St. Bernard

St Bernard

St. Bernard is a charming giant with a peaceful nature and a slightly sad look. It is considered a typical family dog, but with the right training course it can become an excellent rescuer or watchman. Calm, disciplined, sincerely loves children.

Brief information

  • Breed Name: St. Bernard
  • Country of Origin: Switzerland
  • The time of the birth of the breed: middle of the XVII century
  • Weight: at least 70 kg
  • Height (height at the withers): males 70-90 cm, females 65-80 cm
  • Life expectancy: 9-11 years


  • Balanced and good-natured by nature, St. Bernards easily get along with any pets, ranging from cats to feathered pets.
  • Rescue dogs love communication, but they also cope well with temporary loneliness, unless it flows into permanent.
  • A characteristic feature of St. Bernards is intense salivation, so if you are not ready to wipe liquid "traces" from the floor, furniture and the knees of the household, look at other breeds.
  • Adults are moderately playful and love long walks. But intensive cardio loads only harm representatives of this breed.
  • Dogs are calm, do not make unnecessary noise and bark only in exceptional cases.
  • St. Bernards tolerate moderately low temperatures well and suffer greatly from the heat. In the summer months, the animal will need a specially equipped shelter or a corner in which it could cool down a little.
  • They are perfectly oriented in space and easily find their way home, even if they find themselves in an unfamiliar area.
  • St. Bernards are quite loving and equally affectionate towards each member of the family.

St. Bernards - natives of the Swiss Alps, selfless rescuers of travelers lost in the mountains, known for their phenomenal devotion to man. Serious and collected, these white-red giants are completely devoid of arrogance and the desire to "show off" in front of their relatives. And what's the point of proving something to someone with such impressive dimensions. St. Bernards feel most comfortable in large friendly families, where they are definitely not threatened by loneliness and lack of communication.

Breed characteristics

Aggressiveness ?
Not aggressive ( Rating 1/5)
Activity ?
Low ( Rating 2/5)
Training ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Molt ?
High ( Rating 4/5)
Need for care ?
High ( Rating 4/5)
Friendliness ?
Very friendly ( Rating 5/5)
Health ?
Below Average ( Rating 2/5)
Cost of maintenance ?
Expensive ( Rating 5/5)
Attitude to Loneliness ?
Moderate time ( Rating 3/5)
Intelligence ?
Smart ( Rating 4/5)
Noise ?
Average ( Rating 3/5)
Security qualities ?
Excellent ( Rating 5/5)
*The characteristics of the St. Bernard breed are based on the assessment of experts and reviews of dog owners.

History of the St. Bernard breed

St. Bernard

The history of the formation of the breed has its roots in such a depth of centuries that experts can only speculate about who was actually the ancestor of rescue dogs. Most modern researchers tend to think that the ancestors of today's St. Bernards were Tibetan Great Danes – dogs of massive physique that settled across the territory of Central and Asia Minor in the IV century BC. The animals came to Europe with the wagons of Alexander the Great, who brought them as a war trophy first to Greece, and then to Ancient Rome. However, some scientists continue to consider St. Bernards to be a "product" of mating a Great Dane with a mastiff.

As for the name of the breed, the animals owe it to the Catholic Saint Bernard of Menton, who founded a kind of shelter for travelers and pilgrims in the Swiss Alps. The establishment was located on the Great St. Bernard Pass, known for its extreme weather conditions and steep descents. Due to the constant avalanches and crumbling mountain slopes, the trip to Bernard's shelter was a real game of survival. As a result, the monks of the local monastery often had to arm themselves with shovels and, instead of prayers and night vigils, go in search of tourists freezing under snowdrifts.

In the XVII century, the first St. Bernards began to be involved in rescue operations, which were bred directly at the monastery. The animals had a thick skin, endured the cold with fortitude and had an excellent sense of smell, allowing them not only to smell a person under a snow blockage, but also to predict the next avalanche. In addition, the dogs performed the function of a living warmer: after digging out the victim, the St. Bernard lay down next to him to warm him and help him hold out until help arrived.

Baby with a St. Bernard puppy

At the beginning of the XIX century, as a result of an unknown infection, most of the dogs in the monastery of St. Bernard died. Fearing the complete disappearance of the breed, the monks decided to "pump" its surviving representatives with Newfoundland genes. However, the experiment was only half successful. The offspring born after such a mating looked more impressive due to their shaggy wool, but it turned out to be completely unsuitable for working in the mountains. Snow stuck to the long hair of the mestizos, which caused the dog's "fur coat" to quickly get wet and overgrown with an ice crust. Eventually, the monks escorted the shaggy St. Bernards to the valleys, where they began to be used as watchmen. Shorthair animals continued to serve on mountain passes.

