This breed in famous for rescue work, particularly in cold, snowy settings and in situations in which people are trapped deep under the snow due to avalanches. While some are still used in this type of work, this breed is also a very popular family pet.
They are a large sized dog in the AKC Working Group, recognized by this kennel club in 1885.
The average weight of a St. Bernard puppy is 1.5 pounds at birth.
It takes 2-3 years for the pup to mature into full grown adult dog.
Average weight will range between 140 and 200 pounds (64 to 90 kg) for both males and females; although per AKC confirmation standard, weight should not go over 180 lbs. (81 kg).
Average height will be 27.5 to 35.5 inches (70 to 90 cm) from floor to shoulder.
Life span is a short 8 years on average, however some have been known to live into their early teens.
They are often given the nickname: Saint.
Color and Appearance St. Bernard Facts
This breed can be found in 1 of 2 different types of coats: Long or short. It is the long coat that many associate with this breed.
Colors combinations are: red and white, brindle and white, brown-yellow and white.
All purebreds have white markings on their chest, paws and tip of tail.
Shadings of black are often on the ears and face.
The tail is very long and thick, it hangs low and then has a slight curve up.
Most have dark eyes, however some can be found with a beautiful pale blue.
Lips are black.
Behavior and Temperament
They are very gentle dogs, easy going and very loving.
They are one of the best breeds in regard to getting along wonderfully with children.
They tend to jump on people if not trained to refrain from this behavior, and since they will be very large adults, it is suggested to train a St. Bernard for this when they are smaller puppies.
Due to the shape and size of their face and mouth, it is common for them to drool after eating or drinking. Many also drool when very happy or excited. An owner can attempt to wipe this, however with some dogs it will be an all day, every day element.
They make good watchdogs simply due to their intimidating size….In regard to actual protection, many will be friendly with strangers and will only react if they sense that a person poses a threat.
Feeding & Drinking
The fact of how much food a St. Bernard eats may surprise some people because they usually only require as much as breeds such as the Boxer or Great Dane. While each dog will vary based on body weight, metabolism and activity level, an average adult St. Bernard will eat 6.5 cups of food, spread out throughout the day.
It is important to offer them enough food….This breed grows very rapidly and without proper nutrition they can have serious issues with their bones.
It is normal for them to eat less when the temperature rises during warm to hot months.
Because of their tendency to drool a lot, water should be changed 2 – 3 times per day.
Grooming must be done on a regular basis to keep the dog
clean and the coat in good shape without any tangles or mats.
Teeth should be brushed on a regular basis and professional dental cleanings given every other year.
They will have a heavy shed 2 times per year, 1 time in the spring and 1 time in the fall. During this time it is best to use a rake brush to pull out the many loose hairs, this is usually done every other day until the shed is done.
A daily walk lasting 30-45 minutes is best to maintain good health. In addition, most are very happy to play with their owners in an enclosed yard or on a run.
Because they grow very quickly, adequate exercise is vital in preventing bone issues.
This breed, in general, is prone to wobbler syndrome (a condition which affects the vertebrae and causes an unsteady gait), heart issues, skin issues, hip dysplasia (when the hip joint slips out of the socket) and bloat.
Bloat can be prevented in many cases by not allowing the St. Bernard to eat too much food at one time. It is recommended to offer smaller, scheduled meals throughout the day. Also, it is best to wait 30 minutes before exercising once food has been ingested.
Since they are relatively very large dogs, they do best in environments that offer plenty of room to move around. If they do not have enough room to run around they will be more prone to developing hip issues.
They do not handle extreme temperatures changes well….For example, walking from a cold air conditioned room to the hot outdoors. For this reason, one should take steps to ensure a slow, steady change in temperature exposure.
They do not fair very well in hot temperature….For this reason, owners should keep the dog indoors during warm to hot weather. Walks during this time should be limited to early mornings or late evenings when the air has cooled down. If the sun is shining and the temperature is still warm, try to walk in the shade as much as possible.
They should be majorly kept in a cool room and given plenty of cool, fresh water.
They can live outside if they weather is cool enough, however their temperament causes them to much prefer living inside with their human family members.
One of the most famous St. Bernard dogs was named Barry, a rescue dog in Switzerland that had a statue erected of his likeness after he was credited with saving upward of 100 people over the course of his career.
According to the book "The Intelligence of Dogs" by Stanley Coren, the St. Bernard comes in #65 out of 79.
A St, Bernard was credited with saving his family only 6 hours after being adopted. The dog, named Hercules, detected a burglar trying to enter the house only hours after arriving there for the first time. He chased after the intruder and tried to stop him from fleeing over a fence by clamping down on his leg. The man got away but this is one dog that is considered a hero.