lineage.
Height: 25 – 27 inches
Weight: 120 – 200 pounds
Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
Colors: Brindle and white, red and white
Suitable for: Families with older children, singles experienced with dogs
Temperament: Laid back, affectionate, loyal, quiet

Saint Bernards are one of the biggest breeds and seem to be larger than life. The dogs, which are descended from Asiatic Mastiffs, were employed as war animals by the Romans and had a legendary reputation for saving lives near the Swiss/Italian border of the Alps.

The canine has the name of a monk who established the Great Saint Bernard Hospice around 1050. Yet, it took many hundred years before the dogs showed up in the region. In the 17th century, they were first employed to watch after the hospice’s monks and guests. According to historians, Saint Bernards evolved into rescue dogs once the monks saw how adept they were at finding wandering tourists.

The Saint Bernards of today are substantially bigger than their forebears. Early Saint Bernards were bred with bigger dogs to enhance size and breed out some of their working dog characteristics. Despite their size, Saint Bernards are sociable creatures who like associating with people. They may live harmoniously with people and other pets if they get training when they are young. While they are not violent, they are guardians of their family and will only bark to alert them to danger. While they are amazing animals, first-time dog owners may find them difficult.

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Saint Bernard Puppies

The cost of a Saint Bernard is around average when compared to other purebred canines. Saint Bernards are difficult for novice pet owners to manage, and when an owner is unable to control the animal, the animal is often given up for adoption.

To adopt a dog or puppy, you may go to animal shelters rather than looking for a reputable breeder. Most adoption fees are inclusive of immunizations and microchips. Every adoption helps preserve a life and provides a dog with a chance to live in a loving household. Animal rescue facilities across the globe are overflowing with animals.

Saint Bernards have a reputation for being both cute and difficult. Being large dogs, they need a lot of areas to run about, and their dietary requirements will be commensurate with their size. Saint Bernards form enduring ties with families and kids because they are so devoted and loving.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Saint Bernard

1. Saint Bernards came close to extinction when avalanches killed several rescue dogs in the Alps.

The bad weather in the Alps almost wiped out the rescue dog population at the Great Saint Bernard hospice. A few years later, when dogs from nearby towns in the valley were used to breed with the surviving Saint Bernards, the population started to recover.

2. Barry, the most famous Saint Bernard, saved 40 lives from 1800–1812.

The Natural History Museum in Bern still has an exhibit of the most well-known dog in Switzerland.

3. The myth that Saint Bernards carried flasks of rum with them is not valid.

A picture created in 1820 is most likely where the belief that the rescue dogs revived stranded passengers with a generous ration of rum originated. In his painting “Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler,” teenage artist Edwin Landseer depicts two Saint Bernards reviving an avalanche victim. One of the dogs has a little wooden whiskey barrel connected to its collar. The tale of the rum-toting animals grew across the nation as a result of the public’s positive reception and appreciation of the picture.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Saint Bernard

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

Saint Bernards are wonderful family pets because of their easygoing disposition. They get along nicely with kids and aren’t as upset by kids yanking their hair as other breeds are. The dogs, however, are quite large and shouldn’t be left alone with young children. Large dog paws and a whipping tail may accidently hurt a toddler.

Saint Bernards like people, but they are not the best pet for a big family living in a tiny apartment. If the dog is given regular walks and has enough space indoors to spread out, a single owner may live with it.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Saint Bernards show characteristics of working dogs yet have a low prey drive. As long as the pets are exposed to them while they are young, they get along with other creatures. Owning a Saint Bernard requires early training, and you should socialize a puppy with as many other animals and people as you can to help it become used to the situation. After the Saint Bernard is fully grown, if you obtain a new pet, you will need to watch over the dog’s playing with the animal to make sure the dog doesn’t trip over or hurt a tiny puppy or kitten.

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Things to Know When Owning a Saint Bernard

Compared to other breeds, Saint Bernards need a lot of care and attention. The Saint Bernard may not be the best choice for you if you want your house to be spotless. The dogs drool more than the ordinary dog, and they shed more than other breeds. There may be times when you need to replace a few personal things in addition to wiping up saliva and hair. The dogs may easily topple a vase or sculpture while not being thought of being clumsy due to their enormous size.

Food & Diet Requirements

For optimum development, a Saint Bernard requires a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. A mature dog only needs five to six cups of food, divided between morning and evening meals. Since Saint Bernards are prone to obesity, it’s important to watch out for overfeeding. Every animal may suffer from obesity, but obese Saint Bernards are especially prone to joint and hip problems. Even with strong legs, they have trouble supporting their regular weight, and any more weight increases the risk of accidents and life-threatening illnesses.


