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Saint Bernard: The Breed’s Personality, Traits And Features

saint bernard

Saint Bernard: The Information Of The Breed’s Personality Traits And Features


The original purpose of the Swiss canine breed known as Saint Bernard was to patrol the Hospice Saint Bernard grounds and assist in the search for and rescue of lost and injured travelers.

These days, Saint Bernards may be found living the good life in many different households worldwide.

They are affectionate with almost everyone they come in contact with, and those who don’t mind a little bit of drool will find that they make great companions.

In addition, they are adaptable and thrive in various activities, including weight pulling, drafting (the process of drawing a cart or wagon), and show-ring obedience tests.

More Information Regarding This Breed

On the television screen, a late-night cold patient is shown.

His ailment leads him to toss and turn during the night, and each painful cough and sneeze causes his body to be wracked with discomfort.

He then hears a low-pitched bark that lures him to his front door, where he discovers a big dog wearing a flask tied to his collar.

The man suffering from the cold by the time the advertisement was through, had been put to sleep by Saint Bernard, who had successfully completed his mission.

Saint Bernard did save people from the cold. Not the virus, of course; rather, the frigid winds and snows of the Alps, which are so dangerous to tourists.

It shouldn’t be surprising that he is a loving, kind, smart, and good-natured dog.

In addition, he is a gigantic dog; he is quite massive and possesses a lot of muscle, and he could grow up to the height of 30 inches tall and weigh up to 180 pounds.

Both shorthaired and longhaired variants of the Saint are available, but the shorthaired variety is the one that is chosen by the monks who work at the Saint Bernard Hospice, which is where the dogs were first bred.

Despite his large size, Saint Bernard is a calm and friendly indoor dog who makes a great addition to any family.

Even though he is quiet inside, it would be beneficial for him to have quick access to a yard where he may have a little space to roam around.

However, as long as he gets a decent daily walk, he can adapt to living in confined spaces. More essential than the size of your home is your tolerance for mess.

A meticulous housekeeper probably shouldn’t choose a saint as their patron. They drool, shed, and drag mud and grime behind them wherever they go.

When it comes to this breed, saintliness does not always go hand in hand with cleanliness. Saints aren’t adapted to life outside with minimal human connection.

They are required to reside in the household with the rest of their family.

They are not hostile, but they will make noise when there is a need to do so, and any danger to their people will trigger their natural impulse to protect them.

Any potential assailant or burglar will likely be discouraged by their size. Even though he isn’t necessarily a lively character, the laidback Saint is kind and tolerant of children.

He is a wonderful companion for cuddling up with while reading or watching television, but for younger children, he may be too much, as he may accidentally knock them over with a stroke of his tail. He is terrific at reading and watching television.

Saint Bernard does not require a great deal of physical activity. He is not a good running partner and will need help maintaining his strength in warm temperatures.

During the warmer months, saints are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion and, as a result, must have ready access to shady areas and copious amounts of fresh, cold water.

On the other side, you will never come across a Saint Bernard that is more content than one who is having a fantastic time playing in the snow.

Unfortunately, because of the Saint’s enormous size, his life expectancy will be far lower than that of a typical canine.

In addition to this, he is susceptible to a wide range of hereditary diseases and disorders. Saint Bernard is a breed that is quite popular in today’s society.

He has a pleasant disposition and is adaptable, making him an excellent option for an individual or family who desires a huge dog who is also calm and whose activity requirements are not very strenuous.

History Of The Breed

Along with several other dog breeds, Saint Bernard may be traced back to its country of origin in, Switzerland.

saint bernard

These other breeds include the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Appenzell Cattle Dog, Entlebuch Cattle Dog, and Bernese Mountain Dog.

During the reign of Emperor Augustus, dogs indigenous to the Alps are said to have been bred with Mastiff-type dogs brought to the region by the Roman soldiers.

