The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a devoted family companion, and they prefer to be near their people at all times. They are generally friendly with new people when properly introduced, but they may be wary of strangers and, when they feel it’s warranted, will bark loudly to sound the alarm.
This large, strong breed originated with war dogs brought over the Alps by Julius Caesar’s army.
Those war dogs crossed with the existing Alpine mountain dogs to create Greater Swiss Mountain Dog—or Swissies. Swissies eventually developed both the Rottweiler and Saint Bernard, and they are related closely to the Bernese Mountain Dog, as well.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs worked as farm helpers, and their large size made them particularly adept at pulling heavy carts filled with meat and dairy.
In 1909, the Swiss Kennel Club listed the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog as a breed in the Swiss Stud Book for the first time. The first dogs of the breed came to the United States in 1968, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of American formed. In 1995, the breed received American Kennel Club recognition.
This powerful, heavy-boned dog is large and sturdy while still maintaining agility and swiftness essential for a working dog.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a dense topcoat and a thick undercoat. Their undercoat is dark gray, light gray, and tawny, and their topcoat is black with rich rust and white markings.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large and powerful dog with a muscular appearance. They have almond-shaped, dark brown eyes and high set, triangular ears.
This bold and loyal breed loves its people and is wary of strangers. They make excellent guard dogs.
They prefer to be with their people at all times, and their prey drive is strong, so they should always be leashed or in a secure area when outdoors. They can be strong-willed, so training might be tricky, but they tend to respond well to food-based incentives.
Your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large breed that will do well with any age-appropriate, high-quality dog food that’s suited to their particular weight and any additional health concerns.
As with any dog, it’s important to monitor the amount of food and treats that you give your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, especially since some dogs are prone to gaining weight as they age. Your veterinarian is always a good source to help provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
Grooming is pretty easy for this breed, whose double coat requires a weekly brush and the occasional bath. When you do bathe your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, be sure to dry both coats completely.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
Despite the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog’s powerful appearance, they only require moderate daily exercise to stay healthy.
A walk around the block or other companion activities—like hiking—will also make them happy, although they likely won’t be a great running companion.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can have a stubborn streak. While training may require patience, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs respond well to training that involves food rewards.
This is a bleeding disorder due to a blood protein (P2RY12) defect and was first described in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.
Knowing if your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM