Category Archives: Saint Bernard

How the St. Bernard Became a Search and Rescue Dog

By Linda Cole

The St. Bernard is a gentle giant today, but in the early years these dogs were smaller and much less refined as a breed. Monks living and working in the Alps were the first to discover the extraordinary ability of the St. Bernard in locating lost travelers passing through the mountains. The breed began as a hospice dog, but became a top notch search and rescue dog because of their unique talents. “Barry of the Great St. Bernard” is a 1977 Disney movie based on the real Barry, who is the most famous St. Bernard of all time.

Located between Switzerland and Italy, the Great Saint Bernard Pass is a 49 mile route used by travelers for centuries to cross over the Western Alps. At 8,000 feet above sea level, there’s only a few months out of the year when it’s snow free. An Augustine monk, St. Bernard de Menthon, established a hospice and monastery in the mountains around 1050, to provide shelter and food to travelers using the snowy pass.

It’s believed the first dogs, used as guard dogs as well as pets, were brought to the monastery between 1660 and 1670. The first St. Bernard dogs were smaller than the breed is today, with a shorter coat and longer tail. In the mid 1700s, guides were sent out to find people needing help to make their way to the monastery. Wide-chested dogs went ahead of them to plow out a path, making it easier for travelers to follow.

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The Joys of Owning a Giant Breed Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

There are benefits to having a small “pocket dog” you can carry around everywhere, and some people prefer smaller breeds. But for some of us, there’s just nothing like a big pushy lovable dog. Think of the Saint Bernard in the Beethoven movies. Sure, he was like a bull in a china shop and drooled a lot, but that sweet face and undying loyalty made him a scene stealer.

What actually qualifies a dog as a giant breed? There is no set weight or height requirement, however most people in the dog world consider a dog that weighs more than 100 pounds to be a giant breed. Simply put, giant breeds live up to the name. They are taller, longer, and heavier than most other dog breeds.

Because of their size you can imagine that a giant breed dog probably also needs a giant food dish! You are right; one of the hardest things about having a giant breed dog is realizing how much you will have to spend on dog food. Essentially, a single Great Dane may eat as much each day as two American bulldogs.

The expense of having a giant breed dog is one reason many owners have to give them up. Larger beds, larger collars and larger toys, as well as grooming and kennel fees are all more expensive than the same thing for a smaller breed of dog. The same goes for medications – because prescription dosages are based on the weight of the dog, you will have to give a giant breed dog a lot more of the medication than you would a smaller dog.

Giant breed dogs often have a shorter life span than other dogs, many times living as few as 6 years, with an older dog being 10 years old. They are also susceptible to more health problems with joints and bone diseases. While this may sound like a lot of issues to overcome just to raise a giant breed dog, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Giant breed dogs tend to be mellow and relaxed adult dogs, of course an extra large puppy means you will have to make sure he is trained well and allowed plenty of exercise and room to explore and grow. Once a giant breed dog is fully grown they actually require less exercise than smaller dogs and if trained well can be quite happy even in an apartment.

Surely you’ve heard of the fictional giant breed Clifford the Big Red Dog. Clifford is loyal and very protective of his human, Emily. He follows her about and keeps an eye on her. This is what you can expect from a real life giant breed dog – loyalty, love and unwavering attention.

Simply put, there are pros and cons to every breed of dog and every size of dog. If you are considering a giant breed dog, make sure you can afford the greater expense, and can spare the extra time to train and attend to your pet. Once you make the decision, use a reputable breeder or look for a giant breed rescue to obtain a wonderful, loving, and very large dog.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Dog Breed Profile: Saint Bernard

By Ruthie Bently

The Saint Bernard is named for Saint Bernard de Menthon, a monk who founded a hospice for Alpine travelers in 1049, though the first reports of their presence there date to the seventeenth century. The Saint Bernard is thought to originate from the valley below the St. Bernard pass. Through interbreeding between native dogs and Molossus dogs, the Saint Bernard was formed. It’s believed the Saint Bernard came to the hospice via the monks there , to be used as guardians and companions during the long harsh winters. Their original use by Swiss dairy farmers was for hunting, watch dogs, herders and herd guardians, and as draft animals for the farmers taking butter and milk to market.

Before their name Saint Bernard came into use in the nineteenth century, they were known as Barry Hounds or Hospice dogs, Alpenmastiff and Saint Dogs. Saint Bernards have saved over 2,000 travelers in the Saint Bernard pass during the 300 years they’ve been used by the hospice monks. They became well established for their feats in rescuing stranded travelers by 1750. The most famous Saint Bernard was named Barry. In his ten year stint at the hospice from 1800-1810, Barry rescued forty people, which brought acclaim to the breed.

The Saint Bernard is a member of the working group. The Saint Bernard Club of America, formed in 1888, is one of the oldest specialty breed clubs in the United States. Saint Bernard’s are still used to find lost travelers during snow storms, as avalanche dogs, and are shown in AKC obedience and confirmation, as well as weight and cart pulling competitions.

