Saint Bernard: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


The Saint Bernard dog breed is one of the most charismatic and well-known in the world. This is because for decades the figure of this canine rescuing people in the mountains with a small barrel of rum tied around his neck has existed in the collective imagination. At Petlifey, we explain everything about San Bernardo .


Characteristics of the Saint Bernard breed

If there is something that stands out in the characteristics of the Saint Bernard dog breed, it is its size. It is really big and can weigh up to 100 kilos (220 pounds).

And on the other hand is its behaviour, since it is an animal of a kind and kind character, with a calm temperament or sometimes more alive. Vigilant and attentive, it is a good guardian.

There are two varieties of this dog. Both in the short-haired San Bernardo variety and the long-haired San Bernardo, it is an animal of great stature, harmonious, robust, very muscular, strong and with a noble general appearance.

Character of the Saint Bernard breed

The Saint Bernard is by nature a kind and very affectionate dog, an excellent family animal that establishes an extraordinary relationship with children. It is also very obedient, loyal and patient.

One of the greatest desires of this dog is to please its owners and, due to this predisposition, it is essential to promote its adequate socialization since it is very puppy, since it is a pity to encourage such an extraordinary dog ​​to develop a surly and suspicious temperament only for the mere fact of not having been properly educated.

This dog gets along with everyone and has no qualms about admitting everyone who comes to the house as one of the family.

This does not mean that it is a trusting dog to the extreme and that it does not keep the house. Mastiff blood runs through its veins and, although calmly and calmly, it also warns of the presence of any stranger who approaches unexpectedly.

The Saint Bernard is very intelligent and can be trained very easily, although it is advisable to start working with it at an early age if you want fast and long-lasting results.

It is very important to teach them to value its size and its power; You cannot let an animal weighing almost 100 kilos pounce on anyone, not even with the intention of playing or saying hello.

Similarly, in order to keep them under control if necessary, leash training should be started when it is a puppy.

It is not considered at all essential that its owner has a great experience in keeping dogs. Since the breed is extremely easy to work with and all it requires is a bit of interest and proper advice.

On the other hand, it is desirable that you have leadership skills and adequate physical strength to be able to control your dog.

Still, despite its large size, this dog can live almost anywhere, including an apartment in the city centre.

Although it always prefers to do it in an area with easy access to open spaces. In any case, what you do need is daily exercise to keep such extremely heavy machinery greased and fit, and it’s a mistake to be tempted to let it hang around.

  • Energy: medium level. Dog with calm and leisurely movements, needs daily exercise to keep fit.
  • Temperament: calm, affectionate, caring, loyal and very patient Stays alert and vigilant, learns easily and is able to act on his own if someone needs help.
  • Adaptability: high. Live well anywhere, better in wide open spaces.
  • Sociability: high. It is very affectionate towards everyone, but warns of the presence of strangers and acts accordingly if it sees its owner in danger.
  • Health: normal. It suffers from typical conditions of the giant races.
  • Longevity: low. Live 10 years at most.
  • Utility: versatile. Ideal animal for rescue and rescue tasks, it is also a good guardian and an excellent companion dog.
  • Utilization: company, salvage and farm keeper.

Physical characteristics of the Saint Bernard

  • General appearance: large in size and noble in general appearance, it has a vigorous, robust and very muscular body, with an imposing head.
  • Size and size: giant.
  • Height at the withers: between 70 and 90 cm for males and between 65 and 80 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 50 and 100 kg for males and between 45 and 90 kg for females.
  • Origin: Switzerland.
  • Varieties : Short hair and long hair.
  • Body: Muscular, strong, robust and with very powerful and heavy bones, the Saint Bernard is a dog of impressive dimensions. The body is compact and powerful, and in general the dog has the appearance of a harmonious, balanced and noble animal, very imposing.
  • Head: it is very large, almost imposing, and with a strong expression. The skin on the front forms slight folds over the eyes that converge towards the central furrow, but when the dog is alert they are usually almost imperceptible.
  • Skull: robust and broad, slightly domed at the top. The occipital protuberance is not very accentuated, the superciliary arches are well developed and the frontal sulcus, which begins in the forehead and extends upwards, is quite marked.
  • Muzzle: it is short, wide throughout its length and has a straight muzzle with a slight groove in the center. The upper lips are firm, well developed, without being too pendulous, and have black pigmented edges. They form a wide arch that rises towards the nose, leaving the corners well visible.
  • Nose: wide and square, with very marked angles and well-open nostrils. The nose is black.
  • Eyes: the look of the Saint Bernard is kind and good-natured, very friendly. Sometimes a small crease appears on the lower eyelid, leaving the conjunctiva membrane slightly visible.
  • Ears: triangular, medium and drooping, the rear edge is slightly separated from the head, while the front edge fits well on the cheeks. They are covered in short, straight hair.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is strongly pronounced.
  • Jaws : strong, broad and with a scissor or pincer bite, well developed, regular and complete. Some specimens have a lower prognathism, but the incisors always remain in contact.
  • Neck: strong, long and with a well developed dewlap on the neck and throat.
  • Chest: The rib cage is moderately deep, with well sprung ribs but not barrel-shaped. It does not reach below the elbows and shows the bottom line and the belly slightly gathered back.
  • Back: broad, powerful and firm, the top line is straight and level to the lumbar region, but the rump, which is long, slopes slightly with a harmonious transition towards the insertion of the tail.
  • Forelimbs: straight and parallel, seen from the front their position is rather wide. Regarding the shoulders, the shoulder blades are sloping, muscular and well attached to the body. Their arms are longer than the shoulder blades and form a not very open angle with them. The forearms are straight, with strong bones and firm musculature. Its elbows are close to the body.
  • Hind limbs: they are moderately angulated and muscular, and seen from behind they are parallel and not very close together. Their legs are oblique and quite long, they have broad and robust thighs. The knees are well angled, they are not turned inwards or outwards. The hocks are moderately angulated and strong.
  • Feet : broad, with strong toes, close together, robust and very arched. Spurs sometimes appear on the hind feet that, if they do not interfere with the normal movement of the animal, are usually preserved without amputating.
  • Tail: broad and strong at the base, heavy and long, since the last vertebra reaches at least the hock joint. At rest it hangs straight or slightly curved upwards in the last third, but in a state of attention it may be higher.
  • Hair: there are two varieties of coat, one with short, straight hair, very dense, shiny and well adhered to the body; and another with the mantle of medium length and smooth or slightly wavy. Both the short-haired and long-haired varieties have an undercoat of abundant and dense undercoat. Those with short hair show a dense, smooth outer coat that is close to the body, while those with long hair have a medium-length, smooth coat, although on the hips and rump it may be somewhat wavy, and on the thighs and on the legs. front legs have fringes.
  • Color: They are usually white with more or less large reddish-brown (sometimes brindle) spots, although these can be so extensive that they form a continuous and uninterrupted mantle.
  • Movement: it is harmonious, with long strides and good thrust from the hind limbs. When walking, the back remains firm and stable, while the forelimbs and hindquarters advance in a straight line.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 61 Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossian, and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs. Section 2 Molossians.
  • Other names: Saint Bemard Dog / Chien du Saint-Bemard / Mr. Bemhardshund.

