A huge, massively built mountain type dog, appearing in two varieties: short and long-haired. Generally balanced and calm, however, he has good predispositions to watch, so he is not deprived of some aggression. He accepts a second dog or cat at home, and tolerates foreign quadrupeds. Bernardine probably comes from Roman war dogs, whose ancestor was a Tibetan dog. These quadrupeds accompanied the legions in the conquest of Europe and arrived with them to the territory of today’s Switzerland.
Bernardine is a dog with a calm, balanced character and moderate temperament. Gentle, friendly and devoted owner is a great family companion. I need close contact with the household, but it usually does not make any of them stand out. He behaves extremely gently towards children.
He accepts a second dog or cat at home and tolerates foreign quadrupeds. He doesn’t start fights and it’s difficult to upset him. Attached initially ignores the adventurer, but when it does not help, he can effectively defend himself.
He fulfills his role as a guardian well – his appearance is awesome. Instinctively, he senses a real threat and shows no unjustified aggression. He is also very vigilant, which is why he is helped by the perfect sense of smell and observation.
As a dog of great stature, he needs space and feels best at home with a garden. He may live in a pen, but you must remember to keep him in touch with his family.
Contrary to appearances, St. Bernard is energetic and willing to have fun, however, he must be allowed to dose his own movement. This is especially important for puppies and young dogs, because excessive physical exertion can have an adverse effect on their health.
Bernardines were used by the monks for guarding. Over time, it was noticed that they had the unusual gift of sensing impending avalanches, a sense of orientation in the field, and the innate ability to find people under the snow. Initially, they accompanied the farmworkers who led the wanderers to the mountains and brought them into the valleys – the quadrupeds ran ahead and paved the way in the snow. Then the monks began sending independent patrols consisting of four dogs, whose task was to find people missing in the mountains. When one Bernardine returned to the shelter for help, the others warmed the unfortunate with their own bodies. There were barrels with rum strapped to the collar, which the unfortunate wanderer could refresh himself with.
Currently, Bernardines are no longer used in rescue – they were replaced by lighter and more efficient sheepdogs and retrievers. Today, these giants are primarily family companions and prove themselves as guard dogs. They are also suitable for basic obedience (PT) training.
Bernardine. Training and education
Bernardine is intelligent and has an excellent memory. Because of his posture, he should learn the basics of obedience. We start training with a puppy, preferably under the guidance of an experienced person.
We deal with a representative of this breed gently and calmly, but firmly. Bernardine is a descendant of former war dogs, and although he is much milder today, he still shows considerable independence. If his education is neglected, it can become a nuisance to the environment.
Who is this race for?
Bernardine is a suitable dog for people looking for a faithful family companion and a watchful guardian. He needs a forgiving but consistent owner who can impose his will on him.
Bernardine. Advantages and disadvantages
expensive to maintain
drool quite abundantly
not suitable for living in a block of flats
devoted to the family
an excellent companion for children of all ages
friendly towards people
tolerates other animals
Bernardines have a tendency to hip dysplasia, shoulder osteochondrosis (OCD), stomach enlargement and torsion. There are defects in the eyelids – ectropium (eversion) and entropy (collapse), and inflammation of the third eyelid.
Occasionally, cardiac conditions occur – cardiomyopathy and subaortic stenosis of the aortic orifice. In old age, dogs of this breed may suffer from degeneration of the joints and spine.
These large quadrupeds are expensive to maintain – they eat a lot and require high-quality food. Puppies should get well-balanced food for giant breeds, necessarily with the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin. The adult dog’s diet should be adapted to his age and lifestyle; a daily portion is best divided into two meals.
Saint Bernard does not require complicated and time-consuming care. His coat has self-cleaning properties. We comb and brush the adult St. Bernard once a week. Puppies are combed more often (preferably every day) because we help them remove the undercoat in this way.
In long-haired dogs, attention should be paid to the hair behind the ears, which has a tendency to felt. Regularly check your ears (they tend to become inflamed) and your eyes (exposed conjunctiva also predisposes to infection).
