65 Incredible Fun Facts about Saint Bernards

Saint Bernard Standing Tall in Snowy Forest

Are you considering adding a Saint Bernard to your family? Perhaps you already have one and simply love learning more about them.

Whatever the reason you have come to the right place!

The Saint has been a beloved breed of dog for hundreds of years and that is likely to continue into the future!

Saint Bernard at Disney Land

1. The Saint Bernard originated in the Alpine region of Switzerland.

2. There it gained notoriety as a search and rescue dog.

3. While many picture the Saint rescuing travelers in the snow with a Keg of Brandy around it’s neck, this image is a fantasized one. Painter Edward Lanseer, an artist that was traveling through the alps in 1819 added the detail to his painting of the famous breed and the idea stuck.

4. The Saint Bernard got it’s name from the Great St. Bernard Hospice in the western alps.

Saint Bernard Side of Face

5. The monks at the St. Bernard Hospice were given dogs by the farmers in the valley below the mountains for protection. When the monks realized how great their sense of smell was they began using them for rescue work.

6. The avalanche rescue dogs were never trained by the monks, the younger dogs simply followed the older dogs until they got the hang of things.

7. Barry, the most famous of the rescue dogs at the St. Bernard Hospice saved between 40 and 100 people.

8. He has his own monument in the Cimetiere des Chiens and his body has been preserved at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland.

9. Marroniers were assigned to begin accompanying travelers through the alps and in 1750 each Marronier was paired with a Saint who would help to clear paths for the travelers.

10. Over the years Saints have been credited with saving nearly 2000 people from the hazards of the Alps.

Saint Bernard in the Snow

11. Dogs would often travel in pairs of two, one would wait with the stranded while the other would return to the monks for help.

12. Due in large part to the dogs dedication when Napoleon and his army crossed the mountain pass between 1790 and 1810 there were no losses of life!

13. The last known rescue was of a 12 year old boy who was found close to death in the snow and brought back to consciousness by one of the famous Saints.

14. The breed was almost wiped out after several avalanches killed most of the breeding stock, the monks then crossed the Saints with Newfoundlands.

15. This saved the breed, but also made it impossible for the dogs to continue their rescue missions as their long hair would freeze in the snow and become too heavy for them to move freely.

16. While the St. Bernard stopped doing search and rescue in 1955, the hospice maintained several until 2004.

17. That year, the Barry Foundation purchased the remaining 18 dogs and used them in a breeding program.

Saint Bernard Puppy with Mom

18. Other names for the Saint are the Alpine Mastiff, Bernhardiner, and St. Bernhardshund.

19. Known for it’s immense size the average Saint weighs between 130 and 200lbs.

20. This size is much larger than the original working Saint Bernards and unfortunately, the growth has led to lots of health problems.

21. Saints are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, seizures, heart problems, and eczema.

22. These health concerns keep the Saint’s life span relatively short at an average of just 7-10 years.

23. The first Saint Bernard Breed Club was organized in Basel, Switzerland in 1884.

24. The earliest written records are from 1707, but there are paintings dating back even further.

Two Saint Bernards in Snow

25. There is a town in Ohio, U.S. called St. Bernard.

26. Saints’ coats can be either short or long haired.

27. They are known for their excessive drooling, but there are a handful that have a drier mouth.

28.The Saint’s coat is white, with shades of tan, red, mahogany, brindle, and black.

29. The average puppy weighs 1.5 pounds at birth!

30. They can not handle extreme changes in temperature, so take care to keep them cool during summer months.

31. They are known to be great with children and other pets.

Saint Bernard with a Child

32. Good socialization as a puppy is key to these gentle giants being well rounded adults.

33. Most don’t reach maturity until 3 years of age, so be prepared for your Saint to keep growing and learning for quite some time.

34. Instinctively good watchdogs, the Saints are great at sensing danger and will alert their families when needed.

35. Saints rarely bark, so when they do you should check your surroundings to be sure everything is ok.

36. Overactivity at a young age can cause issues with bone development, so be sure your puppy isn’t jumping up or down from surfaces that are very high.

37. The Saint requires minimal exercise and makes a great apartment dog. For other breeds that make great apartment dwellers, read this article.

38. Saint’s are now commonly used for cart pulling, weight pulling, agility, and nose work.

Saint Bernard Digging in the Snow

39. Benedictine V Schwarzwald Hof was the largest recorded Saint at an astounding 315 pounds. He even earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

40. Beethoven, the movie, featured a troublesome, but adorable Saint Bernard puppy.

41. The sequel found Beethoven and his lady friend Missy raising a litter of puppies. The production team on the movie said the puppies grew so fast it took 100 to finish the filming of the movie!

42. Nana, the loveable Nanny from Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation of Peter Pan, was a St. Bernard (note: In the original version, Nana was a Newfoundland. The writer, J.M. Barrie had two incredibly similar dogs, a Newfoundland and a St. Bernard).

43. J.M. Barrie had a pet Saint named Porthos.

44. Buck from Jack London’s Call of the Wild was a Saint Bernard mix.

45. Some of the Saint’s closest doggie relatives are the English Mastiff, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the Bernese Mountain Dog.

