The Saint Bernard is a very ancient breed, believed to originate from native
dogs and the tibetan mastiff that were present in the alps since around the
year 1000.
These were used for a variety of duties including, rescue, guarding,
herding,and drafting.
The monks then crossed these dogs with the Great Pyrenees and with the
Great Dane.    The original St. Bernards were all short haired dogs;
However, About 150 years ago  the monks brought in new blood into their
breeding program and interbred the long coated Newfoundland with the
Saints .
The St. Bernard was used for search and rescue in the snowy passes
between Switzerland and Italy.;  and although it all started with the smooth
coat Saint , the monks believed adding the long coat variety would help the
dogs to withstand the frigid temperatures;
These dogs saved more than 2000 people trapped by avalanches and
storms when traveling thru the  Great Saint Bernard Pass in  the Alpine
Mountains ; Hence the rescue breed was named the Saint Bernard.
By the 1960's both smooth and rough coated saints had been accepted in
America and today are recognized by all major kennel clubs.
History of the Saint Bernard
Guide on how the Saint Bernard breed originated thru the years.
Saints were bred to work as service dogs, pulling carts, guarding home and livestock and saving lives in search and rescue  
The Saint Bernards typical "look" has
changed quite a bit from the rescue
dogs that were first used,; the dogs
used to be smaller, more agile, and
had longer noses;  The saints
nowadays are much heavier in build
and the head is more massive
The Great Saint Bernard Hospice
,which served as the location of
the rescue dogs. The dogs
rescued travelers for over 200
years, now all rescue work is done
by helicopter.  Saint bernards were
raised at the hospice till 2004  
The Barrel that is strapped to a
Saint Bernards collar was said to
contain liquor to warm travelers
rescued in winter snowstorms
but no historical records exist
that document this practice so it
is considered to be legend.
Most famous Saint Bernard was Barry; he
lived at the monastery for 12 years and he
saved more than 40 people buried deep
in snow. When Barry passed away in 1815
his body was preserved and put on
exhibit  at the Natural History Museum in
Berne  Switzerland