White with red markings or red with white markings. The red is in various shades and there are also often markings of brown and yellow. For show, the dog should have a white chest, white feet and the tip of the tail should be white.
Moderate Shed, Heavy Shed
typically 27 inches tall
typically 25 inches tall
In spite of their size, these dogs do quite well in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They tend to be fairly inactive indoors, anyway. They enjoy being near their owners and would prefer an apartment where their owner is nearby to a large outdoor area where they would be left alone. They are not very tolerant of heat and should not be left outdoors or in a car during hot weather.
Because the St. Bernard is a good jumper and a good digger, it's important that he be kept in a very secure area when left outdoors. A bored St. Bernard is definitely a threat to escape his backyard.
The Saint Bernard is a strong and powerful dog with a very tall and muscular body and a large powerful head. They have a wide skull, with high cheek bones and a distinct furrowing of the brow. The skin of their foreheads is very wrinkled, often giving them a rather stern expression, particularly if they also possess a dark mask.
The Saint Bernard has a short muzzle, and does not taper. The bridge is straight and sometimes slightly broken. They have strong sound teeth with either a scissors bite or an even bite. Their mouths often have a black roof.
The Saint Bernard's nose is very broad with wide open nostrils. Their noses and lips are always black. They have medium sized ears, particularly when compared to the size of their heads. They stand slightly away from the head at the base and then drop sharply, clinging to the head. Their ear flaps are soft and tender and forms a rounded triangle which is slightly elongated toward the point.
The Saint Bernard's eyes are set toward the front of the head, and are always dark brown. They are medium sized and deep set, giving the dog a friendly and intelligent expression.
The Saint Bernard has a neck that slopes slightly downward, except when at attention. Their shoulders are broad and withers are strongly pronounced. Their chest is moderately deep and their backs are very broad and strong. They have straight strong legs with a long heavy tail and broad feet with strong toes.
St. Bernard's come in two coat varieties: the longhaired variety, often referred to as a "rough coat" and the short haired variety, typically called a "smooth coat". The long haired variety was most often used for rescue work, since their long hair gives them extra warmth. However, their long fur was prone to developing bothersome icicles in the snow. Both long and short haired varieties are dense, but soft. In longer haired dogs, there will be a bushier tail and some feathering of the wavy hair on the forelegs; their thighs are bushy. The hair should never be shaggy or curly, but just have a slight wave to it. Even the short haired variety can have some wave to their hair.
The St. Bernard breed has been around for centuries. In the Western Alps, there is a pass known as St. Bernard. The dogs were named for the pass, which was named for St. Bernard de Menthon, a monk who founded a hospice to rescue stranded travelers in this dangerous Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy. The breed descends from the Tibetan Mastiff and has been carefully bred for an excellent sense of smell, great strength, surefootedness in the ice and snow and a near sixth sense about winter storms and injured humans. Tibetan mastiffs were brought to the Alps by the Romans, and it is believed that these mastiffs were crossed with Great Pyrenees and Great Danes owned by the monks in the area to create the breed. They began as companion dogs to the monks that lived in the area. Often, after bad storms, the monks would walk onto the pass to look for lost travelers and the dogs would accompany them. The monks soon discovered that the dogs had an uncanny ability to find lost travelers, even if they were under several feet of snow. After a while, the monks began to have the dogs work in pairs to located humans stranded in the storms. Once a human was found, one dog in the team would stay with the human to provide them warmth while the other dog went back to bring help to the injured. More than 2000 people have been rescued by these dogs in the Alpine areas. Saint Bernards are sometimes referred to as "Barry dogs" because of one very famous St. Bernard named Barry, who is said to have rescued nearly 100 people during his tenure on the Alpine pass.
It is believed that St. Bernards from many years ago looked quite different than the St. Bernard of today. An avalanche is said to have killed off many of the original St. Bernard breeding dogs, causing the breeding program to have to begin all over again.
In addition to being great rescue dogs, these dogs have also been used for carting, due to their great size and strength. Today, they are mostly used as family pets because of their intelligence and gentle nature. But even today, many St. Bernard owners report that their dogs have a very unusual awareness of approaching bad weather. It is believed that the dogs can hear sound waves that indicate the presence of a storm.
Today, there are three different standards for the breed. There is the old Swiss standard, which is still used in the United States, the English standard, which was created in Britain once they began their own St. Bernard breeding programs and there is the revised Swiss standard, which is used in much of Europe. The original Swiss standard that is still used in the US is the closest to the original Alpine rescue dogs from many years ago.
