Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is a large breed of dog, native to the Western Alps. They are known for their thick, shaggy coat, which provides insulation against the harsh mountain climate. St. Bernards are friendly, patient and strong.

General details

St. Bernards are large dogs, usually weighing between 60 and 80 kilos and measuring between 65 and 90 centimeters high to the shoulder. They have a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years. According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, Saint Bernards belong to group 2, which includes Pinscher and Schnauzer type dogs, Molossers, mountain type dogs and Swiss Cattle Dogs.

Breed history in brief

The St. Bernard is a large dog breed originating from the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps between Italy and Switzerland. The breed has been used for centuries by the monks of the Hospice of St. Bernard to help rescue travelers who were lost or stranded in the mountains. The oldest record of these dogs at the monastery are two paintings by the painter Salvator Rosa from 1690. The original St. Bernard had a different appearance than today, smaller and shorter haired, but was crossed with Newfoundland dogs in 1850 due to low numbers due to deaths caused by avalanches. The breed was officially recognized by the FCI in 1887 and from 1888 was declared the Swiss national dog. During World War I it assisted the Red Cross, and was used to move supplies in the Italian mountains, in areas where mules and horses could not pass.

Breed characteristics

The St. Bernard has a large and powerful body, with a broad chest, strong legs and a long tail. Their head is massive with a black nose, dark eyes and droopy ears. They have a friendly and patient expression that contributes to their charming personality. Depending on the variety, they can have either long or short hair. It is a dense coat adapted to the cold temperatures of the mountains where it was bred. In relation to the color, they usually have a reddish or brownish coat with white, cream or yellow areas. The coat can be red and white, yellowish brown or reddish brown. Saint Bernards are friendly, patient and strong dogs. They are known for their gentle nature and get along very well with children. They are very trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. They also have a highly developed sense of smell and are accustomed to searching and tracking.

Common health problems

Like all dog breeds, the Saint Bernard is susceptible to certain health problems. In St. Bernards, the risk is increased due to their rapid growth and heavy weight. Some of the most common health problems in the breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, entropion, ectropion, epilepsy and dilated cardiomyopathy.

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