Fighting bravely through the snow with a liquor barrel around your neck – that is the image that many have in mind when they think of St. Bernard. In fact, this impressive breed of dog was used in the Alps for a long time to search for avalanche victims – and with great success. Today Saint Bernhard is mostly kept as a family dog. No wonder, because the gentle giant is good-natured, well-balanced, and fond of children.
Reliable rescue dog from the Alps
The home of St. Bernard is in the mountains, more precisely: in the Alps. The mighty peasant and shepherd dogs were widespread here since the early Middle Ages. In the 17th century, there is evidence that the watchful mountain dogs lived at the Großer Sankt Bernhard Pass with monks who had built a hospice at an altitude of 2,469 meters. The monks used their dogs to search for missing and buried people in the snow. The St. Bernard dog Barry is considered a Swiss national hero and is said to have saved the lives of over 40 people at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1887, Saint Bernard was officially recognized as a Swiss dog breed.
Nature of the St. Bernard
Calm and balanced – this is how you could describe the nature of the Swiss national dog. St. Bernards are very calm: They are very patient – especially with children – and are incredibly good-natured. Nevertheless, they are alert and are characterized by a pronounced protective instinct. Ideally, they live with the family on a large property that they can guard. The faithful companions are reluctant to leave their “pack” and need constant contact with their caregivers. St. Bernards are therefore not kennel dogs.
Training of the St. Bernard
A certain stubbornness is inherited from Saint Bernards. They need to be raised consistently and with strong leadership. Puppies are very lively and playful; they need clear instructions from an early age. As the owner of a St. Bernard, you should always keep in mind that this breed is stronger than humans simply because of its enormous weight. The size of up to 90 centimeters has to be managed in everyday life. The giant needs a lot of exercises and will not be happy in an apartment in the middle of the city. Because of its thick fur, it feels most comfortable in moderate temperatures. If they rise on the thermometer, he retires to a cool, shady spot. In the snow, on the other hand, St. Bernard is in its element and runs at full speed. When Rescue dogs are no longer used today because of their size. Instead, they provide valuable services as therapy dogs in many areas.
St. Bernard Care
The St. Bernard’s soft, shiny coat is easy to brush. During the change of coat, you should approach the grooming daily.
Saint Bernard health
The extreme size and the associated high weight can lead to health problems in St. Bernards such as hip dysplasia (HD). A home with lots of stairs is therefore not recommended for this breed. St. Bernard breeders are aware of the problem of HD and have been paying more attention to it in recent years. This has led to a decline in dysplastic dogs.