Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Saint Bernard Shorthaired
General Appearance: 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. Head: 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 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. Nose (Schwamm) - Very substantial, broad, with wide open nostrils, and, like the lips, always black. Ears - 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 too little marked exterior, whereas a strongly developed base gives the skull a squarer, broader and much more expressive appearance. Eyes - 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
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are too deeply pendant and show conspicuously the lachrymal glands, or a very red, thick haw, and eyes that are too light, are objectionable. Neck : 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. Shoulders : Sloping and broad, very muscular and powerful. The withers are strongly pronounced. Chest: Very well arched, moderately deep, not reaching below the elbows. Back : 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. Hindquarters : Well-developed. Legs very muscular.
Belly : Distinctly set off from the very powerful loin section, only little drawn up. Tail : 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. Upper Arms: Very powerful and extraordinarily muscular. Lower Leg : Straight, strong. Hind legs : Hocks of moderate angulation. Dewclaws are not desired; if present, they must not obstruct gait. Feet : 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. Coat : 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 shorter toward the tip. The tail appears bushy, not forming a flag. Color : 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. Height at Shoulder : Of the dog should be 27½ inches minimum, of the bitch 25½ inches. Female animals are of finer and more delicate build.
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Considered as Faults : 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. Longhaired 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, 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.
Approved April 13, 1998 Effective May 31, 1998
JUDGING THE SAINT BERNARD By the Saint Bernard Club of America
Essence of the Breed T he fi rst sentence in our standard captures the essence of our breed. “Powerful, proportion- ately tall fi gure, strong and muscular in every part, with powerful head and most intel- ligent expression. In dogs with a dark mask the expression appears more stern, but never ill-natured.” Our breed is currently presenting the following types in the ring: “Strong and Powerful with Substance”, “Cute and Cuddly”, “Overdone Caricature” and from time to time you will see a “Collie” type. If you categorize the dogs into these four types when you fi rst look at it, the cuts will
become very clear. Your initial impres- sion when looking at our breed should be “Strong and Powerful with Substance”. Th e word Powerful is used in our standard many times. t 1PXFSGVM QSPQPSUJPOBUFMZUBMMëHVSFy XJUIBQPXFSGVMIFBEy t )FBE-JLFUIFXIPMFCPEZ WFSZQPXFS - ful and imposing. t 4IPVMEFST4MPQJOH BOE CSPBE WFSZ muscular and powerful. t #FMMZ%JTUJODUMZ TFU Pê GSPN UIF WFSZ powerful loin section. t 5BJM4UBSUJOHCSPBEBOEQPXFSGVMEJSFDU - ly from the rump is long, very heavy ending in a powerful curve. t 6QQFSBSNT7FSZQPXFSGVMBOEFYUSBPS - dinarily muscular.
Th e word “powerful,” as used in the standard, has two interpretations— TUSFOHUIBOETVCTUBODF#PUITUSFOHUIBOE substance are speci fi cally applicable to cor- SFDU4BJOU#FSOBSEUZQF 5PCFQPXFSGVM B4BJOU#FSOBSENVTU have an imposing head, great substance BOESFBMTUSFOHUI)FXJMMMBDLCSFFEUZQF if the head lacks adequate size or if the body or limbs have insu ffi cient substance. It is important to note, however, that any 4BJOU #FSOBSE UIBU GBJMT UP DPNCJOF UIJT large head and great substance with real strength and athleticism is incorrect. Proportionately Tall Th e height at the shoulder should be minimum of 27 ½ inches for males and
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a minimum of 25 ½ inches for bitches. Th e 4BJOU#FSOBSEBTBCSFFEJTTVQQPTFEUPCF a large, powerful dog. Th e ideal height of 4BJOU#FSOBSETJTTJHOJëDBOUMZHSFBUFSUIBO the minimum heights stated in the stan- dard. It is important to remember that the standard was written to describe the TIPSUIBJSFE 4BJOU #FSOBSE BOE UIBU UIF longhaired dog must resemble the short- haired variety in every respect except for the DPBUMFOHUI%FTFSWJOHEPHT SFHBSEMFTTPG whether they are shorthaired or longhaired, should be considered equally for awards. Judges should use their hands to evalu- ate dogs, especially skillfully groomed longhaired Saints. Please make sure that the apparent mass and substance of the dog is not simply an illusion created by treating the coat to stand away from the body and/or legs. Th e chest should not reach below the elbows. You will need to use your hands to evaluate the depth of DIFTU JO QSPQPSUJPO UP UIF FMCPX )BJS and skin may give the impression that the chest is dropped further than it is. /05&ɨFTIPSUIBJSFEEPHTJOUIFSJOH will often appear smaller and of less sub- stance than their longhaired competition. Th is often is a distortion of reality. Th e overall height of a dog is measured from the high point of the withers to the ground. When viewing a dog in pro fi le, either in real life or in photographs, the perceived length of the dog is the distance
from the forechest to the rump including fl esh, skin and hair. Th e height-to-length ratio is the subject of the “proportionately tall fi gure” phrase used in the standard. While there are many diverse opinions XJUIJO UIF 4BJOU #FSOBSE XPSME UPEBZ the consensus is that a dog whose fi gure is approximately 10% longer than tall meets this requirement. In normal stance, the length of the front leg from ground to elbow should be equal to or slightly greater than the distance from the elbow to the withers. In a correctly constructed Saint #FSOBSEUIFMPXFTUQPJOUPGUIFDIFTU JF skeleton but not fl esh and hair) will be at the same height as the point of the elbow. Th e condition of proportionately short legs is contrary to the breed’s historic task and is therefore, undesirable. It is important UIFIFJHIUPGUIF4BJOU#FSOBSEDPNFTGSPN the length of leg rather than the depth of the body. Powerful Head In dogs with a dark mask the expres- sion appears more stern, but never ill- natured: Judges should be aware that the UFNQFSBNFOU PG UIF 4BJOU #FSOBSE JT PG primary importance. Judges are asked to severely penalize inappropriate tempera- ment whenever it is exhibited in their ring. 3FNFNCFS GPSN GPMMPXT GVODUJPO UIFZ were bred to rescue and help people, not to eat them or be fearful).
0VS TUBOEBSE TBZT i&ZFT PO UIF 4BJOU #FSOBSEBSFTFUNPSFUPUIFGSPOUUIBOUIF sides, are of medium size, dark brown with intelligent, friendly expression, set moder- ately deep.” When looking into the eyes you should see intelligence and friendliness. The Standard Requirements 1. Th e head should be powerful and imposing. 2. Th e muzzle is short, does not taper and the depth is greater than the length. 3. Th e fl ews of the upper jaw are slightly overhanging. 4. Th e fl ews of the lower jaw must not be deeply pendant. .PTU 4BJOU #FSOBSE GBODJFST BHSFF that the following proportions are desirable in meeting the requirements listed above. a) Th e fl ews of the upper jaw are approxi- mately twice as deep as the muzzle is long. b) Th e length of the head is approximately twice the length of the muzzle. c) Th e rise of the skull above the top of the muzzle is approximately equal to the length of the muzzle. d) Th e width of the muzzle at its base is approximately equal to its length. e) Th e width of the skull, measured at the widest point of the cheekbones is approximately twice the length of the muzzle. In judging the head, the dogs should have strongly developed high cheekbones. %P OPU NJTUBLF FYDFTTJWF DIFFLGPME GPS proper cheekbone. When viewed from above the skull widens at the cheek as it pro- gresses from the point at the outer corners of the eyes near the rear part of the head. Th e shape of the topskull combined with proper earset should create the appearance PGBDPOUJOVPVTBSDI#FXBSF IPXFWFSPGB i3PVOEwIFBE VTVBMMZBOJOEJDBUJPOUIBUUIF FBSTFUJTUPPMPXi&BSTPGNFEJVNTJ[F SBUI - er high set, with very strongly developed burr .VTDIFM BUUIFCBTFyɨFìBQJTUFOEFSBOE forms a rounded triangle, slightly elongated UPXBSEUIFQPJOUy-JHIUMZTFUFBST XIJDI at the base immediately cling to the head, give it an oval and too little marked exte- rior, whereas a strongly developed base gives the skull a square, broader and much more expressive appearance.” 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& " 6(645 t
“Judges are reminded that they should always GIVE THEIR AWARDS TO THE BEST DOGS IN THE RING and not necessarily to the biggest dogs present.”
Movement Th e conformation described in the standard implies a movement unique UP4BJOU#FSOBSETɨJTNPWFNFOUNVTU re fl ect the proportions, substance and power required of the breed. Although the standard does not specially discuss movement or gait, the conformation dic- UBUFT DPSSFDU NPWFNFOU GPS B 4BJOU #FS - nard. A correctly made Saint will move with good reach in front and balanced drive from the rear. Saints should not shu ffl e, amble, or lumber, nor should they over reach or take short, mincing steps. Th ese dogs should move with a fi rm, level back and with the head car- ried more forward than erect. In action all dogs carry the tail more or MFTTUVSOFEVQXBSE)PXFWFS JUNBZOPU be carried too erect or by any means rolled PWFSUIFCBDL"4BJOU#FSOBSEXJMMUFOEUP single track while trotting, front and rear action will be smooth and straight forward without signs of looseness or weakness in the joints. Th e gait should be that of a mas- sive, e ffi ciently moving, powerful athlete. Th e gait should be evaluated while the dog is traveling at moderate speed on a loose lead; fast speeds and/or tight leads can only render a distorted picture of the dog’s true movement.
