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Do you want a dog like Beethoven?
There's no denying that he's cute, but is he the right dog for your family? Read this first!

What type of Dog is Beethoven?
Beethoven is played by Kris, a St. Bernard.

What was this breed bred for?
According to the St. Bernard Club of America (SBCA), the breed was developed at a Monastery located
in the only pass through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland, now known as the St. Bernard Pass. The SBCA reports that the area, "As it was snow free only a few months during the warmest part of the summer, it was very dangerous for foot travelers journeying to or past the hospice. Being caught on foot in that difficult terrain during unexpected inclement weather was often fatal"

The SBCA reports that for the first 700 years of the breeds existence, there were no written records kept. However, around the year 1700 the St. Bernard began its unique lifesaving work that is often caricatured in cartoons and other media. The SBCA describes their work in the St. Bernard pass: "The dogs seemed to have had an uncanny sense to detect impending avalanches, consequently the monks wanted the dogs to accompany them while they traversed those perilous footpaths. Somehow the dogs learned rescue techniques from the monks. Eventually male dogs were sent in unaccompanied packs of two or three to seek lost or injured pilgrims. Often the dogs had to find people buried in the snow, dig through the overlaying snow, rouse the traveler and lie atop the wayfarer to provide warmth if the traveler was unable to move. Meanwhile, the other dog would return to the hospice to alert the monks that they needed to rescue a trapped pilgrim. Travelers who could still walk would be led back to the hospice by the dogs. The instinct to dig to people buried beneath snow and to rouse those lying in snow is still evident in the breed today."

What is their energy level?
Average.

What type of grooming will they need?
As they were bred to tolerate cold climates they have lots of hair! The St. Bernard comes in both short an longhaired varieties. Both shed quite a bit. Daily brushing will help.

What other traits do they exhibit?
They drool! Although there are many unscrupulous breeders claiming to have "dry mouth" this is simply not true. Also beware the breeder that says their St. Bernard's are "hypoallergenic" or "non-shedding".

The St. Bernard is known to be loyal and laid back. Despite the reputation gained after the release of Cujo (1983) the St. Bernard is known to be gentle when treated well and trained correctly.

St. Bernard's do end up in rescue because they are too large. Meet the breed before taking one home, so you are fully aware of his size, which can range from 120 - 180 pounds. Average pet energy appears more destructive because of their large size.

The very fast growth rate and the weight of a St. Bernard can lead to very serious deterioration of the bones if the dog does not get proper food and exercise. Many dogs are affected by hip dysplasia. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) has been shown to be hereditary in the breed.

Some background about Kris (the St. Bernard who played Beethoven):
Not much info could be found on Kris (also referred to as "Chris" on some websites). Kris was trained by Karl Lewis Miller, trainer of the animals in Babe. Kris also appeared in the TV show Step by Step.

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For more breed info visit:

http://www.saintrescue.org/

http://saintbernard.org/index.htm