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St Bernard Facts

Origin: Switzerland
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Breed Group: Working
Coat Type: Thick and dense
Coat Colours: Red with white markings, mahogany with white
Temperament: Gentle, Friendly, Calm
Height: 70-90 cm (27.5-35.5 inches)
Weight: 64-120 kg (140-260 lbs)

Introduction

St Bernard  for Sale Ireland

The St Bernard, a formidable member of the Working category, is a magnificent, large-sized purebred canine. Renowned for their gentle nature and imposing presence, they have a fascinating history that extends far beyond their roots in the Swiss Alps.  Their appearance and size are greatly influenced by their parentage. Well-socialized St Bernards are known for their friendly, outgoing, and gentle nature, making them excellent companions, especially for watching over young children.

While they may be inactive indoors, they require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. These dogs thrive on outdoor activities, particularly in the snow, and giving them tasks like carrying weight or pulling wagons imparts a sense of purpose.

A Brief History

The history of the St Bernard breed dates back to the Swiss Alps, where they were initially bred by monks at the Saint Bernard Hospice to aid in rescue missions during harsh winters. These dogs were prized for their incredible strength, intelligence, and ability to navigate treacherous mountain terrain.

However, like many ancient breeds, the exact origins of the St Bernard remain shrouded in mystery. A plausible theory suggests that these dogs likely evolved from the interbreeding of the large and robust Molosser, brought to Switzerland by Roman armies, with indigenous local dogs.

Historical Origins

The roots of the St Bernard breed extend back over three centuries, with its earliest known depictions dating back to 1695. These historic artworks are often attributed to the renowned Italian artist Salvatore Rosa.

A Legacy of Rescue and Work

While the St Bernard breed is no longer actively engaged in rescue operations, its enduring connection to its working origins remains intact. This rich heritage is intricately tied to the Monastery and hospice located in the rugged Great Saint Bernard Pass, a mountainous region straddling the borders of Italy and Switzerland. The hospice was founded by Augustine monk Bernard de Menthon, serving as the namesake for both the pass and the breed.

Monastic Companions and Lifesavers

Historical records unveil the crucial role St Bernards played as vigilant companions to the monks, especially during the harsh winters marked by isolation due to heavy snowfall. These dogs would become saviours to countless intrepid travellers who found themselves in peril during snowstorms, particularly in the treacherous winter months when the pass became a perilous place.

The Monks’ Utilization of St Bernards’ Unique Abilities

The monks harnessed the innate abilities of the St Bernard breed to patrol snow-covered footpaths following severe storms, tirelessly searching for stranded individuals. These dedicated dogs worked in pairs, with one dog discovering a stranded traveller while the other would promptly return to the hospice for assistance. Meanwhile, the first dog would provide warmth and companionship to the distressed traveller.

Legendary Instincts and Enduring Traits

One of the most remarkable traits of the St Bernard breed, their extraordinary instinct to dig through snow to locate and revive buried individuals, became the stuff of legends. This exceptional characteristic remains a defining feature of the breed to this day, a testament to their historical role as rescuers and companions in the unforgiving terrain of the Great Saint Bernard Pass.

Dispelling a Myth

While a popular misconception endures that St Bernard rescue dogs once carried barrels of brandy around their necks, the St Bernard Hospice monks vehemently deny this. The notion likely emerged from a painting by English artist Edwin Landseer in the 1820s, featuring a St Bernard with a cask. It was further cemented in a widely circulated 1831 engraving. However, historical accounts suggest that this was never a practice among the rescue dogs.

Evolution and Experimentation

In the early 1830s, due to severe cold spells that took a toll on the St Bernard population, the monks began experimenting with cross-breeding. Their aim was to create a dog with longer hair, thinking it would offer better protection from extreme cold. This led to the introduction of larger longhaired breeds like the Leonberger and Newfoundland into the St Bernard lineage.

However, the experiment did not yield the desired results. The longer hair of these dogs would accumulate ice in deep snow, adding weight that hindered their ability to work effectively. Consequently, the idea of longer hair was abandoned, and all longhaired puppies were given away. The monks returned to predominantly using shorthaired St Bernards for mountain duties.

