The origin of this dog breed is not very clear though several theories point it to being a cross of the Tibetan Mastiff with some indigenous European breeds. The Mastiffs were probably introduced to the Swiss Alps by Roman armies many centuries ago. From here is derived its name as the Alpine Mastiff, Alpen dog, Alpine Spaniel and Alpine dog. They are distinctively large dogs and have been widely recognized for their rescue instincts. They rescued thousands of lives in the Great Saint Bernard Pass with their acute sense of smell and ability to power through large amounts of snow.
The Saint Bernard dog is a massive, powerful dog. It weighs 100 – 200 pounds and stands at a height of 25 – 28 inches. It has a broad chest that supports a thick short neck. It has a large long face with a short muzzle. It has a big nose at the tip of its muzzle that is almost level with its eyes. It has oval shaped eyes that are dark colored. Its ears hung on the side of the head and droop to the side of its head almost to the joint of the neck and head. It has a thick tail medium sized tail that curls towards the tip.
Saint Bernards’ are a loving and warm-hearted breed. They are very gentle with children and always eager to please their owners. They require early training so that they can be manageable when they are fully grown. They are independent minded . Hence, it may be difficult to train them. They are not very active and will only require moderate exercise. They are highly intelligent and will need to be led by the owner lest they become domineering.
These large alpine dogs are not suited for apartment living. They will require a large enclosed open space for them to be comfortable. They are not very active dogs especially when they get older hence, will need to be moderately exercised for the sake of their health. It is important to train and socialize them early so that it becomes easier to handle them.
They are generally healthy dogs however like other breeds; they are susceptible to suffer from some common diseases such as hip dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, entropion, and allergies.
St. Bernard dogs are good eaters and will require a consistent feeding program to ensure they are well fed. Avoid sporadic feeding patterns and limit feeding time to twice a day because they can easily become obese. Give the right portion of food depending on its age, weight and level of activity.
Coat color and grooming
They St. Bernard come in two types of coats: Short and long. They short coat is tender and thick while the long hair is wavy. It comes in a variation of colors which are white and red, or white and mahogany. Brush their coat several times a week to remove dead hair. Brush their teeth weekly and trim their nails on a monthly basis.
With family and other pets
They are a good family dog and love children. They get along well with other pets especially if they are well socialized from puppyhood.