The St. Bernard is a giant dog. The average weight of the breed is between 140 and 264 lb (64�120 kg) or more and the approximate height at the withers is 27� inches to 35� inches (70 to 90 cm). The coat can be either smooth or rough, with the smooth coat close and flat. The rough coat is dense but flat, and more profuse around the neck and legs. The coat is typically a red color with white, or sometimes a mahogany brindle with white. Black shading is usually found on the face and ears. The tail is long and heavy, hanging low eyes should have naturally tight lids, with "haws only slightly visible". Sometimes the eyes, brown usually, can be icy blue, nearly white. St. Bernard dogs are no longer used for Alpine rescues, the last recorded instance of which was in 1897. As late as 2004, the Great St Bernard Hospice still maintained 18 of the dogs for reasons of tradition and sentiment. In that year the Barry Foundation created breeding kennels for the breed at the town of Martigny down the Pass, and purchased the remaining dogs from the Hospice. The animals bred by the Foundation are trained to participate in a variety of dog sports including carting and weight pulling. The dogs at the Barry Foundation are reportedly smaller than the average St Bernard. St. Bernards, like all very large dogs, must be well socialized with people and other dogs in order to prevent fearfulness and any possible aggression or territoriality. The biggest threat to small children is being knocked over by this breed's larger size. Overall they are a loyal and affectionate breed, and if socialized are very friendly. Because of its large adult size, it is essential that proper training and socialization begin while the St. Bernard is still a puppy, so as to avoid the difficulties that normally accompany training large dogs. An unruly St. Bernard may present problems for even a strong adult, so control needs to be asserted from the beginning of the dog's training. While generally not as aggressive as dogs bred for protection, a St. Bernard may bark at strangers, and their size makes them good deterrents against possible intruders.
March 5th, 2013
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