This is a sweet and gentle dog. Though they are one of the larger breeds of dog, they still make one of the best pets for families. Bred originally as a working rescue dog, they are patient and tolerant of children and they are not at all prissy. They also get along very well with other pets in the home.
These dogs are very intelligent and very eager to please their masters, so they are typically quite easy to train. However, because of their size and strength, adequate training is a must. They are fiercely loyal and very protective of their owners, making them a great watchdog. In fact, even though they are so even tempered and sweet, many strangers will fear them simply because of their size. They are often quite slow moving but they are extremely strong and have a great sense of smell.
Because the St. Bernard was bred for rescuing humans, this dog needs to be part of the family. He will be protective of children and inclined to watch after everyone during their daily activities. He will be happiest if he's included in his family's daily life.
In fact, St. Bernards who are left alone too long or too often can actually develop a sort of depression brought on by loneliness. It's important that your dog have interaction with people or other animals on a regular basis. St. Bernards that get lonely can get destructive, too. So, it's recommended that if you must leave your dog alone for long periods of time, that he be kept confined to an area where he cannot do damage.
The Saint Bernard has an incredible sense of direction; one of the characteristics that made them such good dogs for rescuing people. They will not likely ever wander far from home, and will always know their way back. If you ever get lost while walking with your dog, it's likely that he'll lead you happily back home.
This breed of dog rarely barks unless there is some real reason to do so. This is one reason (accompanied with their size) that they make great guard dogs even though they are very gentle natured. If your St. Bernard barks, you should check out what he's barking at.
In general, the Saint Bernard is quite healthy. However, they can be prone to Wobblers Syndrome. The correct name for this problem is cervical vertebral instability. It is common in very large, fast growing dog breeds. Wobbler Syndrome causes the dog to wobble when they walk, particularly around the back end. They may also have difficulty with their front legs which may make them take short, choppy steps. If your dog has Wobbler Syndrome, your veterinarian may recommend kennel rest for a period of time and may prescribe pain medication as well as anti-inflammatory medications.
St. Bernards are also more prone to bone cancer than many other dog breeds, and the tendency has been found to be hereditary.
St. Bernards can also be prone to hip dysplasia, another problem in large, heavy dogs. Check with your breeder to find out about either of these problems in the lineage of any Saint Bernard you're considering St. Bernards have a tendency to experience Bloat. For this reason, it's better for him if you feed him two small meals each day rather than one large one.
Grooming a St. Bernard is fairly simple, as their coats are not subject to getting matted or tangled, even if they have long hair. Brushing with a firmly bristled brush once or twice a week is usually sufficient. Because they are bred to withstand snow and cold, their coats have a water resistant oil to them. Over-shampooing a St. Bernard's coat can cause them to lose this protective oil. For this reason, it's important only to shampoo your St. Bernard when absolutely necessary. When you do shampoo him, be certain to use a mild shampoo formulated for dogs. St. Bernard's shed twice a year, and will require more brushing during this time.
You'll also find that your St. Bernard tends to drool and his eyes tend to water. Simply drying them with a tissue periodically will keep his eyes clean and free of irritants and keep the messy drool to a minimum. Drooling is especially frequent after eating.
The Saint Bernard will do quite well with a long walk each day. They are not prone to running and playing once they're past puppy hood, but do need to be exercised. Because of their size, it's wise to keep their play sessions and walks short for the first two years of life, since their bones take time to form.
Saint Bernard's are intelligent dogs that are eager to please their masters, so training them is usually quite easy. However, it's still very important to begin training your St. Bernard while he is quite young. Because he will grow to be so large, he can be impossible to manage when he is fully grown if he is not properly trained.
In addition, because of his size, it is important that your St. Bernard be socialized at an early age. Learning simple dog manners like not jumping on the houseguests is particularly important when your dog weighs 200 pounds! If these dogs are not socialized early and often, they will be quite intimidating to people, and can be quite clumsy. But, a well trained and well mannered St. Bernard will be enjoyed by all of your friends because of his sweet and gentle nature.
Training a St. Bernard requires gentleness and patience. Because they are so loyal and eager to please, they can get discouraged if they believe that you are becoming frustrated with their behavior. It is important to be calm, gentle and consistent when you're teaching them. If they perceive training to be an enjoyable activity where they're sure to win your praise, they'll be quite happy to learn any skill you'd like them to have.