How To Identify a Purebred Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is a breed of dog that originated in the Swiss Alps. They are well-known for their friendly and gentle nature, as well as their enormous size.

If you’re thinking about adopting one of these giant dogs, it’s important to know how to identify them correctly. In this blog post, we will discuss how to tell if your new friend is really a purebred Saint Bernard!

How To Identify a Purebred Saint Bernard

  • Ask an online veterinarian
  • Ask a breeder
  • Ask in a Facebook group
  • Compare appearance to AKC Standard
  • Measure size
  • Look at the Muzzle
  • Look at the ears
  • Study the eyes
  • Look at the tail
  • Examine the Coat

That’s a summary, of course. We’ll go into detail in just a bit. It shouldn’t be too hard to identify a purebred since they have such a distinct look. 

If you want to be certain, though, you should consult with an expert.

Ask an Online Veterinarian

If you want to know if your Saint Bernard dog is purebred, ask an experienced veterinarian online. These vets routinely treat breed-specific health conditions, so it’s easier for them to tell what breed of Saint Bernards you have.

They may be able to help you identify the traits of a purebred saint bernard through video or photos.

Ask a Breeder

The best way to identify a purebred Saint Bernard is to have a Saint Bernard breeder look at the dog. Breeders are specialists in the breed and will be able to tell you whether or not your dog is purebred.

Many of them will be able to tell you right away. They will also know the proper size, measurements, and colorings of the breed. This is the way to go if you can find a breeder that is local to you.

Best-in Breed Dog Show Clubs You can also contact a best-of-show club for Saint Bernards, like “The American Kennel Club” (AKC). These clubs have experts on all breeds who would gladly help identify a purebred.

Ask in a Facebook Group

A good place to start when you want to know how to identify a Purebred Saint Bernard is with a Facebook group. They’re free, and there are groups on almost every subject you can think of.

The Saint Bernard Forum Facebook group boasts nearly 30,000 members. If you were to take some good photos of the dog in question, they would likely be able to help you identify whether it’s purebred or not.

They will also be able to give you some pointers on how to measure the dog. A lot of breeders will be in the group that can help you too. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find one that lives in an area not too far from you. 🙂

I’d start there.

How To Identify a Purebred Saint Bernard

Compare to AKC Breed Standard

The AKC is in charge of deciding what the standards are for dog breeds. Chances are, if you have a purebred Saint Bernard, it will fit within these guidelines. But, that isn’t always the case.

If the Saint Bernard deviates from the weight standard, they could still be a purebred but just not have genetics in line with the AKC. Or they are overfed or overweight.

Their height, ears, muzzle, eyes, tail, and coat should be in line with the AKC standards, though.

Measure size

  • 28-30 inches tall for males
  • 26-28 inches tall for female
  • 140-180 pounds for males
  • 120-140 pounds for females

*Saint Bernards can weigh much more. These numbers are just from the breed standard.

The heaviest Saint Bernard on record was 357 pounds! His name was Benedictine, and the Saint Bernard took over the title of “Worlds Heaviest Dog.” He displaced an English Mastiff named Zorba.

That’s right, a Saint Bernard holds the world record for the heaviest dog!

Look at Muzzle

  • Saint Bernards have short muzzles with an almost straight line in the center of their snouts which don’t taper.
  • Their noses are black, and they have wide nostrils
  • Their noses curve at the edge and slightly overhang.
  • Their bite should be even, sometimes scissored.

Look at ears

  • A Saint Bernard’s ears are medium in size.
  • Their ears are in the shape of a rounded triangle.
  • The ears of a saint bernard stand up high but drop to the side with a sharp bend.

Study the eyes

The Saint Bernard has large, dark eyes that convey a friendly and gentle expression. They are set deep at the front of their face rather than on the side. Their eyelids can have wrinkles towards the inner corner if they don’t close all the way.

Look at the tail

The tail is powerful and heavy but slightly upward. It’s long with a wide start that gradually becomes narrower towards the tip, which has power in it as well.

Examine the Coat

Here is where things can vary. Saint Bernards have two coat types.

  • Saint Bernards can have shorthaired coats. The hair is smooth like velvet, but there is also density to it. It’s very thick. They have puffy hair on their thighs. The hair on their tail is long and dense too.
  • Saint Bernards can have longhaired coats. It’s somewhat wavy but not curly. The wave is subtle. The legs may have some extra feathering, but this isn’t true for all dogs. The thighs and tails are bushier than the shorthaired coat.

Saint Bernards have a variety of colors, from shades of red with white markings to brownish-yellow. The more common is brindle with patches that are mixed in with white. Or the reverse, white spots on their chest, back, head, and around their neck.

Saint Bernards often have white markings on the nose and around their eyes. They are also white on top of each foot, sometimes called booties.

