Fun Facts About The Saint Bernard

Did you know that May 28th is the Feast Day of Feast Day of St. Bernard of Montjoux? We’re guessing probably not. He isn’t one of the better-known saints. However, this benevolent monk was the patron of one very extraordinary breed of dog. Here, a London, ON vet lists some fun facts about –you guessed it—the saint Bernard.

Devoted Fans

The Saint Bernard isn’t one of the more popular breeds these days. This is likely due to his size. These massive pooches can stand up to “, and can weigh as much as . Don’t be fooled, though: despite their intimidating looks, Saint Bernards are usually gentle giants.


The St. Bernard originated in the western Alps. As you may know, these lovable pooches have been renowned for rescuing people who became trapped in the mountains. Fido can trace his ancestry back to a hospice, which was built by Bernard, the Italian monk. Bernard apparently began breeding the pups between 1660 and 1670.

Fido’s History

St. Bernards have been around for quite some time. In fact, the earliest written records of them go all the way back to 1707! Fido appears in paintings that are even older.

Very Good Boy

St. Bernards have collectively rescued hundreds, if not thousands, of people. While these gentle giants are all very good boys, one special pup deserves extra recognition. That honor goes to Barry … or possibly, Berry, as there’s some confusion over the spelling. That extraordinary pup may have saved 100 people. There’s a monument to him in the Cimetiere des Chiens, which translates to Dog Cemetery.

Time Changes Everything

Fido looks quite different than his ancestors. Part of this is because of the rough winters that descended from 1816 to 1818. The severe weather caused an increase in avalanches, which unfortunately killed many St. Bernards. The surviving pooches were bred with Newfoundlands. This ultimately put the brakes on their use as rescue dogs, as the new pups’ fur was very heavy and prone to freezing.


Proper training is absolutely crucial for these pups. A huge dog that isn’t trained could be quite a safety risk! One thing that is unique about the St Bernard? They weren’t trained by people. Instead, they would learn their jobs from older pooches.

Do you have questions about caring for a large dog? Contact us, your London, ON animal clinic, today!

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