The Saint Bernard has two coat varieties, long and short-haired, both of which are dense and shed copiously twice a year. A friend who breeds Saints mentioned the weather has a lot to do with how much and when they shed. It is this thick coat that protects them from snow and ice, and their keen sense of smell enables them to find buried avalanche victims. Males range in weight from 150 to 180 pounds and are 27-1/2 inches at the shoulder. Adult females range in weight from 130 to 160 pounds and are 25 inches at the shoulder. Saints must be a combination of white and tan or white and brindle, and the tan color can be any shade from a light brown to a deep red.

The Beethoven movies from recent years have hurt the breed because backyard breeders jumped on the bandwagon to produce dogs like him. Like most large breed dogs, Saints can suffer from hip dysplasia. They can also suffer from arthritis and heart disease in later years. They are a deep chested breed and can be susceptible to bloat. They can also have skin conditions, tumors and eyelid abnormalities. Make sure to request a certificate from your breeder that the puppy you purchase is free of hip dysplasia. You have the right to ask to see the mother to make sure she has normal skin and eyes before you purchase a puppy.

If you are considering getting a Saint Bernard, think long and hard about it. They take extra money and extra time, so if you are a workaholic this isn’t the right breed for you. They need to be regularly groomed, especially if they spend time in the woods or fields, as they’ll come home with burrs in their coats. Saints drool a lot and my friend Jean (the breeder) mentioned that if someone could find a use for the drool they could corner the market; she mentioned it is like glue. They need a big crate and it’s tough to carry them around in a Volkswagen, so a larger vehicle is a good idea. Their vet bills will be higher because any medication will have to be adjusted to their size and their feed bills will be higher because they eat more.

Saint Bernards need obedience training for proper manners as well as sufficient exercise for their size and energy needs. If they don’t have an energy outlet, they can literally be a “bull in a china shop” and become destructive in the house. A long walk two or three times a week is good exercise, and a sturdy fenced yard is suggested. Saints are devoted to their families and demand their families reciprocate. A Saint’s devotion to its family makes it easy to train, but don’t wait too long. A Saint Bernard can be 65 pounds by the time they are five months old, so you should begin training early.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Which Dogs Drool the Most?

By Anna Lee

Most dogs drool a little bit, some dogs drool a lot while others have made it onto the list of “Dogs That Drool the Most.” If you are a neat-freak you may not want to own a drooler. At the least you need to be prepared to follow the drooling dog around with a towel. As they say, forewarned is forearmed!

My husband thinks our dog Abby should be on this list. Labs do drool, but not enough to make the list! Here are the top 5 dogs that drool, in no particular order:

Saint Bernard: I have no personal experience with this dog breed, but I have heard many ‘drool stories’ from my husband. His mother had a Saint Bernard and that dog, Ronnie, drooled day and night. Research contradicts that, saying they drool only after eating or drinking. They are large dogs that are extremely gentle, loyal and they want to please. Early on they need to be taught not to jump on people. The Saint Bernard will reach 200 pounds, which means a lot of CANIDAE® dog food!

Great Pyrenees: These are beautiful dogs with fantastic coats. Great Pyrenees are large dogs who are devoted to their family and love cats, but are wary of strangers. They are obedient and affectionate, and need a lot of exercise to stay in shape. They can weigh up to 100 pounds. There are two Great Pyrenees dogs that live not far from us, and it is a pleasure to see them run in their yard as their hair billows in the wind.

Newfoundland: I love most dogs, but of the large breeds the Newfie is a personal favorite. Years ago my parents owned a summer house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. A family friend had a Newfoundland, and it was a beautiful sight to watch him jump in the Chesapeake Bay and swim without a care or worry. He was spectacular and as gentle as can be. The Newfie is noble, calm, loyal and trustworthy. Instinct allows them to recognize a dangerous situation and will protect the family. They love to drink lots of water and are not neat about it. The males can reach about 120 pounds. They prefer cooler climates which means one would not do well here in the south where I live.

English Mastiff are self confident, patient and gentle natured dogs. They seldom bark, and prefer gentle obedience. A male can reach 200 pounds. They drool heavily, and they snore and wheeze heavily too. They are prone to hip dysplasia and come across as lazy due to their size.

Bullmastiff: although a good watchdog, this breed is also docile unless provoked. They will knock down an intruder and pin him down, but be gentle and kind to a child. They are extremely powerful and need a strong, confident owner. The males will be about 120 pounds. They are prone to hip dysplasia and tend to be lazy.

Other dogs that drool a lot are the Boxer, Great Dane, English Setter, and most of the Bulldogs. If you want any of the above dogs in your life, you can expect to be drooled on frequently. Consider drool a kiss from your dog!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.