How Did St. Bernard Dogs Help Save Lives in the Swiss Alps and How Did the Rescue Dog Get its Name?

The St. Bernard Dog is a very large breed, and a working dog from the Swiss Alps, originally bred for rescue.

st. bernard dog

The breed has become famous because it has helped save lives in the Swiss Alps, as well as for its large size.

The ancestors of the St. Bernard share a history with the Sennenhunds, which are large farm dogs of the farmers and dairymen of the Swiss Alps.

At the last count, St. Bernards have saved more than 2,500 lives over the last 200 years alone.

The man behind the name of the dog was an Italian clergyman named Bernard.

During the Middle Ages, he founded a hospice in Valle d’Aosta on the border of Switzerland and Italy, and added the famous doggy search-and-rescue mission.

The hospice is still operating there, and the big furry dogs are still bred in a kennel out back.

These days, however, they’re kept more for sentimental reasons than for rescue, since cars and helicopters are now more effective at rescuing stranded people than big sloppy dogs.

In case you were wondering, the St. Bernard rescue dogs really did wear casks of brandy on their collars. It gave the people they found an illusion of being a little warmer until real help arrived.

Hair of the Dog.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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