Below is my opinion of the requirements of the FCI standard,  based on over 38 years of practical experience with Saint Bernard dogs, worldwide, together with technical education obtained by attending, and also presenting,  innumerable conferences, seminars, lectures , dog shows, judging seminars and  exams,  as well as judging of Saint Bernards and ALL other  breeds.  In addition, I am the only current breeder to have lived and worked as a Dog Keeper at the Hospice du Grand Saint Bernard,  working every day with  the breed in the mountains of their birthplace. That experience has provided a truly unique opportunity to examine the breed and learn a great deal through observation and on-site research. The Mountain Tests I conducted also provided invaluable insight and experience in understanding movement and correct structural conformation.

Photos and diagrams show the correct requirements, together with some of the more common faults found in current Saint Bernard dogs.  It is generally accepted that “fault judging ” is incorrect, as anybody can pick out faults and discredit the dog.  In this illustrated standard I have highlighted both good points and faults in order to show the difference.  I have obtained written permission  to use all diagrams and photos, and any resemblance to other dogs is purely coincidental.


It is important to understand that finding a perfect dog is almost impossible.  For this reason I have highlighted the correct or incorrect points  being discussed. In many photos used, other points on the same dog may be correct or incorrect, but are not mentioned at that time. These points  may be mentioned later, using  the same photo, while discussing a different aspect of the breed.

Also important is the fact that most of the photos show dogs standing naturally, or moving on a loose lead. Any dog can be taught to stand in a “stacked “position, but to correctly evaluate structure requires the dog to stand naturally, and to correctly evaluate movement requires the dog to move naturally, without being “strung up “, and this can only be achieved with a loose lead when in the show ring. Physically changing the stance by stacking, or dragging or stringing up the dog during movement, essentially changes the natural characteristics , and very few judges are fooled by these tactics.  Often the very act of placing the feet in stack position alerts the judge to possible structural faults, which would not be evident if the dog were able to stand correctly by itself! The same is the case for stringing up or dragging the dog  when moving around the show ring.


The Official Breed Standard of the Swiss Saint Bernard club,  adopted by the FCI and the  Kennel Union of Southern Africa, is  printed in black. Photos and diagrams are my personal choices, used to illustrate particular requirements, and are not part of the official standard.

My comments are  printed in red.

In all instances I have attempted to explain specific aspects of the standard via comments and photos or diagrams.


Origin: Switzerland.

Date of publication of the current valid  standard: 1st July 2016

Utilization: Companion, watch- and farm dog.

It’s important to remember that the Saint Bernard is a Swiss Mountain dog, and in order to be able to efficiently fulfill this function, the structure of the dog must be correct. The term  “Fit for Function” is very important and must always be applied. ( See article on Fit for Function )


Classification F.C.I.:  Group 2                Pincher and Schnauzer type, Molossians, Swiss Mountain- and Cattle dogs and other breeds.

Section 2.2:               Molossian type, Mountain type.

Without working trial.


General appearance:

There are two varieties of St. Bernard:

Short-haired variety (double coat, “Stockhaar”)                     Long-haired variety.

Stockhaar                                                  Long-haired




*           Both varieties are of considerable size and of impressive general appearance. They have a balanced, powerful, sturdy, muscular body with impressive head and alert facial expression.

The standard requires that the dog have a balanced, powerful, sturdy, muscular body . The concept of “Balance ” is closely linked ……………

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