For every breed recognized by a kennel club there is a breed standard which defines the ideal dog of that breed, physically and temperamentally. This decscription of the ideal dog is what the breed is judged against within the conformation ring. Breed standards are of course open to some interpretation by the a show judge. This explains why you can find the same group of dogs shown together several times and end up with a different winner each time. Some breed clubs have made moves to clarify the wording of their breed standard by creating an illustrated version of the standard. The Saint Bernard Club of America has produced an excellent illustrated standard which you can find by clicking here.
Each kennel club may have their own version of the Saint Bernard breed standard. Four of these standards are shown below. If you are new to the breed or new to dogs we suggest you get an experienced breeder to help you with interpreting the standard, than we suggest you find another experienced breeder and ask for their help. When you are comfortable that you understand the standard as it applies to the breed and not just a particular breeders lines, than you are ready to start shopping for your show dog.
Like the whole body, very powerful and imposing. The massive skull is wide, slightly arched and the sides slope in a gentle curve into the very strongly developed, high cheek bones. Occiput only moderately developed. The supra orbital ridge is very strongly developed and forms nearly a right angle with the long axis of the head. Deeply imbedded between the eyes and starting at the root of the muzzle, a furrow runs over the whole skull. It is strongly marked in the first half, gradually disappearing toward the base of the occiput. The lines at the side of the head diverge considerably from the outer corner of the eyes toward the back of the head. The skin of the forehead, above the eyes, forms rather noticeable wrinkles, more or less pronounced, which converge toward the furrow. Especially when the dog is alert or at attention the wrinkles are more visible without in the least giving the impression of morosity. Too strongly developed wrinkles are not desired. The slope from the skull to the muzzle is sudden and rather steep.
The muzzle is short, does not taper, and the vertical depth at the root of the muzzle must be greater than the length of the muzzle. The bridge of the muzzle is not arched, but straight; in some dogs, occasionally, slightly broken. A rather wide, well marked, shallow furrow runs from the root of the muzzle over the entire bridge of the muzzle to the nose. The flews of the upper jaw are strongly developed, not sharply cut, but turning in a beautiful curve into the lower edge, and slightly overhanging. The flews of the lower jaw must not be deeply pendant. The teeth should be sound and strong and should meet in either a scissors or an even bite; the scissors bite being preferable. The undershot bite, although sometimes found with good specimens, is not desirable. The overshot bite is a fault. A black roof to the mouth is desirable.
Every departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault
which will be assessed according to the degree of departure from the
Important: Males should have two apparently normally developed testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Powerful, proportionately tall figure, strong and muscular in every part, with powerful head and most intelligent expression. In dogs with a dark mask the expression appears more stern, but never ill-natured.
Like the whole body, very powerful and imposing. The massive skull is wide, slightly arched and the sides slope in a gentle curve into the very strongly developed, high check bones. Occiput only moderately developed. The supra-orbital ridge is very strongly developed and forms nearly a right angle with the long axis of the head. Deeply imbedded between the eyes and starting at the root of the muzzle, a furrow runs over the whole skull. It is strongly marked in the first half, gradually disappearing toward the base of the occiput. The lines at the sides of the head diverge considerably from the outer corner of the eyes, toward the back of the head. The skin of the forehead, above the eyes, forms rather noticeable wrinkles, more or less pronounced, which converge toward the furrow. Especially when the dog is alert or at attention, the wrinkles are more visible without in the least giving the impression of morosity. Too strongly developed wrinkles are not desired. The slope from the skull to the muzzle is sudden and rather steep.
The muzzle is short, does not taper, and the vertical depth at the root of the muzzle must be greater than the length of the muzzle. The bridge of the muzzle is not arched, but straight; in some dogs, occasionally, slightly broken. A rather wide, well marked, shallow furrow runs from the root of the muzzle over the entire bridge of the muzzle to the nose. The flews of the upper jaw are strongly developed, not sharply cut, but turning in a beautiful curve into the lower edge, and slightly overhanging. The flews of the lower jaw must not be deeply pendant. The teeth should be sound and strong and should meet in either a scissors or an even bite: the scissors bite being preferable. The undershot bite; although sometimes found with good specimens, is not desirable. The overshot bite is a fault. A black roof to the mouth is desirable.
