50-90 kg (approx)
7-10 years (approx)
Saint Bernard is a giant, strong, muscular dog. As long as the weight stays in proportion with the height, the taller the dog the more prized. The massive head is powerful. The muzzle is short, wider than it is long. The medium-sized eyes are set somewhat to the sides and are dark in colour. The medium-sized ears are set high, dropping and standing slightly away from the head. The feet are large with strong well-arched toes. The long tail is broad and powerful at the base held low when the dog is relaxed. There are two types of coat: rough, and smooth, but both are very dense and come in white with markings in tan, red, mahogany, brindle, and black, in various combinations. The face and ears are usually black. In the rough-coated dogs, the hair is slightly longer and there is feathering on the thighs and legs.
Saint Bernard was founded in 980 AD by St Bernard de Menthon and bred by the monks most likely by crossing the ancient Tibetan mastiff with the Great Dane, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the Great Pyrenees. The first Saint Bernard's were of the short-haired variety, as the long-haired variety's coat tended to collect icicles. They were used by the Hospice, a refuge for travelers through the dangerous Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy. In the middle of the seventeenth century, Saint Bernard's became popular as a rescue dog working to save people from avalanches in the snowy passes near the Hospice. The dogs are able to smell a person under many feet of snow. They have saved thousands of people searching out and finding lost or injured travelers. The dogs would work in packs looking for the victims. When found they would lick and lay down with them in order to keep them warm. While a dog or more would lay with the body(s) another dog would head back to the Hospice to alert them that they found the humans. A full rescue team would then be sent out. Saint Bernard has also been known to be able to predict storms and avalanches.
Saint Bernard's are extremely gentle and friendly and very tolerant of children. Slow-moving, patient, and obedient. Extremely loyal, eager, and willing to please. Be sure to socialize this breed very well at a young age with people and other animals. It is highly intelligent and easy to train, however, training should begin early, while the dog is still a manageable size.
Puppies should not have too much exercise at one time until their bones are well-formed and strong. Short walks and brief play sessions are best until the dog is about two years old. Both types of coats are easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. The eyes, which may be inclined to water, need special attention to keep them clean and free of irritants. This breed sheds twice a year.
Currently no Breeders in SA for this Breed