The Saint Bernard's origin can be traced from the early Roman dogs called Mollossian dogs (large Mastiff-type dogs). The theory claims that they were brought to the Alpine Mountains that divide Switzerland and Italy by Roman soldiers during the first two centuries AD. A hospice was founded by monks in the 11th century as a refuge for travelers and pilgrims across a low point, an 8,200 foot-high pass known as the Saint-Bernard Pass. Large mountain dogs have been bred there for watch and protection since the 17th century. These dogs were used as rescue dogs for travellers lost in snow and fog. The legend tells us about one of the most famous Saint Bernards called Barry who saved 41 people from the "White Death" and was shot by the fourty-first who mistook him for a wolf. Today the Saint Bernard is the national dog of Switzerland.
Photo courtesy of De La Petite Mare Chien Du Saint-Bernard
There are two varieties of the Saint Bernard: short-haired and long-haired variety. Both varieties are of impressive size and total apperance. The short-haired variety has a dense, smooth topcoat and a thick undercoat. The long-haired variety's coat is of medium length with plenty of undercoat.
Saint Bernard Breed Outline
Other Names: St.Bernhardshund, Bernhardiner, Saint Bernard Dog
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Utilization: Companion, watchdog and farmdog
FCI Classification: Group 2: Pinschers, Schnauzers & Molossian Types, Swiss Mountain-and Cattledogs and other breeds. Section 2.2 - Molossian type, Mountain type. Without working trial; AKC Classification: Working Group
Size: Giant (25.5-35 inches at shoulders)
Colors: White with reddish-brown, brindle or brownish-yellow patches or a reddish-brown mantle with dark shadings on head. Required white markings : The chest, feet, tip of tail, muzzle band, blaze and neck should have white markings. A symmetrical dark mask on the face.
Litter Size: 7
Life Span: 10-12 years
Grooming Requirements: Thorough weekly brushing and regular eye cleaning.
Personality: The St. Bernard is calm, always alert, balanced and self-confident dog. Friendly by nature, he never makes a real guard dog.
Social skills: Early socialization is required.
Suitability for Children: The Saint loves children, but because of his great size, he should be closely supervised around small children to avoid accidents.
Exercise Needs: The breed needs a lot of space and daily exercise and does best in the country.
Train Ability: Easy to train.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Most common health disorder: hip dysplasia (joints), ectropion (eyes), cardiomyopathy (heart) and gastric dilitation-volvulus, or bloat (stomach twisting).
Keywords: St. Bernard, Chien Du Mont Saint-Bernard, St. Bernhardshund, Bernhardiner, Perro San Bernardo, yard dog, Hofhund, watchdog, Wachhund, chien de garde, perro guardián