(Schwamm) - Very substantial, broad, with wide open nostrils, and, like the lips, always black.
Of medium size, rather high set, with very strongly developed burr (Muschel) at the base. They stand slightly away from the head at the base, then drop with a sharp bend to the side and cling to the head without a turn. The flap is tender and forms a rounded triangle, slightly elongated toward the point, the front edge lying firmly to the head, whereas the back edge may stand somewhat away from the head, especially when the dog is at attention. Lightly set ears, which at the base immediately cling to the head, give it an oval and to little marked exterior, whereas a strongly developed base gives the skull a squarer, broader and much more expressive appearance.
Set more to the front than the sides, are of medium size, dark brown, with intelligent, friendly expression, set moderately deep. The lower eyelids, as a rule, do not close completely and, if that is the case, form an angular wrinkle toward the inner corner of the eye. Eyelids which are to deeply pendant and show conspicuously the lachrymal glands, or a very red, thick haw, and eyes that are to light, are objectionable.
Set high, very strong and when alert or at attention is carried erect. Otherwise horizontally or slightly downward. The junction of head and neck is distinctly marked by an indentation. The nape of the neck is very muscular and rounded at the sides which makes the neck appear rather short. The dewlap of throat and neck is well pronounced: too strong development, however, is not desirable.
Sloping and broad, very muscular and powerful. The withers are strongly pronounced.
Very well arched, moderately deep, not reaching below the elbows.
Very broad, perfectly straight as far as the haunches, from there gently sloping to the rump, and merging imperceptibly into the root of the tail.
Well-developed. Legs very muscular.
Distinctly set off from the very powerful loin section, only little drawn up.
Starting broad and powerful directly from the rump is long, very heavy, ending in a powerful tip. In repose it hangs straight down, turning gently upward in the lower third only, which is not considered a fault. In a great many specimens the tail is carried with the end slightly bent and therefore hangs down in the shape of an "f". In action all dogs carry the tail more or less turned upward. However it may not be carried too erect or by any means rolled over the back. A slight curling of the tip is sooner admissible.
Very powerful and extraordinarily muscular.
Hocks of moderate angulation. Dewclaws are not desired; if present, they must not obstruct gait.
Broad, with strong toes, moderately closed, and with rather high knuckles. The so-called dewclaws which sometimes occur on the inside of the hind legs are imperfectly developed toes. They are of no use to the dog and are not taken into consideration in judging. They may be removed by surgery.
Very dense, short-haired (stockhaarig), lying smooth, tough, without however feeling rough to the touch. The thighs are slightly bushy. The tail at the root has longer and denser hair which gradually becomes short toward the tip. The tail appears bushy, not forming a flag.
White with red or red with white, the red in its various shades; brindle patches with white markings. The colors red and brown-yellow are of entirely equal value. Necessary markings are: white chest, feet and tip of tail, noseband, collar or spot on the nape; the latter and blaze are very desirable. Never of one color or without white. Faulty are all other colors, except the favorite dark shadings on the head (mask) and ears. One distinguishes between mantle dogs and splash-coated dogs.
Of the dog should be 27 1/2 inches minimum, of the bitch 25 1/2 inches. Female animals are of finer and more delicate build.
are all deviations from the Standard, as for instance a swayback and a disproportionately long back, hocks too much bent, straight hindquarters, upward growing hair in spaces between the toes, out at elbows, cowhocks and weak pasterns.
The longhaired type completely resembles the shorthaired type except for the coat which is not shorthaired (stockhaarig) but of medium length plain to slightly wavy, never rolled or curly and not shaggy either. Usually, on the back, especially from the region of the haunches to the rump, the hair is more wavy, a condition, by the way, that is slightly indicated in the shorthaired dogs. The tail is bushy with dense hair of moderate length. Rolled or curly hair on the tail is not desirable. A tail with parted hair, or a flag tail, is faulty. Face and ears are covered with short and soft hair; longer hair at the base of the ear is permissible. Forelegs only slightly feathered; thighs very bushy.
