The St Bernard is one of the biggest dog breeds and his image is often used to portray bravery and reliability. Originating from the Swiss and Italian alps he was originally bred as a mountain rescue dog. An extremely gentle and kind dog the St Bernard is good with children, other dogs and people.
He has a large head and a tendency to slobber. His ears flop over, his body is strong and study and he has a long tail that bends upwards in the middle. His thick, tense coat is usually white with red patches and a black nose and lips. Hot weather and cars do not suit this dog and he is happy to live outside but would prefer to be with his family.
It’s important that the St Bernard is trained well while he is small as his sheer size could make him unmanageable in the wrong hands. As a puppy he should be taught the basics at the very least such as how to walk to heal on a lead, good recall etc. As an adult he moves slowly but its important he doesn’t learn to jump at humans or pull on the lead.
St Bernards can weigh up to 120kg and stand 70 to 90cm tall at the shoulder. They are from the mastiff group of dogs and are a working breed descended from cattle and animal herding dogs. He needs at least an hours exercise a day and will take up a large amount of room in any house. He should, therefore, not be kept in a flat or cottage without considerable outdoor space in which to play. It should also be taken into account that as he ages he made need assistance getting into a car or other vehicle and a car dog ramp might well be a wise investment. The coat needs daily grooming and the occasional bath may also be necessary. St Bernards are susceptible to certain hereditary health conditions including heart defects and seizures. The breed can also suffer from bloat, which can be fatal, so care should be taken to feed him little and often rather than one huge meal. A St Bernard’s average life span is just nine – 10 years.