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The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Oliver Jones

Height: 23.7–27 inches (female), 25.5–28.5 inches (male)
Weight: 85 to 110 pounds (female), 115 to 140 pounds (male)
Lifespan: 8–11 years
Colors: Red and white, blue-white and tan, black, white, and red, tricolor
Suitable for: Active families, families with children, those who can give moderate exercise, and those with the space for a large dog with a fence.
Temperament: Alert and vigilant, devoted family dog, confident, loyal

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a rare breed with a good temperament. Belonging to the working group, this breed, often referred to as “Swissy,” loves its family members, is faithful and dependable. This breed originated in Switzerland (hence the nickname) as an all-purpose farm dog. Their ancestors are the Rottweiler and St. Bernard; that’s evident with their body size and head shape. They are also closely related to the Bernese Mountain Dog. Swissies are large and strong dogs that require moderate exercise, so unless you’re a couch potato, this breed can be a fun addition to your family. Love to go hiking or explore the outdoors? Are you an experienced dog owner? If so, this breed could be right for you.

divider-multiprintGreater Swiss Mountain Dog Puppies – Before You Buy…

As mentioned, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise, so this breed is not a lay-around dog. Early socialization is imperative for this breed to eliminate behavioral problems down the road. They are relatively easy to train but can be stubborn at times, making establishing pack leadership early on imperative, as well. This breed is also not suitable for a new dog owner due to its complex working dog nature.

Energy:
Trainability:
Health:
Lifespan:
Sociability:

What’s the Price of Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Puppies?

With the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog being a rare breed, you can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $3,000 for a puppy. You can also rescue a GSMD for $200 to $600. If you decide to purchase a puppy, find a reputable breeder that can give you a verified clean bill of health beforehand. Speaking of a rare breed, you may have to search more for your puppy, but perseverance will pay off in the long run.

divider-paw3 Little-Known Facts About Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs

1. The breed was intended to be a drafting breed.

This breed can perform several tasks, including pulling carts and wagons (drafting) to herding cattle. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can pull up to 3,000 pounds, and they were the most popular breed in Switzerland in the 19th century. However, their popularity declined in the 1900s when machinery replaced the need for a dog capable of performing such tasks. The breed did make a comeback; they were recognized internationally in 1939 and brought to the United States in 1968. The American Kennel Club also recognized Swissies in 1995 as members of the Working group.

2. Swissies love sports.

Swissies are active dogs and do very well with hiking, agility courses, backpacking, and herding. This breed is perfect for the outdoor lover and would be a great companion for anyone involved in these activities.

3. Hot climates are not tolerated well by this breed.

If you live in a hot climate, you’ll need to make sure your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has plenty of water, is inside on hot days, and has plenty of places outside to escape the sun. Avoiding exercise in hot, humid weather is also important.

divider-dogTemperament & Intelligence of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog is an intelligent breed with a calm demeanor. They will bark if they see something out of the ordinary, such as a new car in the driveway or a new birdbath in the backyard, but are not aggressive. They are loyal dogs that love to be with their families. They have a strong working dog nature, so a large fenced yard adequate for moderate exercise is a must to keeping them healthy and happy.  They don’t do well being left alone for long periods, so if you don’t have the time to devote to a couple of walks a day or playtime in the backyard, this breed may not be for you.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog is ideal for active families. They get along well with children and are devoted family dogs, making them a great addition. Keep in mind, though, that small children should not be left unattended with this breed, as they are large and may knock a small child over unintentionally.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog gets along well with other dogs, as long as they are properly socialized. Early socialization is vital in ensuring that another dog in the home is considered part of the pack.  They do love to play, so having another dog in the home could be (and most likely will be) a welcomed companion.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog in the basket_SubertT_shutterstock
Image Credit: SubertT, Shutterstock

divider-pawThings to Know When Owning a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A high-protein, low-calorie kibble is ideal for this large breed, as well as a high-quality kibble with no fillers. An animal-based protein, such as chicken, turkey, salmon, duck, etc., should be listed first in the ingredients. With their enormous size, 4 to 5 cups divided into two meals a day should suffice. The Swissy loves to eat, so be careful not to overfeed because overfeeding can lead to health problems, such as obesity.

Exercise 🐕

As mentioned, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise. A large fenced yard is a must, as Swissies need plenty of space, so apartment living is not suitable for this breed. They can be boisterous but are a fun-loving breed.  If you’re a jogger or walker, this breed can be a great companion, giving both of you exercise.  The Swissy is a great companion to accompany you on a hike, as well.

Training 🎾

Swissies were bred as drafting dogs, (pulling carts and wagons), so leash training can be challenging. They love to pull, and with their giant size and strength, it can be a daunting task if not properly trained. They can also be stubborn. That’s why it’s important to establish pack leadership quickly. Swissies are eager to please, but they require socialization to learn what is acceptable behavior versus unacceptable behavior; this is important because of their enormous size. They are intelligent but slow to mature, especially males, so the more patience you have, the better.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog running_Nick Chase 68_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Nick Chase 68, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a short, double-layered thick coat that requires weekly brushing. They tend to shed more in the spring and fall, so a quick, extra brush during the shedding months will help keep down the amount of dead hair. As far as teeth and nails go, weekly teeth brushing with a vet-approved toothpaste will keep the Swissy’s teeth healthy, and keeping an eye out for the occasional nail trim should be all that’s required. They do not need regular baths, just when they are dirty.

Health and Conditions 🏥

There are a few health conditions the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog are prone to, so knowing these conditions beforehand is beneficial. Due to their large size, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are common, as well as gastric dilation volvulus, or “bloat.” Not all Swissies will develop these conditions, but it’s important to be aware of them. Making sure your Swissy is not obese is also a great way to keep them healthy.

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity, Cataracts
  • Urinary Incontinence (female)
  • Lick fits
  • Dental disease
  • Heat intolerance
Serious Conditions
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (Bloat)
  • Epilepsy
  • Lymphoma
  • Bone
  • Joint problems

divider-dogMale vs Female

Males are bigger than females and do not have the moodiness that some females are known to show. It is also best to have a male and female versus two males or two females, as this cuts down on competition.

divider-pawFinal Thoughts

As with any breed, there are some things to consider before adopting or buying. If you’re considering the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, that means you are an active family who loves to go on walks, has the space and fenced yard this breed requires and loves the outdoors. Your Swissy will be happy if he has a job to do, such as agility sports or accompanying you on a hike. Though non-aggressive, their impressive bark makes for a good guard dog, and they will always be by your side. Physically strong, this breed is gentle, kind, and will make a wonderful family pet.


Featured Image Credit: Zuzule, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.