Saint Bernard Dog Breed information
The St. Bernard Dog is a large breed of dog originally bred for rescue and as a working dog. A full-grown male can weigh between 150 and 220 lb (68 and 100 kg). There are two varieties of the breed: the short-haired or smooth-coat variety and the long-haired or rough-coat variety.
The Saint Bernard is known for its loyalty and vigilance and is tolerant of both children and animals. Because of these traits, it has become a family dog. They also make good watchdogs, as their size can be intimidating to strangers, though their temperament is gentle.
The ancestors of the St. Bernard are the herding dogs of Swiss farmers as well as hunting dogs and watchdogs. Their history has also been connected with the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass. First reports of the dogs' presence at the pass date to the 17th century, and they remained loyal companions to the monks there until 2004, when the monks began to divest themselves of the dogs and focus the time they spent on the dogs to minister to.
The most famous St. Bernard to save people at the pass was Barry (sometimes spelled Berry), who reportedly saved somewhere between 40 and 100 lives. There is a monument to Barry in the Cimetière des Chiens, and his body was preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne .
The classic St. Bernard looked very different from the St. Bernard of today, but an avalanche killed off many of the dogs used for breeding so they crossed the remaining dogs with other dogs, but in the process they lost much of their use as rescue dogs. The St. Bernard is the heaviest and largest dog breed in the world. The heaviest and largest (not tallest) dog in known history was a Saint Bernard named Benedictine, which weighed 152.5kg (336 lbs). Successive studies suggest that Benedictine was in fact 161.9 kg (357 lbs).
The St. Bernard originally was a smooth-coated dog developed to rescue travelers from the snow. In the 1830s the monks who owned and bred the dogs introduced Newfoundland blood to strengthen the breed, and this gave rise to the rough-coat St. Bernard. Although more popular, the rough-coat variety proved to be unsuitable for mountain work because the long hair tended to collect icicles. For this reason the monks kept the smooth coat variety for rescue work.
St. Bernards are very gentle giant dogs. St. Bernards are often fond of children and are loyal to their family, but, as with any dog, should not be left unsupervised with young children. It is imperative that St. Bernards should also remain very socialized because their size. They are also very prone to anxiety if left alone for long periods of time and may destroy their owner's belongings like all other dogs. It is recommended that a suitable safe environment be made available during times that the owner cannot be home. This could range anywhere from a fenced yard to a suitably sized crate (normally Extra Large). They commonly get along very well with other dogs and love high amounts of attention.
The very fast growth rate and the weight of a St. Bernard can lead to very serious deterioration of the bones if the dog does not get proper food and exercise. Many dogs are affected by hip dysplasia. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) has been shown to be hereditary in the breed .
The name "St. Bernard" originates from a travelers hospice on the often treacherous St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps between Switzerland and Italy, where the name was passed to the local dogs. The pass, the lodge, and the dogs are named for Bernard of Menthon, the 11th century monk who established the station.
"St. Bernard" was not in widespread use until the middle of the 19th century. The dogs were called "Saint Dogs", "Noble Steeds", "Alpenmastiff", or "Barry Dogs" before, and in parts of North America, they're still called "Saints".
Breed information on other dog breeds:
Text Source: Wikipedia
Thanks to Saints4Life Saint Bernard Kennels for the pictures of Saint Bernards used on this page.