Are Saint Bernards Good Guard Dogs? Weighing the Facts

Looking at a massive Saint Bernard, you may wonder if these gentle giants are cut out for the role of a guard dog. It’s a valid question, and one that many potential dog owners grapple with.

The Short Answer

While Saint Bernards are large and have a deep bark that could deter intruders, they are generally gentle, friendly, and not naturally aggressive, making them less ideal as traditional guard dogs.

Intrigued by this paradox? Well, the Saint Bernard’s protective nature is more nuanced than you might expect. So let’s dive into understanding the role they can play beyond just being cuddly companions.

Key Traits of a Saint Bernard:

  • Large and imposing size
  • Deep, loud bark
  • Gentle, friendly, and non-aggressive nature
  • Strong protective instinct towards family
  • Excellent compatibility with children
  • Physical strength and endurance

saint bernard dog lying on the floor

Saint Bernards: Not Just Rescue Dogs

Saint Bernards are known for their legacy as rescue dogs, particularly in the snowy passes of the Swiss Alps where they would help travelers in distress.

These heroic endeavors have been immortalized in tales and media, shaping our perception of them primarily as rescue dogs. However, these dogs are so much more.

With their imposing size and strong instinct to protect their family, Saint Bernards can indeed act as a deterrent to any potential threat.

They may not have the instinctive aggression of a traditional guard dog, but their loyalty and protectiveness should not be underestimated.

Are Saint Bernards Protective of Kids?

When it comes to children, Saint Bernards are often gentle giants. They are known for their calm demeanor and patience, which makes them excellent companions for kids.

However, their protective instinct kicks in when their family, especially the children, are in danger. In such situations, a Saint Bernard will not hesitate to position itself between the children and the perceived threat, using its size and deep bark to intimidate the intruder.

Keep in mind, though, that just like any other dog breed, Saint Bernards need to be properly socialized from a young age to ensure they are comfortable around children and can respond appropriately in different situations.

Comparing Strength: Saint Bernard vs Other Dogs

Saint Bernards are truly one of the heavyweights in the canine world.

Males can weigh up to 180 pounds and stand as tall as 30 inches at the shoulder, easily towering over many other breeds. This sheer physical presence makes them impressive compared to other dogs.

Yet, strength isn’t just about size. Saint Bernards are strong in a functional sense, rather than in the sense of an athletic or working dog like a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois. Their history as rescue dogs equipped them with great endurance and the ability to traverse challenging terrains, but they may not match the raw power or speed of some other breeds.

Here’s a comparison table for a better visual overview:

TraitSaint BernardTraditional Guard Dog (e.g., German Shepherd)
SizeLargeMedium to Large
BarkDeep and LoudSharp and Loud
AggressionLowMedium to High
Protective InstinctHighHigh
Physical StrengthHighHigh

Remember, each dog breed has its unique strengths and purposes based on their history and genetic makeup. Comparing them isn’t about finding a winner, but about appreciating their differences.

Friendliness vs Protective Instincts in Saint Bernards

The charm of a Saint Bernard lies in its ability to blend friendliness with protective instincts.

Known for their gentle, amicable demeanor, Saint Bernards thrive on social interaction and are happiest when surrounded by their human family. They are naturally good-natured, patient, and extremely loving – qualities that make them excellent family pets.

But don’t let their affable nature fool you. When it comes to protecting their family, Saint Bernards can step up.

Their protective instincts are generally more passive, and they tend to place themselves between their family and a perceived threat rather than actively engage. This trait, coupled with their imposing size, can act as a deterrent to unwanted visitors.

It’s the perfect mix of a loving companion and a watchful protector that makes Saint Bernards such unique pets.

Taking care of a Saint Bernard requires special consideration due to their large size and heavy coat. It’s essential to invest in high-quality, breed-specific dog food to maintain their health, such as Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food.

Grooming tools are also crucial to manage their thick coat, and we recommend the FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool.

Lastly, due to their size, a sturdy and comfortable dog bed like Big Barker 7″ Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed will provide them with the necessary support and comfort.

Does a Saint Bernard Fit as a Guard Dog?

Now, back to our original question: Do Saint Bernards fit the role of a guard dog? It ultimately depends on what you’re looking for in a guard dog.

Saint Bernards may not have the aggression or attack instincts of traditional guard dogs, but they offer a unique blend of deterrence and affection. Their imposing size and deep bark can be intimidating to strangers, while their gentle and loving nature makes them great family pets.

However, if your requirement for a guard dog involves active threat engagement, then breeds like German Shepherds or Rottweilers may be a better fit. Saint Bernards, being more laid back and friendly, might not confront an intruder as readily as these breeds.

Remember, the most important thing is to choose a dog that fits well with your lifestyle and family dynamics, and not just based on their potential as a guard dog.

Related: Can Chihuahuas Be Guard Dogs


How can I train my Saint Bernard to be a guard dog?

Training a Saint Bernard to be a guard dog involves a mix of basic obedience training, socialization, and teaching them to be alert to unusual activities. A professional dog trainer with experience in guard dog training can guide you effectively.

Are Saint Bernards friendly with other pets?

Typically, Saint Bernards get along well with other pets. They have a gentle temperament and can coexist harmoniously with other dogs and even cats, especially if socialized early.

What’s the average lifespan of a Saint Bernard?

The average lifespan of a Saint Bernard is around 8 to 10 years. Like all large breeds, their lifespan can be influenced by diet, exercise, and regular veterinary care.

Are Saint Bernards suitable for all climates?

Saint Bernards have a dense coat designed for colder climates. They can struggle in hot weather and should be kept in cool, shaded areas during high temperatures to avoid heatstroke. Regular grooming can also help manage their comfort in warmer climates.

Leave a Comment