It is believed that the St. Bernard came from the bloodline of the herding dogs of the Switzerland farmers. It is also related with the aggressive watchdogs and hunting dogs, and its origin is associated with the Great St. Bernard Pass’ hospice. Early reports said that this dog type was first seen in the 17th century.
The monks became its companion and it became very loyal and loving to them. This dog breed was also used by the monks in assisting them in ministering people that time. It was originally smooth-coated but the monks in the 1830’s developed the rough-coated ones. However, the rough-coated St. Bernard found to be unfit for mountain works, which made the monks use the smooth-coated instead. The most popular St. Bernard was known by the name Barry. It was believed that Barry saved 40 to 100 residents in the past. To commemorate Barry’s heroism, people preserved its body in Berne’s Natural History Museum and a monument in the Cimetière des Chiens was built.
Since the St. Bernard was used to help people in mountain works in cold places, its body developed into a large, strong built. It normally weighs 150 and 200 lbs. and comes in smooth and rough coat however, both coats are dense. Its coats usually have mahogany, brindle, red, black, and tan markings that can come in different combinations. It can also be observed that its ears and face are black in color, which make people think that they are aggressive, but its expression depicts its being gentle and intelligent. The rough-coated type has a quite longer hair and its legs and thighs have feathering. Its toes are well-arched and its feet are huge, which makes this dog breed able to work in the ice and snow. It is known to have very strong sense of smell, and some people think that this type has sixth sense because it can warn people from the avalanche and storm threats.
This dog type is known as a gentle giant. Although pretty big in size, it is often stubborn but can get along well with people especially with children. It can also play with other breeds and loves to be the center of attention. It’s advisable for owners to teach a St. Bernard on how to socialize with people or otherwise it can get very territorial. Owners are advised not to leave this dog for a long time because it can get anxious and destroy things.