Have you ever seen a giant, fluffy, brown and white colored puppy with black face markings walking around Hermosa Beach? That’s my dog, Bailey! She’s a Saint Bernard! These kinds of dogs are massive animals, so many people and other animals get scared by them. The thing that most people don’t understand is that this type of dog is a “Gentle Giant”. This means even though Saint Bernards are huge, they would never intentionally hurt anyone or anything.
Saint Bernards originated from the Western Alps of France, Switzerland, and Italy. Being in the working dog class, these powerful dogs were bred for rescuing people who got stuck or lost in the snow. These dogs specifically rescued people from Giant and Little Saint Bernard Pass, so the name for these dogs became ‘Saint Bernard’.
If you’ve ever thought about getting a Saint Bernard, most people don’t realize what they’re in for. Saint Bernards grow very fast. My dog, Bailey, was already 80 pounds at seven months old! Most females will eventually get to be 120 to 150 pounds and males will get to be 150 to 190 pounds. Unlike Great Danes or other taller dogs, Saint Bernards are larger rather than taller with the average height for males at 28 inches to 35 inches and 26 inches to 31 inches for females. Larger dogs don’t tend to live as long as other small to medium sized dogs do. The average lifespan for this furry friend is only eight to ten years. The longest living record of a Saint Bernard is thirteen years.
If you’ve noticed, there are only a handful of Saint Bernards around the South Bay. There a very few places to get a Saint Bernard. To get Bailey, we had to drive all the way out to deep Orange County. Bailey is a rescue dog, which means an organization got her from an abusive and unloving home. The organization is called Sunny Saints and told us that the home Bailey was in before didn’t realize she would get as big as she is, and ignored her non-stop.
There are different types of Saint Bernards, each with different appearances, but all of their coats are made out of hair; not fur. Having hair makes Saint Bernard’s coats softer and more fun to lay on and snuggle with. Some Saint Bernards have what people call a ‘rough coat’. These kinds of Saint Bernards look ‘fluffier’, with a denser, thicker coat. Bailey is a rough coat Saint, so she’s a lot fluffier than other dogs. Other Saints have flat or ‘smooth’ coats. These coats can make a Saint Bernard look smaller than they actually are compared to a Saint Bernard with a rough coat. The smooth coats are flatter and thinner, whereas the rough coat sticks out more making the dog seem bigger. All Saint Bernard tails are very large (some the size of another small dog), and they hang low, almost touching the ground.
Most people get the wrong image when learning about larger dogs. Some people think that big dogs need lots of space, but really the dog just needs a cool spot (like tile) to lay on and a couple other spots to claim. Bailey loves to roam around, and strangely doesn’t want or like dog beds.
Most big dogs are very sensitive. If they hear a crash or loud noise, they will most likely be afraid of it, put their ears back, and run away. Other large dogs are sensitive to their owners yelling at them, and can tell when their ‘human’ is mad at them, so they will go to a spot where they feel the most safe. Bailey will always run into my room and jump onto my bed, or lie down on the tile next to my bed because she feels safe with me and knows I will rarely get upset with her.
Active people beware! If you love to take your dog on runs with you, just note that the Saint Bernard is excruciatingly slow. When walking to school, it’s difficult to get there on time; and I live about a ten minute walk away when just walking by myself. Everyone loves to pet big, fluffy dogs, say hello and most large dogs are very friendly and love that. Bailey loves attention more than food!! Any dog can get overwhelmed by attention and can go into puppy-spaz crazy mode when provoked. Be careful around younger and smaller children because these dogs are ‘Gentle Giants’, but are the clumsiest animals and don’t realize they’re much bigger than most children.
If the Saint Bernard seems familiar, you may be thinking of the movie, Beethoven. This movie starred a Saint Bernard. Beethoven started out as a dog from the pet shop, who was stolen from the pet shop. Beethoven then escaped his kidnappers, and ended up sneaking into a house. Ironically enough, this family’s father disliked dogs very much, but he ended up with one of the largest dogs. When I walk my dog, people say something like; “Hey it’s Beethoven!”. Before this movie was made, the Saint Bernard was not very popular. Ever since the movie, everyone now knows this dog breed, the Saint Bernard.
All things considered, the Saint Bernard is an amazing dog breed. Since 980 AD, this breed has been helping monks rescue lost people, warming people up from the cold, and loving their humans. Savoring every bit of your life with your Saint Bernard is crucial, because this dog will change your life in the best way possible. Since I’ve had Bailey, she has helped me think more positively, be open minded, and calmed me down when I needed to be. Don’t hesitate to get one of these loveable dogs!