Originally bred as rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps, the Saint Bernard breed is known for its massive size and gentle nature, which usually come in a variety of coat colors that not many may know about.
However, regardless of their coat color, Saint Bernards are recognized for their friendly and calm demeanor, which makes them excellent family pets and therapy dogs.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the different coat colors and patterns of Saint Bernards, including how these colors relate to health and how to predict the colors of puppies once they become adults. Read on!
How Many Saint Bernard Colors Are There?
Multiple leading kennel organizations, including the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), have documented a sum of 13 recognized colors for Saint Bernards.
As per the breed standards, the accepted colors for Saint Bernards are as follows:
- Brindle & white
- Brown & white
- Mahogany & white
- Orange & white
- Red & white
- Rust & white
- White & brown
- White & orange
- White & red
- Reddish-brown mantle
- Reddish-brown splash
- Reddish-brown brindle
Other than this, a few colors or patterns can be seen in Saint Bernards that are unique and not accepted by top kennel clubs.
The AKC, UKC, and FCI agree not to recognize the following colors due to the possibility of these not being purebred:
- Solid colored
- Black and white
- No white markings
13 Standard Saint Bernard Colors
Saint Bernards are known for their distinctive red and white coats, but did you know that they can also come in a variety of other colors? In total, there are 13 recognized standard Saint Bernard coat colors.
From classic red and white to rare hues like black and brindle, these coat variations can add a touch of individuality to this already impressive breed.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of the 13 Saint Bernard coat colors and explore what makes them so special.
1. Brindle & White
The coat pattern of brindle and white in Saint Bernards is highly distinct and sets them apart from other brindle dogs.
Unlike regular brindle dogs, the base color of this brindle is a blend of two tones without any identifiable pattern. This blending is so seamless that the two tones almost appear indistinguishable from one another.
Similar to other brindle dogs, their coat features tiger-like stripes and is usually a blend of black and brown hairs. However, it’s worth noting that white and red grizzle variations can also be found.
2. Brown & White
Saint Bernards in brown and white coats have a glossy tan-colored coat, ranging from a darkish brown to a lighter one, which is frequently mistaken for beige or silver.
Their coat is primarily brown or chocolate, with white patches in certain areas, creating a striking contrast, while their faces and ears exhibit prominent dark shadings.
3. Mahogany & White
Considered to be one of the rarest coat colors of this large breed, the mahogany and white fur of Saint Bernards possess a moderately saturated, reddish-brown base with white markings spread throughout their body.
Their eyes are adorned with a dark mask-like pigmentation around the eyes, and their ears display black shadings that highlight their distinctive two-toned coat.
4. Orange & White
Saint Bernards of this hue have a stunning combination of orange and white fur and display a deep orange-colored base coat adorned with patches of white spread across their body.
Additionally, it’s common for them to exhibit a darker mask, as well as having darker fur surrounding their ears and eyes.
Like with other breeds, the presence of phaeomelanin pigment in a dog’s skin is responsible for the orange base coloration and other related shades ranges of red, cream, gold, yellow, and tan.
The AKC has stringent guidelines dictating the required amount of white fur in Saint Bernards that determines whether they are classified as either white and orange or orange and white.
Watch this video of a snuggly orange and white Saint Bernard for you to have a visual feel of this color:
5. Red & White
The coats of red and white Saint Bernards are quite prevalent and are dominated by a red hue base. However, they display white patches on various parts of their body, particularly on their chest.
Similar to their counterparts, they also exhibit a black mask and some darker black shading around their ears.
Saint Bernards of this specific coat color may appear to have a mahogany or brown coloration as a first impression. However, when exposed to sunlight, their distinct reddish hue becomes apparent, making them astonishing.
6. Rust & White
As per the AKC, Bernards can exhibit rust as one of their red variations, which is a captivating medium shade of reddish-brown. This color is known for enhancing the visual appeal of these magnificent canines.
Although this unique coat color commonly displays white markings and a black mask, it is not a mandatory trait for them.
7. White & Brown
One might ask what the difference is between a white and brown Saint Bernard from a brown and white one. The answer to this is the first color mentioned is the base color, which applies to all breed standards.
