May 21, 2019

Breed Profile: Saint Bernard

by Lauren R. Tharp

There have been plenty of famous Saint Bernards over the years!  Fortunately for dog lovers everywhere, these pooches are more like Beethoven than Cujo.  Part of the Working group, the St. Bernard was first recognized by the AKC in 1885 and currently reigns as the 37th most popular breed of dog in the United States.

Physical Traits

Size & Weight:  Extremely large.  24-25 inches tall at the shoulder and typically 130-200 pounds.  Males are
larger with the females on the “smaller” end of the spectrum.

Coat & Color:  Red and white with varying degrees of color dominance (mostly white with spots of red, or mostly red with spots of white).  Brownish-yellow is also a known color for the St. Bernard, but not as common. Their coat is shorthaired, dense, and rough to the touch.  Medium-length coats (sometimes called
“longhaired”) are also available.

Other:  While most St. Bernards fall within the size/weight range listed above, in 1981 a St. Bernard named Benedictine V Schwarzwald Hof reached 315 pounds and earned a spot in the Guinness Book of
World Records!

Life Expectancy:  7-10 years

Temperament: These gentle giants have been used as avalanche rescue dogs and family pets for many, many years.  Easily trained and highly protective of their owners, these dogs are perfect for men and women of all ages (though children and smaller adults may have trouble with getting toppled over by the Saint’s loving greetings!).  These dogs are friendly, patient, and make excellent watchdogs.


  • If you start early, these dogs are incredibly easy to train and socialize.
  • Wonderful with children.  Again, if you start  the socialization early, you couldn’t wish for a better dog.  St. Bernard’s are incredibly patient and gentle with children, often treating them as if they were their own pups!
  • Alert and protective, these dogs make wonderful watchdogs without being too “barky.”


  • They slobber incessantly.  Be prepared for a cascade of drool to the likes you cannot imagine without
    experiencing it first hand.  You and everything you own will be wet.
  • Regular grooming is a must.  And even with regular grooming, your Saint will shed. A lot.
  • These poor dogs just do not do well in the heat.  In hot weather, you will need to take extra special precautions.

Looking for a St. Bernard? Please contact the Massachusetts St. Bernard Rescue to learn more about their adoptable dogs.

A special thanks to Dog Mountain for use of this featured image of the St. Bernard.

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