Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Dog - The Rescue Dog

Saint bernard dogSaint bernard dog image courtsey: petsplace.co.za

A saint who rescued monks!

The incident occurred during the 17th century; while a group of monks were passing through the Saint Bernard pass (boundary between Switzerland and Italy) one of them slipped in to a deep gorge beside the path. When others could only scream and cry for help; a huge dog sprang as if from nowhere jumped in the gorge and dragged the inured old monk to the path. It was ‘Barry’ a Saint Bernard dog who saved the life of the monk. For Barry this was just one of the hundreds of lives he had saved from the hands of death, and for the St. Bernard breed Barry is just one of the thousands of its members engaged in the great job of rescuing lives. It is nothing strange the breed is known as ‘the rescue dog’.

Barry the great!

Saint Bernard DogsSaint Bernard Dogs

Even after four centuries passed by after his death; Barry’s name is still quoted with great affection in that part of the land. Due to the great service these Saint Bernard dogs do to human beings they are considered by their owners as invaluable possessions. ‘Barry’ was honored by the people of the locality by erecting a monument in the ‘Cemetiere des Chiens’ and his body is being preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne; Switzerland. These dogs got their name as they were discovered by the monks from Saint Bernard area. These monks impressed by the courage and loyalty; the monks adopted them first and named them ‘Saint Bernard Dog’, later the breed became popular through out the world.

The big ones among dogs.

st bernardst bernard image courtsey: allposters.com

Saint Bernard is the largest breed of dog originally bred for rescue and for working purpose. A full grown male can weigh about 75 to 125kg .The heaviest and largest Saint Bernard known in history was ‘Benedictine’ which weighed about 162 kg. The standard height of Saint Bernard dog is about 28 to 34”.Two varieties are commonly seen; those which sport short hairs and those with long hairs.

Temperament (Very cool!)

As its name indicates it is gentle like a saint and very fond of children. It rarely attacks or barks against the strangers, but the sight of this giant animal is enough to sent shivers in the nerves of the intruders. Like any other breed Saint Bernard is very social and keeping it lonely for long time is cruel, such deeds can drive the poor animals crazy and they may turn violent. A Saint Bernard may not always follow the footprints of the owner but will always be watchful of the activities of the owner. It is a highly intelligent dog and easy to be trained. They have highly developed sense of smell and at times act like as they have a sixth sense to foresee impending disasters like cyclones and avalanches.


st bernard dogs image courtsey: msnbcmedia2.msn.com

There are two types of coats found in Saint Bernard varieties when some are of smooth finish the others are rough. Both are very dense and come in white with markings in tan, mahogany, brindle, and black all found in various combinations. The feet are large with strong and well arched toes making them sure footed in the snow and ice.

Common ailments

  • The Saint Bernard is a massive dog variety with a very fast body growth rate. Hence deficiency in calcium and other minerals can cripple a dog with rickets, hypo-dysplasia (developmental disorder), osteosarcoma (bone tumor) etc.

  • Prone to eye disorders such as ectropion and entropion (deformity of eyelids, generally as age advances)

  • Susceptible to epilepsy, heart disorders like dilated cardiomyopathy (chronic disease of heart muscles) and eczema.

  • Saint Bernard Dogs are more prone to gastritis, so it is better to feed them with two or three small meals instead of a single heavy meal.

  • It sheds its hairs twice a year especially during winter and cold seasons.

  • Regular grooming is required to make the coat clean.

Diseases of the digestive system

1. Halitosis or foul breath

This condition is frequently occurred in dogs due to lack of oral hygiene as well as due to infection of teeth or gum. Halitosis may occur as a result of chronic indigestion, hepatic disorder and rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane). A mouth-wash with hydrogen peroxide or any non toxic disinfectant is enough to ward it off.


Inflammation of the gastric mucosa may make the animal anorexic (without appetite) and gloomy. The reasons can be over feeding, indiscriminate feeding –foods which are not suited to dogs, intake of foreign bodies etc. Common symptoms are severe discomfort, abdominal pain, poor appetite, vomiting etc.


It is the inflammation of the intestinal mucous membrane. It is characterized by diarrhea, dehydration etc.

4. Hepatitis.

Inflammation of the liver is known as hepatitis. Can be caused by bacteria, virus, foreign bodies, some toxins etc.

Worm infestation.

Dogs have the habit of eating ground laden materials thereby swallowing worm-eggs which develop in its stomach causing problems. Regular de-worming is a must in dogs. It is recommended that de-worming once in a month is ideal

Diseases of the respiratory system

Common cold, cough, bronchitis, etc are the common respiratory diseases found in dogs as well as other pet animals.

