St BernardSaint Bernard’s are one of the most famous breeds of pet dogs. They are called the Swiss Alps’ rescuers from the legend of the St. Bernard’s devotion to rescuing people stranded in the Alps. They are tall and powerful dogs, strong and muscular with an intelligent expression.

Appearance and Size

The St. Bernard’s head, like the rest of its body, is strong and powerful. Its skull is broad and slightly arched and the sides of its head slope gently into a curve to its strongly developed and high cheekbones. The skin above the eyes is wrinkled and droops slightly. It nose is broad with wide, open nostrils and always black, same with its lips. Its ears are medium sized and set wide apart on its head rather near the base and droop to the side and cling to the head. Its eyes set more to the front, are medium sized and are usually dark brown in color.

They have an intelligent and friendly expression. Its neck is high and strong, especially when alert. Its back is braid and straight as far as the hunches. Its tail starts broad. Directly from the rump, it is long, heavy and ends in a powerful tip. When relaxed, its tail hangs straight down. Its coat is dense and short, tough but not rough to touch. On the legs and thighs, the coat appears to be feathering. St. Bernard’s are usually colored white with red, with orange or with brown or brindled. A male St. Bernard male usually strands (height at the shoulder) 27½ inches minimum and a female St. Bernard’s at 25½ inches. They weigh anywhere between 110-190 lbs.

Personality

St. Bernard’s are intelligent and are very loyal dogs. They are very strong but also very gentle. They have heightened senses especially with regards to impending danger, particularly blizzards and avalanches.

Home and Relations

St. Bernard’s are very affectionate dogs. They like children and like to play with them However, do not leave small kids playing unattended with your large dog. Though your St. Bernard’s is very gentle they need supervision due to their large size. They even get along well with other household pets. But, like with small children, they also need to be supervised with other smaller pets.

St. Bernard’s are also very friendly that’s why they might not be the best guard dogs, but its size usually ward off potential intruders. St. Bernard’s are cheerful and need a lot of space to run around and exercise. They are also very enthusiastic in welcoming their owners, which is a problem sometimes because of their huge size and they also drool a lot. St. Bernard’s are also very easy to train and are particularly good in socialization and obedience.

Breed Origin

The exact origin of the St. Bernard is still being debated upon. But it is widely believed that their ancestors are the Greater Swiss Mountain dogs and/or the Asian Molosser. They were once important "members" of the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass. Reports of the breed’s presence there date back to the 17th Century, where they were loyal companions of the monks who live there.

Two theories explain the breed’s lineage. The first is that an avalanche killed most of the dogs of this breed and the remaining dogs were cross bred with other dogs. The other theory is that the giant dogs from whom the St. Bernard is descended was bred to various other breeds brought by the Romans when they invaded Switzerland in the first few centuries A.D. Their name came from the hospice at St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps, where they were very helpful and useful in rescuing travelers. The Pass, the hospice, and eventually the breed (officially named in 1880), were named after the founder of the Hospice – Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon.

Health and Grooming

The St. Bernard needs to be groomed everyday. Symmetrical brushing works for long haired coats because of the pattern in which it lies on the dog’s body.

St. Bernard’s like cool climate and snow, so make sure that you protect your dog when it’s hot out.

St. Bernards are usually healthy dogs and hafe few medical problems. However. Some St. Bernard’s have been reported to have had the following medical conditions:

  • Gastric torsion or bloat – a condition which is associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting. Gastric torsion can be life-threatening.
  • Hip dysplasia – happens when the hip is malformed and results in pain, arthritis and lameness.
  • Elbow dysplasia – abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow, occurs especially during the growing phase.
  • Ruptured cranial cruciate ligament – results from tearing the cruciate ligament in the knee causing lameness.
  • Osteosarcoma – a common type of malignant bone cancer.
  • Lateral patellar luxation – a disorder which affects the knee cap.
  • Entropion – a condition wherein the eyelids fold inward.
  • Ectropion – a condition wherein the lower eyelid turns outward.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy – a condition where the heart becomes enlarged and weakend and cannot pump blood efficiently.
  • Ecsema
  • Epilepsy