Summary Judges are asked to demand a mini- mum level of acceptability in the follow- JOHBTQFDUTPGUIFEPH )FBEUZQF Proportions, balance and substance; 3) .PWFNFOUBOE 5FNQFSBNFOUɨBUJT any dog that ranks below a minimum level of correctness in any one of these features should not be given any further consider- ation, regardless of the quality elsewhere. Judges are reminded that they should always give their awards to the best dogs in the ring and not necessarily to the big- gest dogs present. Although the standard makes much use of the word “powerful,” please be aware that the word implies strength and power as well as size and TVCTUBODF #FDBVTF PG UIF JNQPSUBODF PGUIFIFBEUPUIF4BJOU#FSOBSECSFFE markings must always be secondary to correct head type. Th erefore, a Saint that is a “half mask” or a “baldface”, is fully acceptable as long as the head structure is correct and pigment is black around the eyes, lips and on the nose. In evaluating dogs with equally correct head structure then preference should be given to the one with the desired full mask. 1SPQFS FWBMVBUJPO PG UIF 4BJOU #FS - nard will put great emphasis on the well- conditioned and athletic animal and will
denigrate the overweight and out-of-shape dog. As a judge you will often be asked to pass judgment on a massive dog that is no more than a fat and lazy “couch potato” that could never perform its historic task as an alpine rescue dog—such a dog is not a good specimen of the breed. Nor is mere height a virtue when it fails to be accompa- nied by the athletic balance and substance UIBU NBLF UIF DPSSFDU 4BJOU #FSOBSE 8F ask the judges to always keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better; the more correct dog is always better. Faults are all deviations from the stan- dard, including sway back, disproportion- ately long back, hocks too much bent, straight hindquarters, out at elbows, cow- hocks, weak pasterns and upward growing hair in space between the toes. We have tried to capture the essence of the breed in this brief article. In addition to our standard which provides more detail, we have an illustrated commentary on the stan- EBSEBTXFMMBTB#SFFE4UVEZ$% XIJDI is available to judges at a special price. Th e illustrated commentary is available on our website at www.saintbernardclub.org. For information on these products, or judges FEVDBUJPO TFNJOBST QMFBTF DPOUBDU 7JDUPS %JOHVT +VEHFT &EVDBUJPO $IBJSNBO WJB email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE SAINT BERNARD By the Saint Bernard Club of America
T he Saint Bernard has long been a faithful companion of mankind from unique life sav- ing work beginning in 1700s to an outgoing unhurried temperament with great intel- ligence companion dog. Saint Bernards are powerful, proportionately tall, strong and muscular in every way. Th e original Saint Bernard was a shorthaired dog but both short and long hair dogs are readily seen today. Dogs at the shoulder are 27 ½ inches minimum height and bitches are 25 ½ inches according to the Approved AKC Standard. Dogs of today are usu- ally much taller than the minimums. Th e Saint Bernard Club of America (SBCA) maintains that the only stan- dard that correctly describes the original type is the Swiss Standard of 1884. Th us the currently approved American Ken- nel Club standard di ff ers only slightly from the original Swiss Standard. Saint Bernards serve faithfully today in many rewarding, fun and challenging activities in which owner’s participate. Th e Saint Bernard is shown in Conformation, Obedience, Rally Obedience, Tracking,
Weight Pull, Agility, Draft Test, Th erapy Dog and Canine Good Citizen. History of the Breed Although the true origins of the Saint Bernard breed are not well documented, some aspects of this extraordinary breed are known. Authenticated facts combined with reasoned speculation are believed to best describe the development of this magnificent breed. Th e Monastery and Hospice were founded in 980 A.D. by Bernard de Men- thon, an Augustine monk. Th ese edifices were located in the only pass through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. Being
the site of heroic rescue tales, it was later named the Great Saint Bernard Pass to dif- ferentiate it from the Little Saint Bernard Pass that is between France and Italy. Th e altitude at the Great Saint Bernard Pass is a little more than 8,000 feet above sea level. Nothing was written about the hospice dogs during the first 700 years of their existence. Many stories surround the for- mation of the breed. Th e earliest known depiction of the breed was two paintings done in 1695. Some attribute these to the work of a well-known Italian artist named Salvatore Rosa. Each painting shows a well-built shorthaired dog with a typey head, a long tail and dewclaws.