Skin diseases

Scabies, mange (skin disease due to parasitic mites causing severe itching) infections, dermatitis etc are common in dogs

Note before you take the Saint Bernard

saint bernard puppiessaint bernard puppies image courtsey: saintbernardclub.org

Saint Bernard is a large breed of dog with fast rate of body growth so it needs large quantities of food adequately supplemented by minerals and calcium. Regular cleaning and exercise are very important. It is very sociable type, give it company and let children get acquainted with the dog. Never let your pet remain lonely for long periods, it can cause it nervous break-downs.

Tunnel diggers!

Dogs are generally very active types of animals they require ample space to run and play, hence before you consider bring them in (esp. a Saint Bernard) in to your house, make sure you have lots of room to spare for them; to run and play. A sturdy fence with adequate height is a must so that they won’t jump over it and scare the neighbors. As Saint Bernards are intelligent they may dig under the fence and go out, so make the fence considering this factor also!

Article by Dr. Harikrishnan

Related Reading

Browse More Articles on Dog Breeds by Dr Harikrishnan and Dr Suraj


Casey and Peanut said...

Hello Mr. Sasi Kumar,

Thanks for visiting our blog. You very good articles.

Btw, you have received a Linky Love Tag from Casey and Peanut.

Here is the link: http://caseyandpeanut.blogspot.com/2007/07/linky-love-tag.html

Hope you will join the Linky Love Tag

Kind regards
Casey and Peanut

Anonymous said...

This was a great read! I love the photo of the puppy!


Anonymous said...

that a huge dog.

im not sure about dog breeds type. but is this the type of dog that appeared in one of the movie before. kinda forgot the title, but inside the movie, there are 3 animal, 2 dogs and 1 cat. they lost in the forest. and their owner search for them.

thanks for dropping by at my blog :)


ThanateTan said...

Hello This is a good article blog.

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ericat said...

It is a treat to see such beautiful ST Bernard dogs. Those that I have seen in South Africa were shabby and dirty looking with a drooling mouth. I guess it must be because it is too warm for them here? All seem to be ideal children dogs as they do not mind kids playing and tumbling all over them. Their size makes them excellent watch dogs as nobody will test to see what they can do. Crime is very high over here, people need the presence of a large dog (or two) sigh...
Thank you for visiting our site on the lighter side of pets my blog

silentsurfur said...

Hi Sasi,

Thanks for dropping by and comment...I am going to post about this article on my blog with your name...thanks you again.

My Doggies

Joan Taber said...

Thanks for the terrific articles about these beautiful gentle dogs. Here's a link to another beautiful St. Bernard named Bubba: http://junodog.blogspot.com/search?q=bubba

PS: The nicest people in the world are from Kerala.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading this. Have previously been an owner of a Golden Retriever so I have an affection for dogs. This article made me very sad at the same time because my dog was fond of digging and chewing, na dit brought all those memories back ...

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Saint Bernards are wonderful dogs - when I was a child a neighbor had one for a pet. You don't see them too often these days. Thanks for the nice article and to Biby Cletus for stopping by Mr. Puffy's blog.

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Whoops - I don't know happened there! Sorry if this is a repeat. Saint Bernards are wonderful dogs. A neighbor had one when I was a child - but I haven't seen one for years. Thanks for the nice article and to Biby for stopping by Mr. Puffy's blog.

Princess, Tank and Isaac: The Newfs of Hazard said...

Hi! We're Newfoundlands - we love the cold and rescue people as well. We do water really well. If anyone has a Newf, a Saint or other big dog they should know that the newest reseach shows that excess calcium is what causes hip dysplasia in dogs that are genetically susceptible. You shouldn't supplement calcium and you should be sure the food has less than 1.5% calcium. But Saints are great dogs. We're not quite as big as they are.

Gazard7 said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. You have a very informative blog, you must have spent a lot of time on it, keep up the good work!

Ellie said...

Hi there! Great blog, very exhaustive research. I want a Saint Bernard now, jeez. :)

Fay said...

Hello Sasi,

Very insightful article and let me say you have done a nice job on your blog.

Thanks for visiting my All About Labradors Blog

Keep up the good work.

Radio said...

i grew up near the alps and saw these dogs in action, they are wonderful creatures. often they have a little collar with schnaps in it so if they find a injured person in the mountains they can get some pain relief and fast calories until rescue comes.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog at http://www.homemadehealthypetfood.com

This is a great post. I love St. Bernards!


Casey and Peanut said...

you have done a wonderful research. We have a Shih Tzu (Casey) and a Duchshund (Peanut) ... :)

JayEss said...

Thanks for visiting my http://flyball-dogs.blogspot.com blog.
Have found your comments on St. Bernards very interesting. Our dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, is far better when fed 4 small meals a day!

Anonymous said...

very very great dog blog u have