St. Bernard dog

Rough-coated St. Bernard dog

The Saint Bernard is a very ancient breed and developed from the local native Swiss dogs combined with the large Molosser or mastiff type dogs brought to Switzerland by the Romans. Clearly well-established by 1050 A.D. and used for guarding, herding and drafting work, it was only natural that some of the dogs were brought to the monk’s Hospice founded by Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon.

The Hospice served as a way station for travelers crossing the treacherous St. Bernard pass between Switzerland and Italy. Monks ventured out to look for lost travelers during storms, lead by the dogs with their keen sense of smell, savvy for avoiding avalanches and compassion for humans. When the dogs found a victim, one or two of them would lie down beside the person to keep them warm, while another dog would go back for help. The monks claim their dogs need no training for their work and it comes to them instinctively. It has been estimated that St. Bernard dogs rescued more than 2,000 humans during 300 years of service.  The most famous St. Bernard of all is Barry. In fact, before this breed received the name of Saint Bernard, they were referred to as Barryhunds (Barry dogs).

In the 1830s the monks decided to cross their Barryhunds with Newfoundland to improve the breed which had become weakened due to inbreeding. It was a successful experiment as the Saint Bernard lost none of its fine characteristics, gaining some size in the process. After the cross with Newfoundland some long-haired (rough-coated) St. Bernards appeared. At first it was thought the longer coat might benefit the dogs in the snow, but it turned out that the ice and snow clung to the long hairs and hampered the dogs’ rescue work. All long-haired dogs were given away as gifts and to this day the monks only employ the original type short-haired (smooth) variety.

The first Barryhunds were brought to England in the 1800’s and were known as Sacred Dogs. In Germany they were called Alpendog. It was not until 1880 the breed received the official moniker by which we know it today – Saint Bernard. The St.Bernard is a nanny dog extraordinaire!

American Kennel Club St. Bernard page | St. Bernard Club of America, Inc.

Read more about St. Bernards at Wikipedia

Similar breeds: Newfoundland

 

054_012

053_043 025_155
Swiss post card refers to Bernhardinerhund.
Buy this item #7129 for $20 from http://www.antiquepooch.com/
Rattlesnake Pete had a passion for St. Bernards and owned 5 of them. Buy this item #7684 for $20 from http://www.antiquepooch.com/

“Who Is Prettier” German post card.
Buy this item #8082 for $20 from http://www.antiquepooch.com/

 

 

Buy at Art.com
Master Egerton Macdona with His St. Bernard
Giclee Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
Off to School
Giclee Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
Goodnight
Art Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
Family Favourites
Art Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
Her Only Playmates
Art Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
Trust, 1888
Giclee Print
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
St. Bernard with Rescue Barrel
Photograph
Buy From Art.com
Buy at Art.com
The Faith of St. Bernard
Giclee Print
Buy From Art.com