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10 Dog Breeds Similar to St. Bernard’s

Written by: Ejay C.
| Published on February 20, 2024

Saint Bernards are iconic for their role as gentle giants, renowned for their size, strength, and remarkable rescue capabilities, particularly in the snowy Alps. With their friendly demeanor, patient nature, and striking appearance, these dogs have captured the hearts of many around the world. Known for their loyalty and affection towards families, Saint Bernards make excellent companions, embodying the essence of a protective and loving pet. For those fascinated by Saint Bernard’s unique characteristics but interested in exploring similar breeds—whether for their comparable size, temperament, or working abilities—several breeds share these admirable qualities. This article explores 10 dog breeds similar to Saint Bernard’s, focusing on their physical attributes, temperament, and why they might be a fitting choice for enthusiasts of these gentle giants.

1. Newfoundland

Newfoundlands are as kind-hearted and gentle as Saint Bernards, sharing a similar affinity for water rather than snow. Bred as working dogs for fishermen in Newfoundland, Canada, they are known for their excellent swimming ability and water rescue work. Their thick, water-resistant coat and webbed feet make them natural swimmers. Newfoundlands are incredibly patient and good-natured, making them fantastic family pets, especially in households with children.

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs, originating from Switzerland, share Saint Bernard’s calm and friendly temperament, along with a strong work ethic. Known for their tricolor coat, Bernese Mountain Dogs were originally farm dogs, used for herding cattle and pulling carts. They thrive in cold weather, thanks to their thick fur, and are known for their loyalty, making them excellent companions for families looking for a large, affectionate dog.

3. Leonberger

Leonbergers are striking dogs that blend Saint Bernard’s gentle nature with the grace of a lion. Originating from Germany, they were bred to resemble the lion in the town crest of Leonberg. These dogs are well-balanced, friendly, and patient, making them great family pets. Their love for water and cold weather is similar to that of the Saint Bernard, and they excel in activities like water rescue and agility.

4. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs share the imposing size and protective nature of Saint Bernards but are known for their independence and strong-willed temperament. Originally used as guardians for livestock and property in the Himalayas, they have a thick coat that protects them from harsh climates. Tibetan Mastiffs are loyal to their families and reserved with strangers, making them excellent watchdogs.

5. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dogs, like Saint Bernards, are gentle giants known for their protective instincts and calm demeanor. Bred to guard sheep on mountainous terrain, they possess a thick, weather-resistant coat similar to that of Saint Bernards. The great Pyrenees are affectionate with their families but can be wary of strangers, making them excellent guardians of their home.

6. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are powerful, independent dogs that share Saint Bernard’s strength and endurance. Originally bred for hauling heavy freight as sled dogs, they thrive in cold environments. While more independent, Alaskan Malamutes are loyal and affectionate with their families, enjoying being part of household activities.

7. English Mastiff

English Mastiffs, one of the largest dog breeds by weight, share the Saint Bernard’s imposing presence and gentle nature. Known for their massive size, calm demeanor, and loyalty, English Mastiffs make excellent family pets. They are protective of their home and family, preferring to use their size as a deterrent rather than aggression.

8. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds, known for their towering height and gentle temperament, share the Saint Bernard’s friendly nature. Originally bred for hunting wolves, they are now cherished for their companionship and loyalty. Despite their size, they are known to be gentle with children and friendly towards other dogs, making them excellent family pets.

9. Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherds are rugged, powerful dogs that share the protective instincts of Saint Bernards. Bred as livestock guardians, they are vigilant and independent, with a strong sense of duty. While they may be more reserved and less openly affectionate than Saint Bernards, Anatolian Shepherds are deeply loyal to their families.

10. Akita

Akitas are large, dignified dogs that share Saint Bernard’s loyalty and protective nature. Originating from Japan, they were originally used for hunting large game. Akitas are known for their courage and loyalty, forming strong bonds with their families. They can be reserved with strangers, making them excellent watchdogs.

While the Saint Bernard is unique in its combination of rescue heritage, gentle temperament, and iconic appearance, several breeds offer similar qualities that make them appealing to those who admire these traits. From the water-loving Newfoundland to the imposing English Mastiff, each breed presents an alternative for those seeking a gentle giant as a loyal companion or family protector. Whether you’re drawn to their strength, their patient nature, or their ability to guard and protect, there’s likely a breed among these ten that will capture your heart and fit seamlessly into your life, embodying the spirit and qualities that make Saint Bernards so beloved.


What Are St. Bernards Like? How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?


Saint Bernards are renowned for their remarkable size, gentle nature, and historical role as alpine rescue dogs. These gentle giants have a storied past, originally bred in the Swiss Alps for rescue missions on the Great St. Bernard Pass, from which their name is derived. Today, they are beloved family pets, known for their loyalty, affection, and protective instincts. This article delves into the characteristics of Saint Bernards, highlighting their unique qualities and how they stand out from other dog breeds.

Understanding Saint Bernards

Saint Bernards are one of the largest dog breeds, with males weighing between 140 to 180 pounds or more, and females slightly smaller. They are most recognized for their massive heads, expressive eyes, and muscular build. Their coat comes in two varieties: short-haired or long-haired, both requiring regular grooming. The breed’s coloring is typically red and white or mahogany and white, with distinctive markings that add to their striking appearance.

Temperament and Behavior

Despite their imposing size, Saint Bernards are known for their gentle and friendly disposition. They are incredibly patient and tolerant, making them excellent companions for children. Their calm demeanor doesn’t detract from their protective nature; Saint Bernards are vigilant guardians of their families, though they are more likely to deter intruders with their size than with aggression. They thrive on human companionship and can become unhappy if left alone for extended periods.

Physical Characteristics

The physical presence of a Saint Bernard is commanding, with a powerful and sturdy body built for endurance rather than speed. Their deep chest and strong legs allowed them to traverse deep snow during rescue missions. Their large heads are a distinctive feature, with jowls that contribute to their gentle, drooping expression. Despite their bulk, Saint Bernards move with a surprisingly graceful gait.

How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?

Saint Bernards differ from other breeds in several key aspects. Their historical role as rescue dogs is unique, with an instinct for finding and helping lost travelers. Their size and strength are balanced by unmatched gentleness and patience, setting them apart from other large breeds that may have more guarding or working instincts. Additionally, Saint Bernards possess a remarkable tolerance for cold weather, thanks to their thick coat and sturdy build.

Health and Care

Saint Bernards have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds, typically living 8 to 10 years. They are prone to health issues common in large breeds, such as hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and bloat (gastric torsion). Their size requires careful management of diet and exercise to prevent obesity and maintain joint health. Both coat varieties of Saint Bernard require regular grooming, with the long-haired variety needing more frequent attention to prevent matting.

Saint Bernards in Society

Saint Bernards have a noble legacy as rescue dogs, a role that has endeared them to people worldwide. Their gentle nature has made them popular in therapy work and as family pets, where they are valued for their loyalty and affection. While no longer widely used for alpine rescues, their heroic past and kind-hearted temperament continue to capture the admiration of dog lovers.

Saint Bernards stand out not only for their size but for their remarkable combination of strength, gentleness, and loyalty. They embody the essence of a gentle giant, offering both protection and companionship. While they may require special attention to their health and care, the bond they form with their families is profound. For those seeking a devoted and affectionate companion, the Saint Bernard offers an unparalleled blend of qualities, making them a cherished breed for those fortunate enough to share their lives.

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