The Backbone of the Breed

Rate this Saint
(2 votes)

To our way of thinking good smooth bitches are the backbone of the breed. They certainly have been the reason for our success in breeding over these past forty years.  That's not to take away from the wonderful longhaired girls, or even the boys, but if you want to retain proper type and soundness in your line you best make lots of space for those big-assed shorthaired girls.

This is the kind of girl you need to see when you look out to your kennel. She is Lasquite's Layla V Orlando, sired by Orlando of course, and her dam was Benbaron's Uppercut Of Eddie. She has good bone, great substance and obvious power, as did her mother. Yet, unless you visited Lasqueti Island, you would never have seen her. Sadly, so many smooth bitches like her never get shown and stay in the background doing their thing as brood bitches. 

When we first started out breeding in the early 70s, it was not unusual for kennels of have 20 or more Saints. Quite a few still had over 50! Consequently, many of these kennels kept a decent number of smooth bitches. Even if they didn't show them much, at least they used them for breeding. But as time went on, kennels started to shrink. The demand for St Bernards declined steadily. AKC registrations went from over 60,000 a year (seriously!!) to just a few thousand. Additionally, it became both economically and socially more difficult to keep such large kennels. Neighbors complained and by-laws toughened up. So people started keeping fewer dogs.

When it comes to winning, as Rodney Dangerfield says: smooth bitches "don't get no respect!". Big rough males often win. Rough bitches win. Smooth males win less. Smooth bitches find it hard to win. Judges will protest that this is not the case but in over 70 Nationals, smooth bitches have won Breed less than six times! Not even 10 per cent of the time. It is human nature for people to keep dogs that they think can win. We all like to win. So if one can only keep five to ten dogs, likely most of those will be rough and far too many will be males. The smooth bitches tend to get pushed out over time. 



Breeders must resist this trend if they want to enjoy long-term success. A rule of thumb we would suggest for a kennel of ten dogs : no more than 2 males, no more than 3 rough bitches, and 5 or more smooth bitches. What have you got in your backyard right now? Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong!

And for the record, we hardly ever bred a rough to a rough.