For combing, it is best to use a comb with long teeth, to brush a brush with longer spikes, ended with rubber or plastic balls so that they do not scratch or hurt the dog’s skin.
Bernardine probably comes from Roman war dogs, whose ancestor was a Tibetan dog. These quadrupeds accompanied the legions in the conquest of Europe and reached with them to the territory of today’s Switzerland – to the Aosta valley, the canton of Wallis and to the vicinity of Bern. Crossing with the local population gave rise to two types of dogs – the lighter, from which shepherd breeds probably originate, and the heavier, which was used to breed, among others Newfoundland and Bernardine.
Around 43, Emperor Claudius developed the road through the Great Pass in the Alps. Next to it, a temple was erected in honor of Jupiter and a small hostel for travelers. For many years this road was the most important passage through the Alps, but after the Germans took over the land, it lost its importance and became dangerous.
Around 960, the archdeacon of Aosta Bernard de Menton founded a monastery and a shelter in the buildings on the pass. Soon, short-haired dogs appeared – the ancestors of modern Bernardines – which the monks used to guard and to protect against predators and bandits. With time, they began to save people buried by avalanches. The most famous of them was Barry, who, according to legend, saved forty people, but was killed by forty-one.
In 1812, a terrible storm, which decimated the dogs, went through the pass. The herd was slowly rebuilt, but too close kinship led to the degeneration of the breed. In the early 1830s, the monks introduced Newfoundland to their kennel – in this way they obtained a significant improvement in the condition of their dogs and long hair in some puppies in litters. However, this type of coat did not work in the mountains – the snow sticking to the fur prevented the quadrupeds from working. However, the long-haired variety has adopted the valleys.
From around 1850 the breeding was carried out by the cynologist Heinrich Schumacher. Thanks to his efforts, the dogs from the monastery were considered a breed and were named dogs of St. Bernard. In 1887, the first model was approved at the Zurich Congress.
Bernardine – group II FCI, section 2.2, reference number 61
Country of origin: Switzerland
Original purpose: companion, rescue and guard dog
Character: moderate temperament, calm, gentle, friendly and balanced; sensitive, strongly attached to the family and requires close contact with the owner; shows an instinctive tendency to care for weaker members of the herd; he is a watchful guardian; quite energetic
Size: the height of the dogs at the withers 70-90 cm, bitches 65-80 cm, extremely large specimens can reach a weight of up to 100 kg
Coat: short-haired variety – the coat is dense, smooth, close-fitting, not rough, generous undercoat; small trousers on the thighs, the tail covered with thick hair; long-haired variety – semi-long, straight or slightly wavy coat; profuse undercoat; on the forelegs longer hair forms feathers, on the thighs trousers; profusely hairy tail
Color: tricolor – with a predominance of white, mahogany or brown; mantle – white appears on the chest, forming a ruff on the neck, muzzle, limbs and tail tip, mahogany or brown on the rest of the body; in addition, there is a black shade on the ears and black symmetrical rims around the eyes
Reaching puberty: 3 years
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Molting: moderate, twice a year
Activity: medium; he needs regular walks, but he should not be forced into the excessive effort – especially at a young age
Training: indicated basics of obedience (PT – companion dog)
Vulnerability to training: high; intelligent dog, but quite independent – training must be started early
Attitude towards children: friendly; suitable for children of all ages
Relationship to other dogs: tolerant; does not provoke fights, but the attacked will defend himself
Weatherresistance: low temperature resistant; it is less tolerant of heat
Flat: house with a garden; may live in a playpen provided he maintains close contact with his family
Preparation for exhibitions: the coat does not require special preparation; bath recommended
Possibility to buy a puppy: in good breeding, you have to order in advance
The former Bernardines were not as impressive as they are today. They were large, but not giant, short-haired dogs with moderately marked alloys.
The long-haired variety – now much more popular than the short-haired one – owes its coat to the Newfoundland blood.