This likely resulted in the creation of the Alpine breed. By the beginning of the first millennium A.D., the dogs that lived in Switzerland and the Alps were classified together and referred to as “Talhund” (Valley Dog) or “Bauernhund” (Farm Dog).

The Saint Bernard Pass is a well-known and dangerous alpine pass situated at an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet above mean sea level and can only be traveled through during July and September.

Today, it is possible to view relics of the old Roman road as well as proof that Napoleon traveled through this area. In 962 A.D., Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon arrived at the pass that would later be named after him.

There, he established his hospice, which assisted travelers who were overtaken by the experience of traversing this dangerous pass. During this time, Saint Bernard’s history began to diverge from that of the Talhund or Bauerhund.

It is unknown when the dogs were first put to use by the Hospice, but in 1695 a painting was created that depicted well-built shorthaired dogs that strongly resembled Saint Bernards as they are today.

In the monastery’s records, the breed was not mentioned for the first time in writing until 1703. The hospice monks most likely originally utilized the canines to provide security for the premises.

When the monks searched for lost travelers, they might have carried the dogs with them for protection. By chance, the monks realized that the dogs were outstanding pathfinders and could identify vulnerable travelers.

The seclusion of the monastery most likely played a role in the development of the dogs into a breed that was resilient enough to weather the harsh winters and possessed the necessary physical traits for their employment in search and rescue.

The breeding stock of the Hospice was occasionally refilled with dogs from the lower valleys. Most of these dogs were the offspring of hospice dogs who had given birth to puppies not required at the time of their birth.

In 1830, the monks attempted to improve their dogs’ coats by breeding them with the Newfoundland, which has a very thick coat. That was a mistake.

The progeny with longer coats were of lower quality because ice could more easily build up in their fur. Following that point, the monks either gave away or sold any longhaired puppies they had produced.

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More than two thousand pilgrims are said to have been rescued by Saint Bernards throughout the three centuries covered by the chronicles kept by the Hospice.

Although they were generally known by the time the 1800s rolled around, hospice dogs did not yet have a formally recognized name.

Between 1800 and 1810, a hospice dog named Barry became one of the most famous and special dogs in the history of the species after being credited with discovering forty items. In his honor, the dogs were frequently referred to as Barryhunden on multiple occasions.

They were known as Sacred Dogs by the English, who brought many of them to England to revitalize their Mastiff breed. The English called these dogs “Sacred Dogs.”

In the 1820s, the breed was referred to as an Alpendog in Germany for the first time. A man named Daniel Wilson suggested in 1833 that the breed be called the Saint Bernard Dog, and eventually, that is what they became when the Swiss Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1880.

Saint Bernard’s appearance started to evolve as the breed became more well-known in various nations. As a result of mixing with different breeds, Saint Bernards in various nations developed a leaner body type and grew in height.

The first breed standard was drafted in 1887 at the International Congress of Zurich and was recognized by every country except England.

In the year 1883, a Saint Bernard by the name of Plinlimmon rose to prominence across the United States. Plinlimmon was a Saint Bernard who belonged to an actor and became the most successful Saint Bernard show dog of his era.

His owner exhibited him in theaters all across the country and traveled the country with him. The Saint Bernard Club of America (SBCA) was established in 1888, and at the time of its inception, it adhered to the breed standard established by the Swiss.

The American Kennel Club recognizes 155 different breeds and kinds of dogs, and Saints are ranked 39th out of those. These days, Saint Bernards are a common sight in various settings, including private residences, movie theaters, and dog shows.

Saint Bernards are still present at the hospice named after them in Switzerland. They do not actively seek out people traveling and are instead considered living ambassadors of the history of hospice care.

Appearance Of The Breed

Saint Bernard is not only one of the world’s largest dogs in terms of height—roughly 30 inches or more at the shoulder—but also in terms of weight, making them one of the largest dogs in the world.

While adult male dogs typically weigh between 140 and 180 pounds, adult female dogs typically weigh between 120 and 140 pounds. They may forget to weigh one of the paws.

