Saint Bernard’s are known as the rescue dogs of the Alpines, but what most don’t know about this giant breed is their rich and interesting progression through history. Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight takes a look into the life of this gentle giant.
History & Background: The origins of the Saint Bernard are thought to coincide with the Sunnenhund breeds, which are the Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs. All of these breeds are descendants of the molosser breed that was brought into the Swiss Alps by the ancient Romans. In 1707, the Saint Bernard was first recorded by the monks of the St. Bernard Pass. It’s believed the monks and surrounding famers and dairymen used these dogs as livestock guard as well as rescue people from avalanches high in the mountains. With its incredible strength this dog would pull people from the deep snowy drifts and cart them off to safety.
The original Saint Bernard is probably very different looking from the dog we know today. The Saint Bernard has a striking resemblance to the Newfoundland and for good reason. During the winter of 1816 through 1818, many Saint Bernards died themselves from being stuck in avalanches, so the dog were bred with Newfoundlands in an attempt to preserve the breed.
The Saint Bernard is named after Saint Bernard of Menthon, but was called many other things before earning it’s lasting name, such as “Saint Dogs”, “Noble Steeds”, “Alpenmastiff”, or “Barry Dogs.”
Some famous Saint Bernards include movie characters Beethoven and Cujo, sports mascots including Gumbo of the New Orleans Saints and even J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, owned a Saint Bernard named Porthos.
Weight: 130 to 180 pounds is the standard, but St. Bernard’s have been known to range from 100-200 pounds.
Coat: Saint Bernard’s have a short, dense and flat coat that, according to the standard, shoulnd’t be rough to the tough. However, some fanciers say a rough coat does exist. The legs and neck are sometimes very bushy and the tail is very much so.
Color: The Saint Bernard’s coloring is usually red on white or white on red but majority of color should always be white. The red coloring can be of various shades and the breed standard requires the dog to have white chest, feet and tip of tail, noseband, collar or spot on the nape. Black facial masking around the eyes, nose and lips is common.
Appearance: This breed has some very distinctive characteristics one being the loveable droopy eyes. It can’t be forgotten that this dog is very large, so the features will also be large. A large nose, nostrils and muzzle, large, muscular legs and even a broad tail are A Saint Bernard has a massive head and is a very muscular and tall animal.
Temperament: Saint Bernards can be best described as gentle giants. This dog is patient, obedient and great with all ages. Friendly to a fault and highly intelligent, this dog is easily trainable and wants nothing more than to please their owners. The dog is a wonderful social companion though needs to be trained early because of it’s size in adulthood. This dog serves as a good watchdog too because of its ease in training and sheer size. A Saint Bernard is sometimes said to have a sixth sense of coming danger because of its history as a guide in storms and after avalanches. This dog needs plenty of exercise and if living in an apartment needs to be taught to heel early in life.
Health: Because this dog is so large it will be prone to bone and joint problems in later life. The likelihood of bone and joint problems can be exacerbated by deficient food and exercise. Hip and elbow dysplasia as well as osteosarcoma (bone cancer.) Other health issues include skin, eye and heart problems as well as bloating, twisting of the stomach and epilepsy. This large breed dog usually lives 7 to 10 years.
Product Suggestions: A BIG dog needs BIG treats! The 14-18 Inch Monster Bone is perfect for the Saint Bernard because it is truly massive and will keep this breed entertained for hours and hours! Also, large and in-charge at Best Bully Sticks is the Glow in the Dark Stuff and Throw Large Dog Toy Ball by Wigzi. This ball has many different functions to keep your Saint Bernard entertained. It glows in the dark, dispenses treats and is large enough to create a challenge for this giant breed!
Do you own or know a Saint Bernard? Tell us your Saint Bernard story in the comments section!