In 1884, the St. Bernards had their own fan club, whose headquarters were located in Basel, Switzerland. And three years later, rescue dogs were entered into the breed registry, and a separate standard of appearance was approved for them. In the USSR, the breeding of St. Bernards was engaged only after the end of the Great Patriotic War, after several breeding animals were exported from Germany. At first, dogs were used exclusively for crossing, which helped domestic breeders to bring out such an interesting breed in all respects as the Moscow watchdog.

In the 90s, breeders' interest in St. Bernards waned. In the conditions of a sharp change in the state system and a rethinking of the value system, good-natured and sedate giants were no longer quoted. Aggressive bodyguard dogs have become fashionable, which have become a symbol of financial independence and assertiveness of their own owners. The gradual revival of the breed began only in 1996, after the foundation of the first National St. Bernard Lovers Club. The organization united several smaller clubs, as well as breeding nurseries, which set a goal to preserve and improve the breed, and if possible, to restore its lost popularity.

Video: St. Bernard

St. Bernard's appearance

The brave rescuers from the monastery of St. Bernard had less impressive dimensions than their relatives today. As for the complexion of modern individuals, these are real heavyweights with a body weight of 70 kg. The height of an adult male St. Bernard can reach 90 cm, females - 80 cm– In addition, these spotted giants have amazing charisma. What a branded look is worth, in which there is a slight melancholy and the age-old wisdom of the entire canine family.


St. Bernard plays with the ball

Massive and wide rounded skull. The cheekbones and brow ridges are well developed, the occipital protuberance is slightly convex. The transition from the forehead to the muzzle is arched and rather steep (pronounced stop). The middle part of the head is crossed by the so-called frontal furrow. There are shallow wrinkles above the eyes-folds that become more pronounced if the animal is alert. The muzzle of the St. Bernard is uniformly wide, without narrowing towards the nose. The back of the nose is smooth, with a barely noticeable groove in the middle.


The lobe is large, rectangular in shape, the color is black. The nostrils are wide and open.

Teeth and jaws

The jaws of the St. Bernard are strong, wide and of the same length. The bite should be scissor-like or tick-like (snacking without waste is not considered a serious defect). The absence of the first premolars and third molars is allowed.


The upper lips are dense, fleshy, but not excessively pendulous, the corners are distinct. The lip edge has a black color.


It seems to be someone's birthday today

Medium, relatively deep-set. The eyelids are close to the eyeball, the edges of the eyelids are well pigmented and tightly closed. The look of the St. Bernard is smart, a little sad. The shade of the iris varies from rich brown to nutty. Allowed by the standard: slight sagging of the lower eyelid, showing part of the conjunctiva, as well as insufficient bending of the upper eyelid.


The ears of a St. Bernard are medium-sized, proportional, widely spaced and set high. The shape of the ear is triangular, with a rounded tip. The upper edge of the ear is slightly raised, the front one touches the cheekbones. The ear cloth is soft, elastic, with developed muscles.


Long, strong, with a suspension in the throat part.

St. Bernard's muzzle


Statuesque, muscular, with pronounced withers and a wide, straight back. The physique of the St. Bernard is strong, harmonious. The croup zone is long, without noticeable sloping, smoothly "flowing" into the tail. The chest is deep, spacious. The ribs are curved moderately, without excessive bulge. The bottom of the chest and abdomen are slightly tightened.


Mom St. Bernard with two puppies

The front legs are straight, spread wide and parallel. The shoulder blades fit snugly to the chest, placed at an angle. The shoulders are noticeably longer than the shoulder blades. Shoulder angles are not too blunt. The backbone of the forearms is strong, the musculature is dry.

The hind limbs of the St. Bernard are muscular, with strong, massive hips, set parallel to each other and at a fairly wide distance. Knee joints with normal angles: do not turn out either inwards or outwards. Hock joints are strong, have pronounced angles. The paws are large and wide. The fingers are strong, arched, tightly pressed together. The dewclaws on the hind legs are not removed if they do not interfere with the movement of the dog.


The tail of the St. Bernard is long, strong, with a massive base. The ideal length is up to the hock joint. In a calm animal, the tail is lowered down, and its tip and the part adjacent to it are slightly bent up. In a state of excitement, the tail rises noticeably.


St. Bernards can be both short-haired and long-haired. The former have a thick undercoat, complemented by a stiff and adjacent guard hair. The areas with the longest and thickest hair are the tail and thighs.

