This Swiss national dog got its name from Bernard of Menthon, the 11th century monk who established the traveler’s hospice situated on the dangerous Alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy. They were developed from crossing the ancient Tibetan Mastiff, the Great Dane, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Great Pyrenees. A large mastiff breed, the Saint Bernard tips the scale at 110 to 200 pounds and has a height range of 25.5 to 27.5 inches. They bear close resemblance to the English Mastiff and the Newfoundland. It has a large and massive head, a short muzzle and a broad, black nose with wide open nostrils. The eyes are medium sized, dark and are set apart. The ears are medium sized, set high and dropping. The tail is long, heavy, broad and held low when the dog is relaxed. There are two varieties according to coat texture: rough and smooth. The smooth coat lies close and flat to the skin, and the rough coat is dense and more profuse around the neck and legs. Colour is typically white with markings in tan, red, mahogany, brindle and black. The ears and face are usually black.
Among the many talents of the Saint Bernard are search and rescue, guard dog, watch dog and pulling carts and sleds. They are also known to be able to predict storms and avalanches because of their ability to hear very low frequency sounds. They are gentle giants – extremely gentle, friendly and very tolerant even of small children. They are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are extremely loyal to their owner and family. They are prone to drool and to bloating. Like other large breeds they are also prone to hip dysplasia and heart problems.