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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