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Back in the 1800s when dogs were used in the Swiss Alps to save travellers who had come to grief in the snowdrifts, the most famous of these rescue dogs was Barry the Saint Bernard, who over the course of 12 years, saved over 40 lives.

Saint Bernard

A lovable St. Bernard named Sherry produced the animal world’s answer to all those kissograms delivered by scantily clad girls. She went into business in 1984 with the ‘nuzzlegram’- a huge, hairy cuddle complete with a warm, slurpy kiss and an affectionate rub from her cold, wet nose. – Martyn Lewis from “DOGS IN THE NEWS”

Saint Bernard puppy Canada

“Hemi”

It is believed that the Saint Bernard Dog descends from Roman mastiffs brought to Switzerland during the Roman Empire. Further developed by monks to locate travellers lost in the Swiss Alps, the dog is named for Bernard of Menthon, the 11th century Italian monk who established the Hospice du Grand St. Bernard. The first of the breed were obtained by the monks in 1660-1670.

Also known as Alpine Mountain Dogs or Alpine Cattle Dogs, the Saint Bernard were used by farmers of the French Alps as livestock guardians, herding and draft dogs, and as hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, and watchdogs. 

Since the 1600s, Saint Bernards have rescued over 2,500 people, largely from the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps, between Switzerland and Italy. 

The most famous St. Bernard to rescue people was Barry, who reportedly saved somewhere between 40 and 100 lives. There is a monument to Barry in the Cimetière des Chiens. His body is preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne.

The number of rescue dogs declined as severe winters from 1816 to 1818 led to an increase in avalanches. Many of the breeding stock were killed during rescue attempts. Today, Saint Bernards are still bred at the Hospice – largely as a tourist attraction. They are no longer used for their most famous purpose. The last rescue took place in 1955.

Photos displayed courtesy of Sara Hartley, Lionridge Kennels, Alberta

This sad-faced giant measures at least 27 1/2 inches (70 cm) at the shoulder and may weigh up to 200 pounds (90 kg). His thick coat is either short or medium-long in white with red markings or red with white markings or brindle patches with white markings. His head, neck, chest, feet, and tip of the tail are marked with white. His heavy jowls are prone to drooling.

The classic gentle giant, the Saint Bernard is calm, patient and affectionate especially with children. He is a friendly, gentle couch potato of a dog, with a laid-back temperament bordering on lazy. He gets along well with people and other household pets. An effective watchdog, he is too mellow to be a real guard dog. The Saint Bernard likes to be around people.

This is a large dog with a good appetite who needs plenty of space. He should live in a larger home with a good-sized, fenced backyard.

Although not inclined to vigorous activity, he nevertheless should receive daily walks to keep in shape. Obedience training is essential for puppies as they will soon grow into massive dogs whose size and strength will be hard to control.

Saint Bernard Adult Canada

“Rufus”

Purina HOF