Saint Bernese (St. Bernard & Bernese Mountain Dog Mix)

Height: 26-35 inches
Weight: 100-120 pounds
Lifespan: 6-10 years
Colors: White, brown, black
Suitable for: Active families with children of any age and plenty of room
Temperament: Loyal & Loving, Friendly, Gentle, Protective

The Saint Bernese is a giant hybrid dog bred from a cross of St Bernard and the Bernese Mountain dog. Both of these breeds are considered giant dogs, and the designer Saint Bernese will be of similarly huge stature. Their size means that dogs of this breed are not well suited to life in an apartment, and they will need plenty of exercise.

Despite their size, however, they are considered excellent family pets because they are very gentle, incredibly patient, and they will form a close bond with young children. Both parent breeds are efficient working dogs, which means that they can be easy to train, although you may have to show patience, utilize positive reinforcement techniques, and aim for short training sessions to get the most out of them.

Unfortunately, this breed does have quite a short lifespan of between 6 and 10 years and may be prone to a range of conditions including hip dysplasia, cancer, and bloat. Their size means that they are also prone to some spinal conditions.

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Saint Bernese Puppies – Before You Buy…

saint bernese puppy
Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Saint Bernese Puppies?

The Saint Bernese is quite a difficult breed to get hold of, owing largely to the fact that their size puts a lot of people off. They are also bred from working dogs with a very good reputation, and you should expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 for a healthy puppy from good parents.

When buying a Saint Bernese puppy, try to meet the parents and potentially any siblings from the same litter. This can provide a good indication of the likely physical and mental attributes of your dog. A good breeder should have no problem providing information on the parents and should let you meet the dogs before you consider buying one.

Saint Bernese - Saint Bernard and Bernese Mountain dog mix
The parents of the Saint Bernese. Left: Saint Bernard, Right: Bernese Mountain Dog

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3 Little-Known Facts About Saint Bernese

1. They Are Giant Dog Breeds

The Saint Bernese is a mammoth dog that can, albeit in rare circumstances, grow to a weight of 300 pounds or more. They are descended from the Bernese Mountain dog, which is a giant breed, and the St Bernard, another giant breed. In fact, Benedictine the St Bernard holds the world record for being the heaviest dog ever.

He weighed 357 pounds and displaced 343-pound English Mastiff, Zorba, for the title. You should expect your Saint Bernese to reach a weight of around 100 pounds, and you should expect the food bill to accompany that. They are not well suited to life in an apartment.

2. The Breed Does Not Cope Well with Heat

Both parent breeds are well known for their ability to cope with extremely cold temperatures. They are double-coated and tend to have very thick, long hair. The same is true of the hybrid Saint Bernese. This makes them an ideal companion dog in Alpine conditions. They not only cope with the cold, but thrive in it, and neither of the parent breeds or the resulting mix breed can cope with heat.

If you live in a region with hot summer months, you should look at alternative breeds, or be prepared to have AC units and fans running day and night to ensure your dog’s comfort.

3. They Make Exceptional Family Pets

The size of the St Bernese puts some potential owners off, but while their mammoth stature may seem intimidating, this breed’s temperament is usually anything but. Both parent breeds are known for being gentle giants, and so too is the Saint Bernese. They are also very patient, and some owners refer to them as nanny dogs because they form a very close bond with small children and will go out of their way to protect and love them.

Despite this protective streak, they are very rarely aggressive and show calm confidence instead. Although you should take care around very young children, due to the size and weight of the breed, the Saint Bernese is one of the best breeds for families with children.

saint bernese
Credit: Zdelnik Alexandr, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Saint Bernese

Saint Bernese are sometimes referred to as nanny dogs and gentle giants. They certainly fit the moniker of giant, weighing in at approximately 100 pounds, and owners will attest to their gentle and patient nature.

They are also considered intelligent dogs that are relatively easy to train, will usually get along with people of any age and mix well with other dogs and animals if socialized from an early age. They can be eager to please, but their size means that they need plenty of room, so they are better served by owners with large households and a bit of land.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Saint Bernese don’t just put up with children, they become guardians, protectors, and even educators. They are incredibly patient and very gentle, especially considering their huge size. They will gladly join in games with young people in the house or sit patiently and watch.

This breed is usually aware of its size and stature and will behave accordingly around very small children – giving them a wide berth and releasing their energy when outdoors and a safe distance away from their charges.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Similarly, the breed is known for being excellent with other pets. They will take well to having a companion dog of their own, even helping puppies and new additions settle into the home and teaching them the right way to do things. Most Saint Bernese dogs are also very well behaved around cats and other animals, so they make a suitable family pet, no matter whether your brood is human, canine, or feline.

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Things to Know When Owning a Saint Bernese

The first thing any potential owner should be aware of is the size of the Saint Bernese. This is a giant dog breed and they will make a giant addition to your home. They tend to have tighter skin than the Saint Bernard but may still have oversized jowls. They tend to have a more muscular and athletic physique than a St Bernard, too, although this does not diminish their weight.

