LIMA — Around 40 Saint Bernards will be competing at the Lima Kennel Club Showgrounds at 1050 Thayer Road over the Labor Day weekend.
Nick Little, president of the St. Bernard Club of Greater Detroit, oversees the competition.
“What we’ve done is we’ve brought together all three clubs so that we can hold a lot of specialty shows just in one venue and we ended up with six shows over three days which gives everybody a good chance to win some points,” Little said.
The dogs come from all over the region.
“They’ll be everything from some champion dogs to young puppy dogs,” Little said.
Little says the judges are looking for certain traits in each dog.
“The judges are looking here for how well the dogs conform to the standard that’s written for the breed and approved by the American Kennel Club and also approved by the St. Bernard Club of America. That standard talks about the appearance and the structure of the dog, and is it capable of doing the things that St. Bernards were originally bred for, which is not just carrying the barrel around the neck.
They were originally bred for working in the Swiss mountain passes, specifically the St. Bernard pass, which goes between Switzerland and Italy. The Monks bred them specially to help travelers find their way across the mountains in winter and in summer,” Little said.
The dogs were able to track wayward hikers and if they were trapped in the snow “the dogs will be able to locate them with a big old head that they could push through the snow to create an air hole so that person trapped inside could still breathe,” Little said.
Movies like “Beethoven” helped spur the popularity of the breed.
“When the first couple of movies came out there was definitely interest in a lot of people wanting the dogs, particularly the puppies because they look so nice and fluffy. The downside to it is those little puppies grow to be a much bigger dog, anything from 150 to 170 pounds in weight,” Little said.
The Central Indiana St. Bernard Club hosts the event Saturday, the Heart of Ohio St. Bernard Fancies hosts activities on Sunday while the St. Bernard Club of Greater Detroit hosts the competition on Labor Day.
The parking and admission are free all three days.
Around 40 St. Bernards will be competing in six different shows over the Labor Day weekend at the Lima Kennel Club Showgrounds, 1050 Thayer Road.
Reach Sam Shriver, reporter, at 567-242-0409.