46. Many large breed dogs faced extinction after WWII and fanciers began cross breeding to strengthen the lines.

Saint Bernard in a Field Looking Behind Him

47. The original St. was about the size of a German Shepherd.

48. However, he was bred to be bigger and bigger by those in the show circuit.

49. Once fanciers of the working dogs noticed the change it was too late to correct—  the breed had a closed stud book, meaning that other breeds couldn’t  be brought in to better the breeding stock.

50. Saint Bernards are thought to be descendants of Molosser dogs which were brought to Europe by the ancient Romans.

51. Though they are no longer working dogs, they are still classified as such by the AKC.

52. The Saint Bernard Club of America was established in 1888. .

53. The Saint is the 50th most popular breed according to the AKC.

54. The St. Bernard Club of America has 83,495 dogs registered in their system.

55. Saints were named after Saint Bernard de Menthon, the patron saint of mountaineers.

56. The average Saint eats 6.5 cups of food a day.

Saint Bernard Face Looking Up

57. Like many drooling dogs, Saint Bernards drink more water than their dry mouthed cousins.

58. Due to the drool factor it’s important to change their water several times a day so it doesn’t get slimy.

59. Saints typical loose their coat twice per year, but they can shed year round.

60. Saints are prone to Bloat, so take care when feeding that you use an elevated bowl and don’t let them eat too fast or too much in one sitting.

61. A Saint named Hercules was credited with saving his family only 6 hours after he was adopted when he caught a burglar trying to break in and held him by the leg until help could arrive.

62. Saint Bernards range in height from 25-30 inches at the shoulder.

63. Out of 52 Saints tested by the American Temperament Test Society 44 passed, giving the Saint a passing rate of 84.6%.

64. The earliest paintings of Saints were by Salvator Rosa in 1695.

65. It wasn’t until 1880 that the Saints were officially given the name St. Bernard by the Swiss Kennel Club.  

Saint Bernard Up Close Nose

Now you know all there is to know about Saint Bernards. This loving breed has come a long way from his alpine ancestors to being snuggly companions in homes across the globe.

Keep in mind that training and socialization are very important to the young Saint. He needs a great diet to help his joints and bones develop properly, and he probably isn’t the best dog for an extremely warm climate.

If you can keep this big guy cool, well fed, and loved he will be a great companion for you!!

Dog Shedding and Sitting on a Red Rug

How to Control Dog Shedding

Does your dog shed? Learn how to control their shedding!

10 Adoption Stories Guaranteed to Put a Smile on Your Face

If you love dogs, chances are you love a good dog adoption story! These ten stories are ones that I experienced first hand while working at animal rescues and shelters over the last eight years. They may make you laugh, cry, smile or a little of each, but they are guaranteed to warm your heart!…

Long Haired Beauties, What’s the Best Long Haired Cat Breed?

Are you looking to add a long-haired cat to your family, but aren’t sure which breed is right for you? Look no further because I’ve got you covered, from the Brachycephalic Persian to the dainty Turkish Angora there is a long haired cat out there for every personality type. Persian: One of the oldest cat…

Pug Smiling at Dog Park

Here’s How to Find a “Good” Dog Park!

Learn the insider secrets of finding the best dog park possible!

Dogs Walking on Path

How to Spot the Signs of Discomfort and Stress in Dogs

Do you know when your dog is stressed out or in discomfort?

Two Turtles Sunbathing on a Rock

How to Choose the Turtle for You

Turtles come in all shapes and sizes, with different living environments and dietary needs that you will need to be prepared to accommodate.

Pitbull Laying Out on the Beach

How to Rent a Dog for a Day

Want a furry friend, but don’t know if you can make the commitment just yet ?

Dog From a Painting Chewing on a Page from a Book

BO-ZING! 8 Most Popular Dogs in Literary Fiction

Even though Spot was used in the early 1930s to teach kids the fundamentals of reading, he certainly isn’t the only canine to find his way into a good book.

Dog Drinking Water out of Fountain

How Much Water Should Your Dog Really Drink?

It’s important for us to know what is and what isn’t normal for our pets.

Neapolitan Mastiff Outside in the Yard Protective Dog Breed

The 10 Most Protective Dog Breeds

These 10 breeds are all known for their dedication to their owners and their willingness to protect them.

Dog Playing with Pink Toy on Bed

Is Your Dog Possessive Over their Toys?

It’s normal for young pups to be a bit possessive over their toys…

Pug with Wrinkles on Face by Seaside

How to Clean Your Dog’s Skin Folds

The wrinkly faces of the Pug, Bulldog, Shar Pei and other brachycephalic breeds are adorable, but they also require regular cleaning.

Cat Profile in Plane Looking out Window

How to Fly with Your Cat

You have to give yourself plenty of preparation before you and your cat are ready to go jet set off on a plane somewhere.

Pug with Flowers in His Face

10 Dangerous Things in Your Yard for Your Dog

Have you taken a good look at your yard to be sure that everything is safe for your furry friends?

