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Before Beethoven gave St. Bernard dogs a good reputation on the television screen, these dogs have held up a great reputation for centuries. Since the 18th-century St.Bernards were used to help monks navigate through the Alps of Italy and Switzerland. These dogs helped saved lives during rescue missions and snowstorms. St.Bernards are resistant to the cold weather and have a great sense of direction which is a big plus. In the past, they have helped save the lives of many children and soldiers leading them to be a very common household hero today.


The Great St. Bernard Pass

Between 1660 and 1670 monks got their hands on St.Bernard dogs and used them as watchdogs and sometimes companions. Back then these canines were smaller in size with shorter fur that was still reddish-brown with white peeking out. When roaming the Western Alps the monks brought along St.Bernards to help them travel through the Great St.Bernard Pass. This 49-mile long pass was how the dogs got their name as they helped so much during the travels. By 1750 it was rare to travel without one of these canines by your side. When travelers were lost and injured St. Bernard’s made it a mission to go out and find them.


Life-Saving Work

St.Bernard dogs were allowed to work on their own as the monks trusted them to come back to alert them of anything. After big snowstorms, they would spend most of their time digging in the snow to find anything or anyone. The big furry dogs were also great at laying on top of those who were found in the snow to keep them warm during the rescue. When Napoleon and his 250,000 soldiers crossed the pass not a single one of them was lost. St. Bernards protected them along the way in the most organized fashion.



It was in 1830 when the monks began to breed St.Bernards in hope of their hair being longer, making them better at protecting people in the cold weather. The idea backfired when all this caused was ice to freeze on their hair. Up until 2004, there were still 18 of these canines that belonged to the monk’s hospice. Since then St.Bernard dogs have made their mark in homes all over the world. Without them, monks now use helicopters to navigate through the Great St.Bernard Pass.