Choosing a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, also known as the "Swissy," is a native of Switzerland. The breed was used to guard the stables and the family home. Today, the Swissy is a beloved and loyal family companion.

History and Origin

The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is the largest and oldest of the four Sennenhund breeds that include the Appenzell cattle dog, Entlebuch cattle dog, Bernese Mountain dog and the Greater Swiss Mountain dog. The Swissy hails from the farms and villages of the Swiss Alps where they were used as guard dogs and herd dogs. They also accompanied their owners into battle. The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is thought by some to be a descendent of the Tibetan mastiff. This breed has been used in the early development of the Rottweiler and the Saint Bernard.

By the early 1900s, the role of the Swissy in Swiss farm life had been replaced by other dog breeds or by machines. This lead to a steady decline in the population of this beautiful breed. Thankfully, Dr. Albert Heim, of Zurich, took it upon himself to save the breed from extinction. With careful and diligent breeding, the Swissy is slowly gaining in numbers and popularity. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was formed in 1968. In 1995, the Swissy was recognized by the American Kennel Club in the working group.

Appearance and Size

The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is a draft breed that stands 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs 130 to 150 pounds. This is a strong and sturdy dog with a large round head and a strong muscular body. The Greater Swiss Mountain dog has large, dark brown eyes and rounded triangular ears that hang down. The tail hangs straight down with a slight curve. The hair coat is double thick and is typically tri-colored. The upper coat is dense and the undercoat is thick. The color of the coat is primarily jet black with symmetrical markings of white and red.


The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is a patient and calm dog. As with other draft breeds, this dog is loyal and loving and makes an excellent household pet.

Home and Family Relations

The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is an intelligent, alert and loyal companion dog. They are friendly and love children. The Swissy is watchful and protective, but usually not aggressive. Even so, any visitor should be introduced to them. The Swissy gets along with other household pets, but needs to be taught not to chase them. They are territorial and make good guard dogs for family homes.


The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is slow to mature and they need early socialization and obedience classes. They are extremely intelligent and this makes them easy to train.


The Greater Swiss Mountain dog needs to be brushed daily to keep his coat clean and free of tangles.

Special Care

As a draft breed, the Swissy prefers cooler temperatures. During hot and humid weather, the Swissy is prone to overheating so must be kept in a cool, ventilated area.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

Life Span

The life span of the Greater Swiss Mountain dog is approximately 10 to 13 years.

**We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed