FCI-Standard N° 61 / 21. 01. 2004 / GB

ST. BERNARD (St.Bernhardshund, Bernhardiner)

TRANSLATION : Mrs.C.Seidler and Mrs. Pepper. 

ORIGIN : Switzerland.


UTILIZATION : Companion-, watch- and farmdog.

CLASSIFICATION  F.C.I.:  Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer type, Molossians, Swiss Mountain-and                                                      Cattledogs.                                               Section 2.2 Molossian type,   Mountain type.                                         Without working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY :  At the height of the Great St. Bernard Pass, 2469 metres above sea level, a hospice was founded by monks in the 11th century  as  a place of refuge for  travellers  and  pilgrims.  There, large mountain dogs have been  kept  since the middle of the 17th century for guarding and protection.  The existence  of such  dogs has  been documented pictorially since 1695 and  in a  written document at the hospice in the year 1707.  The dogs were soon in use as companion dogs and specially as rescue dogs for travellers lost in snow and fog.   The chronicles about the numerous human lives saved by these dogs from the « white death », published in many languages, and the verbal reports of  the soldiers who crossed the pass with Bonaparte’s army in 1800, spread the fame of the St. Bernard, called Barry-dog at that time, throughout Europe during the 19th century.  The legendary dog « Barry » became the epitome of the rescue dog.  The direct ancestors of  the St. Bernard were the large farm dogs common in that region.  Within a few  generations and aiming to a defined ideal type, these dogs were developed to the present day type of breed.  Heinrich Schumacher from Holligen near  Bern was the first who began to issue genealogical documents for his dogs in 1867.
In February 1884 the “Schweizerisches Hundestammbuch”(SHSB), the Swiss Dog  Stud  Book,  was started.    The  very first  entry was  the St.Bernard  “Leon”,  and  the  following 28 registrations also concerned St.Bernards.  On the 15th March 1884, the Swiss St.Bernards-Club was founded in Basle.  On the occasion of an international Canine Congress on June 2nd 1887, the St. Bernard dog was officially recognized as a Swiss breed and  the breed  standard  was  declared  as  binding.    Since  then , the St.Bernard has been regarded as the Swiss national dog.

There are two varieties of the St.Bernard :
·      Short-haired variety (double coat, “Stockhaar”):
·      Long-haired variety.
Both varieties  are  of  considerable size and of impressive general apperance.  They have a balanced, powerful, sturdy, muscular body with impressive head and an alert facial expression.

·      Ideal relation of height at withers to length of body (measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttocks) = 9 : 10.

·      Ideal relation of height at withers to depth of chest see sketch below.

·      The total length of the head is slightly more than one third of the height at withers.

·      The relation of depth of muzzle (measured at its root) to length of muzzle is almost 2:1.

·      Length of muzzle slightly longer than one third of the total length of the head.


Friendly  by  nature.  Temperament calm to lively; watchful.

General : Powerful, imposing and very expressive.

Skull : Strong, broad, 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 cheek bones.  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 rather inconspicuous.

Stop : Dinstinctly pronounced.

Nose : Black, broad and square.  Nostrils well opened.

Muzzle : Of even width.  Nasal bridge straight, with slight groove.

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  mouth remain visible.

Jaws/Teeth : Upper and lower jaw strong, broad, equal in length.  Well developed, regular and complete scissor or pincer bite. Close fitting undershot mouth without any space between the lower and the upper incisors acceptable.  Absence of PM 1 (premolar 1)  and M3 tolerated.

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

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

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

General : General appearance imposing, balanced, impressive and well muscled.

Withers : Well  defined.

Back : Broad, strong, firm.  Topline straight and horizontal up to the loins.

Croup : Long, hardly sloping, merging gently with the root of the tail.

Chest  :  Brisket moderately  deep  with  well sprung  ribs,  but  not barrel-shaped.  Not projecting below elbow level.

Belly and underline : Slight tuck up towards rear. 

TAIL :  Set-on  broad and  strong.   Tail  long and  heavy.  The last  vertebra reaching  at least  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.


General : Forelegs straight and parallel seen  from the front.  Standing moderately broad.

Shoulders :  Shoulder blades oblique,  muscular and well attached to  the chest wall.

Upper  arm  :  Longer than the shoulder blade.  Angle between shoulder blade and 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 seen from the side.

Forefeet : Broad,  with strong, tight, well arched toes.


General : Muscular with moderate angulation.   Seen from the back, hind legs are parallel, not standing closely together.

Upper thigh : Strong, muscular, broad.

Stifle : Well angulated, turning neither in nor out.

Lower thigh : Slanting and rather long.

Hock joints : Slightly angulated, firm.

Metatarsus : Straight and parallel when seen from behind.

Hind feet :  Broad, with strong, tight, well arched toes.  Dewclaws tolerated if they do not  hinder the movement.

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

·      Short-haired variety (Stockhaar, double coat) : Topcoat dense, smooth; close-lying  and  coarse.  Plenty of undercoat. Thighs with slight breeches.  Tail covered with dense hair.

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

COLOUR : Primary colour white with smaller or larger reddish-brown patches (splash-coated dogs) up to an unbroken reddish-brown mantle covering back and  flanks  (mantle dogs).  A broken reddish-brown mantle is of equal value.  A brindle reddish-brown colour permissible. Brownish-yellow tolerated.   Dark shadings on head desirable.  Slight touch of black on body tolerated.

Required white markings : Chest, feet,  tip of tail, muzzle  band, blaze and patch on neck.

Desirable markings : White collar.  Symmetrical dark mask.


Height at withers : For dogs                  minimum 70 cm,

for bitches                minimum 65 cm.

For dogs           maximum 90 cm,

for bitches                maximum 80 cm.

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 legs in relation to size (short-legged).

·      Heavy folds on head and neck.

·      Muzzle too short or too long.

·      Flews of the lower jaw turning outwards.

·      Missing teeth other than PM 1 (premolar 1) and M3.  Small teeth (especially incisors).

·      Slightly undershot mouth.

·      Light eyes.

·      Eyelids too loose.

·      Sway back or roach back.

·      Croup higher than 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, on the lips or the eyelids.

·      Faulty primary colour e.g. reddish-brown dots or ticks in the white. 


·      Weak temperament, aggressiveness.

·      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.

·      Height at withers below minimum size.

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

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

This amended breed standard will become effective from April 2004.