The outer hair of long-haired individuals is straight or slightly wavy, reinforced with a thick and dense undercoat. The muzzle and ears are covered with short hair. On the front paws there are feathering, and the hips hide lush "pants". The hair in the tail area is fluffy and long, the hair in the groin area is slightly wavy.


St. Bernard at the exhibition

Traditional color options are white with red spots or with a red "cloak" covering the back and sides of the animal. The standard allows a torn raincoat color (with spots on the red background of the back), as well as yellow and red with tiger stripes. It is very desirable that there is a black border on the dog's head. Mandatory elements of color: white markings on the paws, chest, tip of the tail; a white groove on the forehead and a white spot in the area of the nape. At exhibition events, preference is given to individuals with a white "collar" on the neck and a black "mask".

Disadvantages and possible vices

Defective puppies are recognized with a weakly expressed sexual type, short-legged and without white markings in places prescribed by the breed standard. St. Bernards with almond-shaped eyes and a light color of the iris, as well as an excessively twisted and abandoned tail, are not very popular. Curly hair, sagging or, conversely, a hunched back, too obvious folds on the forehead and neck do not decorate the breed either, although they are not considered a sufficient reason for disqualification of the animal.

As for exhibition commissions, they primarily dismiss indecisive or too aggressive dogs, individuals with monocras, as well as those with an incorrect bite, eyelid inversion and blue eyes. The reason for the disqualification may be the insufficient growth of the St. Bernard, as well as his mental instability.

Photo of an adult St. Bernard

St. Bernard character

St. Bernards with the host

St. Bernards make loyal friends, wonderful caretakers and first-class nannies. In any case, do not be fooled by the external detachment of the dog, reinforced by a melancholic look. Representatives of this breed are quite lively and contact creatures who are no strangers to either fun or fervent games. With age, Alpine rescuers accumulate sedateness and phlegm, while young individuals are literally bursting with an excess of emotions. Not knowing how to express their own affection, young St. Bernards furiously attack their owners in attempts to "embrace" them. From the outside, such a manifestation of feelings looks comical, since a rare person can stay on his feet under the pressure of such a carcass.

As befits a faithful family man, the Saint Bernard directs all his energy to serving the household. At the same time, he will not shake his rights and demand close attention to his own person, and he will never respond to annoying children's pranks with dissatisfied grumbling. Moreover, he will be happy to take an active part in all the "conspiracies" of the kids – do you remember Beethoven from the Hollywood comedy of the same name? In general, St. Bernards are very calm and unperturbed pets, which it is impossible to get out of themselves. They meet strangers who step on the threshold of the house either amiably or indifferently, they are practically not interested in the neighbor's cats, as well as dogs.

A distinctive character trait of St. Bernards is a deep reverie into which they fall from time to time. It is unlikely to be possible to eradicate this feature, so take for granted the fact that sometimes your pet will reflect on the action being performed a little longer than it should. These good-natured giants prefer passive rest. A Saint Bernard sprawled on a rug or sofa, as a rule, is in a borderline state between sleep and wakefulness, not forgetting to follow the actions of people along the way. "Calm, only calm!" – this legendary phrase of a prankster with a propeller for St. Bernards has become something like a life principle, which they try not to change even in the most extreme situations.

Oh, I love you so much...
St. Bernard with a baby

Training and education

St. Bernards are smart students, but in the process of learning they are sometimes hindered by a phlegmatic temperament. If your pet executes the command at a snail's pace, do not adjust it: over time, the animal will definitely "swing" and gain the necessary speed. Dog training begins from the second or third month of life. By this time, the puppy is already able to learn elementary commands like "Fu!", "Sit!" and "Lie down!". The hardest thing for representatives of this breed is given aportirovka, so it is necessary to force the pet to bring objects in its teeth as often as possible.

Do not delay with the training of the St. Bernard!

In the process of mastering the basic skills and rules of dog etiquette, a puppy is supposed to be praised and "rewarded" with treats. Never shout or force an animal. If a young St. Bernard loses interest in classes, unfortunately, it will not be possible to catch up with an adult dog.

By the age of 6 months, the puppy should get to know the muzzle tightly. To accustom the dog to this accessory, which is not the most pleasant for her, should be gradually, smoothing out the negative feelings from the muzzle with a small treat.

Yearling dogs can be involved in full-fledged classes in dog training groups and on sports grounds. This is especially true for owners who see in their pet not just a domestic bumpkin, but also a future assistant.

