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St. Bernard

A real good-doer (other names: St. Bernhardshund, Bernhardiner, Alpine Mastiff)

St. Bernard
origin:Switzerland
life expectancy:9-11 years
classification:Mastiff
height:61 to 70 cm
weight:50 to 91 kg
exercise: Mediumtraining: Easyclimate: Coldin/out: Outdoorgrooming: Needs groomingfeeding: Demandingsize: Giant
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History [ edit ]

The St. Bernard Dog is a giant and ancient breed of dog developped by the monks of the Hospice built at Great St. Bernard Pass by St Bernard de Menthon in 1049 as a refuge for travelers and pilgrims. Great St. Bernard Pass is a very perilous and the most ancient pass through the Western Alps between Switzerland and Italy and there is evidence of its use by the Romans since the first two centuries A.D. The Romans would have brought Tibetan mastiffs into the Alpes, that the monks probably crossed them with the Great Dane and the Great Pyrenees. The St. Bernard is depicted in paintings and drawings dating back to 1695 and the existence of the breed is also documented in written official documents of the Hospice since 1707. The breed gained popularity as a rescue dog by the middle of the 17th century when  a St. Bernard, name Barry, allegedly rescued dozens of people from an avalanche. There is no proof of the veracity of this event but, in fact, the excellent sense of smell of the Saint Bernards makes them outstanding pathfinders in the drifting snow and allows them to find a person even under many feet of snow. Since then, these dogs are widely used in the valley farms and Alpine dairies as a watchdog, herding, and drafting duties. The Saint Bernard is portrayed with a miniature brandy-barrel attached to its collar to help the travellers stranded in the snow.
editing: History [ close ]
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General Appearance [ edit ]

The Saint Bernard is a very large, tall, strong and muscular dog, instantly recognizable breed, with a powerful head and a somewhat stern but not ill-natured expression. The Body is massive with a moderately deep and well arched chest and a very broad back perfectly straight up to the haunches and from there gently sloping to the rump. Big-boned limbs and large feet with strong well-arched toes.The Head is very powerful standing on a very strong neck which is carried erect when the dog is alert. The dewlap of throat and neck is well pronounced.The skull is massive, slightly arched. The skin of the forehead, above the eyes, forms wrinkles which are more visible when the dog is alert. The muzzle is short, the jaws huge with the lower lips drooping slightly at the outside corner causing a fair amount of drooling. The nose is broad, with wide open nostrils and always black in colour. Friendly, medium-sized, dark brown eyes are set to front and moderately deep and have an intelligent, expression. Generally the lower eyelids do not close completely forming an angular wrinkle toward the inner corner of the eye. The Ears are of medium size, set rather high, with a tender flap that forms a triangle. They stand slightly away from the head at the base, dropping then with a sharp bend to the side and hanging close to the head without a turn. The tail is broad and powerful curling slightly at the tip. The tail hangs straight down when the dog is relaxed. In action the tail is more or less turned upward. The Coat is generally medium length, or rough, but there is a smooth or short-coated variety. In the rough-coated dogs, the hair is slightly longer and there is feathering on the thighs and legs. Both coats are very dense. The short-haired variety is more often used for mountain work because the long-haired variety tends to collect icicles. St. Bernards comes in red, tan, black, mahogany and brindle in various combinations with markings: white chest, feet and tip of tail, noseband, collar or spot on the nape.
editing: General Appearance [ close ]
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Temperament [ edit ]

St. Bernards are is slow moving, patient, and obedient giant, extremely gentle and friendly and very tolerant of children and animals. However, due to its huge size they should not be left unsupervised with young children. Despite their bonhomie, some dogs can become overly protective of their territory and need to be socialized from puppywood. It is a highly intelligent breed and easy to train because they love to please, but they can also be a little stubborn and training should be started at an early age in as much as a grown up St Bernard is not easy to manage. Handlers must be careful when exercising their puppies. The exercise should start very slowly and increase at a very slow pace, not to put too much strain on their tender tissues. Even as adults, they should never be forced to move too fast. St. Bernards are prone to anxiety if left alone for long periods of time and may become destructive. If they have to be left alone, they should stay in a closed and safe envorinment. They get along very well with other dogs and small animals, are loyal and vigilant, and make good watchdogs once, despite their benevolent temperament, the sheer sight of their huge bodies is intimidating to strangers. It is an attractive and trustworthy breed but not suitable for indoor living.
editing: Temperament [ close ]
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Health [ edit ]

St. Bernards are an healthy breed but their fast growth rate and their weight may cause bone deterioration if the dog is not properly fedd and exercised. They may suffer from hip dysplasia and eczema. They are also prone wobbler syndrome, heart problems and extropion. As they tend to bloat they should be fed two or three small meals a day instead of one large meal.
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Dog trivia [ edit ]

The name "St. Bernard" became official only by the middle of the 19th century. Until then  the breed  was called "Saint Dogs" or "Alpenmastiff".
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