St Bernard dogs are a large, working dog breed that originated in the Western Alps of Switzerland and Italy. They are known for their loyal, gentle nature and are renowned for their ability to rescue lost or stranded travelers in the Alps. In fact, it’s thought that the breed was first used by the monks of the Great St Bernard Hospice to rescue travelers from blizzards and avalanches in the late 17th century.
Originally, St Bernard dogs were bred to be watchdogs for the monastery and to herd cattle, but eventually their fame as rescue dogs spread throughout the Alps, leading to the career they are most well-known for. They worked with members of the Monastery’s rescue teams to search for and rescue stranded travelers in the Alps. The rescue dogs would wear a barrel of brandy around their neck, which would help the dogs focus during their dangerous rescue missions, as well as allowing them to provide sustenance to lost travelers.
St Bernards come in two varieties: short-haired and long-haired. The short-haired dog is the traditional type, with a medium-length coat colored orange, red and white. The long-haired variety has a flatter muzzle and a longer coat, which is often black, brown and white. They are a large breed, with males typically standing up to 28 inches tall and weighing up to 180 pounds.
St Bernards need lots of exercise and obedience training in order to remain healthy, happy and well-behaved. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and gentle nature, so are a great choice for owners who want a large, friendly companion.
The breed is not without its health issues, however. St Bernards can be prone to hip dysplasia, eye problems, heart conditions, and bloat. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the breed is purchased from a reputable breeder who follows health standards and provides health testing.
St Bernard dogs are one of the most popular breeds in the world, and have a long and storied history. Today they are still used by the monks of the Great St Bernard Hospice to search for and rescue lost travelers in the Alps, and are a popular addition to many households thanks to their loyal, gentle, and hardworking nature.