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St. Bernard Colors

Complete St. Bernard Colors in Detail Explained

Last Updated on August 14, 2023 by Denise Leo. Post first published on September 21, 2021.

Saint Bernards are a beautiful dog that was originally bred as a rescue dog breed to help people in the Swiss Alps. They have been around for centuries and were originally bred as rescue dogs to save people from avalanches and snowstorms.

This dog breed was created in the 1800s by crossing English Mastiffs with Saint Bernard farm dogs from the region. The breed has been adopted around the world, and has been referred to as “the gentle giant” or “the Alpine rescuer.” This is due to their coat’s natural insulation that has helped them stay warmer while searching for lost travelers in the snow.

The colors of the St. Bernard were important right from the start, as they needed to be easily seen in snow conditions. This is why the main colors are contrasting ones of shades of brown and white. Not all St. Bernards live in the snow, now but these colors have remained in the standard of the breed.

Saint Bernards do come in a variety of colors, including black, white, and shades of brown, including reddish-brown, orange, or even gold. Many Saint Bernards have two shades mixed with white, in other words, they actually have three different colors and this usually includes white. Typically, when most people picture the typical St. Bernard, they will think in most cases, of the brown and white coat.

What Colors Do Saint Bernards Come In?

As with most dog breeds, there are many different varieties of St. Bernard colors; however, the most common color of the Saint Bernard is usually brown with patches of white on its chest and face. These white patches are not always the exact same shape on each dog and this is one way that each dog is unique and how the owner can identify his dog from others with the same color.

The most popular color combinations for a Saint Bernard include black, brown, and white, in other words, most St. Bernards are tri-color dogs which gives them a unique look. They can also be black with white markings or any variation of this pattern such as tan markings on their chest and legs, or snowflake-tipped paws.

Another interesting color is Apricot. Apricot is also known as fawn, a coat with a peach-colored hue that typically fades into cream on the ears and muzzle. It is essentially a shade of orange and white. St. Bernard’s colors include different shades of orange, tan, and gold.

St. Bernard Colors
St. Bernard Colors

One reason why there are shades of orange, tan, and gold in addition to the standard colors is that in some St. Bernards a pigment called phaeomelanin causes the changed color. The color depends on the amount of this pigment present in the animal.

With orange and white Saint Bernard colors, white always covers more of the dog’s body than the orange. The same is true for reddish-brown colored dogs. White predominates.

One other important fact to mention about the St. Bernard colors is that they are described with the base color first and then the second color of patches on the body. This means that if the St. Bernard color is described as white and brown, then the majority of the dog’s coat will be white with smaller brown patches. Any dog described as brown and white, will be different, with most of the dog brown and having some smaller white patches.

Because of the above, there are many different variations of breed standard Saint Bernard colors for these dogs.

The St. Bernard often has a black patch resembling a mask like Zorro over its eyes. This is quite a desired feature and very typical. Brownish-yellow and white dogs also have a black masks. This is a very unique characteristic of the Saint Bernard.

Amongst all these variations in St. Bernard breed colors is the splash pattern, or piebald as it is sometimes called. What this means is that the dog has a main color of, say, reddish-brown and then odd, irregular splashes of white which can be found anywhere on the dog.

However, these splashes are found on the standard areas of the dog where white appears such as the tail, stomach, and feet. Each dog of this type will have unique shaped and differently sized patches of white on its body in these areas.

St. Bernard Colors
St. Bernard Colors

Non- Standard St. Bernard Colors

There are several other colors that are not considered standard and therefore not recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, Saint Bernard Club, the Bernard Club of America, the National Breed Club, or the top Kennel Clubs.

One of these variations is any single color or solid color Saint Bernard. This is quite uncommon for Saint Bernards, but why is it undesirable? The only good reason seems to be that the influential kennels and breeders label this as non-standard and don’t allow it to be a valid color of the breed and so it becomes less valuable and less prized. It also becomes less common because they are not bred in any numbers, and certainly not intentionally.

There is also talk from owners that these single colors also suffer from more disease and health issues, but this is not actually proved.

In the same way, Saint Bernard colors lacking any white markings appears to be unpopular, and according to breeders and top kennels, not recognized as a standard or valued color for the breed.

Again, black and white dogs are not accepted Saint Bernard dog colors and are only the result of inbreeding to avoid any of the pigment that causes orange, red or brown to color the fur. Most breeders and kennels would have nothing to do with breeding this variety of color, as it is deemed non-standard.

White Saint Bernard Dogs

Finally, there are all white solid color Saint Bernards who are albinos and normally have health problems. Because of this, they are usually not bred due to ethical reasons. Who would willingly breed an unhealthy dog?

Which Part of the Saint Bernard is Normally White?

White is one of the most common of the Saint Bernard dog colors, and where it is present it is always on the stomach, the chest, the end of the tail, and the feet. A white area on the nape of the Saint Bernard’s neck is also a desirable feature.

Because of the distinct and contrasting markings of the Saint Bernard dog , they are said to look similar to a priest, with his white vest and collar. Some also say that the purpose of the black mask on its face is to protect it from the glare of the sun as it reflects off the snow where the dog usually lives.

St. Bernard Colors
St. Bernard Colors

What are the Most Popular Saint Bernard Colors?

Many people wonder which color of the St Bernard dog is the most popular. It turns out that the most prized color is actually white with brown patches.

