|Sensitivity to strangers|
|Affection for family|
|Suitable for first-time owners|
|Ease of grooming|
We are talking about the famous Saint Bernard dog breed. Let’s see all the characteristics of the “Giant of the Alps”.
It is a Molosser dog known to most people thanks to the legendary “Beethoven”. The Saint Bernard is very much loved by children and it loves them, but its large size could make this wonderful breed difficult to manage.
Saint Bernard: Origins
The ancestors of the Saint Bernard are probably the mastiffs used by the soldiers of ancient Rome to protect the strategic points of the various communication routes.
Many centuries later (in the 17th century), the Saint Bernard breed as we know it today was created: in fact, this breed was offered by the nobles of Valais to the religious of the hospices located in the hills of Saint Bernard (which explains the origin of this dog breed’s name).
Its morphology allowed it to transport food, and also to face the harshness of the snow-capped mountains to rescue travelers who were lost or overwhelmed by avalanches.
The great spreading of this specimen during the 20th century caused gradual changes in its natural morphology, since it was crossed with several mastiff dog breeds to accentuate its weight and size. This modified drastically its primary functions. But thanks to the work of the Italian cynologist Antonio Morsiani and his “Rescue Raising”, founded in 1939, the original morphological characteristics and all its well-known traits have been rediscovered in the Saint Bernard.
Saint Bernard: Weight
The average weight of a St. Bernard is 143 to 209 lb (65-95 kg), while the largest dogs can even reach 264 lb (120 kg). As for heights, it can vary between 27 to 35 inches (70-90 cm). Despite its considerable size, this breed is called a “heavy athlete”, because it can display its massive size with grace and good posture.
Its fur can be short or long, bushy on the legs and around the neck. Typically, it is red with shades of black and white, on the face and on the ears. The head is noticeably larger than that of other dog breeds. It is endowed with a short, square muzzle, never sharp or pointed.
Saint Bernard: Pathologies
The Saint Bernard is a very impressive dog due to its height and weight. Physical characteristics are very important when choosing breeders, this will prevent problems during the puppy’s growth and other health issues during adulthood.
The coat does not need special care. However, attention should be paid to the cleanliness of its eyes. Avoid any physical activity during hot hours or after meals.
The Saint Bernard is large and heavy, with a very short life expectancy: 8 to 10 years.
This breed is prone to diseases such as Wobbler syndrome, heart and dermatological problems, hip dysplasia, ectropion, and gastric torsion. Also, you should not give your St. Bernard, too much food, that way you can avoid all the problems related to your pet’s obesity.
Saint Bernard: Temperament
He is the good giant par excellence: docile, sociable and balanced. An excellent playmate, but also very determined and with a strong sense of territoriality, aided by excellent response in stressful situations. Despite this, it does not tend to be aggressive towards humans, but its strong personality could impress first-time owners.
Saint Bernards are excellent guardians. The image we all have, that of a dog with a happy and friendly face, carrying the barrel of staple to warm up the people who get lost in the mountains, is not entirely correct.
Certainly, in the descriptions, a dog of this breed almost always appears as a docile and calm dog, but it is also said that the Saint Bernard is an animal that is on high alert, because it does not like strangers, and can become aggressive if the circumstance requires it.
Therefore, if our four-legged friend grew up without adequate training, or without clear instructions on how to stay calm when the thermometer shows very high temperatures (among other things, these dogs cannot stand heat or small spaces), it can run out of patience and a careless gesture could cause a sudden, negative reaction from our four-legged friend.
Saint Bernard: Breeding and Lifestyle
Despite being the size of a sloth, it does not behave like one: it is a very active dog and it likes open spaces, therefore, it needs to be in green areas to run and have fun. Alternatively, if it lives in an apartment, it needs to be taken for walks several times a day to stay healthy, always avoiding high temperatures.
Living under the same roof with this molosser is not easy, as it loses a lot of hair and drools continuously. Do not neglect it if you do not want to have a sad giant, those big brown eyes will ask you to fully introduce him into the family.
Saint Bernard: Ideal Owner
No matter how much it grows, it will always behave like a puppy in front of its owner. It will have a strong tie with its owner and will not hide it: “jumps”, hugs, gigantic licks, and also, the look of a helpless puppy. It loves to sleep under the feet of its owner!
The Saint Bernard is basically good, but it also has a strong character, so the owner should educate it from an early age to be sociable with strangers and with other dogs. This way you will not have undesirable problems when your puppy reaches adulthood.
Saint Bernard: Relationship With Children
Is there a better playmate for children than a giant full of hair? None, of course! Clearly, the pleasure is mutual, as the Saint Bernard adores children and knows how to be very patient with them.
The games can last forever, but it would be advisable not to allow children to climb on its back: despite its size, it is not a horse, and their spine can be affected.
Even other dogs can be a great source of fun for our furry giant if he is educated from an early age to share the space with other friendly dogs.
It belongs to the group of dog breeds used for “pet therapy”: its nature is of great help to children and the elderly who have physical or mental problems. However, it should be noted that guard dogs can react violently to strangers who violate their privacy, and this applies in particular to Molossian-type dogs.
Lack of space (particularly the absence of a place to shelter so as not to be disturbed) is often stressful for them.
Saint Bernard: Food
Like every animal raised by humans, dogs also need a constant nutritional intake, and they should be fed properly. It is very difficult for an adult St. Bernard to change its usual diet. Nowadays there are several types of dog food, many of which are considered really good and do not need any kind of mix.
If the dog is given these types of food, which are prepared with the recommended doses, there will be no problems in raising it.
Saint Bernard: Curiosities
Another essential item is water, which must always be fresh and available for the dog. The pet’s owner must continually ensure that the water is clean because the Saint Bernard tends to dirty it easily.
Chewing for the dog is very limited and digestion is very fast. The record for greatness was reached by Lord Bute, a Saint Bernard which lived in England between 1880 and 1890. It weighed 246 lb (112 kg) and stood 109 cm of height at the withers.
Undoubtedly, it belongs to the group of dog breeds that can walk on the red carpet because of the numerous appearances in the cinema and on television: for example, “Buck” from “The Call of the Wild”, filmed in the 30s. Also by the famous and destructive “Beethoven” from the 90s and the unforgettable “Joseph” in the animated series “Heidi”.
Barry I (1800-1814) was a Saint Bernard which became famous for saving 40 people from an avalanche. When he died, it was embalmed and kept in the Natural History Museum of Bern.
Saint Bernard: Price and Puppies For Sale
There are two varieties of Saint Bernard:
- Short-haired variety,
- Long-haired variety.
A Saint Bernard puppy costs between 1000 and 2000 dollars, that is, between 900 and 1800 English pounds, its price depends on the pedigree of the animal and the variety that you are trying to buy. It is essential that you buy from a trusted breeder so that you can be sure that your puppy has been:
- Raised to have good health and temperament;
- Well selected (its parents were chosen without genetic diseases);
- Properly socialized, so that it is not too fearful or too aggressive;
- Vaccinated and well cared for.
Always remember to ask for the pedigree, which is essential: it allows you to check the purity of the dog’s breed. An animal with a pedigree has certain characteristics of its breed that differentiate it from the rest.
Now that we have clarified the most important aspects, you can go and search for your new 4-legged friend, who is surely waiting for you.
You may be interested in reading another article related to other dog breeds such as:
- Doberman Pinscher
- Siberian Husky
- Rough Collie
- Bull Terrier
- German Shepherd Dog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Great Dane
- Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)