The Saint Bernard is one of the most recognizable dog breeds out there. Not only have movies been made about them, showing them both in a good and bad light, but iconic photos of Saints with a barrel around their neck is well known throughout history. Would it surprise you to know that there is no record that the Saint Bernard ever carried whiskey or any other liquor with them at any time in history?
The Saint Bernard originated in the Swiss Alps, where monks used them to ward off bandits from their remote monastery. When it was noticed that they had a keen sense of smell, they assisted with the locating of lost travelers. The most accomplished of these was a dog named Barry who purportedly saved somewhere between 40-100 lives in his lifetime. There is a monument in his name in France. It might surprise you to know that the original coat of the Saint Bernard was short. It wasn't until later that the longer coat was bred in through cross breeding with Newfoundlands. It was hoped that the longer coat would help protect against the harsh winters, but they soon found out that it did not fare well as it matted and collected snow, weighing the dogs down. The long coated variety became more popular later in pet homes, but they can still come in a short haired type.
The Saint Bernard generally has a stable temperament. They are a more clownish Mastiff breed and do well with families and children, although due to their size could knock small children over accidentally. Some Saints can be a bit protective of their family, so socialization is important. They are a moderately active breed, who may be able to keep up with an active family, at least in their younger years. One should be aware that they do tend to drool, although some can be tighter lipped and not drool. As with many Mastiff breeds, the Saint Bernard is prone to joint, eye, heart, and thyroid problems, as well as cancer and bloat. Due to their thick coat, they can be sensitive to the heat. They are one of the larger breeds of Mastiff, occasionally reaching up to 200 lbs, but generally top out in the 130-180 range.