St. Bernards: Traits, Health, Diet and Care

St. Bernards

Learn how to care for St. Bernards, from managing their diet and exercise to training and health. Get insights on making life with these gentle giants rewarding.

Coat Type: Smooth
Coat Length: Short
Male Height: 28-30 inches
Female Height: 26-28 inches
Male Weight: 140-180 pounds
Female Weight: 120-140 pounds
Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

Breed Characteristics

Adaptability level
Affectionate with family
Drooling level
Barking level
Coat grooming frequency
Energy level
Good with other dogs
Good with young children
Mental stimulation needs
Openness to strangers
Playfulness level
Shedding level
Trainability level
Watchdog protective nature


St. Bernards have long captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world, and it's not hard to see why. These gentle giants, with their impressive size and nurturing demeanor, are more than just pets; they're loyal friends and devoted family members. Their heroic history as alpine rescuers adds to their allure, making them a popular choice for those seeking a compassionate and protective breed.

In this article, we will delve into the world of St. Bernards, uncovering the secrets to their care, understanding their unique needs, and learning how to ensure they lead happy, healthy lives. From dietary guidelines to exercise routines, training tips to health care advice, and even answering some of your most pressing questions, we've got you covered.

Whether you're a seasoned St. Bernard owner or considering bringing one of these noble dogs into your life, this article is designed to keep you informed and engaged with everything you need to know about these magnificent creatures.

St. Bernards Traits and Characteristics

St. Bernards are a distinctive breed, known for their large size and gentle nature. These dogs have a history of being excellent rescue dogs in the snowy Alps, and they carry that legacy of bravery and strength into their roles as family pets.

Their appearance is as striking as their reputation, with a physique built for endurance and a coat that keeps them warm in harsh weather. When it comes to their temperament, St. Bernards are as friendly and loving as they are large.


  • Majestic in stature, with males standing between 28-30 inches and females slightly shorter at 26-28 inches.
  • Males weigh from 140-180 pounds, while females range from 120-140 pounds.
  • They possess a smooth coat type that's short in length, making them quite the presence.

Temperament and Behavior:

  • Known for being exceptionally affectionate with their families, they share a strong bond with their human companions.
  • They are wonderful with young children, showcasing a patient and nurturing disposition.
  • While they are generally good with other dogs, their interactions should be monitored, especially with smaller breeds.
  • St. Bernards have a moderate level of shedding, so be prepared for some hair around the house.
  • Their drooling is quite pronounced, a characteristic that future owners should consider.
  • Openness to strangers is moderate, meaning they are friendly but may be reserved initially.
  • With a high level of protective instinct, they make reliable watchdogs.
  • They are adaptable, able to live comfortably in both house and apartment settings, though their size should be taken into consideration.
  • Trainability is moderate; they are capable learners but may require a consistent and patient training approach.
  • Their energy level is moderate, so they need regular exercise, but not as much as some more high-energy breeds.
  • Barking is minimal, making them quiet companions.
  • They do need mental stimulation to stay happy and engaged, which can be achieved through interactive play and training exercises.

These traits together paint a picture of the St. Bernard as a devoted, loving, and somewhat easygoing breed. Despite their size, they are gentle giants who thrive in a family environment and show a natural propensity for companionship and loyalty.

Food and Nutrition - Keeping St. Bernards Healthy

St. Bernards are not only known for their massive size but also for their special dietary requirements. As large dogs, they need a diet that supports their bone health and overall well-being. It's essential for these dogs to receive a balanced diet that includes the right mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

High-quality dog food formulated for large breeds can meet these needs and ensure that your St. Bernard maintains a healthy weight, considering that they can be prone to obesity. Low fat dog food options are important for those St. Bernards that require a calorie-restricted diet, particularly if they are less active.

When it comes to treating your St. Bernard, it's crucial to remember that treats should complement their main diet and not be the primary source of nutrition. Our chew product, the Tibetan Dog Chew, is an excellent example of a treat that offers additional benefits.

Made from 100% natural ingredients with no preservatives, this high protein, long-lasting chew can contribute to your St. Bernard's dental hygiene. Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and it helps keep their teeth clean and their jaws strong. However, always monitor your St. Bernard while they enjoy any chew to ensure they're safe.

Lastly, while St. Bernards do enjoy treats like our chew product, it is important to feed them at regular intervals and not to rely on treats as their main source of food. Nutrient requirements for St. Bernards can be met with good dog food specifically designed for them, which will include all the necessary components for a balanced diet.

Feeding them high-calorie dog treats should be done sparingly and as part of a controlled diet. By paying attention to the quality and quantity of their food, owners can help their St. Bernards live a long, healthy, and happy life.

