The St. Bernards

These dogs were bred at a monastery which bears their name, and were trained by the monks to find lost travelers who used the Swiss passes on their way across Europe.

Is a St Bernard a good family dog?

The St. Bernard is of undoubted Mastiff origin but Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees blood were used to make the breed.

The dogs were gifted with uncanny scenting powers and were credited with having a sure sense of direction, both necessary qualities during the frequent blizzards which struck in the area.

They saved many hundreds of people from death and guided other lost travelers to the warmth of homes when their plight was bad indeed.

The breed naturally gained wide acclaim for its steadfastness, kindliness, strength and courage.

The dogs were sent to various parts of Europe and they became fashionable in England in the days of the “big dog” many years ago.


The heroic St. Bernards attracted thousands of visitors to the Swiss Alps, all anxious to see these four-footed life-savers.

The modern St. Bernard retains many of the characteristics of his forebears and still has a grand reputation for reliability and kindliness.

He is the largest of all breeds known in Australia, really big specimens weighing up to 200 pounds, with the average about 150 pounds.

He is the most decorative animal in the big home.

St. Bernards do not require a great deal of exercise to be kept in good condition, the usual daily walk and romp being sufficient.

Like all moderately long-coated breeds, they should receive plenty of brushing to be kept in good condition, and they make admirable companions for the youngest children.

Family Dog

Naturally kind they will stand any amount of “roughing” from tiny tots and can be trained for almost any purpose with a minimum of trouble.

They feel the heat in summer but manage quite well if some consideration is given to their comfort in hot places. Show quality of our St. Bernards is good and the demand for puppies is satisfactory.

Such large dogs naturally eat a good deal of food and require a fair amount of attention as puppies to prevent rickets.

All very large dogs have a tendency to rickets in puppyhood and, if neglected at this stage, become unsound in the hindquarters.

However, good quality food with vitamins and plenty of sunshine and exercise will check this tendency in the first few months of life.

The St. Bernard is a big dog standing about 30 inches at the shoulder, with tremendous bone and substance right through.

The head is very imposing with a wide, massive skull and well-developed cheekbones.

The muzzle is short and deep and should be deeper at the stop than it is in length.

The head has wrinkles and well-developed flews.

The nose must be very well developed with a wide, generous nostril. The ears are moderately small and drop to this side of the head without a fold.

The correct expression is essential – it should be kindly, bright and dignified.

Any tendency to viciousness or ill-temper must be discouraged in a dog of this size.

The correct color is red, light or dark brindle. White markings are necessary, and these should be found as a noseband, blaze, or on the chest and tip of the tail.

A dark mask is preferred, provided it does not give the dog a hard expression.

The tail is a natural one and is long and thick at the root.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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