Saint BernardSaint Bernard

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard or St. Bernard is the most famous of all the Alpine rescue dog breeds and the most famous of all dog breeds that start with S. St. Bernards are tall, strong, and muscular dogs with a head that matches their very large body. 

Saint Bernard’s broadhead features a small, deep-set brain, large black nose, deep brown eyes, medium-sized ears that fold forward, and a long, thick tail that hangs down and curls slightly when the dog is in motion. St. Bernards have two types of coats. 

The long-haired variety has dense, close-lying, wavy coats that are full around the neck and have a slight wave on the back. The short-haired variety has a coat similar to that of a smooth-coated hunting dog on the legs and tail. 

Saint Bernards belong to the Working Dog Group of the American Kennel Club (AKC).

History of the Saint Bernard 

Saint Bernard is descended from the ancient Roman Molossian war dogs who accompanied Roman legions on their campaigns. These dogs were crossed with local Swiss dogs, creating the St. Bernard breed, which was used for carting, guarding, and herding. 

The breed’s name comes from the Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard Pass. The hospice, founded by Saint Bernard de Menthon in 980 AD, served as a refuge for mountain travelers between Switzerland and Italy. 

Until the 18th century, Saint Bernards were increasing in number to guide and rescue mountain travelers. The breed’s sense of smell is so acute that they can detect people buried several feet under an avalanche. 

The breed is capable of sensing impending avalanches and saving lives. Over the past three centuries, these dogs have been credited with saving over 2000 lives. By the early 19th century, Saint Bernards were imported to England and Germany, where they became famous as Alpen Dogs. 

Later in the 19th century, the breed was introduced to other European countries and America, where it became a popular family pet. In 2005, Saint Bernards were ranked 37th among registered breeds by the AKC, with 154 breeds registered. 

Breed Statistics

  • Group: Working Group 
  • Height: Males: 27 to 30 inches; Females: 25 to 28 inches 
  • Weight: Males: 140 to 180 pounds; Females: 120 to 140 pounds 
  • Energy Level: Moderate 
  • Physical Characteristics: Large, muscular build; broad head; two coat varieties; distinctive coloring 
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years 
  • Colors: White with red, brindle, mahogany, or black markings 
  • Shedding: Moderate to high 
  • Temperament: Moderate; tends to bark when necessary, such as to alert their owners 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Saint Bernard a Friendly Dog?

Saint Bernards are very sociable, gentle, and patient dogs, making them especially suitable for families with well-behaved children. 

2. Are St. Bernard’s Guard Dogs?

Yes, St. Bernards are family guard dogs. They are loyal, loving, and strictly protective of their families, especially children.

3. Do St. Bernards Bark a Lot?

During their puppy phase, Saint Bernards are active and lively, but they tend to become calmer as they grow older. Most St. Bernards have a low prey drive and get along well with other dogs if socialized at a young age. They seldom bark and are not typically prone to excessive chewing or biting.

4. Are St. Bernards Intelligent?

St. Bernards are smart and quick learners. They typically need only about 15 minutes of daily training to learn basic tasks and quickly understand simple commands.

5. Can St. Bernards Live in Hot Climates?

Dogs with heavy, thick coats, like Huskies and St. Bernards, can overheat much faster than other dogs. These breeds need extra care and precautions in hot and misty weather.


Saint Bernards are famous rescue dogs with a strong history and impressive physical characteristics. Known for their strength, size, and terrible sense of smell, they have rescued thousands of lives in the Alps. Originally bred from ancient Roman war dogs and local Swiss breeds, they served in various roles before becoming popular pets worldwide. Standing tall with a muscular build, they have two coat varieties and a typical look. With moderate energy and a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, St. Bernards continue to be cherished members of the Working Dog Group.