A dog from the «Beethoven» movie. It is a result of crossbreeding a Tibetan Mastiff and a Great Dane. It is a large and loyal dog with a friendly personality.

Energy level
Level of affection
Level of friendliness
female: 55—80 kg
male: 70—110 kg
female: 65—80 cm
male: 70—90 cm
requires little time
Gives birth to
Gives birth to:
5—8 puppies
in 1954
Life span
Life span:
8—10 years


St. Bernards are affectionate dogs. Despite being large in size, these pets like people. They need constant interaction with the owner. St. Bernards do not get easily through loneliness. Without interaction with people, they develop depression. These pets have been living close to people for centuries: they worked as rescuers in snowy mountains and pulled heavy loads. Because of well-developed loyalty, these dogs are perfect for living in families. 

They cannot be used only as guard dogs. Showing aggression, even towards strangers, is not about dogs of this breed. St. Bernards are calm pets that almost never bark. They are more active at a young age, but become more lazy as they grow up. Meanwhile, St. Bernards always control what is going on around them: they make sure everything is in order and watch family members.

St. Bernards like children. For that reason, they are often called «babysitting dogs». These pets calmly react to different kinds of behavior of kids. They never show aggression. If a St. Bernard feels danger, a calm dog will transform into a faithful guard. Despite having well-developed friendliness, St. Bernards do not get on well with small dogs. If these pets did not grow up together, they will have conflicts. This fact should be taken into consideration before purchasing a dog.


St. Bernards are smart dogs that can quickly learn. However, because of being calm, they perform tasks slowly. Patience and affection are key instruments in training a St. Bernard. These pets are very emotionally vulnerable to rudeness. If the dog loses interest towards training, problems will occur.

St. Bernards grow up fast. These pets will become large before they turn 6 months old. That is why it is crucial to get them used to a muzzle. If the dog resists it — put a treat in a muzzle. It is important to praise your pet for successfully completing a command. Apart from the muzzle, the pet needs to learn such commands before it turns 6 months old: «no», «lay down», «sit down», «come here», «stay close». It is harder to teach it the «fetch» command. It is hard for St. Bernards to bring things that have been thrown for them. That is why you should spend more time on the «fetch» command.

After your St. Bernard turns 1 year old, you can take it to a training course. After working with a specialist, a St. Bernard dog will become an irreplaceable family helper and faithful guard. It is important not to put training off for later. It will become harder to train the dog after it turns 2 years old.


St. Bernards are large dogs. Their body is strong and muscular, the back is wide. Adult males weight up to 110 kg.
Can be short and long. Shorthair St. Bernards have stiff hair with a thick undercoat. Longhair pets have wavy or long hair with a thick undercoat. Hair is thicker on hips and on the tail.
Red-and-white. White or red spots on legs, tip of the tail, and on the chest are acceptable. 
Wide, rounded.
Of medium size, deeply set. Their color varies from brown to chestnut.
Small, triangular-shaped. They hang down from the sides.
Long and muscular. 
Long and straight, with well-developed muscularity.
Big and long. When the dog is calm, the tail hangs down. When the dog is anxious — it raises its tail. Tails of longhair St. Bernards are covered with fluffy hair.

Basic Care

St. Bernards require medium amount of time to be groomed. Their hair does not get matted. Shorthair dogs need to be brushed once a week, longhair pets — twice a week, using a sparse-toothed comb. During the molting period — in spring and fall — every day. After your brush your dog`s hair, pet it with wet hands to take off left hairs.  No matter what the length of hair is, St. Bernards moult the same way. 

You do not need to give St. Bernards a bath very often. Do that only when it is needed, or 2–3 times a year. Their hair is covered with a protective layer that does not let water through. If you give your pet a bath very often, its protective layer will be washed out. That will damage the hair structure. After the bath, wipe your dog`s hair with a towel, then dry it with a hairdryer. St. Bernards produce a lot of saliva. Their muzzle has to be wiped with wet paper towels or rags after each time they eat. This procedure should be repeated more often when it is hot outside. St. Bernard`s eyes should be cleaned every day, using a gauze swab, soaked in boiling water. Dog`s drooping eyelids accumulate dirt and dust. Their ears have to be cleaned once a week, using cotton buds. Clean your dog`s teeth once in 10 days, using a zoo paste and a brush that can be out on a finger. You can additionally feed your dog with bones and cartilages. Trim its claws when needed.

