As I said, they are very large. They stand at a whopping 35 inches tall. They can weigh as much as 260 pounds. They have long shaggy fur which is generally a mix of white and brown. Their tails are not only long but very heavy and covered in fur. It is so heavy, it generally just hangs. The St. Bernards are from the western Alps in Switzerland, Italy, and France.
This breed of dog has a number of uses such as herding, hunting, watchdog, but it is clearly more famous as a rescue dog. They are very good at finding people trapped in the snow after avalanches. A lot of fiction depicts them with barrels of brandy around their necks, but this is actually not practiced. The idea of it has been attributed to an 1820 painting by Edwin Landseer.
The St. Bernard is a gentle giant. They are extremely friendly with everyone including children. The only problem is that they can accidentally knock small children over and cause injuries. Training is needed to help them with this. If a St. Bernard ever gets violent, it is because it has for some reason become afraid.
In my research, I found mention to a legendary St. Bernard named Barry. He was a mountain rescue dog in Switzerland. Apparently, he found a boy inside of a cavern of ice, pressed against him to warm him up, and then persuaded the boy to get on his back so he could carry him to safety. This legend has since been disputed, but there are many who still believe in it. If it did happen, I think that is pretty darn cool!
In fiction, St. Bernards are everywhere. You saw them a lot in old cartoons with their brandy barrels around their necks. They usually pop up when someone had frozen solid and fill up their bellies with the brandy which not only saves the victim but also renders them completely smashed. There are other cartoons that show the St. Bernard getting drunk on his own brandy with whoever he is supposed to rescue. They end up singing drunken songs and the like.
In 1992, the movie "Beethoven" featured a St. Bernard. It was a fun movie about a family who owned a dog too big for his own good. A lot of the humor came from the troubles of trying to keep the large creature under control. The movie did well enough and spawned a whopping 7 sequels and 1 animated series.
I personally love the idea of a friendly but very large shaggy dog person. I would love if I was friends with one honestly. I'm not saying this because I want the brandy either. It's like how Han Solo had Chewy. I want a St. Bernard instead. I'll leave it at that.
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