History

For the benefit of St. Bernards

History and development

For the benefit of St. Bernards

The St. Bernard museum “Musée et Chiens du Saint-Bernard” was founded in 2006 by the Bernard and Caroline de Watteville Foundation. An agreement with the Barry Foundation saw St. Bernards visit the museum every day – and the puppies, as you can imagine, were particularly popular. As a result of this long-standing collaboration, the Bernard and Caroline de Watteville Foundation and the Barry Foundation decided in 2014 to merge their activities with the aim of running a St. Bernard centre of excellence under the name Barryland – with breeding facilities, exhibition, information and entertainment all centred on the Swiss national dog. To better meet the needs of families and children, the “Barry Family” zone with fun and games for all ages was opened in 2016.

The history of the St. Bernard dogs from the hospice, however, goes back much further:

The hospice on the Great St. Bernard, at alt. 2469 m, was established in the 11th century to provide a refuge for travellers and pilgrims. The monks in the mid-17th century surrounded themselves with large mountain dogs for security. Documents from 1695 and a note in the records testify to the presence of these dogs at the Great St. Bernard Hospice.

The story of the legendary Barry I

Barry I lived at the hospice from 1800 until 1812 and was doubtless the most famous of all the dogs that ever provided rescue services on the pass. He saved the lives of more than 40 people. The many legends surrounding his name greatly contributed to the Saint Bernard’s favourable reputation. As a result, there is always a dog called Barry in the kennel. In 1812, when Barry I started ageing, one of the Fathers took him to Bern on foot. He was well taken care of in his new home but finally died of old age two years later. In 1815, he was put on show in the natural history museum. The restored preserved body of Barry I has been displayed there since 1923.

The Barry Foundation

The Barry Foundation owns the world’s oldest breeding facility of the Swiss national dog with the aim of preserving the special St. Bernard Hospice breed at its place of origin.