A-z - Animals

saint bernard

Saint Bernard Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • yellow
  • Red
  • white
  • spot
  • white brown
  • multicolor
skin type
10 years
91 kg (200 lb)

St. Bernard Dogs as Pets:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
cold climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
$1,500 (average)
pack of dogs
male weight
140-180 lbs
female weight
120-140 lbs

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key facts

  • Saint Bernards do not do well in tropical climates and are best kept in cooler climates.
  • They may have short-haired or long-haired coats.
  • Although they used to be working dogs, they don't like much exercise.

© AZ-Animals.com

Originally, St. Bernards were bred as working dogs in the Alps. Although they no longer have to work in this weather, their coats are still just as thick, and their bodies have just as much muscle.

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The Saint Bernard is a large, unusually muscular working dog native to the Western Alps of Italy and Switzerland. Although very intelligent as adults, St. Bernard puppies are known to be slower to mature intellectually than other breeds. Often drooling and bringing dirt into the house, this breed can be a rather messy pet. St. Bernards have thick coats for cold weather and do not do well in hot climates, shedding profusely.

3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Saint Bernard

12 Christmas Animals From Around The World - Saint Bernards
Saint Bernards are friendly and intelligent. That said, they're not known for being particularly clean

© Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

advantage! shortcoming!
Intelligence : If you are looking for a quick-witted and intelligent dog breed, this could be a good choice. These dogs are quick learners. Laziness : Most St. Bernards are inactive and need a lot of exercise.
Friendly : St. Bernards are generally carefree and get along well with people. LARGE SIZE : If you are looking for a small pet with a small size, this may not be for you as St. Bernards are very large and can easily reach all tables.
Excellent Watchdog : These dogs may be friendly with their families, but their large size and alertness can cause problems for burglars. Mess : Cleanliness is not a Saint Bernard's strong suit. They often drool and get their paws dirty in the mud, which in turn can damage the interior of a house. These dogs also shed a lot of hair.

size and weight

Outdoor portrait of saint bernard dog on the beach
Saint Bernards capable of reaching 200 lbs


The St. Bernard is a large dog, both in weight and height. Adult female dogs are approximately 26 to 28 inches, while males are 28 to 30 inches.

St. Bernard Health and Recreation

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The frame is supported by a fairly heavy weight. Females can weigh up to 140 pounds, while males can weigh up to 180 pounds.

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height (male) 28” to 30” high
height (female) 26” to 28” high
weight (male) 140 to 180 pounds, fully grown
weight (female) 120 to 140 pounds, fully grown

common health problems

All dog breeds are prone to health problems, including St. Bernards. In particular, this breed is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, which is caused by abnormal growth of the alveolar bone. Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that most commonly affects the legs of Saint Bernard dogs, although any bone can be affected.

Addison's disease, another common condition in the breed, affects the adrenal glands and prevents the body from producing hormones properly. Veterinarians say most dogs with Addison's disease only live to be 4 years old. Common symptoms are nonspecific and range from weight loss to vomiting to increased urine output.

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be another major problem in these dogs. This heart condition, whether inherited or acquired, causes a decrease in the heart's ability to pump blood around the body, leading to heart failure. The heart tissue thins but still increases in size, thus blocking blood flow. Symptoms may include fainting, difficulty breathing, and abdominal fluid accumulation.

Below is a list of common health problems these dogs suffer from:

  • hip dysplasia
  • elbow dysplasia
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Addison's disease
  • eye problems
  • immune problems
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy


The calmest dog - Saint Bernard lying on the grass
Saint Bernards make excellent family pets, but not for small children

© Katrina Brown/Shutterstock.com

The temperament of the Saint Bernard is, as the name suggests, that of a saint. Calm and gentle, this breed is known for being very patient and rarely aggressive with strangers. However, most people are afraid of these dogs because of their looming stature.

Saint Bernards make excellent family dogs; however, careful consideration is needed if there are young children in the household, as the gentle giant may inadvertently injure a young one.

Although originally bred for work, the St. Bernard is a bit lazy and needs a push when it comes to exercise. Much of the work this breed is involved with these days is therapy work, lifting people's moods with their relaxed demeanor, cute looks, and cuddly coats.

How to Care for a Saint Bernard

Largest Dog Breed: Saint Bernard
Saint Bernards' aversion to activity and health problems means they require a lot of care

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

No two dogs are the same, and each has a specific set of requirements to keep them healthy and happy. Given Saint Bernards' disdain for exercise and considerable health issues, they require a higher level of care. Here's something to know about caring for this breed.

Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards

The right canine diet will provide these giant hairballs with the specific nutrients they need to live. When considering which dog food to feed your pet, it's important to have a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Dogs are omnivorous, so these dietary needs can be met through plant and animal sources. Dogs should not be fed an all-meat diet as this would lead to nutritional imbalances, whereas they can thrive on an all-plant diet. Food quality and digestibility are key when choosing dog food to feed your dog. St. Bernards should eat a dog food made specifically for larger breeds, and a dog food that supports bone and joint health may help avoid related health problems.

As for the feeding amount of St. Bernard dogs, it is recommended to feed about five to six cups of high-quality food, calculated according to the brand and content. However, it's important to divide meals into two or three servings each day to keep your metabolism stimulated and prevent unwanted weight gain.

To avoid bone and joint degeneration, immune or heart problems, your St. Bernard will thank you for Purina Pro Plan Large and Jumbo Chicken and Rice Adult Dry and Wet Dog Food .

This breed is formulated for large and giant dogs like your St. Bernard. So you can be sure it's delivering all the crucial glucosamine for pain-free joints and calcium for strong bones. It contains vitamin B1 and thiamine to support that big heart, while its taurine supports the eyes, immune system and heart. In addition, antioxidants and fatty acids can boost the immunity of St. Bernard dogs.

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Find Purina Pro Plan Large and Giant Breed on Amazon.

Best for Hip and Joint Care

Maintenance and Grooming

St. Bernards have been found with short-haired or long-haired coats. The former is sleek and thickly haired, while the latter offers soft waves designed for colder weather.

The color of their coat is very distinct, with rich ginger red and white or white and ginger red, and black accentuating their facial structure. Both coat types shed profusely in spring and fall, and regular grooming is recommended. Ultimately, it may be beneficial to give your dog a thorough brushing several times a week to remove any loose hair and help control shedding.

In addition to regular brushing, Saint Bernards have heavy ears and are prone to ear infections. Always watch for head shaking or head tilt, common signs of ear problems, and clean your dog's ears if necessary. Nail care is also important when you have a dog to keep them short and healthy. Dogs groom themselves, so a bath is only necessary after a mud romp or hardcore game. To keep your mouth clean, wipe off excess saliva or leftover food residue. Finally, to maintain healthy dental hygiene, brush every other day with a dog-safe toothpaste to keep their breath fresh and reduce the chances of future gum disease.


Large and somewhat stubborn, it's important to start training your St. Bernard puppy early so they get used to it quickly. While these puppies tend to mature more slowly than other breeds, St. Bernards are highly intelligent and trained for working purposes, so they are highly trainable. Make sure to incorporate socialization with other dogs and people into your training regimen. Positive reinforcement and rewards help make training fun and successful!


Large and responsible, the St. Bernard doesn't actually need a lot of exercise. So, if you're looking for a jogging buddy, you might want to look at another breed, as St. Bernards are often completely resistant to exercise. A short daily walk is sufficient for this breed.


Cute saint bernard puppy with sweet expression
Like most general breeds, St. Bernards are best trained as puppies

© Katrina Brown/Shutterstock.com

Caring for a Saint Bernard puppy is much the same as caring for an adult Saint Bernard. However, they are fed smaller amounts and each meal is divided into 4-6 smaller meals as they do not eat a lot at one time. Eat small, frequent meals to aid the digestive process and avoid vomiting or overindulging.

It is always a good idea to start training your Saint Bernard when he is a puppy, especially for this breed. This foundation builds good habits that are easier to train as the dog gets older.


Although this is a very friendly dog and is known to get along well with children, it is not recommended that you adopt them if you have young children in your home. Although they are cute and calm, they are large and can accidentally injure your toddler.

similar dog

  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog: Like the Saint Bernard, this dog is also loyal, friendly and protective of its owner's family. The coat color of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is mainly black and was bred as a shepherd dog.
  • Bernese Mountain Dog: Friendly and hardworking, these dogs have a bloodline that dates back 2,000 years. They are very loyal to the family they live with, and their coat color is very similar to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
  • Entlebucher Mountain Dog: Strong and alert, these dogs are known as "laughing dogs." They were originally bred for moving cattle and are known to be hardworking.
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famous saint bernard

type of big dog
The St. Bernard is huge, with a massive head, muscular neck, and deep chest.

