The name “St. Bernard” originates from an 11th Century traveler’s lodge known as The Great St. Bernard Hospice, situated on the often treacherous Great St. Bernard Pass in the Alps, between Switzerland and Italy. The hospice acquired its first dogs between 1660 – 1670 and the breed became famous for its many Alpine rescues as well as for its large, powerful size. Saint Bernards are very tolerant of cold weather and the most famous Saint Bernards, who are said to have saved between 40 to 100 lives, were called Barry and Rutor.
The pass, the lodge, and the dogs are named for Bernard of Menthon, the 11th century Italian monk who established the place. Before the 19th century the breed was often called, Saint Dogs, Noble Steeds and even Barry Dogs.
The painting To The Rescue by John Emms portrays two Saint Bernards with brandy barrels around their neck which, according to history, was used to keep people trapped in the snow warm, until help arrived.
I have a St. Bernard, Lucy, who weighs-in at 157 lbs. She has a very loud bark, and even though she is the size of a bear, she is so soft and gentle and such an affectionate dog. Yes…she sheds a lot, she eats a lot and takes up a lot of space, but she is such a special and loved part of the family.
Saint Bernards do not like to be left on their own for long periods of time, so they make great family dogs, plus they have little tolerance for hot weather, so you need to have really good A/C in your home.
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