St. Bernard. 1. The name of two Alpine passes. The Great St. Bernard (8,131 feet), now crossed by a road, is in the Pennine Alps, E. of Mont Blanc, between Piedmont and the Swiss canton of Valais. Near its summit is the hospice established by Bernard de Menthon (962) for the use of pilgrims to Rome. It is in the charge of Augustinian monks, who rescue travellers with the aid of dogs. The Little St. Bernard is in the Graian Alps, S. of Mont Blanc, between Piedmont and Savoy.
2. A breed of large dogs, deriving their name from the Augustinian hospice in the Great St. Bernard Pass, where they were employed as guides by the monks in their journeys to the foot of the pass on each side to assist travellers on their way. The breed is said to have sprung from a mastiff and a Danish bull-bitch, though the date is uncertain. This breed, however, was kept pure at the hospice for a long period; now they seem to be dying out. It was stated in March, 1894, that there were only five at the hospice in the early part of that year. About 1860 St Bernards were introduced into England, and soon became very popuar. The general coloration is orange, red, or fawn, with a good deal of white. There are two varieties, one with a rough, the other with a smooth coat.