Home » dog » Bernardine: character, care and predisposition to diseases

Bernardine: character, care and predisposition to diseases


Bernardine, or the dog of St. Bernard comes from Switzerland, and more precisely from the St. Bernard, which connects Italy and Switzerland.

The breed currently performs best as a companion and family dog.

Formerly they were used as draft and rescue dogs.

Around the 11th century, the monks, namely St. Bernard of Methon, on the Great Pass, established a shelter for travelers. The first mentions of the Bernardines date back to the 17th century.

It is not entirely clear how the Bernardines ended up in the shelter there, one theory is that they could have gotten there as a gift for the canons, another that they were domesticated by them.

Most likely they are descended from the Tibetan Dogs.

Their innate talent for tracking was quickly noticed, and the Saint Bernard began to be used as rescue dogs.

Initially, they accompanied the local guides on their journey through the mountains.

Later, dogs of this breed set out on their own to rescue lost wanderers.

Apparently, the rescue team of the Bernardines consisted of 4 dogs.

During the rescue operation, 2 of them lay next to the victim and warmed him with their body, 1 licked the face to revive the victim, and the last one went back to get help.

What does St. Bernard have in a barrel? These dogs were always equipped with barrels of rum at the collar, to refresh the injured.

The most famous of them was Barry the dog, who lived at the beginning of the 19th century, who saved 40 people during his 14 years of life.

He died at the hands of 41 people he wanted to save.

In honor of his merits, a monument was erected in Cimetière des Chiens, and his body can be seen at the Natural History Museum in Bern.

For a long time, he and his name were each one of the puppies in the litter.

The original St. Bernards were only in the shorthair variety, which was perfect for snowy conditions.

After crossing the Bernardine with the Newfoundland, a long-haired breed was formed, which was much less suited to the harsh alpine conditions.

The Bernardines are one of the national symbols of Switzerland.

In 2005, the Barry Foundation was established, dealing with the breeding of Bernardines.

Each year in July, in the village of Etroubles, in the Aosta Valley, you can admire these wonderful dogs at an exhibition dedicated to them.

The Bernardines were the basis for the creation of other races, including.in. Moscow guard dog.

The very name "Bernardine " has been used since 1862, previously they were called: dog from the Alps, dog Barry.

The first breed standard was established in 1887.

Saint Bernard is in Group 2 under FCI Section 2.2 (mountain molossers).

  • St. Bernard breed description
  • Saint Bernard character
  • Saint Bernard grooming
  • St. Bernard feeding
  • St. Bernard's disease
    • Juvenile osteitis
    • Entropion, Ectropion and the rhomboidal eye
    • The fragility of the skin
    • Purulent - traumatic dermatitis
    • Dilated cardiomyopathy
    • Hip dysplasia
    • Vaginal hypertrophy
    • Underdevelopment of the optic nerve
    • Stomach torsion
  • Is it worth choosing a Saint Bernard??

St. Bernard breed description

  • Height at the withers: male from 70 - 90 cm, female from 65 - 80 cm, with an average weight of 50 - 70 kg (the record holder weighed over 130 kg).
  • Head - strong, large and expressive, with a broad skull, well-marked forehead furrow, clear eyebrow arches, a clear foot, loose skin on the head, slightly wrinkled on the forehead, wrinkles visible especially when the dog is interested in something,
  • Nose - black, wide with open nostrils, wide muzzle, straight bridge of the nose with a slight furrow,
  • Lips - black, upper lip has flews, corners of the lips are visible,
  • Bite - scissor or pincer bite, jaws strong,
  • Eyelids - pigmented, preferably when they are tight, but unfortunately, in the case of Bernardines, eyelid defects (entropion and ectropion) are very common,
  • Eyes - dark shades of brown, medium size, medium deep set,
  • Ears - Set high, wide, well hairy, drooping,
  • Neck - long, strong, with loose skin and dewlap,
  • Pronounced withers, broad back, long croup, not falling off,
  • Chest - Fairly broad, but not barrel-shaped, with well sprung ribs,
  • FOREQUARTERS - Straight, parallel, moderately wide set, close to the elbows, feet wide, large, with well arched toes,
  • HINDQUARTERS - Well muscled, parallel, dewclaws tolerated,
  • Tail - wide at the base, long, strong and heavy, when the dog is agitated it curls slightly,
St. Bernard breed description

Bernardines are large, massive dogs with a strong build.

Bernardine moves harmoniously, with good stride, strong drive of the hind limbs.