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be lead back to the hospice by the dogs. Th e instinct to dig people buried beneath snow and to rouse those lying in snow is still evident in the breed today. During the winters of 1816, 1817 and 1818, the snowstorms at the Great Saint Bernard Pass were especially severe and many dogs perished while doing rescue work. As a result, the Saint Bernard strain living at the hospice came close to extinc- tion. Th e records say that the monks com- pletely replenished the strain two years later with similar animals from the nearby valleys. Rumors persisted that the remain- ing dogs were crossed with Great Danes or English Masti ff s after that near extinction, but no records exist to confirm that these breedings occurred at the hospice. Th ree experimental breedings with a Newfoundland type dog were done at the hospice beginning in 1830. Why were these cross-breedings made 160 years after the breed’s origin and after so many years of success using only the shorthaired dogs? Because many dogs perished during the more severe winters, the monks reasoned that the long hair of the Newfoundland would better protect the shorthaired Saint Bernard against the cold. Th is idea was disastrous. Ice formed on the long hair dur- ing the lengthy circuits through the high snow and the weight of the accumulated ice and snow very quickly incapacitated the dogs. Consequently, they could not use longhaired dogs for rescue work. Almost immediately, the monks returned to the exclusive use of shorthaired dogs for moun- tain work and began to give away all long- haired puppies. Th e Swiss recipients of these puppies used them for breeding with their own dogs, also resulting in litters contain- ing both longhaired and shorthaired pup- pies. Selective breeding done by most dedi- cated Swiss fanciers resulted in the return to the original hospice type dog with only the length of hair di ff erentiating the short- haired and longhaired varieties. During this time, the breed was still without a name. It was the much-traveled and dog-loving English who first recog- nized this outstanding breed of dog in Switzerland. Th ey called them Hospice Dogs, Holy Dogs, Alpine Masti ff s and Saint Bernard Masti ff s. Others called 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& " 6(645 t
One dog is splash coated, while the other dog is mantle coated. One expert, Professor Albert Heim, concluded that these paintings show a breed that had been in existence for approximately 25 years. Th us, the most accepted estimate is that the breed originated sometime between 1660 and 1670. From the available written records, it seems that the unique lifesaving work of the dogs began about the year 1700. Before that time, it is assumed that these dogs served as watchdogs and companions to the monks during their winter periods of snowbound isolation. No written records clarify how the rescue tasks of these dogs evolved. It appears that the dogs initially accompanied the monks on mountain patrols after bad snowstorms seeking
unwary missing or trapped travelers. Th e dogs seemed to have an uncanny sense to detect impeding avalanches; consequently the monks wanted the dogs to accompany them while they traversed those perilous footpaths. Somehow the dogs learned res- cue techniques from the monks. Eventu- ally male dogs were sent in unaccompa- nied packs of two or three to seek lost or injured pilgrims. ( Th ey thought this work was too arduous for the bitches.) Often the dogs had to find people buried in the snow, dig through the overlaying snow, rouse the traveler and lie atop the wayfarer to pro- vide warmth if the traveler was unable to move. Meanwhile, the other dog would return to the hospice to alert the monks that they needed to rescue a trapped pil- grim. Travelers who could still walk would
them Mountain Dogs, Monastery Dogs or Swiss Alpine Dogs. Many Swiss called them Barry Dogs as a tribute to the famous hospice dog. Barry der Menschenretter was reputed to have saved more than forty trav- elers during his working lifetime. Finally, in 1880, it was agreed to call the hospice dogs Saint Bernards. Th e first record of planned breeding outside the hospice began in Switzer- land in 1855 with the e ff orts of Heinrich Schumacher. He originated the first stud book for Saint Bernards and worked to maintain the original hospice type. Herr Schumacher and his like-minded friends bred to hospice dogs and supplied dogs to the hospice. A high demand existed for these distinctive dogs especially from the English. Many people uneducated to the original characteristics of the breed began breeding Saint Bernards through- out Switzerland, resulting in detriment to the breed. To preserve the original breed type, the Swiss Kennel Club was founded in 1883 and adopted the first Swiss Saint Bernard standard in 1884. Th ere are now three Saint Bernard standards in the world; a modified old Swiss version still used in the United States, the English version and a much-revised Swiss version adopted by all FCI countries in 1993.
and enjoy family activities, particularly when they get tidbits for performance and cooperation. Saint Bernards love the morning sun before it gets too hot and need a fenced in exercise area to devel- op proper muscles. Th ey are not good guard dogs, however. SBCA recommends asking several questions, before making the decision to bring a Saint Bernard into your family. Are you accustomed to calm, even tem- perament dogs? Will the Saint fit into your life expectations; they do not make good jogging dogs nor to play with Frisbees. Th e dogs are extremely large sized; can you enjoy meeting these needs? Can you enjoy regularly walking these large animals? Saints need both crate and house train- ing early in their life before they grow so large, can you accommodate these training needs? Saints are not good guard dogs, is this acceptable even though they are large? Well taken care of Saints live to be eight to twelve years old, are you willing to make a lifetime commitment? If the answer to these questions is yes, then a Saint Bernard may be the right dog for you. Exercise is needed to keep your dog fit and trim. Your dog will appreciate a daily walk even if he has a large yard in which to run and explore. Begin walk- ing the dog slowly, gradually increasing the distance to increase your dog’s stam- ina. Regardless of whether your dog is indoors or outdoors, exercise is impera- tive. Ensuring your Saint gets enough exercise and interaction/play with you and your family will result in a healthy, happy companion.
It is important to raise emotion- ally healthy puppies. Dogs go through developmental periods and knowing these periods will help you know what training to do when. Socialization is desensitizing a dog to the things he will encounter in daily life by teaching him not to react. It is imperative your pup is positively exposed to the various situ- ations and environments that he may encounter throughout life. Know your pup and what his body language is tell- ing you in order to know if he is being properly socialized or is being over- whelmed. Use treats to redirect your pup’s attention and if needed reintro- duce him to the same situation in slower and smaller steps to build confidence. You can safely socialize your pup while protecting him from contagious dis- eases such as Parvo. Go to places where other dogs do not go, like shopping cen- ters and friends homes. Get your puppy in a play group with other healthy vac- cinated puppies as well as exposing him to healthy friendly adult dogs. It is up to you to ensure your Saint becomes a well-rounded, happy, inte- gral part of your family through proper crate and house training, grooming, good nutrition, exercise and socialization. It requires consistency, e ff ort and patience, to name a few, on your part but will be well worth it. It is your responsibility to ensure your new family member has the best life possible. Additional care, feeding and training information are available on our website at www.saintbernardclub.org.