This is because in olden times when people were hunting these dogs, they wanted to make sure that they would be easily spotted. This made sense because if they were hunting in a snowstorm or another situation where visibility was low, then it would be very hard to spot a light brown dog against the snowy background.

A study by Cornell University found that people prefer darker-colored dogs because they are associated with fewer health problems.

Subjects in the study were shown pictures of three different colors of St Bernard dogs and asked to rank them. The results showed that black, dark brown, and dark gray St Bernards were ranked higher than light brown, light gray, and white ones.

What Are the Rarest Saint Bernard Colors?

This section is about the rarest colors of the Saint Bernard dog. Some of the rarest colors are Fawn, Black, Blue, and White.

The rarest color of a dog discovered so far is the blue Saint Bernard dog. The other rare colors are black and white. In the UK, the rarest color of St. Bernard is black because there are less than 10 black-coloredSaintBernards registered there.

Many sources about the most expensive color of the Saint Bernard dog will tell you that the most costly color of these dogs is gold. Also, mahogany and white, brownish-yellow, and grizzle are very expensive Saint Bernard colors. In the US, these colors can cost thousands of dollars.

Another rare and expensive color is described as brindle, which resembles the stripes of a tiger. This effect happens because of two different colors appearing in a pattern of stripes, the two colors are not distinctly separated so it is quite a subtle effect.

St. Bernard Colors
Saint Bernard Colors

AKC and FCI Saint Bernard Breed Standard Colors 

AKC Standard Colors

FCI Breed Standard Colors

Brindle & White

White with clear Red patches

Brown & White

Brownish-Yellow

Mahogany & White

Brindle Reddish-Brown

Orange & White

Broken Reddish-Brown mantle

Red & White

Rust & White

White & Brown

White & Orange

White & Red

What Effect Does Saint Bernard Colors Have on the Dog?

Scientists at Cambridge University’s Dog Cognition Centre also concluded that the color of a dog’s coat had a direct impact on its behavior, such as how obedient it could be or how sociable it was.

It is believed by many that the possible colors of a St. Bernard dog may determine its personality or health.

This could be supported by research carried out on Labradors by the University of Sydney, which connected the color of the dog to certain diseases of the skin and ear, and to the length of time the dog lived. This suggests that for some dogs color may have an impact on health and lifespan, perhaps the Saint Bernard could be the same.

There is no evidence that the coat color of a Saint Bernard dog affects their personality or temperament. However, many owners would disagree. Dogs with white coats are said to be more likely to be polite and not pester people too much, whereas dogs with brown coats were more aggressive and were more likely to get into fights.

If you try to find out whether the coat color of a Saint Bernard actually changes either the behavior or health of the dog, you’ll probably find that most experts will tell you that no, it doesn’t make any difference. However, as we have seen, there is some evidence that suggests that dog owners do not feel this way. This is not hard research of course, but it is worthy of consideration.

Also, despite the lack of hard evidence and research, the kennel clubs and breeders claim that the undesirable colors also carry health risks and that is the reason for declaring them as untypical of the breed.

It is, however, a fact that albino dogs do have more health problems and are affected by different diseases. One of these problems is deafness.

St. Bernard Colors
Saint Bernard Colors

Do St. Bernard Puppies Change Color Later?

The short answer to this is yes, a Saint Bernard puppy may change color. However, the change in color will be quite subtle and not make a huge difference to the appearance of the grown dog. For example, very red Saint puppies may change their color to mahogany. The reason why this happens is simple, it is due to the change in pigment as the dog grows older.

Saint Bernard’s Health

Don’t forget that an adult dog that gets a lot of sunshine or that has health issues can change its color also. This is also often down to poor nutrition. Making sure your dog gets Omega oils, eats some fish from time to time, and has a healthy and balanced diet will ensure a healthy coat that maintains its color and shine. It will also make for a happier dog.

Saint Bernard Colors
Saint Bernard Colors

Saint Bernard Grooming Tips

So, now that you know all about the many different Saint Bernard dog colors that are available, I hope you will do your best to look after your dog and maintain its shiny coat if and when you get one. If you want to keep your dog’s color looking as good as it can, you will need to pay attention to grooming and cleaning the fur.

Grooming your Saint Bernard may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple with these helpful tips.

It’s important to start the process of regularly grooming from a young age with Saint Bernard puppies. Brush the thick coat of your Saint Bernard puppy several times a week to keep the coat looking good. Fur should be combed out and pushed back so that you can see their hairline clearly; this will keep them looking clean-cut all day long! If he has longer fur on his legs or neck area, then use an anti-static brush. From time to time you should also use a good quality shampoo to clean the coat of your dog.

Shampooing once every six weeks is also recommended for maximum shine – make sure its sensitive skin-friendly shampoo and apply diluted conditioner after washing.

This will help to remove dirt and bring out the full color of the dog hair so that it looks really good. Your dog will thank you for this attention, although with such a big and muscular dog it may sometimes be a struggle to give your dog a bath or thorough brushing. Don’t neglect this.

St. Bernard Colors
St. Bernard Colors

St. Bernard Colors Final Thoughts

The Saint Bernard is a big, friendly dog who’s also very gentle with children and other animals. They have been used as rescue dogs by mountain climbers. Saint Bernards come in many colors.

All dogs have specific needs depending on dog breed and size, so it’s essential to know if your new pup has any special requirements before you adopt them.

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References and Further Reading:

[1] American Kennel Club, Saint Bernard Information.