Bernardine comes in 2 varieties:

  1. Shorthair with an undercoat (Stockhaar).
    This variety is characterized by a very abundant undercoat, the topcoat is also dense, hard and close to the skin. On the thighs, the hair forms small pants, the tail is heavily covered.
  2. Long-haired.
    Abundant undercoat. Top coat is straight, of medium length, slightly wavy behind the thighs and the rump, short on the muzzle and head. Hair forms pants on the thighs, feathers on the front limbs, and the tail is very hairy.

St. Bernard's ointment

The base ointment is white with reddish brown patches, or a coat that covers the back and sides, it may be interrupted with white.

Striped ointment on a reddish-brown or yellow-brown background with darker shades on the head.

A slight black coating on the body is tolerated.

You can also see what St. Bernard looks like in the video below

Watch this video on YouTube

Saint Bernard character

Saint Bernard character

Bernardines are gentle giants, they are extremely friendly, they love to be in the company of people.

They are suitable for homes with children, they can be very protective of them.

They are also excellent companions for other dogs and cats.

It is a dog with a balanced psyche, calm, but on the other hand very willing to play, regardless of age.

He is very attached to his family, he is a homebody type.

They show high intelligence. Dog training is not problematic.

They have an excellent sense of smell, it is worth spending their time (especially for young dogs) with olfactory work.

Despite their innate gentleness, they can defend their guardian when needed.

They show distrust towards strangers, but not aggression.

They are perfect guard dogs.

Saint Bernard grooming

How to cultivate a Saint Bernard?

In the case of short-haired Bernardines, grooming is not complicated, it is enough to brush the dog once a week.

We use hard brushes for this.

Although the baths are quite difficult logistically, due to the size of the dog, we do it if necessary.

Longhair Bernardines, on the other hand, require a little more work.

Their hair, especially in the area behind the ears and around the neck, tends to feel felted and matted, so brush this area several times a week.

For combing, we also use brushes with hard bristles, as well as special combs that facilitate combing out tangles.

We comb the hair after moistening it to protect the hair from damage.

We make baths if necessary, you can wash the dirty hair with a damp cloth with water.

After bathing with a suitable dog shampoo, dry the Saint Bernard thoroughly so that it does not catch a cold.

Their hair takes a long time to dry by itself.

Saint Bernards moult abundantly in spring and autumn, so then beauty treatments should be performed more often.

Saint Bernards salivate a lot, which is why bibs are very often used in exhibition dogs to protect the coat from constant soaking.

Saint Bernard feeding

This big dog has, as you can guess, quite a big appetite.

We not only have to take care of the amount of feed, but also its very high quality.

This is especially important when feeding puppies and adolescent dogs.

Saint Bernards, like all giant breeds, tend to twist the stomach, so meals should be divided into 2 smaller portions, and after a meal, provide the dog with at least an hour's rest.

In older dogs, also in intensively growing dogs, it is worth using supplements supporting the regeneration of articular cartilage:

  • chondroitin,
  • glucosamine,
  • hyaluronic acid,
  • hydrolyzed collagen.

St. Bernard's disease

St. Bernard's disease

Juvenile osteitis

Juvenile osteitis applies to young dogs in the period of intensive growth.

It is a growth disorder of the long bones.

The causes of juvenile osteitis include:

  • metabolic disorders (excess calcium in the diet),
  • genetic predisposition,
  • endocrine disorders,
  • allergies,
  • parasites,
  • autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms occur in dogs between 6 and 18 months of age.

The so-called. "Wandering lameness ", that is, lameness that affects different limbs, sometimes one, then the other.

Dogs are very painful to palpate the limbs, especially when palpating the shaft of the bones.

Occasionally a fever may appear as well.

The diagnosis is confirmed by X-ray examination.

In this disease entity, mainly symptomatic treatment is used.

In pain attacks, administration of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs is recommended.

It is also worth adjusting the diet to one with a lower calcium content.

The disease resolves with the end of bone growth.

Entropion, Ectropion and the rhomboidal eye

Entropium it will wrap the lower eyelid inwards.

As a result, the eyelashes from the eyelid irritate the eye.

As a result, it can lead to notorious conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration, and consequently lead to serious eye diseases.

Ectropium it is instead the lower eyelid rolling outwards.

This condition causes the eyelids to close and thus the eyeball is exposed to the adverse effects of external factors (dust, dust, drying), which may predispose to further eye diseases.

Rhomboidal eye (diamond eye) - is a combination of both eyelid defects: lateral entropion of the upper and lower eyelids, and the central ectropion of the lower eyelid.

All these defects are surgically corrected.

The fragility of the skin

Brittleness of the skin, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, is a genetic disease.

