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The 7 Most Unusual Habits of St. Bernards

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on April 14, 2024

Saint Bernards are celebrated giants within the canine world, renowned not only for their massive size and strength but also for their deep-rooted history as rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps. Originally bred by monks at the Great St Bernard Pass as working dogs to locate and rescue lost travelers, these dogs have become synonymous with loyalty, bravery, and a gentle temperament. Their iconic barrel around the neck, a symbol of their rescue heritage, adds to their distinct and noble image. Despite their imposing presence, Saint Bernards are known for their calm and friendly nature, making them excellent family pets. Alongside these endearing qualities, Saint Bernards exhibit several unusual habits that reflect their working background and adaptive behaviors. These traits can be both intriguing and challenging for owners, offering a deeper insight into the breed’s unique characteristics. This article explores seven of the most unusual habits of Saint Bernards, providing explanations for each behavior and tips on how to manage them effectively.


1. “Lean on Me” Behavior

One of the more endearing habits of Saint Bernards is their tendency to lean against their owners. This behavior, often seen as a sign of affection and seeking closeness, can be quite overpowering given their large size. Originally, this may have helped in building close bonds with the monks who bred them, crucial for cooperative rescue work. While this habit underscores their loving nature, it’s important for owners to teach their Saint Bernards how to express affection in a manner that is safe for all family members, especially children and the elderly, to prevent accidental injuries.

2. Excessive Drooling

Saint Bernards are notorious for their excessive drooling, especially after drinking water or in anticipation of food. This trait is due in part to their loose, floppy jowls which aren’t very effective at containing saliva. While this can be messy, managing it involves keeping towels handy to wipe their mouths and maintaining a clean space around their eating and drinking areas. Understanding this as a breed-specific trait is crucial for prospective and current owners.

3. Creating Cool Resting Spots

Due to their thick fur and large body size, Saint Bernards often seek out cool places to rest, especially in warmer climates or during hot weather. This can include digging at the ground to lie in the cool earth. Owners can help their pets by providing access to shaded areas, indoor fans or air conditioning, and ample fresh water to help them regulate their body temperature effectively.

4. Snoring and Breathing Noises

Saint Bernards are prone to loud snoring and various breathing noises, particularly when they are asleep. This is common in large breeds with deep chests and short muzzles. While usually normal, it is important for owners to monitor these sounds for any changes that might indicate breathing difficulties or health issues, ensuring that their sleeping environment is comfortable and supports good breathing.

5. Guarding Behavior

Despite their reputation as gentle giants, Saint Bernards possess a natural guarding instinct, which can manifest as protective behavior over their family and territory. This can be beneficial but requires proper training and socialization to ensure it does not develop into aggression. Encouraging positive interactions and setting clear boundaries from a young age can help foster a well-balanced temperament.

6. Carrying Objects Around

Saint Bernards often exhibit a habit of carrying objects around in their mouths, which can range from toys to sometimes personal items of their owners. This behavior likely stems from their historical use in rescue operations, where carrying medical supplies was essential. Providing a variety of durable toys and sometimes designated items they can carry can satisfy this instinctual need.

7. Wandering

Due to their background in expansive alpine terrains, Saint Bernards may have a tendency to wander if not properly contained. This calls for secure fencing and supervision when outdoors. Training to improve recall and ensuring they have ample space to roam safely within their boundaries are important management strategies.

Learn More About the St. Bernard Dog Breed: Information, Facts & Pictures

Saint Bernards are a breed of many virtues, marked by both their physical prowess and their endearing personalities. Their unusual habits provide a window into their historical roles and innate characteristics. By embracing and managing these traits, owners can ensure that their Saint Bernards not only thrive as companions but also maintain the noble legacy of their breed. Understanding these habits is key to creating a nurturing environment that caters to their unique needs, allowing these affectionate giants to live happily and healthily within their family homes.

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