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Saint Bernard: The gentle giant

If we play the riddles and I talk about a giant dog that can weigh 90 kilos, whose owners need to have experience with large dogs, since it has great strength, but at the same time, is considered one of the best dogs for children and that is synonymous with protection and rescue of humans, I bet that only a dog will come to mind. If you need more help I can add that there is a famous movie where this dog is the absolute protagonist. Do you already know what dog it is? Of course, the Saint Bernard!


In a hospice for travelers and pilgrims, located in the idyllic Swiss Alps, in the Great St. Bernard Pass, the monks who lived there since the 11th century, realised that they needed big and strong dogs to protect and help. Thus, in the seventeenth century they began to raise them in the mountains between Switzerland and Italy. The Saint Bernard has its ancestors in the Molossians, which probably Roman farmers, or even soldiers brought from the mountainous regions of the Roman Empire.

Thanks to the fact that this dog was raised by monks, who in those times, were those who had the most knowledge of writing, we have a very detailed description of Saint Bernard from its beginnings. Their rescues are legendary to people trapped on mountain roads. It is from the beginning of the nineteenth century that its fame grows thanks to the soldiers of Napoleon and at the end of the same century the Saint Bernard is officially recognised, becoming also the Swiss dog par excellence.

St. Bernard dogs have had a very strong presence in contemporary culture. As we said at the beginning, it was the undisputed star of the Beethoven film, becoming very popular in the early 90s. It was the dog that appeared in the cartoons, Heidi, and also in Stephen King’s book, Cujo, where the master of the horror tries to create a story in which St. Bernard is an evil dog. Unfortunately, when I was little my dog ​​was a Saint Bernard, so Stephen King could never convince me, the Saint Bernard is as good as gold.


There are two types of Saint Bernard, those with short hair and those with long hair. They are white with reddish brown spots.

The Saint Bernard is an ideal dog for children, has a lot of patience, is calm and very protective, as well as extremely gentle and kind. It must be taken into consideration that it is a large dog, therefore to have a dog of these characteristics it is essential to have experience with this kind of dogs, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article. To have a large house, preferably with a garden is also essential.

In addition, Saint Bernard can not be alone, it needs to feel part of the family. If you leave it alone for a long time, it can get a depression, or generate fearful or aggressive behaviour. It is not either a suitable dog for regions where it is very hot, it can give a heat stroke.

The Saint Bernard is known as the gentle giant, has a great sense of smell and its life expectancy, as is general in large dogs, is not the highest, generally live between 8 and 10 years.


Saint Bernard does not need to do extreme exercise, it will be enough with two or three walks a day, in addition to a little game. It is an easy dog ​​to educate and socialise, and as in all dogs, it is convenient to do it at an early age to avoid problems, given its size and strength. He is intelligent and learns fast.

To keep its fur healthy and shiny it needs to be brushed daily. Due to the shape of its mouth is a dog that drools a lot. It is also a dog that tends to have many rheums, so it has to be cleaned frequently.

The Saint Bernard tends to obesity and also, being a large dog is very important care of their bones and joints. The most frequent problems in St. Bernard are: hip dysplasia, ectropion (eyelid is exposed to the outside) and dilated cardiomyopathy (disease in the heart muscle).

A good diet, rich in calcium and vitamins, especially in its growth stage, can avoid many future problems, it is also essential that it exercises moderately every day. Its maintenance cost is high and like all dogs, it should go to the veterinarian once or twice a year, depending on the case, and follow its vaccination and deworming schedule.

Although the Saint Bernard does not appear on the list of Potentially Hazardous Dogs, it does meet some of its characteristics, therefore, to have a Saint Bernard it is necessary that you have a license and liability insurance.

In short, the Saint Bernard is an excellent dog, but for its well-being it is important that it has responsible people around to have a full life.

If you have been interested in this article, maybe you are interested in our article about the Australian Shepherd or book a pet friendly tour with us!

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