Renowned for their rescue services in the Swiss and Italian Alps, Saint Bernards are no longer employed to work in the snowy mountains, but they are frequently chosen as pets. A giant of a dog, the typical Saint Bernard weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 260 pounds. Saint Bernards are believed to be descended from dogs introduced into the Alps by the ancient Romans. Aside from their rescue service, these dogs were also employed as watchdogs and used for hunting.
Historians believe that the Saint Bernard was likely bred from the Tibetan Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Great Dane. Bred by monks, the dogs made their home in alpine hospices that served travelers that needed to trek through the mountains. Not only are Saint Bernards able to detect approaching storms and avalanches, they are able to smell people who may be trapped under many feet of snow. As the dogs traversed the treacherous mountain passes of the Alps, they earned their reputation as incredible rescue dogs revered for their live-saving abilities.
The Saint Bernard breed boasts a coat that can either be rough or smooth in texture. Most of these dogs have brown eyes but occasionally blue-eye Saint Bernards can be seen. An affectionate and lovable breed, the Saint Bernard makes a great family pet. However, due to their size, care must be exerted around them. These dogs can knock both kids and adults down accidentally. In addition, Saint Bernards that are socialized from a young age tend to do best in family situations as they will be less apt to show aggression or become territorial.
Large and muscular, the Saint Bernard is noted for its sizable head. To thrive, this breed requires considerable daily exercise. Without adequate exercise, Saint Bernard dogs become overweight, an issue that can lead to bone deterioration. Indoors, the breed is content to lounge around, so scheduled activity is essential for a healthy pet. Saint Bernards are prone to heart disease, hip dysplasia, and skin problems.
When it comes to living with a Saint Bernard, it’s important that the dog understands that its owner is in control or the dog could become unruly–a difficult prospect considering its immense size. On the other hand, these dogs will respect a dominant owner and are likely to become a loyal member of their household. Their size alone makes them an imposing watch dog. They can be trained, however, to alert the home owners when strangers or trespassers enter the property, making them an excellent asset for home security.