If you aren’t sure whether a Saint Bernard is purebred or not. Compare it’s features with the AKC standard. 

Things To Know About Saint Bernards

Saint Bernards are one of the most popular breeds in America, ranking 13th on the list. They are known for their large size and gentle demeanor. 

If you’re thinking about adding a Saint Bernard to your family, it’s important to know as much as possible.

In the remainder of this post, we will go over everything you need to know about a Saint Bernard.

What is the history of Saint Bernards?

Saint Bernards originate from the Swiss Alps in Europe. They were bred to rescue people who had fallen into deep snow and ice and bred to carry supplies up steep mountain paths.

The name “Saint Bernard” comes from a Catholic saint known for traveling through the Alps to give aid to travelers and people in need.

The breed was originally used for rescue work, but they were also trained to be guides and guard dogs as time went on.

The first Saint Bernard came from St-Bernard’s monastery in Switzerland around 1050 AD. A monk named Jean Mâle brought back large mastiff-looking dogs that he found living with shepherds.

He noticed that the dogs were good at rescuing people who had fallen into deep snow and ice, so he bred them with local dogs to create a new breed, and the Saint Bernard was born!

History With AKC

The Saint Bernard was first recognized by the AKC in 1885 as part of their Working Group for large breeds not included elsewhere, such as Newfoundlands or Great Danes.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is an organization that registers purebred dog pedigrees under rules agreed upon. 

They also have standards on what makes up each individual breed’s characteristics and temperament. This is why they are the best place to turn to when learning how to identify a purebred Saint Bernard.

Saint Bernard Appearance

Saint Bernards are large dogs with short, dense coat. They have black noses and dark eyes that are set in an expression of kindness or gentleness.

Their ears hang down close to their head like curtains on either side – this is called “pendant”. This is a quality that many breeders try to preserve in the breeding process.

Saint Bernards can come in a variety of colors, as previously mentioned. St. Bernard’s colors can be brown, brownish-yellow, tan, and red. White spots are common.

They’re very easy to identify because of this unique appearance – they look like no other breed out there.

They have webbed feet.

Saint Bernards have webbed feet, which help them to swim in icy water. This is unusual as most dogs have paws that do not appear to be as webbed.

Saint Bernard Personality

Saint Bernards have wonderful personalities. The temperament of a Saint Bernard is one of the best things about them.

They are very gentle and sweet, which makes it great for kids to play with!

The temperament of these dogs can be described as “gentle giants”.

  • Saint Bernards are affectionate
  • Saint Bernards are intelligent (they’re ranked number four in intelligence)
  • Saint Bernards are loyal/devoted and companionship-seeking
  • Saint Bernards are not aggressive but will defend their family when necessary

These big guys love attention from their owners much more than other breeds. This means you’ll need plenty of time set aside just for playing every day.

Saint Bernards need to get a lot of exercises each day. Without it, they may become destructive and take out their pent-up energy on their environment.

Saint Bernards Make Great Pets

Saint Bernards are one tough cookie that will keep you warm in winter with its thick fur coat 😉 They’re also great at being your best friend because they have such an affectionate personality. 

They are very lovable and great with children.

Saint Bernards are one of the Worlds Largest Dog Breeds.

Saint Bernards are one of the largest breeds in the world.

They can weigh up to 376 pounds and stand as tall as 32 inches.

The average size of a Saint Bernard is 150-200 lbs. Some have grown much larger than that! The Saint Bernard holds the current Guinness Book of World Records title for Heaviest Dog in the World!

Saint Bernards shed a lot.

Saint Bernards have two different coat types. The long coat is thicker and sheds more than the short hair, but they both shed a lot.

The Saint Bernard has a thick, dense double-layer of fur that makes it one among few breeds to shed year-round.

This means they need regular grooming, or their coats will become matted with dirt & debris from outside sources like mud.

It can be a pain to those with pet allergies and pet dander sensitivities. It’s also not good for neat freaks, who don’t like dog hair on their clothes. If you own a Saint Bernard, you’ll have to make your peace with the large amounts of hair they shed.

Saint Bernards Drool

Saint Bernards drool more than other breeds. This is something their owners have to get used to. Saint Bernards drool because they have loose skin. Their bite is often scissored. Their skin is loose and hangs down on their face. This makes drooling easy.

The Saint Bernard is one breed that will slobber more than others, especially when they are excited or hungry!

Owners need to be prepared for this and make sure there’s always plenty of towels on hand. Be prepared for it to get on your furniture if they are allowed access to your living space.

Saint Bernard in Culture

The Saint Bernard has been featured in several well-known movies. Including “Beethoven” and “A Christmas Story”.

This is how I first came to know the breed. I watched all of the Beethoven movies when I was a kid.