Important: as they grow older, St. Bernards gradually lose their ability to learn and are less amenable to training. The most inconvenient age for training a dog is 2 years or more.

Maintenance and care

The best house for a St. Bernard is a spacious urban or rural cottage with a courtyard and a plot of land. Taking a dog to a small apartment is a bad idea. Due to the lack of free space, the animal will feel constrained and uncomfortable, not to mention the fact that, moving in a limited space, the dog will inadvertently sweep away small objects from any horizontal surfaces. Long-haired individuals can be settled right in the yard, having previously arranged for them a warm and spacious booth and aviary. For shorthair St. Bernards, the Russian winter can become too severe a test, so it is better to move them to heated rooms during the cold season.

St. Bernard enjoys a walk in the park
Something I'm a little tired...


Adult animals are allowed to walk in any weather. Ideally, the dog should spend 3 to 4 hours a day outdoors (refers to apartment pets). Daily promenades are also arranged for puppies, but more short-term and only on fine days. It is better to start exploring the street with short five-minute exits, further increasing their duration. In addition, babies living in apartment buildings should not be taken out for a walk in the first months of life, but carried out, since due to constant descents and ascents of stairs, the animal can earn a curvature of the limbs.

Important point: St. Bernard puppies are contraindicated for excessive motor activity during walking. Long runs and multiple jumps performed by an animal can provoke joint deformation, as well as cause the formation of an incorrect foot position.

It is not recommended to walk the pet immediately after eating: the dog should have time for an afternoon rest and normal digestion of food. If the baby goes outside reluctantly, most likely, he just did not have time to rest properly after the previous walk. In this case, it is better to leave the puppy at home, and postpone the "excursion" for another time. In the summer, St. Bernards suffer from the heat, so it is better to walk them until 12 o'clock in the afternoon or in the evening (after 17:00). It is more expedient to walk kids on a harness with a leather leash. Adults are brought out in a collar, using a strong one-and-a-half or three-meter leash.


St. Bernard from San Francisco

Twice a year, St. Bernards shed intensively. This process is especially rapid in long-haired individuals living in the yard. In pets, the wool does not fall out so abundantly, but nevertheless, during the molting period, they also need to be combed daily with a comb with large teeth. The rest of the time, representatives of this species are combed once every 2 days. Shorthair individuals cause less problems: during the molting period, a couple of combs a week is enough for them.

Bath days are arranged for St. Bernards 2-3 times a year. Groomers recommend timing this procedure to the molting season of the animal in order to wash the faded hair and undercoat in this way. It is not necessary to close the ears at the same time, since they are hanging in St. Bernards. Be sure to stock up on neutral shampoo, balm and conditioner, which will help to degrease the wool, as well as facilitate its combing. Wet St. Bernards are dried in two steps: first with a towel, then with a hairdryer. If a pet likes to swim in open water, do not forget to rinse its fur with clean tap water after bathing to wash out algae particles from it, as well as various unicellular ones that live in rivers and lakes.

After eating, food particles remain on the face of the St. Bernard, which is why the white fur in this area may darken. To prevent this from happening, after each meal, wash the dog's muzzle with warm water and wipe it with a clean rag. If you do not want a friendly St. Bernard to get saliva on your clothes and the knees of guests, also take care of a sufficient supply of diapers and napkins.

St. Bernard Puppy

The dog's eyes require constant monitoring. Too heavy and drooping eyelids of St. Bernard do not protect the eyeball from dust and small debris, as a result of which it can become inflamed. You can avoid such troubles by wiping your eyes daily with a napkin or gauze swab soaked in cold tea or boiled water. By the way, it is not recommended to use cotton wool and disks from it, since cotton microfibres can remain on the mucous membrane of the eye and provoke irritation.

To prevent plaque, St. Bernards are given brain bones and cartilage. If the plaque has already appeared, it can be removed with a brush and a cleaning compound from a veterinary pharmacy. Once a week, the dog's ears are examined. If contamination has appeared inside the funnel, they are removed with a cotton swab or swab soaked in disinfectant lotion or boric alcohol. Wounds and pustules found in the ear should be lubricated with streptocide or zinc ointments. In addition, some veterinarians recommend plucking or cutting the hair in the ear canal to ensure better air circulation inside the ear funnel.

Cutting of claws is carried out as needed and mainly for elderly or very passive individuals. In dogs with regular and prolonged walking, the claw plate is worn off by itself. The wool between the fingers of a St. Bernard has the peculiarity of getting into tangles, so it is also cut. In the summer months and in winter, it is necessary to carefully inspect the pads of the dog's paws. If the skin on them has become too dry and rough, it is useful to lubricate it with a nourishing cream or linseed oil, which will prevent the subsequent appearance of cracks.

