Saint Bernard breed dogs are large and powerful working dogs. These gentle dogs are quite tolerant of small children. Saint Bernard puppies tend to grow quite fast, especially during the first year but they are usually slow to mature.
This ancient dog breed originated in Italy/Switzerland. The monks of the Alpine passes of Switzerland then crossed these dogs with other breeds like Great Dane, Great Pyrenees and other similar dog breeds to improve the working abilities of these dogs.
These dogs were originally used for purposes like guarding, herding and drafting in earlier times. Soon, their excellent path finding skills were also recognized and put to use for search and rescue work.
At times, due to their strong sense of hearing (even the low frequency sounds) they used to predict approaching storms and avalanches.
Saint Bernard is a giant and muscular dog breed characterized by an equally gentle and lovable temperament. The dog is typically characterized by a wide head and short and deep muzzle.
The nose tends to be large in size and black in color. The small and deep set eyes are also dark in color. They have medium sized and droopy high set ears.
Color: The color of the hair coat is usually white with markings of red, mahogany, tan, brindle, orange or black in various shades and combinations.
Height: On an average, both male and female Saint Bernards generally grow to about 25.5 to 27.5 inches in height.
Weight: The average weight of these dogs as well as bitches ranges between 110 to 200 pounds.
These dogs are susceptible to canine health issues such as Bloating, Epilepsy, Tumors, Extropion, Entropion, Wobbler Syndrome, Diabetes, Heart Problems, Skin Problems and other related health problems. Like other large breeds, Saint Bernard dog breed is also prone to Hip Dysplasia and similar other joint problems.
Life Expectancy: Saint Bernard dogs usually live to about 8 to 10 years.
Litter Size: The average litter size of this breed of dogs is 6 to 8 puppies.
There are two varieties of hair coats in Saint Bernard dog breed. In case of short haired variety, the coat tends to be dense, smooth and closely fitted whereas in case of long haired variety, it is generally straight to slightly wavy and rough in texture.
Both the varieties are easy to groom, requiring weekly brushing and combing of the hair coat. These dogs should be bathed with mild shampoo only when necessary in order to retain the natural water resistant properties of the coat. These heavy shedders shed the hair coat two times per year.
Besides, their eyes are prone to tearing and hence should be cleaned regularly. Other grooming activities such as teeth brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning etc should also be carried out from time to time.
Saint Bernard breed dogs are gentle, intelligent, obedient, friendly, bold, trustworthy, patient and even tempered. They are generally friendly with other pets in the house too. These easily trainable smart dogs should be trained and socialized right from the beginning as massive dogs need to be kept disciplined.
The task of training becomes even easier when the dog has a policy of eagerly pleasing his owners in all circumstances. The sheer size of the dog, especially when combined with threatening barks should be enough to keep strangers away.
Consequently, Saint Bernard dogs make for excellent watchdogs but not guard dogs. However, they tend to be protective when they sense danger. These affectionate and calm creatures serve as wonderful and memorable family pets.
Being quite inactive indoors, Saint Bernard dogs adapt well in apartment situation. The active and enthusiastic Saint Bernard puppies generally need more physical exercise as compared to the laid back adult St. Bernards.
However, the puppies should not be engaged in strenuous activities so as to facilitate proper bone development. Thus, these dogs should be provided with properly fenced, small sized yards to meet their regular physical activity needs.
In addition, take your beloved dog out for long daily walks to keep him healthy, both physically as well as mentally. Besides, Saint Bernard dogs have a tendency of wheezing, snoring and drooling, particularly in warmer seasons.