Interesting facts about St. Bernards

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  1. The Saint Bernard breed got its name from the name of the monastery of Saint Bernard, which is located in the Swiss Alps. Back in the 11th century, a monk named Bernard founded a shelter for pilgrims here, which was named after him. At that time, the shelter was considered one of the highest inhabited places, it was located at an altitude of more than 2, 400 meters above sea level.
  2. In these places, most of the year the temperature is below 0 degrees, there are often heavy snowfalls and blizzards. To rescue travelers caught in avalanches, the monks used dogs. When exactly this happened remains unknown. And the first documentary records of the use of rescue dogs date back to the beginning of the 18th century. Moreover, it was reported that the dogs are well adapted to the local climate and know their job very well. Accordingly, they appeared in the monastery long before the 18th century.
  3. Cynologists find it difficult to say who were the progenitors of the modern Saint Bernard breed. There is an assumption that this is the result of crossing Great Danes with Mastiffs. But, the St. Bernards of the 18th century were somewhat different from those that we see today. Three centuries ago, they were less massive and more mobile. They were distinguished by their ability to find people under a thick layer of snow.
  4. According to rough estimates, during all this time, dogs from the monastery of St. Bernard have saved about 2, 500 human lives. A dog named Barry, who lived in a monastery at the beginning of the 19th century, became a real legend. In twelve years, he saved 40 people. And once he brought a child to the monastery, having overcome about 5 kilometers in deep snow. There was even a monument to the hero dog. And the owners of St. Bernards have a tradition: to give the nickname Barry to the largest puppy in the litter.
  5. The St. Bernards went out on missions with a bag attached to their side or back. It contained an emergency supply - medicines, water and food. St. Bernards are often depicted with a small barrel on a collar. It was believed that it contained alcohol so that the traveler could warm up. But, these are just the fantasies of the artist Edwin Landseer, who depicted such barrels on his canvases.
  6. St. Bernard Rescuers were trained to work in pairs. A male and a female went in search. After they managed to unearth the traveler from under the snow, the female remained in place, trying to warm the freezing man, and the male went to people for help. There are cases when St. Bernards rescued people by engaging in a fight with predatory animals. But cases of aggression of St. Bernards towards people are extremely rare.
  7. The century of scientific progress has done its job. Already in the middle of the twentieth in the monastery of St. Bernard, it was decided to stop further breeding of dogs, since they had practically no work left, and the maintenance cost a decent amount. Only under public pressure, a small number of dogs were still left in the monastery. In 1967, the World Union of St. Bernard Clubs was formed, with its center in the Swiss city of Lucerne.
  8. St. Bernards are enormous in size. The weight of males often exceeds 100 kg. At the same time, the life expectancy of St. Bernards is one of the lowest among dogs of all breeds. Even with good care and the absence of disease, few St. Bernards live up to 10 years of age. In addition, St. Bernards can hardly tolerate loneliness; after a day of forced solitude, depression begins in dogs.
  9. In Russia, the first St. Bernards appeared about 150 years ago, in the seventies of the nineteenth century. And in the middle of the last century, Soviet dog handlers in the Krasnaya Zvezda kennel bred, as a result of crossing the St. Bernard and the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, a new breed, which was called the Moscow Watchdog.
  10. In 2017, St. Bernard named Mochi entered the Guinness Book of Records as the owner of the longest tongue among all dogs today. The record holder lives in South Dakota, the length of the tongue is 18.5 centimeters. But, earlier there were dogs with longer tongues. The record holder in history is considered to be a boxer dog named Brandy from the American state of Michigan. Brandy's tongue was much longer - 43 centimeters. But, Brandy died back in 2002.
  11. The heaviest (documented) St. Bernard was a dog named Benedectin Jr. Black Forest Hof, who lived in Michigan in the 1980s. At the age of five, Benedict Jr. weighed 140.6 kg. And the height of the record holder at the withers reached one meter.
  12. The St. Bernards are also extremely powerful. For example, in 1978, St. Bernard Wrighttes Brandy Bear moved a load weighing 2, 905 kg. At the same time, the record holder himself did not possess impressive dimensions by the standards of dogs of his breed. His personal weight did not exceed 80 kg.