The Four Legged Angel of Life!
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Dog Group: Working
Origin of Name: The name ‘St. Bernard’ comes from the Great St. Bernard Hospice. This is a hospice for travellers who commute the famously treacherous Great St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps between Switzerland and Italy. The pass itself – along with the hospice and the dogs therein – were named for Bernard of Menthon, an 11th century monk who established the lodge. St. Bernards were earlier known as Saint Dogs, Noble Steeds, Alpenmastiffs or Barry Dogs, after a famous St. Bernard called Barry who saved several lives in the Alps.
SheddingA bit High
Monthly keeping costPremium
Tendency to Bark:Very High
Life Span-9 to 10 year
Getting a puppy home-Expensive
Availability-Easy to get
The large, grizzly St. Bernard is as gentle as giants come, with a warm heart, incredible intelligence and a majestic aura that can put royalty to shame. Fabled to carry kegs of brandy to warm the blood of lost and freezing travellers, the St. Bernard did save lives, only with water and food carried around his neck. The keg of brandy was merely artistic licence on the part of Edwin Landseer, the man who painted such a St. Bernard in 1819, when he was staying at the hospice that the breed is named for. St. Bernards are even tempered and calm dogs, making excellent pets for families with kids. The need plenty of place to stretch their legs in and a towel or two handy in each room will ensure a slightly more drool-free environment. That said, there are few dogs that can bring warmth and joy like a St. Bernard can.
Of all the breeds in the world, the St. Bernard probably has the most noble history. The Saint Bernard Pass in the Swiss Alps is well-known for being treacherous, having taken the lives of thousands of travellers. Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon arrived at this pass and set up a hospice to rehabilitate travellers who were injured in their attempt to cross over.
St. Bernards are giant dogs. While they may not require as much exercise as more athletic breeds, they won’t do very well living in an apartment. They are simply too big to have to squeeze around small spaces all their lives. That said, they are family dogs, love to be around humans and will do very well living in a cosy home with a fenced-in yard. If you’re a neat freak, perhaps the St. Bernard is not the dog for you. The drool heavily, shed a lot of fur, and their paws and tails will track in the dirt. If you’re planning on living with a St. Bernard, invest in a sturdy vacuum cleaner, plenty of mops, and several rags and towels at hand to keep cleaning the drool off their faces.St. Bernards were bred to survive – and thrive – in the harsh cold of the Alps, so naturally, they don’t do very well in warm climates. In hot or humid weather, you’ll have to ensure that they are indoors and in air-conditioned rooms.
Visits to Groomer-High
Tolerance to heat-Get a heatstroke
Tolerance to cold-Loves snow
Saint Bernards come in two coat types, short-haired and long-haired. The short coat is smooth but dense. These dogs have slight hair growth on the thighs, and the tail is covered with long and dense hair that becomes shorter towards the tip. The long haired coat, on the other hand, is wavy and the forelegs have a bit of feathering along with a bushy tail. Be prepared to invest in lots of grooming products and plenty of time, whilst grooming your St. Bernard. They will need to be brushed at least three to four times a week, to ensure that all the dead hair is removed before your house becomes a receptacle of floating canine fur.
Colour-Red and White/Reddish Brown Brindle/Brownish Yellow
Coat Type-Flat and dense
Be warned: St. Bernards are known to develop a host of ailments and conditions, and the vet bills are likely to be high. Notable amongst the conditions is hip dysplasia, in which the thigh bone does not fit properly into the hip joint. While this is a hereditary problem, external causes like overfeeding and not exercising the dog regularly can worsen the problem over time. Similarly, elbow dysplasia, which occurs because of differing growth rates of the three bones that make up a dog’s elbow, is also common among this breed. It can cause painful lameness, but can often be corrected with surgery.
St. Bernards often develop a condition called Entropion, which usually occurs in a puppy before he or she is six months old. The eyelid rolls inward, which irritates the eyeball and can lead to further injuries of the eye. This can occur in only one or both eyes.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a condition in which heart muscles become very thin and are unable to contract normally, is also common in St. Bernards. This can be controlled through medication and diet.
Epilepsy is another common issue that St. Bernards suffer from. It can be triggered by metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumours, exposure to poisons, or severe head injuries; or it can be of because of unknown causes, referred to as idiopathic epilepsy. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behaviour, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, appearing completely disoriented with the surroundings, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good, as epilepsy can be controlled with medication. A dog can live a full and healthy life with the proper management of this disorder.
The St. Bernard is a homely and friendly dog, who will welcome everyone with open arms. They are extremely patient and indulgent around children and make the perfect family pet. They thrive with adequate love from their family and are extremely trustworthy. Their large size and playful nature makes early training and socialisation a necessity. Leash train them at an early age, so that they are manageable when you take them out for a walk. They will need socialization to various people sounds and sights to ensure a well-rounded adult dog.St. Bernards are truly saintly. Since they were bred to be rescue dogs, they retain their original calm, patient and gentle personalities.
Having been bred to withstand and thrive in extremely cold conditions, St. Bernards do very well in cold places. The more snow the better, for a happy frolicking St. Bernard! This means they don’t do very well in hot climates at all, with a coat and body that simply cannot stay comfortable in harsh summers. If you live in a warm place and intend to bring a St. Bernard into your life, do ensure that large portions of your house are adequately air-conditioned.
Training & Intelligence
The Saint Bernard is an intelligent dog and is moderately easy to train. These gentle giants have a calm disposition and even temperament that makes training trouble-free and fun. They are friendly dogs, but it’s still recommended that you socialize the puppy early with all other pets and children in the family. House training is easy with this breed but they are known to be stubborn at times. You will benefit from crate training them from an early age. Leash training also needs to start at an early age, to limit this large dog from boisterously running down the road, increasing the chances of accidents to dog and human alike. One massive tug on the leash can send you flying, so start early to reap the benefits of a danger-free walk.
Litter Size-6 to 9 puppies (approximately)
Complication in Breeding-No
These slow-moving giants do not have many complications with regard to their breeding. St. Bernards attain sexual maturity anywhere between six to nine months of age, although they are still too young to breed at this age. A St. Bernard takes around 18 months to reach his or her full height and structure. It is advisable to breed your dog after at least two years of age. If you are first-timer at breeding, then taking a vet’s opinion is advisable. The average litter consists of six to eight puppies.