St. Bernard with kittens


In the first days after moving to a new home, the puppy should receive the same food as in the kennel. New products for the baby are introduced gradually, starting from the third day of stay. Half of the St. Bernard's diet is protein, that is, lean meat. The daily norm of animal protein for a two–month–old puppy is 150-200 g, for an adult - 450-500 g.

In order to save money, meat can sometimes be replaced with boiled offal. Once a week, it is useful for St. Bernard to arrange a fish day. By the way, about fish: sea fish is considered the safest, although some breeders allow dogs to give heat-treated river fish.

You can

  • Vegetables (carrots, cabbage, beets).
  • Egg yolk.
  • Butter (in small quantities).
  • Garlic (1 clove per week, starting from 3 months of age).
  • Milk porridges (rice, oatmeal, buckwheat).
  • Seafood and sea cabbage.
  • Brain bones.
  • Fermented milk products.
  • Black bread (in the form of a sandwich with butter, but no more than 1 time a week).

Not allowed

  • Legumes and potatoes.
  • Sweets.
  • Spicy and spicy dishes.
  • Pickles and smoked meats.
Mmm, yummy

The food in the dog's bowl should not be too warm or cold: the optimal food temperature for a St. Bernard is 38-40 °C. If the pet has left a little food at the bottom of the bowl, this is a sign that you have overdone the amount, respectively, next time the portion should be reduced. Puppies showing greed and increased appetite during meals, it is advisable to increase the number of feedings, while maintaining the same amount of food.

As a source of calcium, it is useful for St. Bernards to give meat bones, gnawing which dogs at the same time clean teeth from plaque. Treat the animal with a bone after eating, so as not to provoke constipation. For small puppies, bones are replaced with cartilage.

The vast majority of St. Bernards have a tendency to obesity, so it is very important to build a proper diet for the dog and not succumb to the momentary desire to treat the pet with a tasty treat once again. Underfeeding is also fraught with health problems, so if the baby takes too long after lunch and actively licks the bowl, it is better to give him supplements.

Animals that eat natural products need to be "prescribed" vitamin and mineral complexes like Tetravit, Nutri-Vet and others from time to time. As for dry food, it should be selected taking into account the size and age of the pet. For example, St. Bernard varieties are suitable for especially large breeds, such as Rottweiler and Labrador. An adult animal should consume about a kilogram of "drying" per day.

Health and diseases of St. Bernard

St. Bernard lifeguard with a first aid kit around his neck

The main scourge of the breed is diseases of the musculoskeletal system, for this reason St. Bernards often suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, dislocation of the kneecap and osteosarcoma. Of the diseases of vision, representatives of this breed are usually diagnosed with inversion / inversion of the eyelid, cataract and the so-called cherry eye. Congenital deafness is not considered the most common ailment, although hearing poorly or completely deaf puppies in the litter are not that uncommon. In some individuals, epilepsy, pyoderma and rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament may occur.

How to choose a puppy

The main difficulty in choosing a St. Bernard puppy is not too much popularity of the breed. Accordingly, in search of a reliable breeding nursery, you will have to ride a lot around the country. A good safety net in such cases is provided by exhibitions where you can communicate with breeders live, and at the same time evaluate the canine gene pool presented at them.

Otherwise, you should choose a St. Bernard puppy, guided by the same principles as when buying other purebred dogs. Get acquainted with the living conditions of the future pet, as well as his parents. Ask the breeder to test for joint dysplasia in the mother and father of the puppy, which to some extent will reduce the risk of buying a St. Bernard with a hidden defect. Carefully evaluate the dog's appearance: how clean and fluffy her fur is, whether her eyes are watering, whether there are traces of diarrhea under the tail. The paws and back of a healthy baby should be smooth, and the stomach soft and not inflated. The smell from the puppy's mouth should be neutral.

Photos of St. Bernard puppies

How much does a St. Bernard cost

Average price tag for a St. Bernard puppy in a kennel – $250 - $350 . For this money, the buyer receives a healthy, vaccinated animal with a pedigree, brand and RKF metric. For the future champion and a regular of exhibitions (show class), you will have to give at least $450 - $500. Often on the Internet you can find ads for the sale of grown-up or completely adult individuals whose owners have decided to change their place of residence, or simply disappointed in the breed. The cost of such an animal directly depends on its purebred, as well as the urgency of the sale.

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