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Health Information of St. Bernards

St. Bernards are wonderful companions, but they do come with certain health concerns that owners should be aware of. With a life expectancy of 8-10 years, it is important to provide the best care to ensure they live full and healthy lives. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are key to maintaining their health, as well as staying informed about the breed's specific health issues.

Common Health Issues:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia, which are hereditary conditions that can cause joint problems and pain.
  • Bloat or gastric torsion, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
  • Heart conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, are seen in some St. Bernards.
  • Eye conditions, including entropion or ectropion, can cause discomfort and may require surgical correction.

To help prevent some of these health concerns, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your St. Bernard. Regular exercise appropriate for their energy level can help manage their weight and reduce the risk of joint issues. Alongside physical health, mental stimulation is also crucial to prevent anxiety in dogs, which can manifest in undesirable behaviors such as chewing everything in sight.

Chewing behavior in St. Bernards can sometimes be associated with anxiety or boredom. Providing them with suitable chews, like our antler products, can be beneficial for their dental hygiene and mental well-being. These chews are also helpful in managing chewing behavior by giving them a safe and healthy outlet for their natural instincts.

However, it's important to remember that while products like antler chews can contribute to a St. Bernard's health by promoting dental hygiene and providing a healthy outlet for chewing, they are not a cure-all for the breed's health issues

Owners should always monitor their St. Bernard's chewing to ensure they are not ingesting large pieces, and it's crucial to seek professional help if any health concerns arise. Dog health tips, such as maintaining routine care for St. Bernards, keeping up with vaccinations, and providing a balanced diet, are fundamental to their well-being and can help mitigate some common ailments.

How To Train and Care St. Bernards

Training a St. Bernard requires patience and consistency, due to their moderate trainability level. These gentle giants respond best to positive reinforcement techniques, which means rewarding good behavior with treats and praise rather than punishing them for mistakes.

Starting obedience training early is crucial, as St. Bernards grow to be very large and can be more challenging to train as adults. Basic dog training commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel should be part of every St. Bernard's education to ensure they are well-behaved and manageable.

Our Puffs product, sharing the same natural and limited ingredients as the Tibetan Dog Chew, is an excellent treat to use during training sessions. These treats are small and easy to carry, making them a convenient reward for your St. Bernard when they follow a command correctly.

Since they are made from ingredients like yak and cow milk, with a high protein content and no preservatives, they are a healthy choice for your St. Bernard. Using these puffs as a reward can make training sessions more enjoyable and effective for both the dog and the trainer.

In addition to using treats like our Puffs product, it's essential to ensure that training is a part of the daily routine. Consistent practice helps reinforce the learned behaviors and strengthens the bond between the dog and the owner. Remember to keep training sessions short and fun to maintain your St. Bernard's attention and interest. It's also important to be aware of their physical limits and not to overexert them, especially as puppies.

If there are any concerns or difficulties in training, seeking the help of a professional dog trainer can be very beneficial. With the right approach and the help of our Puffs, training your St. Bernard can be a rewarding experience for both of you.

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Frequently Asked Questions about St. Bernards

What is the ideal diet for a St. Bernard?

A balanced diet for a St. Bernard includes high-quality dog food tailored to large breeds. It's important to meet their nutrient requirements with a mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and to monitor their portion sizes to prevent obesity. Treats should be given sparingly and not replace their main meals.

Are St. Bernards easy to train?

St. Bernards have a moderate level of trainability. They respond well to positive reinforcement and consistent training sessions. Using treats like our Puffs product can be effective in keeping them engaged during training. For the best results, start obedience training early and keep sessions short and enjoyable.

How much exercise does a St. Bernard need?

Despite their size, St. Bernards have a moderate energy level. They require regular exercise to maintain their health, such as daily walks and playtime. However, they do not need intense exercise and should not be overexerted, especially as puppies.

What are some common health problems in St. Bernards?

Some of the health issues that St. Bernards may face include hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, heart conditions, and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help manage and prevent these conditions. Always seek professional help if you notice any signs of illness.

How do I maintain my St. Bernard's coat and grooming?

St. Bernards have a short, smooth coat with a moderate level of shedding. Regular grooming maintenance, including brushing a couple of times a week and occasional baths, will help keep their coat clean and reduce shedding. They also require routine care such as nail trimming and ear cleaning to stay healthy.


This article shares information about dog breeds for educational purposes only, using the American Kennel Club (AKC) as our main source because they're experts on dog breeds. But remember, every dog is unique. What we share might not fit every single dog, even if they are from the same breed. If your dog needs help, whether it's for health or behavior, it's always best to talk to a vet or a dog trainer. They can give advice that fits your pet's specific needs.

We want to help you learn about dogs and how to take care of them, but we can't replace professional advice. Always check with a professional if you're not sure about something to make sure your dog is healthy and happy.