There are two varieties of the St. Bernard: Short-hair variety (Stockhaar, smooth coat) Long-hair variety (rough coat) Both varieties are of notable size and have a balanced, sturdy, muscular body with imposing head and alert facial expression
Behaviour Temperament: Friendly by nature. Temperament calm to lively, watchful
Important proportions: Ideal proportion for height at withers to body length (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the ischium) = 5 : 6. Ideal relationship of height at withers to depth of chest = 100 : 45-50
Head: General: massive and imposing
Cranial Region: skull strong, seen in profile and from the front slightly rounded; sideways it merges gently rounded into the strongly developed high cheek bones, falling away steeply towards the muzzle. Occipital bone only moderately pronounced. Supraorbital ridges strongly developed. The frontal furrow, which starts at the root of the muzzle and runs over the whole skull, disapears towards the base of the occiput. The skin of the forehead forms wrinkles over the eyes which converge towards the frontal furrow. When the dog is attentive, the wrinkles become more pronounced. When alert, the set-on of the ear and the topline of the skull appear in a straight line.
Stop: markedly pronounced
Facial region: Muzzle: short, does not taper. Nasal bridge straight, with a shallow furrow running its length. Length of muzzle shorter than its depth, measured at the root of the muzzle Nose: black, broad and square. Nostrils well opened Lips: edge of lips black. Flews of upper jaw strongly developed, pendulous, forming a wide curve towards the nose. Corner of mouth remains visible Teeth: strong, regular and complete scissor or even bite. Reverse scissor bite acceptable. Missing PM 1 (premolar 1) tolerated Eyes: medium size. Colour dark brown to lighter nut-brown. Not deeply set, with a friendly expression. Eyelids as close fitting as possible. Complete pigmentation on eye rims. Natural tightness of lids desired. A small angular wrinkle of the lower eyelid with inconspicuous showing of the conjunctiva, as well as a small angular wrinkle of the upper eyelid are allowed Ears: medium size, set on high and wide. Strongly developed burr at the base. Ear flaps pliable, triangular with the tip rounded off. The back edge stands off slightly, the front edge lies close fitting to the cheeks
Neck: strong, dewlap not too exaggerated
Body: general appearance imposing and balanced Topline: withers well defined. Straight from withers to loin. Rump falls away gently and merges with root of tail Back: broad, strong and firm Chest: brisket moderately deep with well sprung ribs, but not reaching beyond the elbows Belly and lowerline: slight tuck-up towards rear Tail: set on broad and strong. Tail long and heavy, its last vertebra reaching at least to the hocks. When in repose, the tail hangs straight down or may turn gently upwards in the lower third. When animated, it is carried higher
Forequarters: General: Stance rather broad, straight and parallel when seen from the front Shoulders: muscular, shoulder-blade oblique, well attached to the chest wall Upper-arm: the same length or only slightly shorter than the shoulder blade. Angle between shoulder blade and upper arm not too straight Elbow: laying well onto the body Forearm: straight, heavy boned, tautly muscled Pasterns: vertically straight when seen from the front and at a slight angle when seen from the side Forefeet: broad, compact, with strong well arched toes
Hindquarters: General: hindquarters muscular with moderate angulation. Seen from rear, the hind legs are parallel and not too close together Upper thigh: strong, muscular with broad buttocks Stifle: well angulated, turning neither in nor out Lower thigh: slanting and rather long Hock joints: slightly angulated and firm Hock: straight and parallel when seen from behind Hind feet: broad, compact, with strong well arched toes. Dewclaws tolerated as long as they do not hinder movement
Gait: Coordinated, smooth reaching strides with good drive from the hindquarters. Hindquarters track in line with the forequarters
Coat: Hair: Short-hair variety (Stockhaar, smooth coat): Top coat dense, smooth, close lying and coarse, with rich undercoat. Buttocks lightly breeched. tail covered with dense fur Long-hair variety (rough coat): Top coat plain, of medium length with a rich undercoat. Over the haunches and rump usually somewhat wavy. Front legs feathered. Buttocks well breeched. Short hair on face and ears. Bushy tail
