Smooth and Rough St. Bernards
From paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Smooth and Rough ST. Bernards
The St. Bernard won both his name and his fame in the Swiss Alps,
where for many years the monks of the Hospice St. Bernard have used
dogs to assist them in saving the lives of travelers lost in the snow.
One of these dogs, Barry, saved 40 people and was killed by the 41st, who mistook him for a wolf.
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But the dogs used by the monks have changed greatly in appearance from time to time.
Occasionaly an avalanche will destroy a large number, and those
remaining will be bred to Newfoundlands, Pyrenean sheep dogs, and others having similar characteristics.
Some of the dogs kept at the hospice now resemble powerful
foxhounds and would never be admitted to an American bench show in
competition with modern St. Bernards, cither smooth or rough coated.
Smooth and Rough ST. Bernards Weaknesses
The old-time working hospice dog had none of the grandeur of this
more modern successor to his name, which has been compounded
rather recently of several other dogs. Still he is about the most
distinct of any of the large dogs, the Newfoundland being the only dog even remotely resembling him.
Like all very large heavy dogs, this breed is greatly given to
weakness in the legs, cowhocks and weak hips being rather the rule than the exception.
The “dewclaw,” or extra hind toe, is also generally present (and was formerly considered desirable).
The perfect St. Bernard is a very large, very strong, straight-backed,
strong-legged, and heavily organized dog, the colors, as shown,
being those most eagerly sought. They may be either rough or smooth in coat.
The best American dogs are those of Mr. Jacob Rupert, of Newark, N. J., and Miss C. B. Trask, of California.
Indeed, it is doubtful if their dogs are to be surpassed anywhere.
The benign St. Bernard should show, in both types, broad, domed,
massive head, loose skin, deep-set, rather mournful, eye, haw quite pronounced, and
deep-folded flews and dewlap, though he should not be too “throaty.”
What is not mentioned in most brief accounts of this dog is the
tremendously impressive voice in which he speaks.
Probably no other dog has such a deep bass voice, nor such a volume of it.
Yet it is as benign and kindly as his expression of countenance, and
would tend rather to inspire hope and confidence than fear, even with the timid.
Smooth and Rough ST. Bernards Affection
The deep personal affection with which St. Bernard owners
invariably invest their companions is the best expression of the
character of these great, dignified and rather somber dogs,
which inspire no fear, even in little children, and which return the
stranger’s gaze with a look of calm, steady, and indulgent tolerance, and
endure the advances of the unacquainted with a patience and
dignity that speak worlds for their gracious and enduring disposition.