Acknowledgment and Recognition

The St Bernard’s intelligence, large stature, and amiable disposition have earned it recognition from prominent canine organizations. It was officially acknowledged by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885 and the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1920, solidifying its status as a distinguished and beloved breed with a rich history of service and companionship.

Though the origins of St Bernards may not be directly tied to Ireland, they have found a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts across the country. Their reputation for being gentle giants and loyal companions has made them a cherished breed among Irish families.

The St Bernard: Did You Know?

  • Aliases: The St Bernard is also known as the “Saint Bernard,” the “Saint,” “Barry Dog,” and the “Noble Steed.”
  • Historical Monikers: Throughout its early history, this breed went by various names, including “Alpine Mastiffs,” “Holy Dogs,” “Hospice Dogs,” “Monastery Dogs,” “Mountain Dogs,” “Saint Bernard Mastiffs,” and “Swiss Alpine Dogs.”
  • Official Breed Name: The breed was officially designated as the “Saint Bernard” in 1880.
  • Early Coats: Prior to 1830, all Saint Bernards had short hair.
  • Brandy Barrel Myth: Contrary to popular belief, St Bernards never carried brandy casks during their rescue missions. However, the tradition of keeping casks for tourist photographs continues.
  • Heroic Rescues: During their centuries-long history as rescue dogs, it’s estimated that St Bernards saved more than 2,000 people.
  • Record-Breaking Size: The 1981 Guinness Book of World Records recognized a St Bernard named “Benedictine V Schwarzwald Hof” that weighed a staggering 315 pounds (143 kilograms).
  • Monument to a Hero: “Barry” (Barry der Menschenretter), one of the most famous St Bernard hospice dogs with over 40 rescues to his name, is honoured in a monument at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland.

St Bernard Puppies

St Bernard puppies are undeniably adorable. These fluffy bundles of joy will quickly steal your heart. When searching for St Bernard puppies in Ireland, you can find them in various counties such as Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Limerick. Reputable breeders and rescue organizations offer St Bernard puppies for adoption or purchase.

It’s important to consider the responsibilities that come with raising a St Bernard puppy. Their size, energy, and grooming needs require dedicated care and attention. However, the love and loyalty they offer in return make it all worthwhile.

Size and Weight

St Bernards are renowned for their impressive size and stature.

  • Height: St Bernards typically stand between 70 to 90 cm (27.5 to 35.5 inches) at the shoulder.
  • Weight: These gentle giants can weigh anywhere from 54 to 91 kg (120 to 200 lbs).

Their size makes them one of the largest dog breeds in the world, and their powerful build reflects their history as rescue dogs in the Alps.

Coat & Colours

St Bernards have a thick, dense double coat that helps keep them warm in cold weather. Their coats are usually a combination of white with red, mahogany, or brindle patches. This iconic coat not only adds to their charm but also serves as a reminder of their Alpine heritage.

Red and White

The most prevalent and instantly recognisable colour variation of St Bernards is the combination of red and white. The base colour is white, with red patches or markings primarily found around the head, ears, and tail.

Mahogany and White

In addition to the red and white coat, some St Bernards may exhibit a variation known as mahogany and white. This colour variation showcases a deeper, mahogany-hued red, blended with prominent white markings.

Brindle and White

Another observed colour variation in St Bernards is brindle and white. The term “brindle” refers to a pattern of dark stripes or streaks on a lighter background. St Bernards displaying the brindle and white colouring feature a combination of these darker stripes or patches along with white areas.

Combination Colours

St Bernards may also exhibit a blend of these various colours, showcasing a diverse distribution and intensity of red, mahogany, brindle, and white markings. Each St Bernard’s unique colouration contributes to their individual charm and character.

In the Irish climate, their dense coat can be a blessing during colder seasons, ensuring they stay comfortable even when temperatures drop.