Colour: Basic colour white with either small or large reddish-brown splashes ("splash coat") or a continuous reddish-brown blanket covering back and flanks ("mantle coat"). A torn reddish-brown mantle (broken up by white) is of equal value. Reddish-brown brindle permissible. Brownish-yellow tolerated. Dark brown shadings on head desirable. Slight black shadings on body tolerated Markings: chest, feet, tip of tail, muzzle band, blaze and patch on neck must be white Desirable: white collar, symmetrical dark mask
Size: Height at withers: Minimal height: dogs 70 cm (27.56 in) Minimal height: bitches 65 cm (25.59 in) Maximum height: dogs 90 cm (35.43 in) Maximum height: bitches 80 cm (31.5 in) Dogs which exceed the maximum height will not be penalized, provided their general appearance is balanced and their movement correct
Faults: Every departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault which will be assessed according to the degree of departure from the standard lack of correct gender characteristics unbalanced general appearance strong wrinkles on head, excessive dewlap muzzle too short or too long flews of the lower jaw turning outwards under- or overshot bite missing teeth other than PM 1 (premolar 1) low set on ears light eye entropion, ectropion eyelids too loose sway back or roach back rump higher than withers or falling away steeply tail carried curled over back crooked or severely turned out front legs poorly angulated, bowed or cow-hocked hindquarters faulty movement curly coat incomplete or totally absent pigment on nose, around the nose, on lips and eyelids faulty markings, e.g. white with reddish-brown ticks faults of temperament: aggressiveness, shyness
Disqualifying faults: coat totally white or totally reddish-brown coat of different colour wall eye, blue eye N.B. Males should have two apparently normally developed testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
CHARACTERISTICS: Distinctly marked, large sized mountain rescue dog.
TEMPERAMENT: Steady, kindly, intelligent, courageous, trustworthy and benevolent.
HEAD AND SKULL: Large and massive, circumference of the skull being rather more than double the head from nose to occiput. Muzzle short, full in front of the eye and square at nose end. Cheeks flat; great depth from eye to lower jaw. Lips deep but not too pendulous. From nose to stop, perfectly straight and broad. Stop somewhat abrupt and well defined. Skull broad, slightly rounded at the top, with somewhat prominent brow. Nose large and black with well developed nostrils.
EYES: Of medium size, neither deep set nor prominent, eyelids should be reasonably tight, without any excessive haw. Dark in colour and not staring. There should be no excessive loose wrinkle on brow which would detract from a healthy eye.
EARS: Medium size lying close to cheeks. Not heavily feathered.
MOUTH: Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite
NECK: Lengthy, thick, muscular and slightly arched with dewlap well developed.
FOREQUARTERS: Shoulders broad and sloping well up at the withers. Legs perfectly straight, strong in bone and of good length.
BODY: Back broad and straight, ribs well rounded. Loin wide and muscular. Chest wide and deep. The lower part of the chest should not project below the elbows.
HINDQUARTERS: Legs heavy in bone, hocks well bent and thighs very muscular.
FEET: Large and compact with well arched toes. Dewclaws should be removed.
TAIL: Set on rather high, long, and in long coated variety, well feathered. Carried low when in repose and when excited or in motion should not be curled over the back.
GAIT/MOVEMENT: Easy extension, unhurried, smooth, capable of covering difficult terrain
COAT: In rough specimens, should be dense and flat, rather fuller around the neck, thighs well feathered. In smooth specimens it should be close and hound like, slightly feathered on the thighs and tail.
COLOUR: Orange, mahogany brindle, red brindle. White with patches on the body of any of the above named colours. The markings should be as follows: White muzzle, white blaze up the face, white collar round the neck, white chest, white forelegs, feet and end of tail: Black shading on the face and ears.
SIZE: The taller the better provided symmetry is maintained; thoroughly well proportioned and of great substance. The general outline should suggest great power and capability of endurance.
FAULTS. Dudley, liver, flesh-colored or split nose; over-or under-shot mouth; light or staring eyes; cheek bumps; wedge head; flat skull; badly set or carried, or heavily feathered ears; too much peak; short neck; curly coat; flat sides; hollow back; roach back; flat thighs; ring tail; open or hare feet; cow hocks; fawn or self-colored; straight hocks.
Any departure from the forgoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
We have a new litter of puppies born on October 25th!