The Saint Bernard – Companion Dog
Th e Saint Bernard’s temperament is outgoing and unhurried with great intel- ligence. What sometimes may be viewed as stubborn may actually be ingenuity. Saint Bernards believe they are in charge
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A SHORT COURSE ON JUDGING SAINT BERNARDS by STAN ZIELINSKI
A re you or do you aspire to become a judge of St. Ber- nards? If you come to your judging of this breed with a background in another, this may help you in your quest to judge the breed with some of the confidence you would like to have. Since most people judging the Saint Ber- nard do not have the extensive background to truly evaluate the entire dog, we must ask the question, “What few features, when properly evaluated, will go the farthest towards iden- tifying the best Saint Bernard in the class?” It is our suggestion that you won’t go far astray if you can properly evaluate the following features (not necessarily in order of importance): 1. Correct Proportions 2. Powerful Build 3. Proper Head 4. Sound Body and Mind Of course, a list of important features does little good without an explanation of the intri- cacies of each. We need to consider these sub- jects in some detail to explain the finer points of each item. Th e following text will expand on each of these topics and, it is hoped, not cloud the issues with too much verbiage. Let me begin now with the short course. 1. CORRECT PROPORTIONS Th ings to look for: Th e first paragraph of the standard calls for a proportionately tall figure. Th is means that it is not a proportionately long figure. Th is is not a requirement for a lot of altitude, but rather a statement of the proper proportion of height to length. Much that is erroneous in the breed is a direct result of the fancy ignoring this one important feature. • Th is is the feature that requires moder- ate angulation and all that that implies. • Th e proper balance is a direct con- sequence of the dog being tall rather than rectangular. • Th e inherent nobility of the breed fol- lows from the logical step by step require- ments dictated by this one property. What you should penalize: Deviations from being proportionately tall. Being a rectangular dog is wrong, whether from being short on leg or from being long in body.
Having said that, we must note that we find real fault with extremes rather than with small deviations from the ideal. While one must guard against a degree of angulation unsuitable for a proportion- ately tall dog, you should also not accept a dog that is so short coupled that it would require straight stifles and vertical shoul- der blades for compatible movement. As to our personal philosophy, we find that a just barely perceptible degree of extra body length to be found in what we consider to be very good specimens. However, we nev- er accept short legs as being anything other than a serious fault. We also condemn a long loin as being a very big problem. In short, we never consider any obviously rectangular animal as being acceptable—correct breed type demands that the exhibit must have the correct proportions for a Saint Bernard. 2. POWERFUL BUILD Th ings to look for: If there is one word that clearly express- es the essence of a Saint Bernard, that word is “POWERFUL.” As a judge, you should look for the dog for whom the term power- ful is most applicable. Th e best test for powerful is the touch test. Much of the quality of the dog is determined via the laying on of hands; for the body must have great substance and feel firm and muscular during the exami- nation. Just remember that you are looking for a powerful athlete, and you use your hands to do the searching. Th e loin should be commanding in its presence—enough so that you should get the impression that you could lift the dog by grasping it by the loin with both hands. If you are not impressed with the mass of muscle on the rear legs, then you prob- ably aren’t dealing with one of the better specimens of the breed. Th e same could be said for the nape of the neck, the shoulders and the forearms. Not that you should ignore the infor- mation gathered visually. Your eyes should tell you when gazing upon a good Saint Bernard, that this is a strong, powerful and massive animal. • Th e width, when viewed from the top, should be the same for shoulders, ribs and rear quarters.
