The Saint Bernard's Origins and History Source: Wikipedia. Country/Region of Origin: Switzerland Original purpose: rescue, working Name: Named after Great Saint Bernard Pass where a hospice raised the dogs. They were called Saint Dogs, Alpenmastiff, or Barry Dogs before the middle of the 1800’s; also known as St. Bernardshund, Bernardhiner, Alpine Mastiff, and Saint Bernard. Historical notes: Saint Bernard dogs were developed from the working dogs of Swiss farmers. Their tasks included herding, hunting, and watching over the farm and its animals. They have a long history of rescuing the lost in the Alps. They can still be found with the monks who first raised them centuries ago.