In this case, white is the predominant color of the coat around the body of these pups, with brown markings present. However, this does not imply that they are a reversed version of the brown and white Saint Bernard.
Another distinctive feature about this particular coat color of Bernards is, ideally, the tips of tails, feet, and the area around their nose and stomach embody white fur. They also possess a dark mask on their face and dark ears.
While the AKC has set a standard, the UKC and FCI have not specified a precise amount of white color required on the dog’s body to categorize it under this coat color.
8. White & Orange
Following the example of the white and brown coat combination discussed earlier, white and orange Saint Bernard pooches have a white base coat with orange markings, and the more dominant color will invariably be white.
Additionally, just like all coat colors, the breed standard dictates that the white patches must be located in the specified areas. Their eyes are covered with a black mask, and their ears are slightly tinted with black.
9. White & Red
Despite the coat colors just interchanging between white & red and red & white, this certain color mixture has more emphasis on the white hues on their coat than red.
So, the AKC recognizes them as a distinct color. However, it is unclear whether the UKC and FCI adhere to the same regulations for these dogs during conformation shows.
They should have darker markings encircling their eyes and on their ears as well.
The distinct coat color of brownish-yellow Saint Bernards arises due to a gene mutation that results in dilution.
This mutation is caused by the D locus gene, and it has an impact on several breeds of dogs that have black, brown, or yellow fur.
Similar to the other color variations, brownish-yellow pups of this breed also possess white markings all over their body and black markings in the form of a black mask and dark tones around the ears.
11. Reddish-Brown Mantle
Saint Bernards possessing reddish-brown mantle coats have a shaded area typically found on its shoulders, sides, and back. They usually appear in reddish-brown with white, but white cannot be the primary color.
Despite this, these dogs retain identifiable brown or black masks and white markings.
12. Reddish-Brown Splash
The color pattern called splash is also referred to as piebald in dogs.
These dogs feature a reddish-brown primary base coat with completely unpredictable white markings scattered across their bodies. Typically, these markings should appear on their noses, feet, tail tips, and stomachs.
The irregular production of pigment that affects the pigmented portion of the coat results in the formation of white patches.
The disrupted pigmented coat caused by these markings differs from the ticked appearance commonly observed in breeds such as Great Danes and Dalmatians.
13. Reddish-Brown Brindle
Matching its muscular physique is this Saint Bernard’s coat, which features a striking brindle pattern, where the base is reddish-brown with tiger stripes as a highlight.
The intensity of the brindle pattern can vary from dog to dog, with some having a more subtle pattern and others having a more pronounced and bold pattern.
This variation in intensity makes each Saint Bernard pup of this coat color a unique and individual dog.
4 Non-Standard Saint Bernard Colors
Some Saint Bernard coat colors are not recognized by the AKC, UKC, and FCI because they have been mixed with other breeds to produce the color. The following are the non-standard colors of Saint Bernards:
1. Solid Colored
By reading through the whole section and the kinds of colors Saint Bernards can have, it is evident that their coats come in a combination of two standard colors and are always accompanied by white patches.
So, it is rare to see a Saint Bernard that is of a single color. Solid-colored Bernards are not favored by kennel clubs and are difficult to breed.
2. Black and White
It is a standard that Saint Bernards are to have either brown or red tones in their coat. There are some with unique white markings but lack the needed hues in their fur, which is another variation that top kennel clubs prohibit.
The prevailing belief is that dogs of this color pattern are bred solely for their aesthetic appeal and are often a result of inbreeding, which prevents the introduction of other pigments into their gene pool.
It is highly probable that these dogs will experience different health issues. Hence, this color is not accepted well by breed enthusiasts and kennel organizations.
3. No White Markings
Although there are no significant problems associated with these dogs and no health concerns are linked to the absence of the white color, Saint Bernards without white markings are not recognized.
Like the various coat colors of this breed, they also possess black masks and markings on their body.
Just like its existence in any other dog breed, albino Saint Bernards are rare and unacknowledged as they are inclined to experience multiple health problems, such as deafness and blindness.
These dogs are identifiable by their completely white coat, pinkish nose, and blue eyes.
