Originally bred as a companion- and rescue-dog, it’s not surprisingly, he’s a kind, gentle, intelligent, good-natured dog. He’s also a giant, a large, muscular dog who can reach a height of 30 inches and a weight of 180 pounds. The Saint comes in shorthaired and longhaired varieties, the shorthaired being the one preferred by the monks of the Saint Bernard Hospice where the dogs originated.
The shorthaired coat is smooth but dense. The hair is slightly bushy on the thighs, and the tail is covered with long, dense hair that becomes shorter toward the tip. The longhaired coat is slightly wavy but never curly or shaggy. The forelegs have a bit of feathering, but the thighs and tail are bushy.
Saint Bernards are various shades of red with white or white with red. The red comes in various shades, from brindle patches with white markings to brownish-yellow. The white occurs on the chest, around the neck (known as the collar), around the nose (the noseband), and on the feet and tip of the tail.
A white spot on the nape of the neck and a white blaze on the face are especially attractive and desirable, as are dark markings on the head and ears that resemble a mask. The white markings are said to resemble the liturgical vestments worn by a priest and the black mask to reduce the glare from the snow.