For hundreds of years, from at least the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century, St. Bernards were bred and raised in the Great St. Bernard Pass in the monastery and hospice run by the monks who had originally bred the breed. The monks were strict with their breeding standards, and as a result, they had a marvelous breed of dog.
Breeding began outside of the hospice and monastery in Switzerland in 1855 by a man named Henrich Schumacher. Schumacher bred the dogs according the original hospice breed standard, and provided the dogs to the monks. But this standard was no upheld by foreigners like the English who bred the dogs all around Switzerland. In order to protect the dog's specific breeding, the Swiss Kennel Club was formed in 1883; they wrote the Swiss St. Bernard breed standard in 1884: it maintained the standard established by the monks in the hospice and monastery.
In England, however, the imported St. Bernards from Switzerland were bred with English Mastiffs to create what the British considered the real breed standard for St. Bernards. They wrote their own breed standard for the English St. Bernard in 1887. This caused a lot of controversy because both types of dogs had the same name but they looked completely different. An international congress met on the matter in 1886 and in 1887 to decide which standard would be accepted. They finally decided that the original Swiss standard would be accepted by all countries except England.
Now there are three separate breed standards for the St. Bernard, and each one depends on where you are showing your St. Bernard. In European countries, the FCI has their own breed standard that was adopted in 1993. In England, the standard established in 1887 still stands. The original hospice standard for the Swiss St. Bernard is upheld in the United States by the St. Bernard Club of America. The American Kennel Club has a breed standard for the St. Bernard that is a little different than the Swiss standard of 1884, but it is accepted by St. Bernard purists.
The AKC breed standard that is similar to the original hospice-established standard includes two coat types: rough or long-haired, and smooth or short-haired. The shoulder height must be at least 27 1/2 inches for males and 25 1/2 inches for females. The St. Bernard should have a powerful head, large skull, short muzzle, broad, sloping shoulders, broad back, deep chest, muscular legs, long and heavy tail, and dense fur. For long-haired dogs, the fur can be flat to wavy and medium length. His coloring is red with white or white with red, and he is never without some kind of white markings on his chest, feet and the tip of his tail. Many St. Bernards have a black face mask, but it is not necessary.