Saint Bernard Colors Explained

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Saint Bernard Colors ExplainedPerhaps you’re already familiar with the Saint Bernard thanks to movies like Beethoven and Cujo, but they’re not just known for their big screen roles. While it may look intimidating, this gentle giant is celebrated for its search and rescue skills and hard-working nature. What many people don’t know is that these dogs come in many different colors — in this article, we discuss all the various Saint Bernard colors available to you. 

What is the Saint Bernard?

Much like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Saint Bernard is an iconic symbol of the Swiss Alps, known for their large size, striking appearance, and gentle demeanor. Their work as rescue dogs that save human lives and their reputation for getting along with small children make them a top choice for anyone looking for a good watchdog. They’re also known to be very alert and exhibit a calm demeanor that allows them to quickly learn good manners. 

Saint Bernards were originally bred by Bernard of Menthon, a monk who was worried about how many pilgrims were reported missing on their way to Rome. Unfortunately, there is a treacherous point in this path where the weather can change in an instant. To help the pilgrims, the monk decided to build a shelter to lend a hand to tired pilgrims but he needed help which is why he developed Saint Bernards.  

While these dogs have been around for centuries, the breed standard for Saint Bernards has changed over the years, and they look very different today from what they once did. One of the important differences in today’s breed standard is the accepted coat varieties that make these dogs so magnificent to look at. Below, we dive into the many Saint Bernard dog colors available for you to choose from. 

What are the Different St. Bernard Colors? 

These strong and muscular dogs are available in plenty of different shades, though not all of them are accepted, and judging which are and which aren’t can be complicated. This is because there many different kennel clubs, including The American Kennel Club ( AKC ), United Kennel Club (UKC), and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), and they all have different breed standards. 

When going by AKC standards, the standard Saint Bernard colors accepted are the following: 

  • White and orange
  • White and red
  • White and brown
  • Red and white
  • Rust and white
  • Mahogany and white
  • Brown and white
  • Orange and white
  • Brindle grizzle

However, UKC will say that acceptable colors for this breed will include every shade of white and red, along with shades of white and brown. The FCI, on the other hand, will say that acceptable colors will include white with red patches, brindle reddish-brown, brownish-yellow, and a broken reddish-brown mantle. These are the 13 coat colors accepted for Saint Bernards; while other color combinations can occur with these dogs, many kennel clubs won’t accept them. 

This is due to the fact that these colors haven’t been observed enough, and experts will still need to work out if they’re connected to particular health issues. Much like coat colors, there are also specific markings that are recognized by the experts. Below, we list down the breed standard for markings on Saint Bernards as listed by the UKC, since it has a more detailed description, which needs to have white markings around these body parts: 

  • Nape of the neck
  • Noseband
  • Chest
  • Collar
  • Tip of the tail
  • Feet  

Other desirable marking can be found in these additional areas but aren’t required: 

  • Blaze between eyes
  • Muzzle
  • Legs
  • Tummy
  • Lower half of the tail

Moreover, Saint Bernards will come with a dark mask around their eyes along with a darker shade around their ears. Much like with the white spots, dark marks aren’t required but a pup should have them if you’re looking for a dog that perfectly fits the accepted breed description. Keep in mind that as you read further on, these are the kinds of marks that we refer to, so be sure to scroll back up if you’re confused about a particular color or marking. 

Brown and White 

The brown and white Saint Bernard will come with a shiny, tan-brown coat that can be confused with beige or silver. They come with white or black shadings around the body which is in contrast with the rest of their body. This is the coat color that most will think about when thinking of a Saint Bernard; their fur will range from a light brown to a dark brown color and will come with white marks around their bodies as well as dark shades on their ears and faces.  

Orange and White 

This is also a standard combination for this dog breed and you will commonly see it in animated movies or cartoons because it can give them a cute appearance. The orange base color they come in is made of a pigment known as phaeomelanin, which can be found on the dog’s skin. Other shades that this pigment can create include red, tan, cream, yellow, and gold, which can also be found in these purebred dogs.    

Brindle Grizzle 

Brindle grizzle Saint Bernards carry a unique color combination because it’s actually made of two different colors; you may recognize them as a result of the tiger-like marks on their fur. What makes this different from a regular brindle shade is that Grizzle dogs come with a coat that doesn’t have a discernable pattern, which means that the shades are blended so thoroughly that they appear to be the same shade. But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that they have subtle differences, and will mostly have a mix of black and brown hairs. 

