Origin and History of The St. Bernard

It is a known fact that St. Bernard rescue dogs are huge working canines that come from the western Alps. Countries covered by these Alps include France, Italy, and Switzerland. They were originally bred for rescue purposes at the Great and Little St. Bernard Pass. Tales surrounding the rescues in the Alps have made this type of breed popular, aside from its impressively enormous size.

The origin of these dog breeds came about between the year 1660 and 1670. The monks at the Great St. Bernard Hospice were able acquire the mastiff style breed of dogs, which were brought by the Romans. The sole purpose was serving them as watchdogs or companions. Back in the day, these dogs had smaller figures, compared to modern-day St. Bernards. Likewise, they had shorter reddish brown as well as white fur, aside from the longer tail.

Breeding of St. Bernard Dogs

Newfoundland dogs were also bred with St. Bernards, but that didn’t go well during the 1830s. This was due to the fact that the idea was not in favor of dogs with longer hairs due to the snowy environment in the area. Thus, ice would form on their hair, which made the dogs ineffective in their missions of rescuing trapped pilgrims.

On the other hand, St. Bernard dogs were also being bred in 1855. For this instance, a studbook was used in order to acquire the exact breed of dogs needed for the job. After the dogs were bred, the puppies were supplied to the hospice and exported to several countries such as the United States, Russia, and England.

As others were indiscriminately breeding the dogs, such as the English Mastiffs, the result made their appearance of today. It was not yet certain though what their type of breed would be called. In fact, they were called by many names, including Alpine mastiffs, mountain dogs, hospice dogs, St. Bernard mastiffs, and Swiss Alpine dogs. However, it was made official by the Swiss Kennel Club that these dog breeds would be called St. Bernard in the 1880s.

Origin of the St. Bernard Dogs

The St. Bernard dogs had originated in Switzerland, which include several other dog breeds such as the Greater Swiss Mountain dog, Bernese Mountain dog, Appenzell Cattle dog, and the Entlebuch Cattle dog. Such breeds may have been crossbred with mastiff-type dogs. These dogs were brought by the Roman army during the rule of Augustus the emperor. During the first millennium, dogs coming from the Alps and Switzerland were grouped to be recognized as Bauernhund, meaning Farm dog or Talhund, meaning Valley dog.

As the breed became known to other countries, their type began to change. In fact, they became taller and thinner, which has resulted from a number of crossbreeding. Thus, in 1887, the first breed standard was made by the International Congress of Zurich. All countries accepted it, with the exception of England. The St. Bernard dogs currently rank 39th, considering the 155 varieties and breeds after the American Kennel Club registered them.

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