Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs—or “Swissies” as their fans call them—might be the closest you'll ever get to owning that pony your parents never bought you. You can't ride them, of course: Seriously, don't ever try to ride a dog, no matter how big it is! But this hard-working breed has the endurance and strength of a small horse. They used to carry and pull loads on Swiss Farms, in addition to serving as watchdogs. Today, their sweet, gentle natures make them an excellent choice for therapy work.
This breed is enthusiastic about a lot of things, including mealtimes. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs eat a lot — we're talking six or more cups of food every day. But unlike many dogs their size (ahem, Bullmastiffs), Swissies don't usually drool.
Originally from Switzerland, this large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 85-140 pounds and lives an average of 8-11 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Transport, Guardian
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 8-11 years
Size: Extra Large
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 98
FAMILY livestock dog, mastiff (draft/cattle)
AREA OF ORIGIN Switzerland
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION draft dog, guardian
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 25.5-28.5 Weight: 105-140
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 23.5-27 Weight: 85-110
OTHER NAME grosser Schweizer sennenhund, Great Swiss cattle dog
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Not very playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Hard to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Moderately protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Reliable and devoted, these dogs have a lovely, even temperament. They can be suspicious of strangers, but Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are loyal and affectionate toward their chosen people. These pups are gentle and patient with kids. They're hard working dogs, but once they've had enough exercise, they're mellow and happy to lay about the house with you.
WHAT IS GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are a strong and devoted breed. Don't let that sweet face fool you: these dogs are packing some serious muscle, and they're built to move. Plan for a long walk (or several) every day.
If you're looking for a guard dog, a Swissie can be a good deterrent for intruders. They bark out of necessity, making them somewhat less vocal than other guard dogs.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs mature slowly and they're sometimes slow to housetrain. But if you're patient, this pup responds well to training. Socialize them early and often to discourage herding and chasing behaviors toward kids and other pets. These dogs respond well to food, play, and praise rewards.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOGS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs' double coats are short and dense. They are somewhat heavy, seasonal shedders. Brush them once a week and bathe as needed — this is a wash-and-go breed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOGS HAVE?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are generally healthy, but like many large dogs, some are prone to eye disease and hip dysplasia. Swissies are particularly prone to bloat, a condition that requires immediate attention from your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) and contact your vet at once if you suspect your dog might be suffering from this ailment.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOGS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG'S BEST DAY?
Would you like to build a snowman? A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is just longing to jump through snow piles with you. Maybe you have a sled she can pull, or a mountain you've been meaning to hike? Throw a backpack on your furry friend and hit the trails.
SHOULD I ADOPT A GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are like a good cup of coffee: strong and sweet. As you'd expect from a mountain dog, Swissies much prefer cold weather to warm. They don't need much grooming and are gentle, devoted companions. If you can find them a job to do, you'll find that this big softie fits very well in your home.
Have you decided that a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.