Temperament

St Bernards are known for their sweet and gentle temperament. They are affectionate, patient, and great with families, making them excellent companions for people of all ages. Their friendly disposition and natural protective instincts make them loyal and trustworthy pets.

In Ireland, where a sense of community and warmth is highly valued, St Bernards fit right in. Their friendly nature makes them perfect for families in counties like Tipperary, Kerry, and Clare, where they can easily become a beloved part of the community.

Pros of St Bernard Ownership

Friendly, Patient, and Loving

St Bernards are known for their friendly and patient nature. They are loving companions, making them excellent family pets.

Fairly Easy to Train

These dogs are eager to learn and are relatively easy to train. Their intelligence and willingness to please make them receptive to commands.

Good with Children and Seniors

St Bernards are gentle giants, making them well-suited for households with both children and seniors. Their calm demeanour and protective instincts create a sense of security.

Social and Compatible

St Bernards are sociable by nature and tend to get along well with other dogs and pets. Their friendly disposition makes them a harmonious addition to multi-pet households.

First-Time Owner Friendly

St Bernards can be a suitable choice for first-time dog owners. Their friendly and adaptable personality can make the transition into dog ownership smoother.

Cons of St Bernard Ownership

Shedding Breed

St Bernards are shedding dogs, and their fur may not be suitable for individuals with allergies. Regular grooming and cleaning are essential to manage the shedding.

Early Training Crucial

Without early training and socialization, St Bernards may become challenging to control. Proper guidance during their formative months is essential.

Exercise Requirements

St Bernards need regular exercise to prevent weight gain. Insufficient physical activity can lead to obesity, which is detrimental to their health.

Not for Long Hours Alone

These dogs do not do well when left alone for extended periods. Loneliness and boredom can result in destructive behaviour and excessive barking. They thrive on companionship and interaction.

St Bernard for Sale Ireland

If you’re looking to bring a St Bernard into your home in Ireland, there are several options available. You can explore local breeders, rescue organizations, or even consider adopting from shelters. Here are some tips for finding a St Bernard for sale in Ireland:

  • DogsIreland.ie: Our website features St Bernards for sale. Do exercise caution online, and be sure to verify the seller’s credibility.
  • Local Breeders: Look for reputable breeders in your area, such as those in Dublin, where you can meet the puppies and their parents in person. Ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and provides proper care for their dogs.
  • Rescue Organizations: Consider adopting a St Bernard from a rescue organization like the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) or Dogs Trust Ireland. Rescuing a dog can be a deeply rewarding experience, and it gives a loving home to a dog in need.

Living with a St Bernard in Ireland

The St Bernard, known for its imposing size, is a breed best suited to larger living spaces in the charming landscape of Ireland. While apartments might not provide the ideal environment, a spacious home with access to a sizable yard is the perfect setting, as long as the climate remains temperate.

Exercise for Happiness

This loyal and amiable companion thrives on both physical and mental stimulation. In the Irish setting, where scenic beauty abounds, your St Bernard will relish disciplined walks through lush landscapes. Daily exercise and engagement in canine sports are essential to maintain their optimal weight and overall health.

Daily Activity Requirements

A fully grown St Bernard should enjoy a minimum of three good walks lasting 30 minutes to an hour each day. Additionally, allowing them the chance to run freely or play with fellow dogs can be a delightful experience. With Ireland’s picturesque countryside and open spaces, these daily excursions can become enjoyable adventures for both you and your St Bernard.

Family-Centric Companionship

St Bernards are intelligent, happy, and friendly dogs that thrive on being part of the family. Taking them along on your Irish adventures not only strengthens your bond but also provides valuable socialization and mental stimulation. Whether exploring the scenic trails of County Kerry or strolling through the charming streets of Dublin, involving your St Bernard in family activities will keep them content and well-balanced.

Avoiding Loneliness

Leaving this affectionate and sociable breed alone for extended periods can be distressing for them. In the serene countryside of Ireland, where tranquillity reigns, a lonely St Bernard may seek its own amusement, which could lead to destructive behaviour and incessant barking. Ensuring their active participation in your daily life will help them stay happy and harmonious in their Irish home.