The Saint Bernard is easy-going, kind, trustworthy, reasonably lethargic and patient. Saint Bernard's are wonderful with children and extremely loyal to their families. They generally get along well with other dogs and household pets. These gentle giants are easily trained and early training is important so that they don't pull on the lead, as they quickly become very strong. As adults, Saint Bernards are not overly active and will defend their owners and property if necessary, however this is not their primary role.
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Saint Bernards need daily grooming with a brush and comb to remove the loose hairs. The ear canals need to be kept clean and if the dog has drooping eyelids then these should also be checked regularly.
Saint Bernards should not be over-exercised as puppies to prevent any damage to their rapidly growing bones and muscles. They are much more active when younger, but tend to slow down once fully grown and don't need as much space for exercise. They need an average amount of exercise and will be happy with regular walks and opportunities to run freely of the lead.
Saint Bernards descended from the Asian Mastiff family and travelled from Greece to Italy and then into Europe. Around 1000 AD the breed had established a reputation for assisting lost travellers, due to the Swiss monk Bernard de Menthon (from whom they got their name). They were never given formal training, but these dogs had an amazing ability to scent out stranded people in the snow. They would often keep the victim warm by lying on each side of the body, while another dog would go back for help. Inbreeding occurred over the centuries and it became necessary to outcross to Newfoundlands and Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. However these crosses brought in rough coated varieties whose coat collected snow and weighed them down in icy weather.
General Appearance: Massive, powerful with a kindly expression.
Color: White with shades of red or brindle. The white coloring is on the chest, forelegs, tail tip, muzzle, feet, collar and blaze.
Coat: Rough coat - Flat, dense, smooth or slightly wavy. Smooth coat - Close, dense and flat.
Tail: Long, heavy, carried low when at rest and raised when active.
Ears: Set high, lying close to the cheek and of medium size.
Body: The body is well-proportioned with a broad straight back and a deep, wide chest. The shoulders are wide, oblique and muscular and the ribs are rounded.
- Saint Bernards need plenty of bone forming additives, vitamins and minerals when growing, for them to develop the muscles needed to carry their large frame.
- Saint Bernards tend to drool a fair amount, due to their lower lips drooping at the outside corners. It is especially noticeable when they are eating and drinking.