The proud bearing of a Saint begins with her enormous round head lifted from a deep chest, and a massive square muzzle is gently elevated to sniff the air.

This is the first step in the proud bearing of a Saint. Her sense of smell is outstanding. Her jowls are slack, as are her ears, and together they create a mask-like effect around her face.

Her hair is short and unkempt. Her irises are positioned far apart and have a warm brown color. Some Saints give the impression that they are wearing masks due to the coloration of their eyes and cheeks, which can be brown, black, or red.

The white that is seen on the tip of their tails and along their stomachs, forepaws, and chests reaches to the tip of their muzzles, and it frequently follows in a long line between the eyes up to the cap.

Two possible color combinations for the coat are red and white or white and brindle.

Few things are as indicative of force as the body of a Saint Bernard, which is a solid block of muscle from the dog’s crown to her fluffy tail.

Her back and legs are evenly proportionate. Even though it has double coats, to keep it warm and protect it from the cold, some Saints have short hair while others have long hair.

Temperament Of The Breed

It doesn’t matter where you are since a Saint always wants to be exactly where you are.  She is a devoted member of the family, but she is too proud to cling and well-mannered to bark excessively.

When a Saint is surrounded by all of her humanity, especially youngsters, she is in her purest form of happiness. She has endless patience for children who are kind to her.

Because Saint Bernard is so peaceful and kind, it is simple to miss the fact that her size may be a cause for concern.

According to the Saint Bernard Club of America, Saint Bernards, like many other large dogs, have a prolonged adolescence that typically lasts until the age of 2. (SBCA).

Some people, especially smaller children, may find that a 100-pound puppy with an unending supply of sloppy kisses to give and an unlimited supply of happy energy is too much for them to handle.

When the vaccines for Saint Bernard puppies are finished, it is a good idea to sign them up for puppy school as soon as possible. As a result of their intelligence and will to please, Saints perform admirably in training.

Because classes typically endure for a year or longer, effective home reinforcement throughout this period should involve a significant amount of socialization and routine.

They connect to the crucial yet simple instructions that they learn in no-fear obedience training, such as sit, come, stay, and no. This allows them to become familiar with all family members as well as their friends, and it also allows them to get to know their friends better.

The vast majority of Saints are not particularly destructive when left alone, particularly if they are given the appropriate training, yet, they do not enjoy being abandoned or kept outside for extended periods.

According to the SBCA, this is the point at which they will begin to exhibit a little bit of willful cheek, barking more frequently, chewing on things, and also doing other things you do not want them to do.

Crate training is beneficial for times when you must leave your dog alone for a few hours. If a Saint feels overwhelmed, she may try to hide behind a chair or seek cover behind the dining table, but a private space she can call her own is the best option.

A veterinary expert can advise you on matters pertaining to size, comfort, and training. You can always rely on a Saint to keep a watchful lookout post.

She is extremely charitable, yet she makes use of her considerable bulk to protect her people. Pay attention to her barking sound that could wake you in the middle of the night.

Personal Living Needs Of the Breed

A Saint Bernard’s attitude may be appropriate for apartment living because she is so sweet and does not frequently woof for no apparent reason, but trying to get her into a teacup is like trying to fit a loaf of bread inside. She needs room to spread out, ramble, and stretch.

Saints still need intentional movement daily, even though they don’t need as much as other working dog breeds.

They feel emotionally and physically satisfied after taking a quick walk once or twice a day through their backyard or along a pleasant trail through the woods.

The laid-back attitude of mature Saints is one of the reasons they make wonderful companions for retired folks. Playful Saint Bernard dogs can keep up with families who enjoy outdoor activities while in their prime.

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They naturally excel at hauling, so it’s enjoyable for everyone to hook them to a cart full of kids for an unplanned hayride!

General yard fencing should be adequate because she won’t try to climb over or scurry under the rules if she is aware of the rules. This also means that she is safe when the family is outside and does not require to be on a leash.