It consists in a disturbance in the structure of connective tissue, as a result of which the skin's sensitivity to stretching is reduced.

The skin is much more flexible and susceptible to injuries.

Healing is also impaired.

Often this syndrome is accompanied by other diseases:

  • hernias,
  • eye diseases,
  • dental and periodontal diseases.
There is no effective causal treatment, only the consequences of this syndrome are treated.

Purulent - traumatic dermatitis

Purulent-traumatic dermatitis, i.e. "Hot spot ".

It is a localized pyoderma, which may be caused by:

  • injuries,
  • allergies,
  • parasites.

Most often, the disease occurs in the spring and summer periods.

It manifests itself by severe itching, licking or scratching the affected area. There is redness, inflammatory exudate and pain.

The skin lesion expands concentrically over time.

Treatment consists of the use of antiallergic drugs, antibiotics, and the toilet of the wound and protection against further licking or scratching.

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease that has a genetic background.

It consists in the weakening of the heart muscle, along with its thinning and fibrosis.

Symptoms accompanying dilated cardiomyopathy include:

  • depression,
  • cough,
  • enlargement of the outline of the abdomen due to the accumulation of fluid there
  • exercise intolerance,
  • fainting,
  • loss of appetite and emaciation,
  • rapid breathing and shortness of breath, and in advanced cases, pulmonary edema.

The heart has a thin wall, the heart muscle has reduced contractility, the entire silhouette of the heart is enlarged, in the X-ray image the heart is round. Often the disease is accompanied by an abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation).

The diagnosis is confirmed by X-ray, ECG and cardiac echo examinations.

Treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy includes:

  • diuretics,
  • vasodilators,
  • drugs that increase the contractility of the heart muscle,
  • anti-arrhythmic drugs.

It is worth supplementing L - carnitine, and unsaturated fatty acids.

The disease is treated for life. Unfortunately, often in the course of the disease, the so-called. sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmias.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, i.e. its defective shape.

A disease affected by a genetic predisposition, as well as:

  • nutrition,
  • lifestyle and physical activity,
  • speed of growth.

Symptoms may appear in puppies as well as in older dogs - depending on how big the changes are in the hip joint.

The symptoms of dysplasia include:

  • reluctance to move,
  • stiff gait,
  • abnormal position of the limbs in gait,
  • pain,
  • it is rarely lameness.
Treatment can be conservative - that is, a change in lifestyle and nutrition, and surgical - and here also, depending on the degree and age of the dog, the appropriate method is selected.

Vaginal hypertrophy

Vaginal hypertrophy is a disease caused by an overproduction of estrogens, which leads to an enlargement of the vaginal epithelium.

It is manifested by enlargement of the labia, and the vaginal mucosa protrudes from them, and sometimes even one of the vaginal walls falls out.

Swelling in this area appears quickly and secondary injuries may occur.

Treatment consists of surgical correction of a prolapsed vagina, bitches affected by this disease should be sterilized.

Underdevelopment of the optic nerve

Underdevelopment of the optic nerve is a genetic disease, congenital.

In its advanced stage, it can lead to blindness.

It may affect one eye or both eyes.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of an ophthalmological examination - the optic nerve disc is reduced.

No treatment.

Stomach torsion

A stomach twist is the build up of gas in the stomach (acute dilatation), with or without a twist.

It manifests itself initially with anxiety, gagging, gasping, enlargement of the outline of the abdomen.

The dog's condition deteriorates very quickly and shock is very common.

You should see your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment is very difficult and often, despite the treatment, it is not possible to save the animal.

It consists in stabilizing the patient and performing a surgical procedure.

If left untreated, gastric twisting is always fatal.

It very often accompanies other diseases, e.g. hypothyroidism.

Is it worth choosing a Saint Bernard??

Is it worth choosing a Saint Bernard??

Bernardines are excellent family dogs and house keepers.

However, they are completely unsuitable for keeping in an apartment.

They are also not suitable for people who value perfect order - they drool a lot and lose a lot of hair.

It is a suitable dog for people living in a house with a garden, it should not be locked in a kennel, it likes the company of its household members.

He tolerates other dogs and cats if he was socialized with them from an early age.

He is very gentle and caring towards children, but due to his size, you should control his play with children so that he does not accidentally hurt them.

Maintaining a Saint Bernard is quite expensive, eats a lot, and should get a feed with a high-quality composition.

Veterinary care can also be expensive, as these dogs often have joint problems due to their body weight, so keep this in mind when choosing this breed.

Sources used >>

Leave Your Comment