Saint Bernards may survive with only one daily stroll, but they need regular exercise to stay in shape. They simply need little exercise, however due to the risks of obesity, they cannot spend a lot of time inside a home. If the dog is not trained to use a leash at a young age, it may be difficult to train it to do so. These are powerful creatures that, if not trained, can pull you around the neighborhood.


The training of a Saint Bernard takes a lot of patience since they are not the simplest animals to teach. While their average intellect prevents them from picking up orders and tricks fast, they will ultimately pick them up. Saint Bernards are more sensitive to emotions than other big breeds. They don’t clamor to be the dominant dog in the home, so you shouldn’t shout at them or smack them if there’s an issue. The dog takes the owner’s yells personally when they are directed at them.

The most effective way to train a Saint Bernard is by using positive reinforcement. The dog is more attentive and learns skills more successfully when you provide goodies as incentives and correct errors sternly but politely. To raise a well-behaved dog, it’s essential to enroll a puppy in a training program, and you should add short at-home training sessions to the scheduled lessons.


Regardless of the length of the animal’s coat, you will need to use a grooming brush a few times every week. A Saint Bernard with short hair needs at least three weekly grooming appointments, while a dog with long hair needs three to four brushings.

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To get rid of knots and matted hair, you’ll need a dematting tool in addition to a powerful grooming brush. Grooming helps maintain your dog’s coat healthy and cuts down on the quantity of loose hair you have to deal with. Kids don’t often need baths until they get filthy playing outdoors.

You should clean the animal’s teeth at least two to three times every week to maintain its excellent oral health. Use a product made specifically for dogs rather than regular toothpaste. It will be difficult to brush the dog the first few times, but you may reduce its stress by giving it a favorite treat afterward.

The animal also requires around twice a month’s worth of nail trimming. It is helpful to have a friend or family member help you with the clipping due to the size of the dog.

Health and Conditions

Compared to other popular breeds, Saint Bernards are more prone to serious medical issues due to their enormous body and inclination to overeat. But, the dog may survive up to 10 years if you give it love, exercise, and a nutritious diet. You must motivate mature Saint Bernards to play and stroll in order to maintain them healthy as they age since they appear to lose their desire to work out.

Minor Conditions


Cervical vertebral instability


Serious Conditions

Hip and elbow dysplasia




Gastric torsion

Male vs Female

Saint Bernards are devoted and friendly creatures, both male and female. Nonetheless, a few significant variations can persuade owners to choose one sex over the other. While male animals are more inclined to flee than female ones, having the pet neutered will lessen the likelihood of this happening. Males are more disruptive and more difficult to toilet-train than the more fair sex.

Compared to men, women are more caring and even behave like mothers around young infants. They are a little bit more autonomous and are better at learning tricks and tolerating training than males. Saint Bernards have a hard time adjusting to being separated from their family for an extended period of time, and if they are, they may become destructive. Separation anxiety is more common in men than in women.


Maintaining a nice Saint Bernard is similar to keeping a giant zoo animal at home, yet underneath the intimidating exterior is a genuine sweetheart’s soul. The canines are highly devoted and affectionate, and they are known to pout when their keepers punish them. It is not easy to raise dogs. Compared to smaller breeds, they have greater veterinary and feeding costs, and their coats need to be groomed more often.

They don’t often bark needlessly, but their drool production is famous, so you’ll quickly get used to blotting up little puddles of saliva all around your house. While having a shorter lifetime than the majority of breeds, the beloved giant will provide you with a lot of pleasure.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Now, let’s explore some common questions and answers about Saint Bernards:


Are Saint Bernards good with children?

Yes, Saint Bernards are known for their gentle and tolerant nature, and they often get along well with well-behaved children. However, due to their large size, supervision is crucial.


Do Saint Bernards have a friendly temperament?

A2: Absolutely, Saint Bernards are known for their friendly and affectionate temperament, both towards their families and strangers.


Are they suitable for apartment living?

Saint Bernards are not ideal for apartment living due to their large size. They thrive in homes with spacious yards.


Do Saint Bernards require a lot of exercise?

While they enjoy outdoor activities, Saint Bernards are not overly active. They require moderate exercise, such as daily walks and playtime.


Are Saint Bernards prone to specific health issues?

Saint Bernards are susceptible to certain health problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, and heart issues. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for their well-being.

Saint Bernards make wonderful companions for families seeking a loving and friendly giant breed. Their loyalty and gentle nature make them a favorite among dog enthusiasts.



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