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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Origin: Switzerland

AKC Group: Working

Height: 23.5 inches (Male)

Weight: 130 pounds (Male)

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Male height: 
23.5 inches
Male weight: 
130 pounds
Double coat with medium-length, thick, dense outercoat and dense, short undercoat.
Black with rich rust and white markings.

Descended from mastiff-type dogs used by the Roman armies on their conquests through Europe, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (nicknamed "Swissy") is believed to be the oldest of the four Swiss "sennenhunds" who evolved from these dogs, which also include the Appenzeller Sennenhunde, Bernese Mountain Dog and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog served Swiss farmers for centuries as a butcher's dog and draft dog. As the Saint Bernard became more popular, the Swissy's numbers began to fall until, by the late 1800s, only a few remained on isolated farms. It was around that time that dog fancier Franz Schertenleib found a Swissy and showed him to a respected judge, Dr. Albert Heim, who knew the history of the breed. Believing the Swissy to be extinct, Heim was glad to see the specimen and encouraged Schertenleib and other breeders to do all they could to save it. This was accomplished when, in 1910, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was accepted by the Swiss Kennel Club registry. In the 1960s, he was brought to the United States, where his devotees are keeping him alive and well.

Even-tempered and generally mellow, the Swissy is a wonderful family dog. His enjoyment of pulling carts or sleds delights children, especially, and he is a real people-loving dog. He still retains some guard dog instincts, too, and is protective of his family, although not aggressive. He is a good watchdog, as he will alert his family to anything unusual, but once assured that there is no threat, returns to his generally calm state. He is a slow-maturing dog who is still puppyish well into his second or third year.
At home: 
The Swissy can adapt well to just about any living situation. A home in the country with lots of room may be the ideal, but as long as you are willing to exercise him and take him out a few times a day, he can live happily in an apartment. He is not overly active inside the home and settles down easily. His double coat protects him from the elements, especially the cold weather, which he prefers over the heat.
The Swissy needs moderate daily exercise. He is a large dog who enjoys his time outdoors and is happy to accompany his family on walks and hikes.
The Swissy enjoys his food and requires a high-quality diet. Some breeders recommend feeding twice a day.
His calm, obedient nature makes training the Swissy a pleasure. He may not be the most enthusiastic of performers, but he is reliable and steady. Socialization from puppyhood is a must because his protective instincts are strong.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a social dog who gets along well with children, other dogs and other pets.
The average life span of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is 10 to 12 years. Health problems may include bloat; elbow dysplasia; epilepsy; eye problems, including cataracts, distichiasis, and entropion; and hip dysplasia.
Fun fact: 

At one time, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was known simply as "Old Blaze."

Grooming blurb: 
The Swissy's short, dense coat is easy to care for. Brushing once a week or so with a bristle brush will remove dead hair and reinvigorate the skin and coat. He will shed heavily about twice a year.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.