Most Saints have a low desire to hunt and get along well with all household pets, especially if they are introduced to them when they are young, so they may all wrestle and play together. With a rescue, extra caution might be required.

It takes planning to set up a Saint’s indoor surroundings. Because of her swaying tail and the potential for instantaneous disappearance of anything placed on the kitchen counter, she should be avoided.

The SBCA provides a free brochure to help you comprehend their needs and your responsibility as their guardian to help you have the best relationship with this gentle giant.

Personality Of The Dog

Saints are amiable and hospitable, as befits their past as hospice dogs. 

They are compassionate and cautious around youngsters and have a steady, charitable temperament. They enjoy receiving it but aren’t as pushy as certain kinds.

Saints are enormous; therefore, it’s crucial to start training them when they’re young and manageable. Although bright and pleasing, they can be stubborn at times.

They will never act violently unless they are defending a member of their family.

Saint Bernards require early socialization or exposure to various people, sights, noises, and experiences when they’re young, much like every other breed of dog.

The socialization process ensures that your Saint Bernard puppy develops into a well-rounded adult dog.

Health Of The Dog

Saints are generally in good health but susceptible to several health issues like all breeds.

Not every Saint will contract one or more of these illnesses, but if you’re thinking about getting one, you should be aware of them.

Find a reputable breeder who will provide you with the health clearances for your puppy’s parents if you are purchasing a puppy. Health certifications attest to a dog’s having undergone testing and being declared free of a specific ailment.

You should expect to see health certificates for von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and thrombopathia from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), thrombopathia from Auburn University, and normal eyes from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) for Saints. You can check the OFA website to validate health approvals (

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, a heritable disorder in which the thighbone would not fit securely into the hip joint, is one such instance. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness in one or both of their hind legs, but a dog with hip dysplasia may not exhibit any signs of discomfort.

Arthritis may appear as the dog aged. The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program or the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals does X-ray screening for hip dysplasia (PennHIP). Hip dysplasia in dogs should prevent breeding.

Ask the breeder for documentation showing the parents have had hip dysplasia testing and have been found healthy if you purchase a puppy. Although hip dysplasia is inherited, it can also be brought on by certain environmental circumstances, such as rapid growth brought on by a diet high in calories or wounds received by falling or leaping on slick surfaces.

Elbow dysplasia is a heritable disorder that affects large-breed dogs most frequently. Three bones that make up the dog’s elbow have three separate growth rates, which results in joint laxity. Painful lameness may result from this. Your veterinarian might advise weight management, pain medication, or surgery to fix the issue.


This birth abnormality causes the eyelid of the dog to roll inward, irritating or damaging the eyeball. It is often noticeable by six months of age. Affected eyes can be either one or both. You might see your Saint wiping his eyes if he has entropion. The illness is surgically treatable.


This condition results in moderate to severe seizures. Epilepsy can be inherited, brought on by conditions including metabolic problems, viral diseases of the brain, tumors, exposure to toxins, or serious head injuries, or it can have an underlying cause that is not known (referred to as idiopathic epilepsy).

Unusual behavior, such as frenzied running as if pursued, stumbling, or hiding, can signify seizures. While watching a seizure can be terrifying, dogs with idiopathic epilepsy typically have a fairly excellent long-term outlook.

Medication can control epilepsy, but it cannot be cured. With the right treatment, a dog could live a full and healthy life. Take your Saint to the vet straight away if he exhibits seizure activity for a diagnosis and suggests a course of action.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Heart disease, known as dilated cardiomyopathy develops when the heart muscle thins out and loses its ability to contract correctly. The heart enlarges because it has to work harder.

Dogs with this condition exhibit indicators of heart failure, such as weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, collapsing, difficulty breathing, a mild cough, and an expanded abdomen. They also have an irregular cardiac rhythm. Rest, a healthy diet, and medications can assist temporarily, but there is no cure.


