Many people imagine Saint Bernards as rescue dogs carrying flasks of brandy around their necks for lost travellers in snowy Switzerland. While the brandy flask is just a myth, it is true that Saint Bernards were trained as alpine rescuers many centuries ago.
These gentle giants get their name from the Great St Bernard Pass, located on the Swiss-Italian border. The dogs were bred by monks at a hospice there. Although some Saint Bernards now have long coats, the first members of this breed were short-haired as longer hair would have been impractical in such snowy weather. True to their history, the Saint Bernard of today is an intelligent and compassionate breed. These dogs will become fiercely loyal to their family members, and while they definitely enjoy playtime outdoors (especially in snow), they’re also very happy when curled up with you at home.
The 1990s movie series Beethoven, featuring a lovable Saint Bernard, helped give this breed a recent boost of popularity among families, and it’s true that they do make a great family dog. With appropriate training, Saint Bernards will be friendly and patient with adults and children alike. Due to their enormous size, early socialization is needed to make sure they learn not to knock people over! Eager to learn, Saint Bernards continue to be excellent candidates for search and rescue dogs. The Saint is also a good pick for a therapy or service dog, due to their calm and loving personalities.
Daily kibble serving
These large dogs do eat a considerable amount of food. Feeding at least twice daily is recommended to keep your Saint Bernard healthy. As with many large breeds, they are prone to bloat, a potentially fatal stomach problem—regular small meals can help prevent this from occurring. Ensuring that your Saint Bernard receives food tailored to large breeds will also help them stay healthy. Your vet can recommend the best type of food for your Saint Bernard’s age and size. As with all dogs, be cautious when sharing table scraps, and don’t overdo it with the treats, as overeating can lead to health problems.