• Bone must be substantial without being cloddy in appearance. Always beware of useless timber as it detracts from the athletic ability of the dog. • Th ere should be so much muscle develop- ment in the neck that you get the impres- sion that the dog has a short neck; which does not mean that it should be short—it should only appear to be short because of the powerful muscles and immense girth of the neck. Furthermore, the neck should form a smooth transition into the broad shoulders and from there into the wide flat back, loin and croup. • Even the tail should be so powerful in appearance that it renders the impres- sion that it could be used as a weapon. What you should penalize: • General lack of substance —While it is not required to be overly tall, it must be strong, massive and powerful. Lacking these properties, the dog lacks breed type. Of course, you must not be caught mistak- ing pseudo substance for the real thing; to wit: • Wetness —which is epitomized by sloppy loose hanging skin and soft spongy muscle and other body tissues. Th is excess of skin to the point of drip- ping wrinkles is a severe problem in our breed. Th e Saint is not a breed with tight fitting skin, but neither should it ever be bloodhound-like in appearance. Loose, flabby skin is an indicator of loose mus- cle and ligamentation. Normally when viewing such an animal one gets a sense of a weak, sloppy, clumsy animal that no amount of conditioning can make right. • Excessive weight —which is found in the dogs that are packing too much lard. Don’t ever mistake fat for substance. A Saint should be athletically built in order to perform his historical functions. • Barrel chest —In seeking a massive dog, the fancy must not confuse a wide dog with a dog that has an improperly shaped rib cage—the so-called barrel chest. Th e dogs must still be able to function with- out having to reach around some huge barrel to reach the ground. 3. PROPER HEAD Th ings to look for: Th is is a subject that could be the sole subject matter of an entire book. Since a
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2015 • 299
lengthy treatment of this subject is not appropriate here, we will focus on a few fea- tures which, if correct, will usually indicate that the whole head is acceptable. Before getting into those details, however, let it be noted that the Saint Bernard is a head breed ever bit as much as are Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Bull Terriers and Boxers. • Furrows —Without them, all else is a waste of e ff ort in evaluating a Saint Ber- nard head. Th e very shallow furrow along the top of the muzzle is prerequisite to a correct muzzle. Th e extremely deep fur- row between the eyes serves the same function with respect to the skull; that is, no deep furrow means you have an improper head. It is not that the furrows in their own right are all that important, but rather that without them, the con- struction of the rest of the head is seri- ously faulty. You may occasionally find a faulty head with furrows, but you will never find a good head without them. • Bumps —Over the eyes and below them. Th e bones both above and below the eyes must be very pronounced to give the head the chiseled appearance required for this breed. • Box-like muzzle — Th e muzzle must be substantial, square sided, deep, wide and reasonably short in length. • Massiveness — Th e head must be big and wide even for a big dog. Th e mass of the head should be imposing. Th e ears, when at attention, should be set so that they form a continuation of the topline of the skull and thus enhance the sense of width there. One word of caution here: please avoid the trap of thinking “the bigger the better.” What you should penalize: Not only should you penalize the nega- tive of those features described above (lack of furrows, flat cheeks and weak eyebrow ridges, small or tapered muzzle, small skull, etc.) but you should watch out for things that seem to have the appearance of correctness but are really faults. • Excessive fl ews — Th e standard calls for a muzzle that is deeper than it is long. Th e depth being discussed is the distance from the top of the muzzle to the bottom of the lower mandible; that is, a measurement made bone-to-bone. Th e depth of the flews is often con- fused with the depth of the muzzle; you shouldn’t make that mistake. Excessive flews can also be found on a dog with a good muzzle. Any flew that extends more than two inches below the bottom line of the lower mandible is faulty.
• Manmade heads —It is a common handler practice to gather up all of the excess skin that he can pull from the head, face and neck, and then pile it all up just ahead of the collar to simulate a massive wide head. Just ask the handler to drop his death-grip on the collar of such a dog, and you will be amazed at the transformation that occurs. • Markings —Not a requirement in our standard, so a subject that should be of little concern to the judge. 4. SOUND BODY AND MIND: Th ings to look for: You should need little guidance on rec- ognizing soundness of body with respect to a Saint Bernard. Th e only caution we would suggest is that you should keep in mind that a proportionately tall dog absolutely must have moderate angulation both front and rear—therefore, the correct movement must be compatible with that construction. In other words, the great reach and drive sought in the German Shepherd ring is not appropriate in the Saint Bernard ring. However, this does not mean a short stride is acceptable; the length of stride must be as great as possible without over-reaching. Th e other point that needs to be made is that Saint Bernards need to single track without rolling their body to reach the ground. Now the subject of soundness as applied to the mind of a Saint Bernard needs a lit- tle more detailed treatment. One must remember that this breed was intended to be sent out unescorted in packs of two or three adult males to find foot trav- elers who, while trying to cross a high and dangerous mountain pass, had become lost or exhausted and in danger of freezing to death. Th e dogs could not indulge in fight- ing with each other nor attacking strange people they came across. Th ey were sup- posed to save strangers, not eat them! Th erefore, the hallmark of the breed is a gregarious, friendly attitude towards both people and other dogs whenever they are in a businesslike environment. Proper breed • Faulty movement —Again, we assume that you know movement faults and need little guidance on the subject. Any aspect of movement or static bal- ance that would be faulty on the generic dog is also faulty on a Saint Bernard. However, always keep in mind that their historic task required an athletic dog that moves with power and grace. You will not go very far wrong if you type includes a wagging tail. What you should penalize:
just remember the requirement of the standard’s first paragraph, which states, “strong and muscular in every part!” You should also penalize any tendency for a cloddish, shu ffl ing, clumsy or lumbering mode of locomotion. • Faulty temperament —Aggression in any form, be it directed towards either people or other dogs in the ring, is not appropriate. Temperament on a Saint Ber- nard becomes faulty long before the AKC definition of attempting to bite comes into focus. Th e dogs should not resent the judge nor fear him. Since shyness and aggression are the two opposite side of the same coin, neither is acceptable for the breed. THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS. Th is foregoing is intended to as a quick guide to evaluating Saints in the show ring. However, it should in no way substi- tute for a thorough comprehension of the breed and the breed’s type. You should also recognize that there are myriads of features not discussed here that are also very impor- tant. It is hoped that correctness in those features will tend to be found in dogs that score highly in the features discussed here. Should anyone use these words as a guide, we would like to hear back from you about how useful you found this advice to be. If you would like to contact us, we’re in the book (i.e., the AKC Judges Directory). ABOUT THE AUTHOR Th e author has been also the author of a book published by Alpine Publications entitled St. Bernards From the Stoan Perspective . He and his wife have put many AKC titles on their dogs—over 40 Obe- dience Titles and over 150 Championships plus numerous foreign titles. He has judged the St. Bernard Club of America’s National Specialty three times. He has judged many times overseas as well as in this country. He has been Presi- dent of the St. Bernard Club of America, the Saint Bernard Club of Puget Sound and Th e Puyallup Valley Dog Fanciers. He has been the presenter at Judges Education Seminars for Saint Bernards over 10 times. He continues his involvement with St. Bernards and dogs in gen- eral in many ways. involved with Saint Ber- nards since 1965 which has included breeding, showing, judging, club involvements and author- ing articles in a number of publications including the AKC Gazette . He is
300 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2015
An Overview Of the ST. BERNARD
VICTOR DINGUS My wife Jackie bought out first Saint in 1972, while living in Kingsport, Tennessee from Don and Marcia Carter, Mar- Don Saints. We formed Vol Saints in 1972 and began twenty- five years of active breeding and showing. I received my judg- es license in August 1987. I have had the privilege of judging all over the United States and abroad. I consider judging our legendary breed has a high honor, no matter the entry. BETTY-ANNE STENMARK I reside in Woodside, CA. I bred my first litter of purebred dogs in January 1970, a litter of 11 Saint Bernards. I judged for the first time at the Sir Francis Drake KC show in April 1978, if memory serves me correctly, an entry of 38. STAN ZIELINSKI My name is Stan Zielinski, and I live in a suburb of Seat- tle known now days as Auburn, Washington. (Auburn was originally named “Slaughter” which I have always considered to be a much better name for a small town.) I am a retired Structural Engineer who has logged in 40 years at the Boing Airplane Company. We purchased our very first purebred dog in October 1964, and that turned out to be a Saint Ber- nard puppy. We went to our very first dog show six months later, and that was the start of our obsession with the sport of purebred dogs. That dog became the first of over 150 Saint Bernards to become a champion while bearing our kennel’s name. We still dabble in exhibiting our dogs. As for my tenure as a judge, I first became an AKC judge in 1980. 1. Describe the breed in three words. VD: Describing the Saint in three words is very difficult, because we emphasize seven key words in our standard: powerful, proportionally tall figure, strong and muscular. BS: Tall, athletic and noble. SZ: Healthy, athletic and devoted. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? VD: Our standard does NOT list any disqualifications, nor use the word “musts.” However, our standard does state the following three requirements considered as “musts.” In dogs with a dark mask, the expression appears more stern, but never ill natured. Necessary markings are: white chest, feet and tip of tail, noseband, collar or spot on the nape. Height at shoulder for the dog should be 27 ½ inches minimum, for the bitch, 25 ½ inches.
BS: The dog must be “proportionately tall” and by that I mean more length of leg than depth of body, 52% leg is about right. Sufficient bone and substance for a giant dog, just off square, a head of noble appearance and intelligent expression. SZ: Good health. Appropriate athletic body. Proper tempera- ment. Correct proportions. Notable head. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? VD: There are three areas I am concerned about becoming exaggerated: heads, fronts and length of body. Over 50% of the standard description is devoted to the detailed description of the head type, distinguishing from the Newfoundland and other Working breeds. Today, exag- gerated heads are found in the show ring from time to time. People will lament and rebuff about the head is not so exaggerated, the animal needs a better body. An over exaggerated head takes away from the general description of the animal in the standard. In striving for a powerful, proportionately tall figure, often the rear set of hindquarters and hind legs are left behind or overlooked. Both front and rears must be developed and improved concurrently, certainly a challenge, but most desired. Again in striving for “big”—a powerful, proportionally tall figure—we are more often create a large body, but not the length of leg to support the body being devel- oped. The proportionately tall comes from the length of leg, not the depth of body! BS: I tell those interested in judging the breed to look for the Saint that looks like a horse, not a cow. That will serve you very well. The breed suffers from many exaggera- tions today that began back in the 70s when there were two top specialty winners that were on the edge of too much of everything, but we all thought they were ter- rific. So in true American fashion, if a little is good, then a lot must be better and down the tubes went the breed. Fanciers routinely said, “Look at the head and bone on that.” Good length of leg comes from medium bone. The heavier the bone the shorter the leg to the point where we see some big winners today whose legs look like tree stumps. My hand used to span the skull from ear to ear on a good head and we called that head and expres- sion “noble.” Today I often find it takes both my hands to span a skull and with that comes ears that are not set correctly to frame the face, the beautiful eye that is unique to the breed (the upper inside corner of the eye has an inverted “v” and the lower outside corner of the eye also has a “v”) became round and protruding and in many cases suffering from entropion, the muzzle became shorter and shorter with wrinkles on the bridge of the muzzle, depth of the lip was exaggerated, and the teeth looked like someone had tossed the teeth from across
