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Saint Bernard dogs are often depicted in media as carrying barrels of brandy around their necks, which was used to warm rescued victims from the cold.

The monks of the Saint Bernard Hospice deny that this was ever used in Real Life, and instead the early depiction came from an early painting.

The idea that the dogs could do this, or that a drink could even save someone from hypothermia was examined and busted by the Myth Busters. Alcohol would, in fact, endanger their lives because the warming effect is caused by increasing heat flow to the extremities, which would lower the core body temperature and accelerate the onset of hypothermia, though if rescue was imminent it might have the benefit of delaying frostbite. (That said, dogs are often trained to be able to sniff and dig out people trapped by natural or man-made disasters.)

A common gag in cartoons, especially Warner Bros and MGM cartoons, involves the dogs actually taking swigs of the brandy for themselves.

Examples of Saint Bernard Rescue include:


Comic Books

  • A Donald Duck comic had Donald stranded in the mountains with his car, when eventually a St. Bernard with a barrel came to him. He chugged the liquid, only to spew it back out, because the liquor was WAY too hard for him. Then the dog pointed out that it was gasoline for the car.

Live Action TV

 Alfred Hitchcock "Ah! Man's best friend! And a dog!"

  • In the show Topper, a perpetually drunk St. Bernard named Neil lost his life trying to save George and Marion Kerby; leaving all three to haunt Cosmo Topper.
  • Mentioned but not seen in the I Love Lucy episode set in the Swiss Alps.


  • In the Laurel and Hardy vehicle Swiss Miss, Stan Laurel coaxes a tot of brandy from a Saint Bernard.


  • A 1949 Punch magazine cartoon. A man has a St. Bernard and several puppies, all of which wear neck casks. The man says "Of course, I only breed them for the brandy."

Newspaper Comics

  • The Wizard of Id has at least once had Town Drunk Bung resort to getting in trouble on a mountain so that he'll be rescued by a Saint Bernard and he can drink its brandy.
  • Two Far Side cartoons toy with the idea:
    • One with a guy in an outhouse in the middle of nowhere, yelling for help, cutting to a Saint-Bernard with a roll of toilet paper around its collar (The caption is "Far away on a hillside, a very specialized breed of dog heard the cry for help.").
    • Another is "Common rescue animals", featuring among others: a Saint-Bernard with a keg of brandy, a dolphin with a pair of swim trunks, a rhinoceros with car keys.


  • In PDQ Bach's "half-act opera" The Stoned Guest, a St. Bernard appears right on cue after Don Octave says "For who can save us now?", and the cast sings its praises until they get around to discovering that the cask around its neck has been drained of its contents.

Western Animation

  • There's at least one Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Saint Bernard -- but instead of sharing his brandy with others, he drinks it himself and resultingly shows up drunk at his rescues.
    • In one, the barrel contains a minibar. The dog uses the contents to mix himself a martini.
    • There are at least two Tom and Jerry shorts with similar gags.
  • In the Disney short "Alpine Climbers," Pluto falls in the snow and comes out blue and frigid. A Saint Bernard pours his keg of brandy on Pluto's mouth, and a rainbow of colors spreads from Pluto's belly to his extremities as he warms up again.
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