Saint Bernard Cubs

If you are thinking of buying a Saint Bernard puppy from a breeder, or better yet, adopting one, you should know that during its first months of life the Saint Bernard needs to receive a very rich and balanced diet, since the physical development to which it is seen submitted is spectacular.

Despite its size and weight, the Saint Bernard is very fluent in almost all types of terrain. Especially as a puppy, it needs to go outdoors daily to exercise its powerful muscles.

This breed loves a peaceful and quiet life, but due to its nature as a service and aid dog, it also loves to have a certain occupation and to play at its own pace with other dogs. This will also help your socialization and that you get along with everyone.


Education and training of the Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard likes to feel useful, to know that it has something to do, in order to stay busy and fulfilled both physically and mentally. Otherwise we can get an excessively lazy pet.

This dog can be used in activities of various kinds, but its place, undoubtedly, rescue and rescue work are the disciplines most appropriate to its natural conditions.

Likewise, due to its beauty and its spectacular nature, this is one of the most popular honeyed among fans of dog shows.

Although this dog was originally born as a help and rescue animal in the high alpine peaks, today it is very common to find it doing companion functions in multiple homes, since it is a very docile, faithful and sociable dog.

Its owners only need to allow it to go out to exercise daily so that the animal can stay in shape and give it a lot of affection, on the part of the whole family.

In exchange for so little effort, you will get a great guard dog, one of the safest kangaroos that exists and a faithful friend who will help its owners in everything that is asked of them.


Feeding of the Saint Bernard

This dog also needs a high-quality diet. Especially during its development, it is when it is necessary to take care of the diet. To the extreme to ensure that the spectacular physical development of the first year occurs harmoniously.

Without falling into obesity, which in a breed of this size can have dire repercussions, especially if it occurs in the development stage or in old age.


Health and diseases of the Saint Bernard

Giant breeds tend to have a shorter life expectancy than medium and small ones, and in this sense the Saint Bernard is no exception, because, although there are documented cases of much longer-lived specimens, the average lifespan of the breed is situated around a maximum of 10 years .

The most characteristic conditions of the breed also coincide with those of others of the same size and are directly related to it, such as hip and elbow dysplasia or some joint problems in maturity.

For this reason, it is very important to control the individuals used in reproduction and to emphasize the importance of adequate rearing during the period of physical development, ensuring that young specimens do not grow fat, that they have adequate nutrition and that they do the necessary exercise to favor a correct development.

This breed also has an above-average risk of stomach twisting. It is advisable to divide the daily intake into two or three intakes and not to administer plenty of water and food immediately before or after exercising.

Likewise, the Saint Bernard does not escape from certain eye problems (entropion or ectropion) related to the size and shape of the head, as well as the abundance of skins that characterizes the breed.

As with all dog breeds, the best way to establish a preventive health strategy for this dog is to have the advice and support of a trusted veterinarian .

This should be in charge of designing a standardized program of vaccinations and deworming, internal and external, and who controls the evolution of the growth and weight of the dog in its different stages as well as the state of the eyes, mouth and ears.

It is also convenient that it stands as the main reference person to whom to turn to any doubt, question, problem or difficulty that may arise during the possession of a specimen of this breed.


Specific care of the Saint Bernard breed

Regarding aesthetic maintenance, the Saint Bernard is an undemanding animal. You only need regular brushing once a week. Although it is true that this should be done more frequently in the shedding seasons.

For brushing it is recommended to use a strong metal card and a rake or king coat type tool, since with them it is possible to work the double layer in depth.

And the bathroom is reserved only for when the dog is very dirty. It must be borne in mind that the large size and high weight of this animal mean that on many occasions when handling it the assistance of more than one person is necessary. For example, when putting it in the bathtub or raising and lowering it from an arrangement table.


Dog BehaviorDog Food and Nutrition
Dog TrainingDog Grooming
Dog HealthTips for Dog Owners
PuppiesDog Breeds
Dog AdoptionTravel with Dogs

Leave a Comment