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St Bernard

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St Bernard Breed Standard Last updated: 03 Jun 2016
A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

FCI Standard No 61 dated 24 March 1993

Adopted in Australia 1 January 1994

Revised October 1994

Corrected January 2000

Translated by Mrs C. Seidler, Mr Michael J. Wingeler

Country of Origin:  Switzerland

  • Group:
    Group 6 (Utility)
  • History:
  • General Appearance:

    There are two varieties of the St Bernard; Short-haired variety ("Stockhaar", smooth coat). Long-haired variety (Rough coat). Both varieties are of considerable size and of impressive appearance. They have a balanced, powerful, sturdy, muscular body with an impressive head and an alert facial expression. Important proportions: " Ideal relation of height at withers to length of body (measured from the point of shoulder to the point of buttocks) = 9:10. " For the ideal relation of height at withers to depth of chest see the sketch below. " The total length of the head is slightly more than one third of the height at the withers. " The relation of the depth of muzzle (measured at its root) to the length of muzzle is almost 2:1. " Length of muzzle is slightly longer than one third of the total length of the head.

  • Characteristics:

    Utilisation: Companion, watch and farm dog.

  • Temperament:

    Friendly by nature. Temperament calm to lively; watchful.

  • Head And Skull:

    Powerful, imposing and very expressive.
    Cranial region:
    Skull: Strong, broad when seen in profile and from the front slightly rounded. When the dog is alert, the set-on of the ears and the top of the skull form a straight line, which slopes at the sides in a gentle curve to the strongly developed high cheekbones. Forehead falling away steeply towards the muzzle. Occipital bone only moderately developed, superciliary ridges strongly developed. The frontal furrow, which starts at the base of the forehead, is distinctly developed and runs up right in the middle of the skull. The skin of the forehead forms slight wrinkles above the eyes that converge towards the frontal furrow. When the dog is at attention, they are moderately visible: otherwise they are inconspicuous.
    Stop: Distinctly pronounced.
    Muzzle: Of even width. Nasal bridge straight, with slight groove.
    Nose: Black, broad and square. Nostrils well opened.
    Lips: Edge of lips black pigmented. Flews of upper jaw strongly developed, firm and not too pendulous, forming a wide curve towards the nose. Corners of the mouth remain visible.

  • Eyes:

    Of medium size. Colour dark brown to nut-brown. Moderately deep set with a friendly expression. Natural tightness of lids desired. A very small angular fold on the lower lids with the haws only very slightly visible as well as a small fold on the upper lids is permitted. Eyerims completely pigmented.

  • Ears:

    Of medium size, set on high and wide. Strongly developed burrs. Flaps pliable and triangular with rounded tips. The rear edges slightly standing off and the front edges lying close to the cheeks.

  • Mouth:

    The upper and lower jaws are strong, broad and equal in length. Well developed, regular and complete scissor or pincer bite. Close fitting undershot mouth without any space between the lower and upper incisors acceptable. Absence of PM1 (premolar 1) and M3 is tolerated.

  • Neck:

    Strong and of sufficient length. Dewlap and loose skin on the neck moderately developed.

  • Forequarters:

    The forelegs are straight and parallel when seen from the front. Stands moderately broad.
    Shoulders: Shoulder blades oblique, muscular and well attached to the chest wall.
    Upper arm: Longer than the shoulder blade. The angle between shoulder blade and the upper arm not too blunt.
    Elbow: Close fitting. Forearm: Straight, strong in bone, with lean musculature.
    Pasterns: Seen from the front, vertical in prolongation of the forearms. Slightly oblique when seen from the side.

  • Body:

    The general appearance imposing, balanced, impressive and well muscled.
    Withers: Well defined.
    Chest: Brisket moderately deep with well sprung ribs, but not barrel shaped. Does not project below the elbow level.
    Back: Broad, strong and firm. Topline straight and horizontal up to the loins.
    Croup: Long and hardly sloping. Merging gently with the root of the tail.
    Belly and underline: Slight tuck up towards the rear.

  • Hindquarters:

    Muscular with moderate angulation. Seen from the back the hind legs are parallel, not standing closely together.
    Upper thigh: Strong, muscular and broad.
    Stifle: Well angulated and turning neither in nor out.
    Lower thigh: Slanting and rather long.
    Hock joints: Slightly angulated and firm.
    Metatarsus: Straight and parallel when seen from behind.

  • Feet:

    Broad with strong, tight and well-arched toes. Dewclaws on the hind legs are tolerated if they do not hinder the movement.

  • Tail:

    Set-on broad and strong. The tail is long and heavy. The last vertebra at least reaching to the hock joint. When in repose, the tail hangs straight down or slightly upturned in the lower third. When animated it is carried higher.

  • Gait/Movement:

    Harmonious far reaching movement with good drive from the hindquarters with the back remaining stable and firm. Front and hind feet move forward in a straight line.

  • Coat:

    Short-haired variety: Topcoat dense, smooth, close-lying and coarse. Plenty of undercoat. Thighs have slight breeches. Tail covered with dense hair. 

    Long-haired variety: Topcoat plain, of medium length with plenty of undercoat. Short hair on the face and ears. Hair over the haunches and the croup usually somewhat wavy. Front legs feathered. Thighs with good breeches. Bushy tail.

  • Colour:

    Primary colour is white with smaller or larger clear red patches (splash-coated dogs) up to an unbroken clear to dark red mantle covering the back and flanks (mantle dogs). A broken reddish-brown mantle is of equal value. A brindle reddish-brown colour is permissible. Brownish-yellow tolerated. Dark shadings on the head desirable. Slight touch of black shading on the body is tolerated.
    Required white markings: Chest, feet, tip of tail, muzzle band, blaze and patch on the neck. Desired markings: White collar. Symmetrical dark mask.

  • Sizes:

    Height at withers:
    Males: 70 cm to 90 cm (27 ½ to 35 ½ inches)
    Bitches : 65 cm to 80 cm (25 ½ to 31 ½ inches)
    Dogs, which exceed the maximum height, will not be penalised, provided their general appearance is balanced and their movement is correct.

  • Faults:

    Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
    - Lack of sexual characteristics.
    - Unbalanced general appearance.
    - Too short on leg in relation to size (short legged).
    - Heavy folds on the head and neck.
    - Muzzle too short or too long.
    - Flews of the lower jaw turning outwards.
    - Missing teeth other than PM1 (premolar1) and M3. Small teeth, especially incisors.
    - Slightly undershot mouth.
    - Light eyes.
    - Eyelids too loose.
    - Sway back or roach back.
    - Croup higher than the withers or falling away.
    - Tail carried curled on the back.
    - Absence of required markings.
    - Crooked or severely turned out front legs.
    - Poorly angulated, open-hocked or cow-hocked hindquarters.
    - Faulty movement.
    - Curly coat.
    - Incomplete or totally absent pigmentation on nose leather, around the nose or on the lips or the eyelids.
    - Faulty primary colour e.g. reddish-brown dots or ticks in the white.

    - Too short legs in relation to size (short-legged).
    - Heavy folds on head and neck.
    - Crooked or severely turned out front legs.
    - Poorly angulated, open-hocked or cow-hocked hindquarters.

    - Aggressive or overly shy dogs.
    - Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
    - Weak temperament.
    - Overshot mouth, distinctly undershot mouth.
    - Wall eye.
    - Ectropion, entropion.
    - Solid white or solid reddish-brown coat (absence of the primary colour).
    - Coat of any other colour as well as flesh coloured nostrils (nostrils without pigmentation).
    - Height at withers below the minimum size.

    Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

  • Notes:

    Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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