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st. bernard Q&A with victOr dingus, betty-Anne stenmArk And stAn Zielinski
the room and they landed helter skelter in the gums. A handsome proper head today still has a scissors bite with big, white, even teeth—it seems to go hand in hand. My late husband, Roy, used to describe the Saint as a tall, athletic mountain rescue dog and that was a good general appearance description. When you watch a good Saint gait around the ring you should see an athletic dog that can pick his head up and hold it in a natural position with reach in front and drive behind, the result of moderate and balanced angulation fore and aft. SZ: I have three areas of deep concern. 1) Many purebred dog enthusiasts (not just Saint Bernard fanciers) seek dogs with over angulated rear assemblies, and they are usually quite forgiving of the short legs that must accom- pany such construction. This breed’s standard is quite clear on defining an over angulated rear as a fault. 2) Wet, sloppy construction and the accompanied faux substance is much admired by some of the St. Bernard fancy. Let it be noted that this sort of conformation would be nothing but a serious hindrance to any dog trying to perform its historic job. In the same vein, we should note that obscenely fat legs are seldom powerful. 3) Exaggerations of any aspect of a Saint Bernard should be shunned for being a serious deviation from the ideal described in the breed’s standard. For example, heads so large that they become a burden and/or a whelping concern should not be admired. Also too-short muzzles should never be rewarded; especially when accompanied by crowded or miniaturized teeth. I advocate the position that if it is an exaggeration, it is a fault! 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? VD: When I see a question like this I must remind myself about our legendary purposes of the Saint Bernard, for both Alpine rescue and farm work. So I reflect upon these functions as I consider the “compliance or fit.” I do believe our breed is better now in 2016 than in 1987. I believe our general descriptions are more often achieved. I believe we have achieved more head type, substance and conformation of the fronts and rears for balance, thus enabling better movement. Today I see more type while still able to function for humankind! BS: When I began in the breed the Saint was in the Top 10 in popularity and there were more than 350 dogs shown at the National Specialty. There were many good dogs shown. The breed has been in trouble for several decades, but in the last five years or so there’s been resur- gence—the breed is on an upswing and there are some dogs today that could compete with the best of yester- year. I am happy to see this. SZ: Most emphatically I would state that the good Saint Bernards of today are much better than the best dogs of the late sixties and early seventies. When we first became involved with Saint Bernards you had to choose between the three types of Saint Bernards: sound dogs, dogs with nearly correct heads or dogs with very little in the way of redeeming virtues or
detrimental faults. All three types could find judges to give them points, so perusing show records didn’t help you make decisions. What turned things around in the early seventies was the breed’s explosive rise in popularity. In the show rings, the classes became so large that it took a better and better dog to win. Instead of beating four or five dogs to get a major you had to beat twelve to fifteen. This more intense competition was very good for the breed. The fancy no longer had to choose between unsound dogs and dogs that failed to have proper breed type. It became possible to find sound enough dogs with adequate breed type. Thus allowing the gene pool to become less dependent on lucky guesses and more susceptible to intelligent breeding practices. That was the good aspect of the breed becoming too popular; however, there were many unpleasant things that also went along with this sudden rise in popularity. I won’t go into that topic here, but I will always oppose anything that tends to increase the demand for Saint Bernards. I am most grateful that the breed’s popularity has returned to normal. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? VD: I am concerned about new judges seeking heads and overlooking faults (sometimes serious) in their evalua- tion. Yes, head type must be distinctive, but the animal must be able to function. Distinctive head type does not overrule short legs and deep bodies, as seen from time to time in the ring. This must not be rewarded. BS: Learning a breed that hasn’t run around your house is not easy and it’s the nuances one learns from others, that aren’t in the breed Standard that are very helpful. Understanding that the original Saint was a smooth, and it was a cross to the Newfoundland in the late 1800s that didn’t help breed type. Covet the tall, athletic, moderate smooth dog. SZ: What is a “new” judge? Is it someone already approved for three groups, and has just been approved to judge the entire Working Group? Perhaps the term “new judge” is reserved for someone who is just starting out and doing her/his first assignment. Even if I knew the definition of “new judge” I would not be able to answer this question. The population of dog show judges is made up from a rather large and diverse bunch of people. This collection of people contains a broad range of dog savvy, and the ones full of misunderstandings tend to come from those ranking low on the dog savvy scale. I tend to look for judges that have an eye for dogs rather than worry about how long they have been exposed to the rigors of making mistakes in the ring.
6. Our standard contains no sections on movement nor temperament. Does this mean they are not important?
VD: I am addressing these two topics in reverse order. In the general section of the standard, the nature of our beloved Saint is addressed. Saint Bernards are working
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