Type vs Style in the Saint Bernard: Breeders’ Discussion Panel
Host Laura Reeves moderated a Breeders’ Discussion Panel at the 2018 Saint Bernard Club of America National Specialty. Three long-time breeders talk type versus style in this fascinating conversation.
Type defines a breed. Style informs the breeders' understanding of the standard. A conversation with successful breeders provides information that’s applicable across all breeds.
From descriptions of developing a breeding program that establishes a recognizable style, to addressing specific pieces of the standard, this wide-ranging conversation is inspiring, enlightening and entertaining.
Interpreting the standard from three different perspectives provides unending opportunities for learning. For example, the Saint Bernard standard has no description of correct movement or gait. By understanding the breed history, these breeders apply function to form to answer the question.
Listen to the Pure Dog Talk interview with breeder judge Joan Zelinski for more in-depth conversation about the breed.
The breed standard is included below for listeners to follow along.
Official Standard of the Saint Bernard
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,