Great Swiss Mountain Dog
Other names: Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, Great Swiss Cattle Dog
The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is a large, strong, and handsome breed with a distinct tricolour coat. Despite its bulky frame, the Swiss Mountain dog is an agile and athletic breed. Given they were developed near mountain ranges, these dogs are not suited to the inner-city life; they need plenty of wide open space to fully express themselves. Personality wise, they're enthusiastic, highly energetic, and love making human friends. In fact, these dogs crave human affection and contact. The Greater Swiss also makes a great family pet. They're extremely loyal to their owners and are gentle and loving around small children.
Key facts about the Great Swiss Mountain Dog
Origins and history
There are conflicting theories as to this dogs origins. Some experts believe they descended from dogs brought across Europe by the ancient Romans, while others argue that they're directly related to the wolf/dogs of the Neolithic period. Either way, the modern Swiss Mountain Dogs were developed in and around Switzerland. Although prized for their herding abilities, these dogs are so strong that they were often used to pull carts and milk wagons. Their popularity is steadily growing among domestic dog lovers, but the Swiss Mountain Dog is still more of a working animal than a household pet.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Great Swiss Mountain Dog
Female : Between 24 and 27 in
Male : Between 26 and 28 in
Female : Between 66 and 77 lb
Male : Between 77 and 88 lb
Tri-coloured. Silky black across the top of the head, back and hind. A large white blaze on the chest and a small white patch around the nose. Brown and reddish markings on legs, face, and chest.
Type of coat
Short, dense undercoat. Medium length topcoat.
Dark brown or a light hazel colour.
The Greater Swiss is a tri-coloured, big boned and sturdy animal. An incredibly strong dog that is much quicker than it looks, the Swiss has a large, broad skull, a deep chest, and well-balanced hindquarters. They have medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes and smallish ears that hang halfway down their heads. There is a noticeable difference between the sexes, with the males being much larger.
Good to know
The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is quite a rare breed in the UK. Any potential owners will need to contact a specialist breeder.
No dogs like being tied up, but these dogs really hate it. There also not suited for long walks on the leash as they have a natural desire to run free.
These dogs can take quite a while to mature, both physically and mentally. Don’t over-exercise them as puppies as it can damage their joint and bones. They can also display “puppyish” behaviour well into their adolescence.
They’re definitely no softies, but these big, strong dogs love human affection and contact. Classed as a "velcro" dog, which means they'll rarely leave your side, the Swiss Mountain dog thrives of giving and receiving affection. If you're looking for a new best friend, then this is probably the dog for you.
Working dogs love to play. In fact, they need to play! It helps keep their bodies and minds occupied, satisfying their instinctual desires to work, please their owners, and show off their amazing skills.
Once properly exercised, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a calm and relaxed breed. They love being active, but they seem to enjoy their “down” time just as much.
These dogs are very smart. Like most cattle and herding dogs, they’re mentally alert and very sharp. These dogs can certainly think for themselves. And if they don’t like something, they simply won’t do it! This is part of their unique personality, but it needs to be managed with the right training methods and responsible dog ownership.
A well socialised Swiss has a low prey drive. They’re comfortable around cats and other small animals, although it’s best not to leave them unsupervised. The Swiss is a very big strong dog and accidents can happen.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Swiss is a social and friendly dog that tends to form a really strong bond with just one person. However. they will rarely show any nervousness around new people. These confident dogs just know who they like and they prefer to stick close to their favourite humans.
They can be very independent minded. However, these dogs need lots of human company. This stems from the way they were developed. Swiss mountain dogs worked closely with shepherds and farmers for hundreds of years. In other words, they were bred to live and work alongside humans.
Behaviour of the Great Swiss Mountain Dog
These dogs thrive of human company; they should never be left alone for long periods of time. Companionship is really important for all dogs, but it’s super important for these dogs. They form incredibly strong bonds with their owners, and will soon become frustrated and even depressed if their favourite people disappear for too long.
Easy to train / obedience
For an active and highly intelligent breed, the Greater Swiss Mountain dog is relatively easy to train. They'll still provide some unique challenges as they can be quite difficult to housetrain, especially during the first six months. However, with a bit of patience and commitment, even a novice dog owner can learn how to handle a swiss.
They might look like big barkers, but these guys are surprisingly quiet. That being said, they're definitely much more vocal during their first few years, although they almost always calm down as they start to mature.