St Bernard – A Working Dog
The story of the dogs of the Hospice of St Bernard goes back to the saint who built the hospice and whose aim was to help those travelling through the St. Gothard Pass. The monks at first used a mix of mastiff dogs but gradually established a proper breeding programme and produced dogs with the general name of Alpine Mastiffs. At first, these dogs were shorthaired and of modest size, but out-crossing, made necessary by disease and losses from bad winters, brought in blood from thicker coated and larger breeds. So evolved today’s St Bernard. The modern St Bernard, which ranks among the most massive of all dogs, seems to have grown heavier over the years, from the days when he was known throughout the world as the mountain-rescue dog of Switzerland, famed by the cartoonist’s pencil for his brandy barrel.
Related: See a classic St Bernard image here
Today’s St. Bernard is certainly less leggy than the original breed. The standard states that the breed should have a benevolent temperament, and this is evident to all in his expression. Just as well, because the concept of a belligerent St Bernard is not something many of us would wish to imagine! Many larger dog breeds are surprisingly capable of curling up into a smallish ball and making their presence less obvious. Not so the St Bernard; he takes up a lot of space in any position. Indeed, if you have ideas about keeping one in a small flat or cottage with no outside accommodation for it, you should ‘borrow’ an adult for a test run. It might even be an idea to use a tape-measure to check how much living space you will be granted once the new purchase has moved in and grown to full adult size. There is a fair acreage of dog to be groomed; there are a good few kilograms of dog to be fueled; there is a deal of dog to be dried on return from the slush of an autumn stroll across the fields. And if he needs lifting into a car en route to the local veterinary surgery, a low-loader might be a sensible purchase. However, this is a delightful breed if you can cope with the size and, dare it be said, the slobber, which often necessitates a bib if he is to arrive at a show in pristine condition.
* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.
The Working Breed Group
Over the centuries these dogs were selectively bred to become guards and search and rescue dogs. Arguably, the working group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, aiding humans in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St Bernard. This group consists of the real specialists in their field who excel in their line of work.
This legendary breed is strictly for an owner who prefers a giant-size dog and has the space to keep one comfortably. The St. Bernard is noted for its congenial temperament and comes in both shorthaired and longhaired varieties. Here is detailed information on understanding this breed, as well as specific tips on selecting a puppy or dog.