Saint Bernard is a distinctive dog, with a very gentle temperament to go with its massive size. This breed can make a wonderful pet because of its sweet and obedient nature. However, its size and almost constant drooling mean can be a deterrent for some people. This is a slow moving and fairly inactive breed, but it still needs regular exercise. The lifespan of these dogs is approximately eight to ten years.
History and Origins
The St. Bernard is a very old breed of dog, originating in around 980 AD. It was bred by monks from a mixture of very old breeds such as the Tibetan Mastiff, the Great Dane and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
During the 17th century, the breed was invaluable as a rescue dog in the dangerous mountain pass between Switzerland and Italy, saving people from avalanches. Working in packs, they would smell people buried under the snow, dig them out, and keep them warm until a full rescue team could be sent out.
The St. Bernard is a distinctive dog with a docile temperament. This breed is well-built, powerful and strong with an almost sad looking droopy face. In terms of height and weight, they are very big dogs, standing at between 25.5 and 27.5 inches tall (approximately 65 to 70 cm), and weighing between 130 and 180 pounds (between 59 and 82 kilograms).
There are both short- and long-haired varieties of St. Bernard breed. The short-haired variety has a coat which is dense and smooth, whereas the long-haired St. Bernards have a medium length coat of straight or slightly wavy hair. The color of this breed is generally red and white or a shade of brown and white, with white markings on the chest and paws.
The St. Bernard is intelligent and eager to please and it is crucial to take advantage of this at an early age. When fully-grown, these dogs are so large that naughty behavior is not just undesirable; it can even be dangerous. Therefore it is important that they are as well-trained as youngsters.
This is a gentle, friendly and patient breed and as long as this breed is socialized at a young age, it will get on very well with children and other dogs.
As with most purebred dogs, purebred St. Bernard dogs are prone to certain genetic issues. These can include hip dysplasia, skin problems, tumors and heart problems. They are also prone to developing a condition where the eyelids fold outwards.
Digestive problems can also affect this breed, most commonly bloating and a twisted stomach. These can be prevented by feeding two or three smaller meals each day rather than just one large meal. Due to its size, the St. Bernard can snore and wheeze and they are often unable to tolerate hot weather for an extended period of time.