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Greater Swiss Mountain Dog


The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is an absolute teddy bear. Full of love and affection that makes the perfect house pet, this dog is ideal for families that not only want a dog that can be trusted around children, but also one that makes an imposing watchdog. They are a sensitive breed, extremely loyal to its owners, and gentle with other pets in the home.

A Brief History Of The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Switzerland is the original area of origin for this breed and the first function of the dogs were used as guardians and draft dogs. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is said to be the largest and oldest of the four types of Swiss Mountain Dogs in existence. The other three are the Bernese, Appenzeller, and the Entlebucher.

One theory of the breed’s bloodline is that they were derived from Molossian dogs or the Mastiff, which were used when the Romans crossed over into Switzerland during the Ancient times. Other researchers claim that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog came from the Phoenicians when they brought them into Spain sometime during 1000 B.C.

Regardless of the specific truth behind the dog’s bloodline, we have watched them spread throughout Europe in great numbers to become interbred with various native dogs. Eventually, they developed through independent lines and small communities, still remaining excellent guard dogs, draft dogs, and herders.

All of these dogs were known as “Metzgerhunde Dogs” and shared common physical appearances. Therefore, they were assumed to be the same breed type. Up until the latter part of the 1800s did these dogs become separated into four distinct types by the research of Professor A. Heim. He noticed that there were more specific differences in these dogs than what was assumed.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was finally claimed as its own breed in 1908 but it took some time for them to become popular, especially with the disaster of two World Wars. In 1968, the breed made its way to the United States and was officially recognized by the AKC in 1985 as a member of the Miscellaneous Class, then onto the Working Group in 1995.

Upkeep Requirements For The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

As a member of the Working Group, this breed thrives on roaming the great outdoors in search of something to do, particularly in colder climates. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs need plenty of daily exercise which can be met by a vew brisk walks on the leash or long hikes through nature’s trails.

If need be, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can live outside, as they have a high tolerance for cold temperatures, but like all pets that thrive on human companionship, it is best for them to sleep inside with the family at night. Grooming requirements consist of only a once-a-week brushing. When shedding, a daily brushing is best.

Health Concerns

The average life span of a healthy Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is between ten and twelve years. The only major health problem that runs common in the breed is CHD. Minor issues include seizures, panosteitis, gastric torsion, female urinary incontinence, shoulder OCD, distichiasis, and splenic torsion.


The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is believed to have come from some dogs abandoned by the Romans, when their armies went on northward. Thus, they have the same ancestry. These canines all had similar markings and coloring; there were four kinds: Entlebucher, Appenzeller, Grosser, and Berner. The Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund is another name for the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, which is the biggest of the four types. The Senner were herders for dairymen living in the Swiss Alps. These dogs worked with the herdsmen and pulled carts.

They were also known as Swissy and these were the most popular working dog, but their use started to decline in the middle of the 19th century.  In 1908,  a good specimen of this breed was exhibited at Langental, Switzerland. Franz Schertenleib brought this dog to the show. A judge named Dr. Albert Heim from Zurich said that he was a wonderful specimen. As an exhibition judge, the  doctor wrote reports about the dogs and the first writing about them occurred in 1913. He said this dog was a great specimen of the butcher dog of which there were few left. He encouraged breeders to bring back the breed.

The Swisse Kennel Club gave the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog recognition in 1910. The AKC gave it recognition in 1995.

General Appearance

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is heavily boned and big with strong muscles. The muzzle, paws, and tail’s tip have some white fur on them. His back, ears, and the greater area of his legs are black. There is some rusty color on his checks, over his eyes, and some on his legs.

Is This Your Breed?

He is very sociable and likes being around his owner and family. The owner needs to have patience concerning house breaking, though he will learn to go outside, doing this regularly may take several months of training. He needs exercise each day, but in hot climates don’t exercise excessively. He might get overheated. Brush his coat once each week.


The overcoat is thick. The texture of the overcoat can be fine or coarse. The fur may be straight or wavy. It can be short or longer. The undercoat is thick and the coloring is dark gray, light gray, and tawny. The undercoat has to cover his neck, but can be on all of his body.


The standard for this breed requires white, black, and rust. But some are white, tan, and blue and others    are white and rust.


The back is supposed to be level when the dog is moving. The gait is formed with sufficient reach and a strong rear drive.


He is a happy dog and likes children and treats them gently. He really likes people. He is enthusiastic, determined, bold, loyal, active, dignified, serene, and stubborn.


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