The Greater Swiss mountain dog is a sensitive, loyal and extremely devoted family companion. He is calm and easygoing, very gentle with children as well as other pets. He is protective, alert, bold and vigilant .
Hailing from the remote, mountainous regions of Switzerland, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was used primarily as a farm dog. These robust canines, which descended from ancient Roman Mastiffs, pulled carts to market and herded flocks of sheep. When 19th-century technology took over, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs dropped in number. Slowly, dog enthusiasts have been restoring the breed.
The ancestors of the Great Swiss Mountain Dog are of the previously widely spread across Central Europe and frequently described as butcher's or slaughterer's dogs. They were strong, tricolour, sometimes black and tan or yellow dogs, popular with butchers, cattle dealers, manual workers and farmers, who used them as guards, droving or draught dogs and bred them as such.
On the occasion of the jubilee show to mark the 25 years of the founding of the "Schweizerische Kynologische Gesellschaft" (Swiss Kennel Club) SKG, held in 1908, two such dogs, called "short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs", were for the first time presented to Professor Albert Heim, for his assesment.
This great promoter of the "Swiss Mountain and Cattle dogs" recognized in them the old, vanishing, large Sennenhund (mountain dog) or butcher's dog. They were recognised as a definite breed by the SKG and entered as "Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund" in volume 12 (1909) of the Swiss stud book.
In the canton of Berne, further exemplars were found which measured up to Heim's description and were introduced systematically into pure breeding stock. In January 1912 the club for "Grosse Schweizer Sennenhunde" was founded, which from then on took over the care and promotion of this breed. For a long period the breed remained small as it was particularely difficult to find suitable bitches. Only since 1933 could more than 50 dogs annually be entered into the SHSB (Swiss Stud Book).
The Standard was first published by the FCI on February 5th, 1939.
Recognition and wider distribution came along with the breed's growing reputation as undemanding, dependable carrier or draught dogs in the Swiss army during the second World War, so that by 1945 for the first time over 100 puppies could be registered, which was evidence of the existence of about 350-400 dogs.
Today the breed is bred also in the adjacent countries and is appreciated universally for its calm, even temperament, especially as a family dog.
HealthMajor concerns: CHD, gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia
Minor concerns: panosteitis, OCD, distichiasis, entropion
Occasionally seen: ectropion
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, (eye)
Life span: 10-12 years
The Look of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have large, muscular frames slightly longer than tall that are covered in short, dense coats. They usually come in black with rust and white markings. Swissys have large, broad heads with dark eyes and triangular ears that hang close. Their thick, tapered tails are carried low. Overall, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs look sturdy but nimble