Mahogany And White

These dogs will have a coat with a reddish-brown color that’s medium-saturated; contrasting this are white markings across different parts of the body, along with a black mask on their ears and eyes. A mahogany and white St. Bernard is among the rarest Saint Bernard colors — they come with a red-brown base coat that’s medium-saturated with white marks all around their body. It’s likely for these dogs to come with darker shadings around their face, ears, and head, along with a black mask. 

Red And White

Equipped with a red base coat, these dogs have contrasting white markings around their body (especially a white chest) as well as a black mask on their heads. This is also a fairly common coat type in these dogs and will come with a darker shade around the ears. At first, a white and red Saint Bernard will look more brown or mahogany but once you see their coat under the sun, you’ll see a distinct and gorgeous red color.     

Rust And White 

According to the AKC, the color of rust is one of the varieties of red seen in Saint Bernards and is actually a medium-brilliant, reddish-brown hue. Because it’s also caused by the phaeomelanin pigment, it’s classified as a variation of the color red, which can be a particularly striking color for such beautiful dogs. When born with this color, these pups will usually come with a black mask and white markings, but this isn’t always the case.  

White And Brown

If you think this is the same color listed above, you’re mistaken; white and brown Saint Bernards are completely different from brown and white ones. The key is in the base color, which is always the first color mentioned in the name — in brown and white dogs, the base color is brown and in white and brown pups, the base color is white. In this case, the stomach, nose, feet, and the tip of the tail will always be white, and a black mask is desirable but keep in mind that the FCI and the UKC haven’t specified the amount of white color to the darker shade to classify it as a variant of this dog’s coat. 

White And Orange

Much like the combination mentioned above, a white and orange Saint Bernard comes with a white base coat and orange markings. In this color variation, white and orange Saint Bernards will always have a more dominant white background. Again, the white markings need to be present along the necessary points around the body along with a black tint on their eyes and ears.  

White And Red 

These dogs are similar to the red and white variant mentioned above but they also come with more white color in their fur compared to the darker shade. They will also come with dark marks around their ears and eyes. While the AKC has a strict distinction between these two similar but different coat colors, the FCI and the UKC aren’t as well defined.   

Brownish-Yellow 

Brownish-yellow Saint Bernards are the result of a gene mutation that causes color dilution — the specific gene involved is known as the D Locus. This can affect many brown, yellow, and black dogs, and much like most of the other color combinations, these dogs will come with a black mask and white markings. While these colors are acceptable by breed standards, they’re not as desirable and won’t often be seen in dog shows.  

Reddish-Brown Brindle

These stunning dogs come with a base color that’s a combination of reddish-brown along with stripes that resemble a tiger’s — the stripes can vary in color between being hardly noticeable to almost pure black. This striking coat is also impressive to see on an adult Saint, as it highlights their muscular body. Furthermore, this base color is also referred to as fawn, where some markings will be present on their feet and chest. 

Reddish-Brown Splash

This coat pattern is another way of saying piebald, which means that these Saints will come with a reddish-brown base with irregular white markings that can appear anywhere on their bodies. However, they will still need to have marks around their stomachs, feet, noses, and the tip of the tail — the white patches you might notice are the result of low pigment production. While this causes an interruption in the pigmented areas of their coat, they won’t be clearly defined. 

Reddish-Brown Mantle

Another reddish-brown variant of the St Bernard, this dog’s coat color will come with a shaded portion that’s usually located along the sides, back, and shoulders. These shadings will either be white or reddish-brown but the dominant color will never be white and they should come with distinguishable white marks and dark masks. When observed carefully, these dogs will look like they’re wearing a blanket, making it an interesting pattern to have. 

What Are Other Saint Bernard Colors?

Unfortunately, there are a few colors considered to be non-standard by the AKC, UKC, and FCI, which is one thing that these organizations are united about. These colors aren’t accepted because they have a connection to a higher risk of developing certain health problems.  

Solid Color 

As we have discussed above, all accepted Saint Bernard colors come with a combination of different shades; while patterns such as mantle, brindle, and splash are desirable, single colors aren’t common in Saint Bernards. This is because Saint Bernards with solid colors are deemed undesirable by all major kennel clubs. The reason for this is that such colors are related to various congenital disabilities.  

