It is difficult to look at the dog standing there presenting a wonderful picture of a
Saint Bernard and then as soon as the dog takes a step or moves you sometimes
wonder if he is going to make it around the ring because of the movement. Some
dog’s legs are flaying in all directions and the pasterns are flipping. They are either
overextending or taking baby steps. It all gets back to the overall structure and
how the dog is bred.
I think that a lot of people today are breeding towards a cute, pretty Saint Bernard
and are losing what it was originally intended for…a rescue dog. A lot of dogs seen
moving from the side lack the reach in the front and drive from the rear end.
When you look at the dog from their side movements you can also notice the little
flips on the rear legs. Sometimes these dogs are moving so fast in front that they are
flipping their front pasterns up. It looks flashy and catches your eye but it is not
correct and is defeating the purpose of the word “soundness”.
Some judges that we show under that understand movement are always interesting
to watch, because they will move the dogs and everybody will try to move the dog to
its best ability. If a dog moves fast, they are going to try to go as fast as they can,
and if the dog moves better slow they will move it slow. I think the judges who
understand this will require people, either during a group or individuals, to make
sure these dogs move at particular speeds. They are on a loose lead and will say,
“I want you to move slow or I want you to move fast or I want you to walk” so they
can see what the dog is doing. Unfortunately I don’t think judges really understand
what is correct and proper movement.
In judging a Saint Bernard their function as a rescue dog or as a carting dog must
be considered above every thing else and if he doesn’t have the physical attributes
he must be severely faulted on the structure point of view. Likewise the tail must be
correct as this acts as a rudder for the correct movement. If the tail is incorrect the
dog would try and compensate in its movement which will lead to faulty analysis
of its gait. You can also see at times that top lines that wibble and wobble up and
down instead of staying level at a trot is a lack of conditioning of the dog more than
anything else. The dog needs to be in good muscle tone to get a solid, stable top line.
These are the few aspects that some judges lack when judging a Saint Bernard on
the whole. Granted in many aspects the standard has indicated that it is a head breed
but without the above consideration how can we call the Saint Bernard a member of
the Working group. I urge you all, for the survival of the Saint Bernard breed, more
emphasis should be put in the judges education scheme to bring up the standard of
what the dog was originally bred for.
Here is what the FCI standard quotes on movement:-
Coordinated, smooth reaching strides with good drive from the hindquarters.
Hindquarter struck in line with the forequarters.