Most examples of the breed are black, brown, and white, but there is a good proportion that are just brown and white. A white tip on the tail is considered to be a sought-after trait and one that breeders will usually point out.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Giant breeds have giant appetites, and you should expect to feed between 3 and 4 cups of good quality dog food every day. You should feed two or three meals a day and, to avoid bloat, do not provide a constant supply of food. You should also avoid giving your dog exercise immediately after eating.

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Exercise 🐕

Both parent breeds of this dog were bred for their fortitude, as well as their hardiness. They flourish in cold conditions and have thick, long, double-layered fur to protect them even in the harshest of cold winds and snowy conditions. They don’t enjoy the heat, however, and their desire to get out and exercise will largely depend on the weather. If you enjoy walking in the mountains, especially during winter months, this is the perfect companion breed for you.

These big dogs do require a lot of exercise to stay fit and healthy. Ideally, you should have a decent sized yard because this will give your dog somewhere to sit out and to run around whenever they want. You will also need to walk your St Bernese twice a day, for around 30 minutes at a time. These dogs usually prefer longer walks, rather than short runs, but they can adapt to agility style classes and may enjoy chasing toys.

Your dog will especially enjoy getting out in the countryside and exploring. This is their natural territory and another good reason why they make such good companion dogs for hikers and mountain walkers.

You can provide a good selection of toys for your dog but be aware that he will make short work of small toys. Hard rubber and large toys are best for this hybrid.

Training 🎾

The Saint Bernese are intelligent dogs that like to please their owner. However, they can be headstrong and independent, and sometimes show signs of stubbornness that can make training a little more challenging, especially for the novice.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way with this breed and to avoid boredom and therefore enjoy better training results, you should try and keep training sessions short and exciting. Use a good selection of enticing toys that will withstand constant chewing and playing.

It is especially important to train dogs of this size to ensure that they don’t jump up at people when meeting and greeting. It is also important to ensure that you can call them back when at the dog park because their nature means that they will want to roam around open areas.

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Anyone want to play Tug of War!!!

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Grooming ✂️

Both parent breeds have double-layered coats and the Saint Bernese has a long and thick coat that protects them from the cold environment of the mountains. This requires regular grooming, typically every day, and you may need to brush their coat twice a day when they are shedding.

This hybrid breed can have large folds of skin around the mouth, and these need to be wiped clean to avoid any infections. This should be done every day.

As with all breeds, keep their teeth clean by brushing at least twice a week, and avoid bathing unless absolutely essential because it strips the dog of their natural protective oils.

Because your Saint Bernese has big ears that flop over the side of their heads, you also need to help them keep their ears clean. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess wax or gunk.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Unfortunately, the Saint Bernese has a shorter lifespan than other similar breeds: a trait that he inherits primarily from the St Bernard. While hybrid breeds are generally considered healthier than their purebred counterparts, there is a chance that your dog will suffer from some of the conditions that the parent breeds are prone to. You also need to look at the size and other characteristics of the dog to determine any likely problems.

Hip dysplasia is relatively common in this breed. Initially, it might only cause mild discomfort but, over time, it can be seriously debilitating and painful.

Bloat is also common in deep-chested dogs. Mild bloat may lead to stomach and intestinal discomfort. Serious bouts of bloat can prove fatal and can take hold within a matter of hours. Symptoms include excessive panting, which can be difficult to recognize especially during hotter months. In most cases, owners will spot a distended abdomen and veterinary help should be sought immediately if you do spot these signs.

Finally, osteosarcoma is rare but more common in breeds like the St Bernard. It is a form of bone cancer that is usually only diagnosed when it has spread. It usually occurs in the legs and may lead to amputation, but this is only palliative and will rarely prolong the dog’s life.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Jowl infections
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Malignant Histiocytosis

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Male vs Female

In hybrid dogs, the dominant parent breed is usually responsible for the differences in individual dogs, but there are some differences in gender. Males tend to grow noticeably larger than females, both in terms of height and weight. Although male dogs generally tend to be bolder, this is not a particular trait that is specific to this breed.

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Final Thoughts

The Saint Bernese, or Saint Berner, can make a beautiful and warm family dog. They are especially good with children and other animals, offering guidance and patience, and are often referred to as nanny dogs because of just how gentle they are with children.

They do require a decent amount of exercise, as you should expect from a dog of this size, and they are not considered suitable for apartment life simply because of their size.

This breed might not be suitable for first-time dog owners because, while they are intelligent, they can also be headstrong and stubborn, which means that the more experienced trainer will have better luck with the breed. Their grooming requirements are also quite extensive, with thick hair and the potential for infections around the ears and mouth. However, if you are up to the challenge, The Saint Bernese really can make an exceptional and loving family pet.


Featured Image Credit: Dreadie, Shutterstock