Huge, heavy, and hairy, these descriptions usually are related to a monster but not necessarily, because these terms best describe the lovable St. Bernard. Despite their very large appearance, St. Bernards are reliable companions and were once used as alpine rescuers. Because of its popularity, it is not surprising that this breed has some interesting facts that you may want to know and here are some of those:
- The common depiction of St. Bernards would be that they carry a small barrel of brandy around their necks. It was once believed that the alcohol is given to trap humans in the Alps to keep them warm. However, according to the monks who bred the dogs, this is false. The dogs would instead lie next to the humans and keep them warm through their body heat until rescuers arrived.
- The name of the breed was derived from an 11th century monk, Bernard of Menthon, who established the pass where the dogs patrolled in the Alps. Prior to this, the breed was known as “Saint Dogs” or “Alpenmastiff.”
- The original appearance of the St. Bernard is that they have short hair, very different from how the dogs look in modern day. The change came about during the early 19th century when several dogs died because of avalanches. The monks attempted to save the breed by crossing the remaining St. Bernards with Newfoundlands creating dogs with long coats. This made the dogs more resilient of the cold but lost their ability as rescue dogs because the cold temperature freeze their fur and weighs them down.
- A memorable role of St. Bernards in films would be the comedies “Beethoven” and “Beethoven’s 2nd”. According to the filmmakers, during the sequel, the rapid growth of the breed made it difficult to shoot scenes involving puppies and made them cast over 100 puppies.