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St Bernard


The St. Bernards are massive canines that are exceptionally popular all over the world. They may have a large-sized outer structure, but they are immensely kind, caring, friendly and warm from the inside. St. Bernards are known to make great family companions because of their even temperament and gentle personality. This is a peaceful giant breed that stays true and loyal to their owners and loved ones.

Although this is quite a well-known breed, there are a fair number of things that many people do not know about the St. Bernards, and for them, below are some interesting facts about the gentle giants of the dog community.

General Facts about St. Bernards

  • Name:

    Bernards received their distinct name from a place where injured travelers were treated. This place was known as Great St. Bernard hospice. And, it was meant for the travelers who commute the dangerous Great St. Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy.
  • Alternate Names:

    These dogs have been called by several different names during their lifetime. Prior to the 19th century, St. Bernards were known by many other names such as Noble Steeds, Barry Dogs, the Alpenmastiffs, Saint Dogs et cetera.
  • Purpose:

    Saint Bernards, true to their name, served a saintly purpose in the past. Initially, they were only used for guarding purposes and they effectively protected the hospice, set up by the monks, from intruders or any external harm. But, after some years, their main talent was discovered. These dogs had an awesome sense of smell and direction. Hence, they were used as pathfinders. They also sniffed out a lot of lost travelers, who were passing through the dangerous alpine pass between Switzerland and Italy, because of their powerful nose and were responsible for saving thousands of lives.

Facts about St. Bernards’ Body

  • Size:

    Well, it's no secret that Saint Bernards are one of the largest breeds to be alive today. On average, an adult St. Bernard can reach a height (at the shoulders) of about 2.5-3 feet. Their average weight generally lies somewhere between 60 and 100 Kilograms.
  • Growth:

    Bernards usually grow a lot faster compared to some other breeds out there. At birth, a typical St. Bernard puppy weighs just about 0.7 Kilograms. But, only after three months, that same puppy can weigh as much as 18.5 Kilograms. And from then on, it starts to gain at least 1.3-2.2 Kilograms per week. The weight gaining process usually slows down after some weeks and by the time they reach the 1-year mark, most of the body growth had already happened.
  • Coat:

    Bernards have a water-resistant, oily coat that helped these dogs in the past in the snowy mountainous regions of Switzerland. These oils are necessary for the St. Bernards’ fur and that’s why it is recommended not to over-bathe these canines as it may lead to loss of essential oils from their coat.
  • Nose:

    As mentioned earlier, St. Bernards have a very strong nose with an amazing sense of smell. When they were being used as pathfinders and protectors of lost travelers in the past, they could detect a body that was buried under 20 feet of snow.

Historical Facts about St. Bernards

  • Origin:

    Many people believe that these massive canines have originated from the molossers. These mastiff-type canines were brought by the Romans to Switzerland thousands of years ago and many alpine breeds of today are believed to be the descendants of these mastiff dogs. It is also speculated that these mastiff-type canines were crossed with some other breeds like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Great Dane, and the Great Pyrenees, and the result of that cross-breeding was the St. Bernards.
  • AKC Recognition:

    Saint Bernards were recognized as a distinct breed in the year 1885 by the American Kennel Club.
  • Barry, the Hero:

    Barry is probably the most famous St. Bernard of the past. He was an awesome rescue dog who risked his life to save around 40 to 100 people. After he passed away, he was honored with a statue in the Cimetiere des Chiens and his body has also been preserved at the Natural History Museum in Berne.
  • Long-Haired St. Bernards:

    For providing extra resistance to the St. Bernards from heavy snow, the monks tried to cross them with long-haired Newfoundland dogs. But, this plan didn’t work very well and the long hair captured more snow and ice and that overburdened the St. Bernards even more. And, because of this crossing, we can still see both short and long-haired St. Bernards today.
  • What’s in the Keg:

    There are many pictures and paintings of St. Bernards that depicts this canine rescuing travelers in the snow with a Booze-filled Keg around his neck. But, according to history, there is no Brandy in the Keg, as many people believe, and it is filled with food and water. This myth was started by a painter named Edward Landseer who added a brandy-filled keg in one of his paintings of this breed and this idea became popular and has since been used in several other paintings, movies, tv shows et cetera.

Temperamental Facts about St. Bernards

  • Gentle Giants:

    Bernards are affectionately called as Gentle Giants of the canine world. And, this title perfectly suits and describes these massive canines. They may have a large sized body but they are tremendously friendly and warm with other people. These dogs are also extremely kind and careful with small kids and are known to make great house pets.

St. Bernards and the Movies

  • Beethoven:

    The 1992 comedy film ‘Beethoven’ starred a St. Bernard who was given the titular role. The movie was a massive success as it collected millions of dollars (close to $150 million) at the box office and even got a sequel.
  • Beethoven’s 2nd:

    Talking about the sequel, it starred four St. Bernard puppies and was again a huge commercial success ($118 million). There is a small fun fact behind the shooting of this film. Because how fast the St. Bernards grow, the movie had to use around 100 St. Bernard puppies from start to finish. Three more sequels to this movie were produced in the later years and after that, three stand-alone movies were also made starring this massive-sized breed.
  • Celebrity connections:

    Celebrities like Salman Khan, Anna Kendrick, Bernie Winters et cetera, all are known to be ardent admirers of this breed.