The following is taken from “An Illustrated Commentary on the Saint Bernard Standard”. To view additional material from the Commentary, click on the tab, “Illustrated Commentary”. above.

The Illustrated Commentary is also available for purchase, additional information found here.

This section has been included because there are important aspects of the Saint Bernard that are simply implied rather than being explicitly described by the official standard. This section is intended to aid judges without a deep foundation in the breed to evaluate the complete dog.

NOTE: Although this section is directed toward judges, it is also intended to be of value to newer breeders and exhibitors of the Saint Bernard.


  • It is important to remember that the standard was written to describe the shorthaired Saint Bernard and that the longhaired dog must resemble the shorthaired variety in every respect except for the coat length. Deserving dogs, regardless of whether they are shorthaired or longhaired, should be considered equally for awards.
  • Judges should use their hands to evaluate 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. NOTE: The shorthaired dogs in the ring will often appear smaller and of less substance than their longhaired competition. This oftentimes is a distortion of reality.
  • Judges are reminded that Saint Bernards are required to carry the characteristics of their sex. However, the fancy has a great deal of tolerance for doggy bitches. This tolerance does not extend to males who fail to be adequately masculine.
  • The conformation described in the standard implies a movement unique to Saint Bernards. This movement must reflect the proportions, substance, and power required of the breed. See the following page for further discussion of correct movement.
  • Judges should be aware that the temperament of the Saint Bernard is of primary importance. Judges are asked to severely penalize inappropriate temperament whenever it is exhibited in their ring.
  • Judges are asked to demand a minimum level of acceptability in the following aspects of the dog: 1) Head type; 2) Proportions, balance & substance; 3) Movement; and 4) Temperament. That is, any dog that ranks below a minimum level of correctness in any one of these features should not be given any further consideration, regardless of the quality elsewhere.
  • The Saint Bernard as a breed is supposed to be a large, powerful dog. The ideal height of Saint Bernards is significantly greater than the minimum heights stated in the standard.
  • 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. 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 substance. Proper evaluation of the Saint Bernard 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 accompanied by the athletic balance and substance that make the correct Saint Bernard. We ask the judges to always keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better; the more correct dog is always better.

For more information or to purchase our Illustrated Commentary or our Breed CD,  contact Education Chair, Vic Dingus, (828) 454-1053,