St Bernard vs English Mastiff – A Detailed Comparison Of Both Dog Breeds

Hello, my name’s Megan and I am the proud owner of Tally, my adorable Cockapoo.

My friend was talking about getting a dog and could not make up her mind between a St Bernard and an English Mastiff.

Now there is one Mastiff in our village although not a St Bernard, so I thought I would check out the difference between the two breeds and see if either was distinctly better than the other.

Short Introduction to the Dogs Comparison: St Bernard vs English Mastiff 

Saint Bernards were first used to guard the grounds of the hospice Saint Bernard in Switzerland. They were used for finding lost travellers and saving their lives.

Today they have become family dogs although they are still used as show dogs in obedience trials and weight pulling competitions.

The Mastiff is one of the oldest dog breeds, with records of them being around for 5,000 years.

Back then the Mastiff was a ferocious war dog, but these days they make fine companions for people who can accommodate his great size and put up with the drool!

Both breeds drool although the Mastiff drools far more than the St. Bernard. Both are often regarded as more ‘man dogs’ simply because of their size.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Size: Which is bigger?

A cute puppyThe average Saint Bernard can grow up to anywhere between 140 to 180 pounds, while English Mastiffs can grow to be 230 pounds.

Both male Saint Bernards and male English Mastiffs have a shoulder height of around 30 inches, and the females of both breeds are slightly smaller.

Both the Saint Bernard and the English Mastiff require proper training early to prevent them from pulling.

Both are classified as large dogs, so, if you can house a big dog, either will work.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Temperament: How do They Behave?

The Saint Bernard lives up to his name in that he truly is a saintly dog – gentle, patient, and calm.

This breed has no need to be aggressive because his size is often enough to deter strangers.

St Bernards are loyal to their owners and very protective, although without aggression.

They love to play, they love to walk and run or hike, although care should be taken that they do not overheat. They make an overall great companion dog.

If ever there was a ‘grand dog’, it is the Mastiff. He is a mixture of grandeur and kindness.

He may be docile, but he is also courageous, always dignified, and never shy or nasty. He does not have a vicious bone in his body!

A mastiff who has been well socialised will at first treat strangers with aloofness. He will step between you if he feels you are in danger.

Although his size is possibly enough to deter people, the Mastiff is incredibly passive and calm.

Both breeds are loyal and docile, although the Mastiff is known to be one of the dogs who truly is close to their master.

The calm demeaner for both dogs make them great family pets although neither is recommended for mall children.

While they will never knowingly hurt a child, they may accidentally knock them over with a tail swipe.

Mastiffs are also known to be great snorers as well as being very good at farting!

There are some diets which will help control the second issue, but you will not be able to control the snoring, it is just what this breed does!

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Life Span: What’s Their Life Expectancy

Large dog by a treeUnfortunately, both breeds have the shortest life spans of all the dog breeds.

The life span of the St Bernard is between 8-10 years while the Mastiff is much the same at between 7-12.

They average out at about 7 years although it is not unusual for them to reach 10 years old.

The reason for the short life span is all to do with their huge size and the strain that this places on the heart.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Health: Are They Prone to Health Conditions?

Moving on from life span, we find that St Bernards suffer hip dysplasia as well as elbow dysplasia. They also suffer from Entropion which is an eye defect which causes the eyelid to roll inward and irritates or hurts the eyeball.

St Bernards can suffer from epilepsy and have mild or severe seizures. This can be hereditary so you should be sure to check his parentage.

There is a heart condition known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy which is also common in St Bernards. This causes the heart muscles to become very thin, making it difficult to work properly.

This can lead to heart failure, weight loss, collapse and difficulty breathing.

As with most other large breeds cataracts are a common issue as are allergies and Bloat. For this reason, your St Bernard should be fed three smaller meals daily instead of one large one.

The Mastiff suffers from Progressive Retinol Atrophy (PRA), which is a degenerative eye disorder eventually causing blindness.

Mastiffs suffer from seizures because of epilepsy, and Cystinuria which is an inherited kidney condition.

They also suffer from Bloat so the same routine of three smaller meals instead of one large one should be followed.

Like the St Bernard, the Mastiff suffers from hip and elbow dysplasia which will lead to Arthritis eventually.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Appearance: What do They Look Like?

Large DogThe head of the St Bernard is huge! It is broad with well-developed cheekbones. The muzzle is not tapered.

The ears are medium sized and set high on the head. The nose is normally black and large with clear nostrils.

The eyes are normally dark brown and deep-set with the neck being thick. The tail is bushy and long and can vary in colour between red, red and white or brindle.

The Mastiff is a large, heavy dog with a square head and a short muzzle. They normally have a black mask around the eyes which is also seen on the ears.

The eyes are wide apart and dark in colour. Ears are shaped like a ‘v’ and seem rather small in proportion to the rest of the body.

The tail starts off quite high up and tapers to a point. Mastiffs have large amounts of skin which hangs in folds and wrinkles around the head and neck.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Shedding: What Kind of Coats do They Have?

The St Bernard comes in two types of coat, one short and the other long. The shorter the coat, the more smooth but dense it will be.

You will find that the fur is slightly bushy around the thigh area and the tail is covered with long, thick hair.

