- Up to 1 hour per day
- Size of home
- Large house
- More than once a week
- Coat length
- Under 10 years
- Vulnerable native breed
- Town or country
- Size of garden
- Large garden
The national dog of Switzerland, the St Bernard is named after the monk who, in the 10th Century, founded a hospice to care for travellers on the perilous routes through the Swiss Alps. The first dogs were Alpine Mastiffs, initially used to guard property, but with the discovery of their rescue abilities their role was changed. These dogs were the ancestors of the modern St Bernard.
By the 18th Century the role of the dogs had changed and they were being used for rescue work, locating lost and stranded travellers. The monks were using new blood to develop bigger dogs and it is thought that the Newfoundland and the Bloodhound might have contributed to the new type. Certainly the dogs became larger and longer coated. The outcrossing was disputed by some of the monks as they felt that a longer coat would ice up, so some of stock was purposely kept which remained close to the original short-coated type. Hence the breed still has long coated and smooth coated specimens today. The breed retained the name of Alpine Mastiffs well into the 19th Century, and it was not until 1888 that the modern title of St Bernard was adopted.
The traditional view of the rescuing St Bernard with a cask of brandy attached to his collar is a romantic and fanciful one, created by the famous Victorian artist Edwin Landseer, who painted the first two St Bernard’s to arrive in London.
Images for this breed
The Working breed group
Over the centuries these dogs were selectively bred to become guards and search and rescue dogs. Arguably, the working group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, aiding humans in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St. Bernard. This group consists of the real specialists in their field who excel in their line of work.
Breed standard colours
Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.
Breed standard colours in this breed include:
- Brown & White
- Brown & White & Dark Shadings
- Mahogany & White
- Mahogany Black & White
- Mahogany Brindle
- Mahogany White & Dark Shadings
- Mahogany White Orange Shadings
- Orange & White
- Orange & White & Dark Shadings
- Orange Black & White
- Red & White
- Red & White & Dark Markings
- Red Brindle
'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.
Non-breed standard colours
Non-breed standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.
Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.
More about health
Priority health schemes and tests
The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.
Important health schemes and tests
We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice.
- Bitches not to produce a litter under 2 years of age
- Check inbreeding calculators
Find out about a particular dog's results
Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.
You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.
Have any questions about health in your breed?
If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.
Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.
To contact your breed health co-ordinator please email
Help with research
Take part in a research project run by the breed clubs to better understand the health of the breed. Complete the online health survey to report any health issues or cause and age of death.
Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.
There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.
More about breeding
There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.
Need to find out more about a breed?
Use our Find a Club service where you can locate breed clubs that can offer support and advice.
Use our Find a Puppy service
The Kennel Club's Find a Puppy service provides contact details for breeders who have puppies available. Let's help you find your new best friend.
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