Cataract is an opacity on the eye’s lens that impairs vision. The dog’s eye(s) will appear to be clouded. Cataracts typically develop with aging and can occasionally be surgically removed to enhance the dog’s vision.


Allergies are a prevalent illness in canines. By removing specific foods from the dog’s diet temporarily, allergies to particular foods are detected and addressed. A reaction to something that touches the dog, such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, or other chemicals, causes contact allergies.

By locating and eliminating the allergy’s cause, they are treated. Airborne allergens, including pollen, dust, and mildew, are what cause inhalant allergies. The right treatment for inhalant allergies will depend on how severe the allergy is. One typical adverse impact of inhalant allergies is ear infections.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat or torsion, is a potentially fatal condition that can strike deep-chested dogs like Saint Bernards, particularly if they are fed one large meal per day, eat quickly, drink a lot of water afterward, and engage in strenuous activity right afterward.

Some people speculate that the type of food and raised feeding bowls may also play a role in bloat. Although it could happen at any age, it is more common in older dogs. When the stomach of the dog is bloated with air or gas and twists, GDV occurs (torsion).

The regular flow of blood to the heart is hampered because the dog cannot belch or vomit to get rid of the extra air in its stomach. The dog has a dip in blood pressure and shock. The dog could die if not given timely medical care.

Bloat should be suspected if your dog is drooling excessively, retching, and not vomiting. He might also be agitated, melancholy, listless, feeble, and have a fast heartbeat.

You should take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you can. It is advised that dogs who develop GDV be neutered or spayed because there is some evidence that a propensity for the ailment is hereditary.

Care For The Dog

Saint Bernards only require light to moderate exercise, but they must get it to avoid obesity. Their joints are strained when they carry too much weight, which can result in arthritis or orthopedic issues.

Up until he reaches adult size, you should limit the amount of exercise you offer your Saint Bernard puppy. Avoid letting him gain weight too soon or run or leap on slippery surfaces. That practically begs for hip issues.

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Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are common in Saint Bernards. Always ensure they have access to fresh water and shade, and avoid letting them exercise during the hottest day.

Tiredness and heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy panting, dark-red gums, weakness, and collapse.

Early training is crucial since an untrained Saint can cause chaos in your home and drag you down the sidewalk in his enthusiasm to greet others.

Train your Saint Bernard in a joyful and carefree manner. Establish ground rules and be constant in your demands that he abide by them.

Even though Saint Bernards are by nature amiable, all puppies can benefit from attending a puppy socialization class to teach them how to behave with other dogs and people.

You will save time, money, and effort by enrolling your dog in puppy kindergarten and obedience lessons and practicing at home for 10 to 15 minutes daily.

Breeders will advise crate training as a crucial technique. It helps with housetraining, protects your dog or puppy and your possessions, and provides a secure haven where Saint Bernard can hide out when he’s feeling stressed or exhausted.

Never use a crate as a punishment; instead, teach your dog to consider it a cozy haven.

The well-trained Saint Bernard is a great family pet and can participate in various entertaining activities, such as cart pulling, obedience competitions and conformation exhibiting (dog shows).

Feeding Of The Dog

The recommended daily meal to give your dog is 5 to 6 cups of fine dry food, to be split between two meals.

Note: Your adult dog’s appetite is influenced by its size, age, build, metabolism, and degree of exercise. Like people, each dog is unique; thus, they don’t all require the same amount of food.

A very active dog will require more than a couch potato dog, which should almost go without saying. The kind of dog food you purchase matters; the better the food, the more effectively it will nourish your dog, and the less you need to shake into the bowl.

The Saint Bernard breed is prone to obesity and enjoys eating. Instead of leaving food out for your dog all the time, keep your Saint healthy by feeding him twice a day and weighing his diet.

Give him the hands-on and eye tests if you’re not sure if he’s obese. Look down at him first. There should be a waist visible.

After that, lay your hands on his back, your thumbs down his spine, and your fingers stretched outward. Without exerting much pressure, you need to be able to feel its ribs but not see them. He needs less food and more activity if you can’t.

