Family : Canidae
Text © Pietro Paolo Condò – Giudice Enci-fci
English translation by Mario Beltramini
It is one of the biggest dogs and seems to descend, like almost all Molossoid breeds, from the Tibetan Mastiff; its history is connected with the Hospice of the Great Saint Bernard, founded in 1049 by Bernard of Menthon, for sheltering the travellers and those who had lost their way; since then the breed represents the rescuing dog par excellence.
The Saint Bernard is big, with a vigorous and muscled shape all over, with a powerful head and intelligent expression, agile in spite of its massive body.
The head is mighty; the skull is compact and broad, the nasal-frontal gap sharp, the muzzle short, the truffle broad and black. The eyes are of medium size, dark brown, with intelligent end friendly expression. The ears are of medium size too, adhering rather high and with the shape of a rounded triangle.
The neck is quite robust with well pronounced dewlap, the thorax is much circled and the back is of excellent width. The limbs are strong and muscled. The tail is long, heavy and is pointed at the end.
Two varieties do exist: the short-haired (thick, short, adherent and smooth hair, thighs with slight breeches and tail with longer hair), and the long-haired (hair of medium length, from smooth to slightly undulated, never curled or ruffled; tail with thick hair and of moderate length).
Admitted colours: white and red or red and white (the white is compulsory on chest, feet, tip of the tail, nasal reed, frontal band and spot on the nape. Much desired is the white collar.
In the males, the height at withers must absolutely be not less than 70 cm; in the females 65 cm; the weight, 60-80 kg (some specimens may weigh more than a hundred).
It is a very affectionate dog and protective towards its master and the family, patient with children.
Quite reserved with the harmless foreigners, as a guardian, if necessary, it can rely on its imposing massive structure which is already, by itself, a good deterrent.
Should this not be sufficient, it proves strong and courageous; it quickly compels to the flight its victim. It shows a proverbial generosity in the rescuing operations.