St. Bernard

The St. Bernard originates from the Italian and Swiss Alps and is famous for its mountain rescue work. The St. Bernard forms part of the working group.

St. Bernard breed group

Working

Size of the St. Bernard

Large

Colour varieties of the St. Bernard

The St. Bernard comes in a wide variety of colours and markings including:

  • Brown & White
  • Brown & White & Dark Shadings
  • Mahogany & White
  • Mahogany Black & White
  • Mahogany Brindle
  • Mahogany White & Dark Shadings
  • Mahogany White Orange Shadings
  • Orange & White
  • Orange & White & Dark Shadings
  • Orange Black & White
  • Red & White
  • Red & White & Dark Markings
  • Red Brindle
  • Tricolour 

Country of Origin

Italy/Switzerland

Time of original development

Around the 1700s

The St. Bernard uses through History

The St. Bernard was used as a rescue dog and famous for carrying a cask of brandy when working in the challenging conditions in the Alps. The thick, dense coat provided protection against the harsh elements. Today, the St. Bernard is more commonly seen in the show ring, or kept as a companion pet.

Size and weight of the St. Bernard

Height bitch from 70cms
Height dog from 75cms
Weight (kilos) bitch 64-120kgs
Weight (kilos) dog 64-120kgs

Exercise requirements of the St. Bernard

The Newfoundland requires around an hour of exercise daily. Exercise should be gentle and monitored for the first year to prevent damage to growing bones and ligaments. This dog requires plenty of space, and totally unsuitable for people living in apartments.

As with all large breeds, exercise should be kept to a minimum in the first year to protect vulnerable joints. Excessive jumping up and down should also be discouraged.

St. Bernard temperament, socialisation with children, other dogs and other pets

The St. Bernard  is renowned for being a gentle giant, and aggression in the breed is extremely rare. It loves people, especially children. Families with young children should be careful about choosing this breed, simply because the size of the dog could lead to accidental accidents and injuries.

Training and socialisation should be introduced from an early age to prevent behavioural and territorial problems. The breed is normally good with other dogs, but care should be taken around cats and contact with other smaller pets should be avoided. The St. Bernard has a distinctive musky smell, which some owners may find offensive. The breed is prone to dribbling and slobbering. St. Bernard also struggles in warm weather with its thick and heavy coat, so care should be taken to ensure the St. Bernard does not overheat.

Is the St. Bernard a good dog for a first time dog owner?

No. The St. Bernard does require an experienced owner with a good understanding of the breed. The sheer size of the St. Bernard may make the breed unsuitable for many family homes.

New owners should be aware of the high costs that come with big breeds such as the St. Bernard. Feeding, routine preventative treatments, pet insurance and veterinary procedures will be above average for this dog.

St. Bernard coat length

Medium. The thick heavy coat lays flat lays flat to the body.

Grooming requirements of the St. Bernard

High. The breed is a prolific shedder and requires daily brushing with a large, soft slicker brush. The breed does have a doggy odour and requires bathing two to three times a year. It is impractical to bathe this heavy breed at home, so professional grooming is recommended. Expect to pay from £100 upwards for a grooming session.

Ears should be checked and cleaned regularly.

Hypoallergenic?

No. This breed is a heavy shedder, so is an unsuitable choice of dog for allergy sufferers.

Health Issues in the St. Bernard

The St. Bernard is prone to some health problems, and prospective owners should consult their breeders about the following known issues inthe breed:

  • Heart problems
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Skin problems

As with all pedigree dogs, it is very important to obtain a puppy from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding the inherent physical and psychological diseases of the breed.

Average lifespan of the St. Bernard

A healthy St Bernard should expect to enjoy a life expectancy of up to 8-10 years.

Approximate St. Bernard pedigree puppy price

Expect to pay around £700-£1,000 for a pedigree St. Bernard. Litters are frequently available.

There are generally 4-12 puppies in an average litter.

Estimating how much a St Bernard would need to be fed each day

A bitch weighing 70kgs requires 626gms of complete dry food daily.
A dog weighing 80kgs requires 688gms of complete dry food daily.
The weekly cost of feeding a 70kgs bitch is around £15.30.
The weekly cost of feeding a 80kgs dog is around £16.85.

Our figures are based on feeding an above average quality and popular complete dry food bought from a leading supermarket. A good quality feed is suggested for the energetic dogs in the working group.

Other financial costs to consider when owning any dog breed

Remember to budget for essential pet treatments and procedures that are not covered by pet insurance policies including:

  • Worming and fleas preparations
  • Annual Vaccination boosters
  • Neutering or spaying
  • Microchipping
  • Dental treatment