See the recommendations for selecting the best food to feed your puppy and adult dog for more information on feeding your Saint Bernard.

Dog’s Coat Color And Grooming

There are two different coat kinds for Saint Bernards: shorthaired and longhaired.

The dense, short-haired coat is smooth. The hair is a little bushier on the thighs, and the tail has long, dense hair that gets shorter near the tip.

Although slightly wavy, the longhaired coat is never frizzy or scruffy. The thighs and tail are bushy, but the forelegs have some feathering.

Saint Bernards come in various combinations of red and white or white and red. The red appears in various hues, from brownish-yellow to brindle patches with white markings.

The white is found on the chest, the collar around the neck, the noseband around the nose, the feet, and the tip of the tail.

Particularly appealing and desirable features are a white spot at the nape of the neck, a white blaze on the face, and dark markings that mimic a mask on the head and ears.

The black mask is believed to reduce glare from the snow, and the white lines are said to imitate the liturgical garments worn by a priest.

Brush your Saint around three times every week with a pin brush for longhaired coats or a rubber curry brush for shorthaired coats. Use a shedding blade to remove stray hairs throughout the shedding season.

Spray a detangler solution on the region and use a comb or your fingers to gently work out the mat if your Saint gets mats on the thighs or behind the ears.

St. Bernards don’t require frequent bathing. The easiest way to give a bath is outside unless you have a big walk-in shower. Unless you reside in a warm climate area all year round, baths throughout the winter should always be taken indoors.

To prevent the coat from drying, use shampoo for dogs. To maintain the coat’s whitest and brightest appearance, you can choose to apply a whitening shampoo.

Stains around the eyes are common in Saint Bernards. Use a treatment designed to remove eye stains, which you can get at pet supply stores, or wipe the eyes down once a day to keep them stain-free.

Nail care, ear care, and dental hygiene are additional grooming requirements.

To get rid of tartar accumulation and the bacteria that live inside it, brush your Saint’s teeth at least twice or three times every week.

The prevention of foul breath and gum disease is even better than twice-daily brushing. If your dog doesn’t naturally wear down his nails, you should trim them once or twice a month.

They are too lengthy if you can hear them clicking on the floor. When your Saint jumps up to meet you, their short, carefully trimmed nails preserve the feet in good shape and keep your legs from getting scratched.

Trim the hair in between the toes at the same time you trim the nails. Weekly ear examinations If they appear unclean, clean them with a cotton ball and an ear cleaner your veterinarian suggests.

The ear canal should never be cleaned with a cotton swab. When your Saint is a puppy, start getting accustomed to being rubbed and looked at. Dogs are sensitive to their feet, so they handle their paws frequently and examine their lips and ears.

Lay the framework for simple veterinarian checks and other handlings when he’s an adult by making grooming a rewarding experience full of praise and rewards.

While grooming, keep an eye out for sores, rashes, or infection-related symptoms, including redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, or eyes, as well as on the feet.

Clear eyes without any redness or discharge are ideal. Thanks to your thorough weekly exam, you can identify any health issues early on.

Ask your dog’s breeder for help or take your Saint Bernard to a professional groomer if you are unclear on how to groom your Saint Bernard properly.

With Kids And Other Animals

Around children, saints are, well, saintly. They move carefully around them and are kind, patient, and forgiving.

But that does not imply that they ought to. Make sure to keep an eye on interactions between young children and Saints to ensure neither party is biting, climbing on, or knocking the other over.

Never approach any dog when it’s sleeping or eating, and never try to take the dog’s food away. Always teach your kids how to approach and touch pets.

No dog should ever be left unattended with a child, no of how reliable or well-trained it is. Saints can get along well with other animals, particularly if they are first introduced to them as puppies.

To prevent them from unintentionally stepping on or lying on smaller dogs and cats, keep an eye on them when they are nearby.

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