Saint Bernards are also popular in the world of literature. They have been featured as characters in many books. Including “The Call Of The Wild” and “A Dog’s Purpose.” 

A famous book the breed is featured in is called “The Saint Bernard Story” by Margaret F. Johnson, published in 1948.

Anheuser-Busch Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard is also the mascot for a famous beer company. The name of that brewery? You guessed it, Anheuser-Busch! 

They have been around since 1852, when they were founded by Adolphus Busch in St Louis, Missouri, the USA, before prohibition.

Saint Bernards are the 13th most popular dog breed in the United States, according to AKC.

Saint Bernards are popular as pets because they have a lot to offer! They’re big dogs with even bigger hearts. Many people love them for this.

5 Most Common Saint Bernard Health Problems

As with every breed, Saint Bernards have a few breed-specific health conditions.

#1 Joint Problems

The first is called “chondrodysplasia,” and it’s a genetic disorder that affects the cartilage in their joints.

#2 Bloat

The second condition, which Saint Bernards are predisposed to but not limited to (it can happen with any breed), is bloat or gastric torsion.

This happens when food gets stuck on one side of the dog’s stomach for an extended period. It causes pain and makes breathing difficult. 

If you ever suspect this in your Saint Bernard, consult a veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital ASAP!

#3 Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is also a common health condition. The ligaments around the hip become loose. The hip socket doesn’t work right. This is a genetic condition that good breeders try to breed out of their dogs. Still, it can be pretty common.

This can cause dogs pain when they walk. It can be noticed in puppyhood, but sometimes it takes a few years to become an issue. 

Hip Dysplasia can cause a dog to hobble or bunny hop when he walks or has walked too much. It’s a permanent condition the dog is born with but can flare up and show itself later in life.

#4 Heart Issues

The fourth common health condition in Saint Bernards is a heart condition called cardiomyopathy.

This is a disease that causes the muscles of your dog’s left ventricle to weaken and enlarge. It can lead to congestive heart failure and has no cure, but it can be treated.

#5 Thyroid Problems

The fifth health issue Saint Bernards could have would be hypothyroidism. This is when their thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. They may experience weight gain or hair loss. It also gives them an increased risk of developing other diseases.

Saint Bernard Life Span

The average lifespan for a Saint Bernard is between 8 and 10 years.

How much does it cost to buy a Saint Bernard?

It costs an average of $1000-2000 to buy a Saint Bernard puppy. AKC champions with impressive ancestry can cost up to $4000. Puppy stores and backyard breeders may charge as low as $400.

You can find breeders by looking on websites like Petfinder or the AKC website, but be careful because not all are reputable. Some have been known for selling sick dogs that later had health problems due to poor breeding practices (I’m talking about your backyard breeders and puppy mills.)

When is a Saint Bernard full grown?

Saint Bernards stop growing between the ages of 2 and 3. Saint Bernards take longer to fully grow due to how big they are. As one of the world’s largest breeds, they can take longer to mature than your typical small and medium-sized dog.

Is a saint bernard dangerous?

No. Saint Bernards are known as “gentle giants.” Don’t let their size intimidate you. Their temperament is calm, gentled, and collected. They are not an aggressive breed and therefore are not dangerous. However, they will be sure to protect you if they sense a threat.

They are not dangerous at all. It is a common misconception about the breed because of its large size.

Saint Bernards are very loyal and would never attack anyone without provocation. They are a breed that is eager to please. The only time they may act aggressively is concerning strangers they view as a threat to you (like intruders).

To have a healthy Saint Bernard, you should socialize him early. Dogs need to learn healthy social skills while they’re young since they absorb everything up like a sponge in their first year. Older dogs are harder to train.

How much does Saint Bernard weigh?

According to the AKC breed standard, Saint Bernard males weigh between 140-180 pounds. Females weigh between 120-140 pounds. Any deviation from this and they’d be considered underweight or overweight.

The Saint Bernard is a mammoth of a dog! Intimidating at first glance, but a softie at heart. These are one of the largest breeds of dogs in the world. 

Their size cannot be compared to very many breeds.

How much do Saint Bernards eat?

Saint Bernards are big dogs that require up to 8 cups of dry dog food per day. The amount depends on their age, weight, and the brand of kibble you feed them.

Saint Bernards require a lot of food. They are naturally big and may appear overweight, but their thick coat often gives them this appearance. Saint Bernards can become overweight, but following the appropriate serving recommendations of your vet or brand of dog food is the amount you should give them.

Final Thoughts

Well, we’ve gone over a ton of information. I hope this post helped in instructing your on how to identify a purebred Saint Bernard.

Do you have a dog you think is a Saint Bernard, but you need help on how to identify whether or not he’s a purebred Saint Bernard?

Let us know in the comments, and hopefully, someone in the community can chime in! 😉