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Breed: St. Bernard Health Problems, Lifespan, Temperament & Maintenance

| Published on August 28, 2017

Minor concerns: OCD, diabetes, heart conditions, cardiomyopathy, pyotraumatic dermatitis
Occasionally seen: Epilepsy
Note: The Saint Bernard does not tolerate heat well.
Suggested tests: Hip, elbow, cardiac, eye
Avg Size of Female: Height: >25 inches, Weight: 120-200 pounds
Avg Size of Male: Height: >27.5 inches, Weight: 120-200 pounds
Major concerns: CHD, gastric torsion, entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma
Life Span: 8 – 10 years

Brief History on Saint Bernard Origin

The Saint Bernard is a massive working dog from the western Alps in France, Switzerland and Italy. They were originally bred at the Great and Little St. Bernard Pass for rescue. Initially, the breed was used to help pull carts and watch property, but soon monks began discovering their abilities in the deep snow. They would send out the Saint Bernard to help find and rescue lost travelers, and it soon became notorious for helping save lives. The dogs would locate the lost traveler, lick his face repeatedly to revive him, and then curl up beside him to keep him warm in the freezing snow. This breed had saved over 2000 lives in the three centuries that it was working there. A Saint Bernard named Barry became famous after rescuing a small boy and carrying him to safety in the 1800s. Barry saved over 40 lives before passing away. The Saint Bernard had been called by many different names, however Barry’s incredible story and service caused the dogs to be called Barryhund for a period of time in his honor. The first Saints came to England in 1810, where they were referred to by various names. Later down the line in 1880, the name “Saint Bernard” became official. The Saint Bernard was crossed with the Newfoundland in an attempt to strengthen the breed after many were lost from severe weather conditions, diseases and inbreeding. The result of that crossing was the longhaired variety of Saint Bernard. This new variety of Saint Bernard could not be used for rescue work in the snow, because ice actually clung to the longer coat. Which hindered it in most rescue attempts. In 1888, the Saint Bernard Club of America was organized, however it broke apart and wasn’t reformed until 1898. By 1900, the Saint Bernard had gained plenty of popularity and is one of the most popular giant breeds today.

Saint Bernard Breed Appearance

This breed is enormous, powerful and resilient, all important traits for working as rescue in harsh conditions. It has a wide, massive head with a proud and understanding expression. It has been known to be able to anticipate avalanches. The Saint Bernard generally has a short, smooth coat that is dense and coarse, or they will have medium-length hair that is straight or wavy. Its coat is colored in orange, mahogany-brindle, red-brindle or white with patches on the body, sometimes featuring a dark colored mask on the face.

Saint Bernard Breed Temperament

Although not extremely playful like some other breeds, it is great with children and makes a wonderful companion. Care should be taken to prevent accidents because of its large size which can sometimes be overpowering, especially around toddlers. This breed is loyal to its family and eager to please.

Saint Bernard Breed Maintenance

This dog will require a weekly brushing, and even more so during the shedding seasons. Bathe when necessary with a mild, non irritating soap, paying extra attention to the eye area. This breed is known to drool excessively, so wiping down the mouth area with a damp cloth regularly is recommended to prevent it from starting to smell. The Saint Bernards exercise requirements can be met with a long, nice walk around the neighborhood. It does best in a home with a large  fenced yard, so that it can go outside to let some energy out and get some fresh air. The breed can live outside in temperate to cold climates, but does not do well in hot temperatures, so please make sure you take extra care in the warmer months of the year. Obedience training is wise for puppies, due to their large adult size and tendency to overpower if not properly trained.

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