St. Bernards can be fed with either high quality dry or natural food. These pets are prone to obesity. That is why their diet has to be well-balanced. Such natural ingredients can be fed to the dog: not greasy meat — chicken, turkey, mutton, beef and rabbit meat; offals; vegetables — beet, cabbage and carrot; fat free dairy products — sour cream, cottage cheese and kefir. Once a week, you can treat your dog with boiled fish. Dry and natural food can change one another. However, it is important not to mix them in one portion. Additionally, vitamins can be added to dog`s diet. However, you should consult a vet first. A puppy under the age of 2 months has to eat 6 times a day, under 4 months — 5 times a day; under 6 months — 3 times a day; under 8 months — twice a day: in the evening and in the morning.

St. Bernards need much free space for comfortable life. It is recommended to keep dogs of this breed in a private house with a large yard. These pets will lack space in a small flat. Longhair St. Bernards can live in a dog kennel. However, it is important not to enchain these pets. If a dog lives inside, it needs to be walked for 30–40 minutes in the morning and in the evening. An adult St. Bernard needs to be walked on a leash.

Health and Illnesses

St. Bernards can live up to 10 years if treated well. Their health is strong. However, because of being large in size, these dogs suffer from disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder that makes joint cavity flat. Because of it, the bone gets dislocated and rubs against the joint. The dog starts feeling pain while walking. It is impossible to cure dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia is also a hereditary disorder that disrupts development of the elbow joint, which consists of 3 bones: humerus, ulna and radius. During the walk, the load is distributed equally between the 3 bones. However, if their functioning has been disturbed, elbow dysplasia develops. The dog starts feeling pain while walking and limps on its front leg. Just like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia cannot be cured. In order to reduce your dog`s chances of developing dysplasia, it is important to keep an eye on its level of activity, especially at a young age. Long-lasting walks, jumping from height and injuries put extra pressure on joints and cause dysplasia.

Less often, pets suffer from cataract. It is an acquired disease that causes the lens of an eye to become darker. The darker it gets, the worse is dog`s eyesight. Most often, older dogs develop cataract. It can be cured surgically.

It is important not to overfeed St. Bernards. These pets are prone to volvulus, which can even cause dog`s death. That is why it is crucial to control the size of dog`s portions, and to walk the pet only 1,5–2 hours after it ate.

History of the Breed

The breed was named in honor of a Catholic monk Bernard of Menthon. In 962, he established a hospice at the Great St Bernard Pass, which is located in the Alps at a height of 2480 meters above the sea level. In order to get to the Pass, you need to come through wind and winding paths, where avalanches are very common. Monks often had to organize expeditions to find people, covered in snow.

It is not known how St. Bernards appeared in the hospice. However, in 1703, they started being used for rescuing people. Thanks to having thick hair and skin, as well as a great sense of smell, these pets became irreplaceable helpers. St. Bernards have rescued hundreds of people. The most famous representative of the breed is a dog named Barry. In the period of 10 years, he rescued 40 people.

At the beginning of the 19th century, St. Bernards started dying out because of an infection. In order to save the breed, monks decided to crossbreed their dogs with Newfoundlands. That is how St. Bernards started being divided into 2 types: shor and longhair. The crossbreeding saved the breed. However, it became impossible for longhair pets to live in the monastery: snow was accumulating on their long hair. Because of it, hair was becoming wet, and it started being covered with ice. Monks decided that their dogs would feel better living in villages, where they would guard people.

In 1833, the breed was named in honor of the Pass. However, the breed was not officially recognized before 1880. In 1884, the «First Club of St. Bernard Lovers» was established. It was located in a city of Basel. In 1887, International Kennel Union presented the first standard of the breed. In 1954, the breed was officially registered.

Some St. Bernards still live at the Pass today. The most famous cattery of this breed is located there. Augustinians are working on dogs` breeding.