Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund are large, well-muscled, and heavy boned. Their coat is tri-colored, chest is deep and head is large and broad. The true origin of these ancient Alpine dogs is not known for certain, however, the most popular theory is that Swissys are descendants of Mastiff-type dogs the Romans left behind in Switzerland as they traveled north some 2,000 years ago.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, recognized as Switzerland’s oldest breed, is one of four types of Sennenhund breeds. In addition to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund), there are the Bernese Mountain Dog (Berner Sennenhund), Entlebucher Mountain Dog (Entlebucher Sennenhund) and Appenzeller Mountain Dog (Appenzeller Sennenhund).
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are working farm dogs and were used for herding and guarding. They were also particularly used for pulling heavy carts (drafting). However, by the late 19th century, much of the work carried out by Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were replaced either by other breeds or by machines. As a result, the numbers of these dogs significantly decreased to the point of believing the breed had become extinct. Dr. Albert Heim of Zurich was a famous dog expert and is credited for reviving the the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog breed in the early 1900s.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were imported to the United States in 1967. This breed was fully recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995 becoming their 137th breed. Today Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are mainly used for companion, guard and family dogs.
Height: Males: 25.5 – 28.5 inches (63 – 71cm) Females: 23.5 – 27 inches (58 – 68cm)
Weight: The weight of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can be up 130 lbs (58kg) and females can weigh up to 110 lbs (49kg). Note: There is no actual standard for weight.
Coat Type: The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a heavy double coat, short in length. This breed sheds year round, especially during the spring and fall.
Color: The color of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog’s coat is tri-color. Short black coat with white and red markings which is the standard. However, this breed can also come in other colors such as blue, white, and tan tri-color and red and white bi-color.
Temperament: Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are happy, protective and very alert. This breed makes a great family dog; they’re excellent with children and generally get along with other pets. Swissys love attention and thoroughly enjoy being part of their family. This breed must have a good, strong leader. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can be quite boisterous when young, therefore proper training is necessary. Swissys make excellent watch dogs as they note any little thing which may be out of the norm and will bark to alert. Although Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs stand their ground in a threatening situation, they are not aggressive or guard dogs. Swissys are willing workers and happy to please. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog needs exercise, but it is important they do not get too much when they are a puppy as this can interfere with their growth. When they have matured, Swissys can tolerate more rigorous exercise, although a simple walk once or twice a day is sufficient.
Health Problems: Health concerns that can affect the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog include female urinary incontinence, distichiasis & entropian (eye issues), lick fit (frantic licking), epilepsy, bloat, OCD of the shoulder, hip and elbow dysplasia. The average life expectancy for a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is between 10 – 11 years.
• Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are called Swissys for short.
• The Swiss Kennel Club recognized the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog breed in 1910.
• Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs possibly contributed to the development of the Saint Bernard and the Rottweiler.
• The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was fully recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995 becoming their 137th breed.
AKC: Working Group
CKC: Group 3- Working
FCI: Group 2 Section 3 Swiss Mountain & Cattle Dogs
UKC: Guardian Dogs