No White Markings

This is another option that many people don’t like; while there aren’t serious issues with these dogs, and no health options are connected to their lack of markings, these dogs are also deemed undesirable. As discussed above, having white markings is essential for a Saint Bernard to be deemed acceptable. Because of this, Bernies without white marks are undesirable, and even if they’re a mix of various colors, they should still have white fur around their body. 

Black And White

There are some Saint Bernards that come with distinctive markings but don’t have any brown or red tones on their medium-length coat. Unfortunately, this is another combo that isn’t accepted by the major kennel clubs purely because of its odd appearance. It’s also commonly the result of inbreeding, which is why no other pigment was able to enter the litter’s genetic pool — because of this, such practices are condemned by dog lovers. 

Albino 

Unfortunately, albino animals carry a wide range of health conditions such as deafness and blindness, which is the same with Saint Bernards. An albino Saint Bernard is easily identifiable by their snow-white coat without any markings and their pinkish nose. Moreover, rather than dark eyes, they will come with red or blue eyes — it’s also deemed unethical to breed albinos since this promotes the reproduction of dogs with hearing and sight problems. 

Health and Life Expectancy 

The Saint Bernard breed is expected to live around 8 to 10 years when given the proper love and care they deserve. Their majestic appearance combined with their gentle nature is packaged into a large body, which may come with higher risks for certain health problems. Some of the most common health issues they face include hip dysplasia, bloat, and heart problems. Correct breeding practices, proper exercise, and diet, as well as regular veterinary check-ups, are all essential for maintaining their health and well-being. 

Saint Bernard Colors FAQs 

Below are a few questions that you may have about these stunning canines, which are related to their coat colors. 

Will the Color of a Saint Bernard Affect its Price?

Like with many other other dog breeds, a rare color will cost more than others and this is the same for Saint Bernards. Among the rarest colors (which cost more) for St. Bernard dogs are the following: 

  • Brindle grizzle
  • Mahogany and white
  • Brownish-yellow

However, the exact prices for each individual dog will depend on the competition in your area and the reputation of your breeder. Some of the more common colors for these dogs include: 

  • White and brown
  • Orange and white
  • Red and white
  • White and red
  • Brown and white

It’s also important to remember that Saint Bernards are big dogs and will therefore be expensive no matter their color. Black and white dogs are also quite common but as discussed above, these dogs aren’t the best choice since they’re often the result of inbreeding and may come with medical issues.  

Will the Color of a Saint Bernard Affect How Much It Sheds? 

Just like the Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dog, and the Tibetan Mastiff, these dogs will come with very fluffy and usually long hair and thick coats. As such, they will shed a lot everywhere, so it’s essential to brush them every day to reduce the amount of vacuuming you need to do. This will also help their coat stay glossy and well-kept — regardless of their color, Saint Bernards all shed the same amount, so think about whether you want light or dark-colored hairs around your home. 

Are Saint Bernards Hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, these dogs aren’t hypoallergenic, and they will shed quite a bit. But did you know that all dogs will shed a bit — it’s their dander that will cause the allergies, so no dog is actually 100% hypoallergenic. Because they shed quite a bit, these dogs aren’t the best choice for those who get the sniffles around furry friends. 

Responsible Breeding Practices and Adoption

If you’re serious about adding this large dog to your family, it’s best to look for a reputable breeder who will prioritize the health and welfare of their dogs. Responsible breeders will provide all their dogs with proper care and socialization, conduct health screenings, and give information on any health conditions in their litter. This will ensure that you get the best Saint Bernard puppy for your home while ensuring that it’s the right dog for your needs. 

However, you can also opt for adoption and see if you can secure a Saint Bernard from a local shelter or a rescue organization. This can be a great way to give a dog in need a new home with a loving family.     

Conclusion

Apart from their rescue work, Saint Bernards are known for their gentle nature and lovable personality that makes them a great companion for young children. They also have a boundless capacity for loyalty and love, which is why they will make wonderful family members. Just keep in mind that because they’re such big dogs, they come with higher risks for health problems, but as long as you put the welfare of the dog ahead of everything else, you can give these affectionate dogs a new home.

 

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