It is crucial to be cautious of breeders who endorse breeding albino dogs since this practice is highly unethical. Such breeders prioritize neither the dog’s well-being nor the breed’s future, subjecting them to health issues.
Saint Bernard Markings
As per the AKC standard, a Saint Bernard’s point, nape of the neck, collar, chest, feet, and tail tip should all have white markings.
Ideally, the breed should also have white markings, but not required, on the muzzle, stomach, legs, and the lower portion of the tail, as well as a blaze between the eyes.
Additionally, it is desirable for Saint Bernards to have a darker shade of hair around their eyes and ears to form a distinct mask.
Do Saint Bernard Colors Affect Behavior and Health?
Contrary to popular belief about Saint Bernards, there is no evidence, both significant and scientific, indicating that coat color has any impact on behavior.
As a breeder of multiple breeds for over 10 years, I can attest that regardless of a breed’s color, the behavior of a dog will always be affected by the common nature of the breed itself, along with how each dog is trained and nurtured.
This fact holds true for Saint Bernards, too, and as validated by my colleagues who specialize in producing different colors of the breed.
On the other hand, some Saint Bernards considered non-standard by major kennel clubs and specialists are known to be more susceptible to diseases, especially those with albinism.
They are also expected to have a shorter lifespan compared to their average of 8 to 10 years.
To start, congenital blindness found in albinos typically exhibits a cloudy appearance in the eye and may be apparent at the time of a puppy’s birth; others may develop it during the initial weeks of life.
Further, they are also more at risk of congenital deafness, a defect affecting their hearing abilities from birth.
This condition’s indications may include unresponsiveness to auditory cues, excessive barking, unusual vocalizations, and hyperactive behavior.
Further, black and white Saint Bernards produced out of inbreeding are also predisposed to certain genetic illnesses, such as idiopathic epilepsy, distichiasis, dilated cardiomyopathy (DM), and osteosarcoma.
Although coloration has not yet been proven to correlate to seizure susceptibility directly, breeders who produce unregistered dogs often omit genetic testing for these health conditions.
Do Saint Bernard Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?
No different from any other dog breed, Saint Bernards have the potential to exhibit a shift in their coat color as they mature due to the development of pigment. However, this alteration in color is usually not drastic.
As an example, a Saint Bernard puppy born with a red hue could transform into a rich mahogany shade within a few months.
Although adult dogs can change their coat color, this change is generally not attributed to pigment progression.
Skin conditions, sun exposure, and inadequate nutrition are all potential factors that can contribute to a dog’s alteration in coat color.
What Color Will My Saint Bernard Puppy Be?
If you’re looking to own a Saint Bernard puppy, you may be wondering what color their coat will be as they grow into adults.
DNA testing is the most scientific approach to determining a pet’s coat color. It can also uncover health, potential genetic disorders, and ancestry in dogs.
Further, you can also ask the breeder to provide information about the pup’s pedigree and potential coat color. You can also ask to see the pup’s parents to visualize how the pup’s coat might look as it fully grows.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Rarest Saint Bernard Colors?
The following are the rarest hues found in Saint Bernards — brindle & white, brownish-yellow, and mahogany & white.
The rarity of a Saint Bernard, and dogs in general, is often a determining factor in its price. The colors that were listed above listed are those variations that are more on the expensive side.
What Is the Most Common Saint Bernard Color?
The most common coat colors in St. Bernards are white & orange, white & red, white & brown, orange & white, red & white, and brown & white.
As mentioned, since the value of a dog is often linked to its rarity, expect these specified colors to be comparatively cheaper. However, they are still relatively expensive compared to other dog breeds.
Saint Bernards are known for their iconic red and white coats and always come in 2 to 3 shades with white markings. They can also come in other variations, such as brindle and piebald.
When it comes to markings, the ideal is a symmetrical mask and white markings on the chest, feet, and tail tip.
Further, it’s worth noting that puppies’ colors can change as they grow, so it’s important to be patient when waiting for a Saint Bernard’s true coat color to emerge.
Regardless of the color, though, Saint Bernards are known for their loyal and affectionate personalities, making them a beloved breed worldwide.
If you’ve chosen the perfect Saint Bernard with the coat color that best suits your taste, we would be delighted to hear your choice through the comments section below!