© iStock.com/slowmotiongli

The most famous St. Bernard is probably the lead dog in the 1992 comedy Beethoven . A St. Bernard puppy who ends up being named Beethoven wanders into an unsuspecting home and ends up becoming the movie's hero, saving his daughter's life. Many spinoffs were made due to the adoration of St. Bernard Beethoven by millions.

Another more morbid St. Bernard is Stephen King's Cujo . Unfortunately, the friendly canine becomes infected with rabies and terrorizes the entire town.

Here are some popular names for your St. Bernard:

  • austin
  • fauvism
  • aviation
  • Baxter
  • anna

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about the author

Austin S.

Growing up on a small farm in rural New England developed a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wildlife species, habitats, animal evolution, dogs, cats and more. I've always been surrounded by pets, and I believe the best dog and cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. My mission is to help you learn more about wildlife and how to take better care of your pets with carefully vetted products.

St. Bernard FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are Saint Bernards herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Saint Bernards are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom does the Saint Bernard belong?

Saint Bernards belong to the animal kingdom.

What category does a Saint Bernard belong to?

The Saint Bernard belongs to the mammal class.

What phylum do Saint Bernards belong to?

St. Bernards belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do Saint Bernards belong to?

Saint Bernards belong to the canine family.

What class is a Saint Bernard?

Saint Bernards belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do St. Bernards have?

St. Bernards are covered in fur.

What genus is the Saint Bernard?

Saint Bernards belong to the genus Canis.

How much does a St. Bernard dog cost?

St. Bernards typically cost $1,500. St. Bernard maintenance costs can add up to about $2,000 a year.

How big is a Saint Bernard?

Female St. Bernards are usually 26 to 28 inches, while males are usually 28 to 30 inches.

How much does a Saint Bernard weigh?

Females weigh about 120 to 140 pounds, while males weigh about 140 to 180 pounds.

Are Saint Bernards Dangerous?

Saint Bernards are generally not aggressive. Due to their large size, people are usually afraid of them.

Are Saint Bernards protective?

Saint Bernards are generally protective of their families. They are very loyal and are helpful watchdogs.

Are Saint Bernards good for kids?

Yes, St. Bernards are known to be great for kids. However, they don't always understand how big they are, so they can pose a risk to smaller children.

How long do St. Bernard dogs live?

The typical lifespan of a Saint Bernard is 8 to 10 years.

What are some interesting facts about St. Bernard dogs?

Saint Bernards are gentle, loyal, and friendly!

What is the scientific name of the Saint Bernard?

The scientific name of the Saint Bernard is Canis lupus.

What's the Difference Between a Saint Bernard and a Bernese Mountain Dog?

The main differences between the Saint Bernard and the Bernese Mountain Dog (aka Berner) are size, appearance, longevity, origin and temperament.

Saint Bernards are generally larger and heavier than Bernese Mountain Dogs. Also, while the Saint Bernard and the Bernese Mountain Dog are related, their origins are quite different. For example, the Saint Bernard originated in Italy and the Western Alps of Switzerland, while the Bernard originated in the Bern region of Switzerland.

What's the Difference Between a Saint Bernard and a Newfoundland?

The main difference between St. Bernards and Newfoundlands is that St. Bernards grow slightly larger on average. These dogs were also originally bred for different purposes, although they can all make excellent watchdogs and rescue dogs.

What are the main differences between the Great Pyrenees and St Bernard?

The main difference between the Great Pyrenees and the Saint Bernard is their health. Other differences include size, coat, lifespan, temperament, and drooling frequency.

What are the main differences between a Great Dane and a Saint Bernard?

The main difference between a Saint Bernard and a Great Dane is appearance. Other differences include size, lifespan, temperament, energy levels, grooming requirements, drooling, and barking.

What's the main difference between a Mastiff and a Saint Bernard?

The main difference between a Mastiff and a Saint Bernard is size. Mastiffs can weigh up to 50 pounds more than St. Bernards. Other differences include appearance, longevity, grooming needs, and drooling levels.

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  1. Dogtime, available here: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/saint-bernard#/slide/1
  2. Mental Floss, available here: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75418/10-big-facts-about-saint-bernards
  3. Colorado St. Bernard Rescue, available here: https://cosaintrescue.org/faq/pros-cons/
  4. Vetstreet, available here: http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/saint-bernard
  5. Dog Lovers Digest, available here: https://www.dogloversdigest.com/dog-food/best-dog-foods-for-saint-bernards/
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  7. My dog's names, available here: https://www.mydogsname.com/st-bernard-names-130-perfect-ideas/