Chow Chow Least Obedient Dog Cover

Watch Out! The 10 Least Obedient Dog Breeds

Every dog can be trained, but some are simply a little less motivated than others.

Two Greyhounds Laying in the Backyard

How Long Should You Leave Your Dog Alone?

There is no short answer to this question as many factors can affect it.

Black Cat in Litter Box Newspaper on Wall

Why Should You Clean the Litter Box so Frequently?

Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is extremely important to her psyche as well as her health.

Millennials Spoil their Pets Jack Russell Sleeping

How Millennials are Changing Pet Parenthood

Millennials are putting off big life events like getting married and having children.
Instead, they’re having fur babies.

What Size Dog Should You Choose Dog Reading Self Help Book

What Size Dog is Best for You?

One thing that you definitely need to consider is size.

Puppy in Training to be a Guide DogPuppy in Training to be a Guide Dog

How to Train Your Dog to Become a Guide Dog

Dogs have been helping humans for hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that one common job for dogs is guiding the blind.

White Albino Labrador

How to Train a Deaf Dog—It’s Easy!

Luckily, training a deaf dog isn’t so different from a fully-abled dog.

White Great Dane Laying on the Couch

Why are White Coated Dogs Deaf?

Deafness affects white coated dogs, but not all white coated dogs are deaf.

Sheep Dog with Matted Fur in his Eyes

How to Get Mats out of Your Animals’ Fur

Mats in fur are an issue that many dogs face, especially shaggy ones.

Pitbull out in the Summer Sun

How to Prevent Your Dog From Overheating

It’s up to us. Our dogs don’t know when they’re overheating.

Three Greyhounds Sleeping in Dog Beds in Family Room

April is Adopt a Greyhound Month! 50 Amazing Facts about Greyhounds

The Greyhound, the professional sleeper.

Black Cat on Window Sill

7 Myths about the Black Cat and Why You Should Have One

Black cats are famous for “bad luck.”

Small Brussells Griffons Eating in Kitchen in a Line

What is Food Aggression and How Do You Stop It?

A useful response in the wild, but not so much in the home.

Yellow and Black Snake

How to Help Your Snake Shed his Skin

Shedding skin is a natural process for all reptiles.

German Shepherd Dog with Green Backpack on Back

The Top 10 Dog Traveling Gear Must Haves

Luckily, you don’t need to bring a ton of things.

Two Dogs Hike in Los Angeles

Love Traveling? Countries to NOT Travel With Your Dog To

Watch out for Belarus.

Dog Eating a Treat

Yum. Yum. Yum. Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

We love sweets, but can our dogs eat them, too?

Pitbull Looking up at the Camera

Going Out of Town? Best Pet Sitters in Atlanta

Going out of town and need someone to watch your dog?

Maine Coon Backlit by the Sunset

Feline Monsters: Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Siberian Cat vs. Maine Coon

Not only are these cats’ big, their personalities are larger than life, too.

Boston Terrier by Water

French Bulldog vs. the Boston Terrier: What’s the Difference?

To the untrained eye, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers could be the same breed

Labradoodle Hybrid Dog with Tongue Out

Why Do People Want Hybrid Dogs?

They’re cute and they’re…healthier?

Two Cats on the Floor Bonding

5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt an Older Cat

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing cat without all the work of kittenhood.

Black Cat Outside on the Lawn

10 years? 15? How Old Do Cats Live?

Cat’s have nine lives, but how long are those lives?

Grey and White Cat with Green Eyes

How to Prevent Cat Bladder Infections

Bladder infections are the number one reason cats visit the vet.

Dog on Hillside in San Francisco, California

The Top Dog-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

How can you go wrong with a pub-crawl with your dog?

German Shepherd with Pointed Ears

What is Schutzhund and How Do You Train Your Dog for it?

This sport has withstood the test of time.

Dog International in England Shakespeare House

Your Introduction to Traveling Abroad with Your Dog

Going to a new country with your dog can be a great experience.

Brown Horse with Black Mane Trotting in Dirt

How to Manage Chronically Infected Wounds in Horses

This can be a scary thing, because infections can eventually lead to the horse’s death if left untreated for too long.

Alusky Hybrid Frozen in the Snow

The Alusky—the Hybrid of Two Great Arctic Breeds

One portmanteau that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves—the Alusky.

Two Dogs with Tongues out with Separation Anxiety

How to Beat Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a well-known problem for many pet parents.

Alaskan Malamute Standing in the Mud

65 Fun Facts About the Alaskan Malamute

They’ve lived alongside humans for thousands of years.

Egyptian Mau on Cat Tree

Where Do Different Cat Breeds Come From?

There are over 70 specific recognized breeds…that’s a lot of cats.

Alaskan Malamute Outside in the Snow

Your Go-To Guide to Snow Dog Breeds

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Girl Waving at Computer

10 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Dog

Not sure how to help your pooch feel more appreciated?

Siberian Cat Profile Outdoors

How to Read Cat Body Language

There are many tell-tale signs to indicate Kitty’s mood.

White American Eskimo by the Lake

What are the Top 10 Dog Breeds that Shed the Most?

Did you know that a dog’s coat serves three distinct purposes?