In the long coat, the fur is slightly wavy although it is never shaggy or curly. The colours vary from red with white or white with red.

The red can vary in shades. White often occurs on the chest area and around the nose. You will also find white on the feet and tail tip.

The Mastiff coat comes with a short outer coat and a dense undercoat. This may range in colour from fawn to apricot and can even have black stripes.

The muzzle ears, nose and rims of the eyes are normally dark, and some have a small amount of white on the chest.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Grooming: How Much do They Require?

It is vital that you brush your St Bernard at least three times a week. The short coat can be kept smooth with a hound glove, while the long hair needs a pin brush.

If you notice mattes behind the ears you need to brush them out before they cause discomfort.

You don’t need to bath the St Bernard frequently, although when you do you may want to do it outside, simply because of the size in the bathroom!

Baths in the winter must be inside to keep them from getting colds.

A snowy dog

The eye area of the St Bernard often develops stains around them, so you need to keep them clean. There are special dog shampoos which will do this without irritating the eyes.

Mastiffs have coats which are classed as shedding coats, they do indeed shed heavily.

Your Mastiff will need a brush at least once a week, preferably two.

You can also use a stripping blade to keep the shedding under control and remove excess hair.

The wrinkles need to be cleaned daily otherwise there is a risk of bacterial infections.

With both breeds it is important that the teeth are cleaned every day or at least three times a week, otherwise tartar will build up.

With both breeds the nails need to be kept trimmed. The rule is if you can hear them clicking in the floor, they are too long. If you do not enjoy doing this, then see your vet to do it.

Both breeds need their ears cleaned weekly and checked for any redness which will indicate an infection.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Training: Can They be Trained Easily?

St Bernards need only moderate amounts of exercise each day, but they do need it to prevent them from becoming overweight.

Simply because of the size of these breeds they need to be trained so as not to wreck your home and garden.

Both breeds will benefit from being socialised although both need firm ground rules set and training to be consistent.

Mastiffs need daily exercise although again, care must be taken so they do not overheat. If they are not stimulated, they will become bored and destructive.

Both breeds need to be trained from very young and while they both respond well to training, they are both somewhat stubborn, so training needs to be reinforced.

If you are struggling to train your St Bernard or English Mastiff we have created a great article which reviews Brain Training 4 Dogs an amazing programme that can teach your dog amazing tricks!

If you would like to see our review of this click here!

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Availability: Are They a Rare Dog Breed?

Both breeds are readily available. Because they are not as much in demand as other new breeds, there are less puppy farms around.

They do exist however, and you should take care when buying your pup that you get it from a reputable breeder and not a puppy farm.

Make sure that you see at least one of the parents and ask plenty of questions about the parent’s medical records.

Never take a pup home before it is 8 weeks old. Any breeder who encourages you to do this should be avoided.

Your pup should stay with his mother until he is 8 weeks old before he leaves her.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Diet: What do They Eat?

Large dog running

Both breeds should be fed smaller meals three times a day instead of one large meal.

St Bernard diet should include fruits, eggs, and vegetables as well as good quality meat. He will eat on average 6 cups of food a day.

The mastiff eats a pure meat diet containing 21-25% protein and 10% fat.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Family Dog: Are They Good with Children?

Both breeds are wonderful around children, but both have the tendency to knock small children over.

Both breeds are suited for families with older kids and both are patient and tolerant with them.

Both the St Bernard and the Mastiff have no objection to snuggling up with their owners.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Environment: Where Are They Best Suited?

Although the St Bernard can live in small spaces, he wold prefer a yard of some sort where he can spread out.

St Bernards drool, shed and manage to track in mud and dirt after most walks so if you are fastidious, then this may not be the breed for you.

Mastiffs need space, they do not adapt well to apartments. They need a garden to roam around in and it should be secure. They also drool profusely and shed a huge amount.

If you cannot provide these conditions, then you should choose a different breed which will be more suitable to where you live.

St Bernard vs English Mastiff Running Costs: Are They Expensive to Look After?

Both breeds cost about the same in their daily living needs, with both eating a good amount of food.

The Mastiff may cost more as his diet is of meat while the St Bernard eats vegetables and fruits as well as meat.

In normal healthy conditions, the vet bills should be about the same and even if either need surgery, the amount should even out. Neither breed is more predisposed to get ill.

Grooming for both breeds is roughly the same, with regular visits to a professional groomer if you do not have the space to bath a dog of that size.

If you can groom a dog that size we have a great article about how to groom a dog!

Final Thoughts: St Bernard vs English Mastiff 

Large puppy dogThe St Bernard is a good choice for an inexperienced pet owner, but the Mastiff is not a good choice for someone who has never owned a dog before.

Both are great with children, although both are clumsy and can knock smaller kids over.

The Mastiff is easier to groom overall than the St Bernard and brushing takes slightly less time.

As for barking, the Mastiff will back occasionally while the St Bernard will very rarely bark.

Both dogs ideally need a house with a garden and are truthfully not suited to apartment living so if this or financial outlay for food is an issue, then you may opt for another breed.

People who choose either of these breeds find that they fall in love with their dogs and they become firm family pets.

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