By Lillian Buell, October, 1962
The average pet buyer only sees a piece of paper with long strange sounding names, and finds it less confusing to just tuck it away into a desk drawer. Actually that piece of paper represents some breeder’s plans, often involving years of work, with both success and failure.
In our breed, I find that dogs generally look as good as their pedigree. True, sometimes a dog with an excellent pedigree will have a major fault that is too serious for a show career, but he will still look like a Saint Bernard you are not ashamed to be seen with. Rarely does a dog of all pet stock look better than the inferior dogs in his background. You cannot take a dog of solid pet ancestry and hope to produce quality stock. This is why every successful breeder constantly stresses that foundation stock must be top quality.
Without the pedigree, complete havoc would result in breeding dogs. Too many people only consider the individuals to be bred. The easy way is to take a bitch and breed her to a male with no similar faults, and then look forward to a faultless litter. The trouble is that it doesn’t work that way. Those grandparents and great grandparents have too big a part to play. Even if the parents do not have similar faults, it may be the grandparents did. Disaster is the result.
If your bitch has a faulty top-line, then you must investigate the pedigree to find out where it comes from. It may shock you to find a male you planned to breed to because he has such a great top-line, may have a common ancestor that caused your bitch’s problem.
A great show dog does not have to be a great producer. However, a pedigree filled with quality champions should indicate something. At the very least, it indicates someone was at least trying to produce better dogs.
Some great sires are not show dogs. Yet their pedigree will indicate the greatness before time proves it. But breeders who never study the pedigree of a dog who is not shown would shrug him off saying he will never make it in the ring.
One of the most difficult problems a breeder can face is when he owns a bitch with a fine pedigree yet she has a major fault. Such a bitch can be of value only if her pedigree is carefully investigated and used to select her mate.
A kennel which is selling breeding stock should never sell a dog without giving a 4 generation pedigree, and they should try their best to describe the dogs on their pedigree. They should give as much information as they can in regards to rough or smooth, and splash and mantle coats. The novice must depend on this pedigree to supply him with information. The more information he has, the less shocks he will have to contend with.
So study the pedigree well. Find out from photographs and conversations with old-timers just who produced the faults and virtues of your dogs. Sometimes it takes a born detective to track it down, sometimes it is impossible, but the hunt is always fun.
One caution: however large the pedigree looms in the breeding program, it should not completely overshadow the dog, and breed for a pedigree alone. We breed dogs to produce better dogs and not to establish spectacular pedigrees. No pedigree is better than the word of the person who makes it, so buy from a breeder who is known to be reliable.
For pedigree information about your Saint Bernard, be sure to visit http://saintbernardclub.org/pedigree-database-search/ This is still under construction with more pictures being added regularly.