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Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Books

Group: Working - Breed Standard


The ancestors of the St. Bernard are the herding dogs of Swiss farmers as well as hunting dogs and watchdogs. Their history has also been connected with the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass. First reports of the dogs' presence at the pass date to the 17th century, and they remained loyal companions to the monks there until 2004, when the monks began to divest themselves of the dogs and focus the time they spent on the dogs to minister to people. The classic St. Bernard looked very different from the St. Bernard of today, but an avalanche killed off many of the dogs used for breeding so they crossed the remining dogs with other dogs, but in the process they lost much of their use as rescue dogs.


No specific size in the breed standard, but the taller the better, provided symmetry is maintained.

St. Bernards are very gentle giants. They are often fond of children and are loyal to their family, but, as with any dog, should not be left unsupervised with young children. They are very prone to anxiety if left alone for long periods of time and may destroy their owner's belongings. It is recommended that a suitable safe environment be made available during times that the owner cannot be home. This could range anywhere from a fenced yard to a suitably sized crate (normally Extra Large). They commonly get along very well with other dogs and love high amounts of attention.

Breed Health

The very fast growth rate and the weight of a St. Bernard can lead to very serious deterioration of the bones if the dog does not get proper food and exercise. Many dogs are affected by hip dysplasia.

St. Bernards are prone to eye disorders called entropion and ectropion. The breed is also susceptible to epilepsy and seizures, a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, and eczema.


It is highly recommended that owners be very patient because this breed of dog can be very stubborn. It is imperative that St. Bernards should also remain very socialized because they can become overly protective of their territory. See our books on training

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Last link added: 16 Mar, 2008