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Saint Bernard

The Canine Chronicles Directory

Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard, also known as the Alpine Mastiff, is a strong and muscular dog with a large and powerful head. The taller the dog, the more prized it is. They have two types of coats: rough and smooth. Both are very dense and are usually white with tan, red, mahogany, brindle or black markings. The face and the ears are normally shaded in black. The muzzle is short and does not taper. The teeth should be strong and should meet in either a scissors or even bite. A black roof to the mouth is desirable. The feet are large with well-arched toes making this breed very sure-footed on the ice and snow. Their sense of smell is highly developed and they seem to be able to tell of impending danger from avalanches and storms. The nose is broad with wide open nostrils and is black like the lips. Their topline is broad, powerful and level. The heavy, strong tail is long, feathered and turns gently upwards.

Temperament This intelligent, happy, enthusiastic breed is easy to get along with. They are very friendly and get along great with children. This slow-moving breed is loyal and wants to please. Socialize this giant early with other people. Training should also begin at an early age while the dog is at a manageable size. They make great watchdogs and their size is usually a deterrent. They drool after they eat and drink.
Height, Weight Height: 25-28" ; Weight: 110-200 lbs.
Health Problems This breed is prone to "wobbler" syndrome, hip dysplasia, heart problems, skin problems, ectropion and bloating. Watch this breed carefully for twisted stomach. They should be fed two to three small meals per day.
Living Conditions Saint Bernard's will do okay living in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They can live outdoors, but would rather be with their family. They do not tolerate hot weather, warm rooms or cars.
Exercise This breed loves long walks. Make sure that puppies in this breed are careful with exercise until their bones are mature. Their maturity level is after age two.
Life Expectancy About 8-10 years
Grooming This breed is easy to groom. Comb or brush and only bathe when necessary. Be careful not to strip the natural oils in the coat as this is what makes the coat weather-proof. Check eyes often making sure they are free of irritants. This breed sheds two times per year.
Origin In the tenth century, Bernard of Menthon (later canonized St. Bernard) built a Hospice over old ruins in the Swiss Alps and dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy pilgrims who traveled through the pass on their way to Rome, often on foot. The monks at St. Bernard's worked to aid travelers and to rescue victims of avalanches and bitter winters. By 1707, the overworked monks soon realized that dogs, with their superior noses, strength and weather-resistant coats, were better equipped to guide and rescue travelers. Humans couldn't follow the treacherous narrow trails when deep snow covered them, and often plunged to their death. But the sure-footed dogs showed them the way. The dogs' amazing sense of direction was a godsend in blizzards, when even the native monks became lost and disoriented. It is said that if a person was found hurt in the snow, one Saint Bernard would lay down on each side, furnishing body heat. Another licked the face, attempting to revive the victim and a fourth dog returned to the monastery for assistance. Rescue Saints do not normally carry a keg of brandy. Initial attempts utilized a hodge-podge of mastiff cast-offs from the Roman era. But by 1800, the monks had established a kennel and their own breeding program, generally calling the dogs Alpine Mastiffs. These dogs are gargantuan in size and in accomplishments, with three listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. "Benedictine" won the honor for being the largest dog on record, tipping the scale at 305 pounds. "Ayette's Brandy Bear" shifted the heaviest load, 6,400 pounds of steel on a wheeled cart, for 15 feet in less than 90 seconds. "Careless Ann" tied the record for the largest litter with 23 puppies whelped. The Saint Bernard is recognized by the AKC and the UKC.
Group AKC Working, UKC Guardian Dog