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  • Temperament: Faithful, Family-Oriented, Dependable
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 78 of 192
  • Height: 25.5-28.5 inches (male), 23.7-27 inches (female)
  • Weight: 115-140 pounds (male), 85-110 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 8-11 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog head facing left
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a Draft and Drover breed and should structurally appear as such. It is a striking, tri-colored, large, powerful, confident dog of sturdy appearance. It is a heavy boned and well muscled dog which, in spite of its size and weight, is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin.

HEAD

Expression is animated and gentle. The eyes are almond shaped and brown, dark brown preferred, medium sized, neither deep set nor protruding. Blue eye or eyes is a disqualification. Eyelids are close fitting and eyerims are black. The ears are medium sized, set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip, and hang close to the head when in repose. When alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base. The top of the ear is level with the top of the skull.

BODY

Body is full with slight tuck up. The loins are broad and strong. The croup is long, broad and smoothly rounded to the tail insertion. The tail is thick from root to tip, tapering slightly at the tip, reaching to the hocks, and carried down in repose. When alert and in movement, the tail may be carried higher and slightly curved upwards, but should not curl, or tilt over the back. The bones of the tail should feel straight.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are long, sloping, strong and moderately laid back. They are flat and well-muscled. Forelegs are straight and strong. The pasterns slope very slightly, but are not weak. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. The dewclaws may or may not be present.

COAT

Topcoat is dense, approximately 1-1/4 to 2 inches in length. Undercoat must be present and may be thick and sometimes showing, almost always present at neck but may be present throughout. Color of undercoat ranges from the preferred dark gray to light gray to tawny. Total absence of undercoat is undesirable and should be penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The thighs are broad, strong and muscular. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws should be removed.

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About the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

“Greater” than what? Well, standing as high as 28.5 inches and weighing as much as a midsize human, a Greater Swiss might easily be greater than you.

Swissies are immensely strong, yet agile enough to move a flock across the sloping foot of a mountain. The coat is a striking tricolor—black, red, and white. The head and muzzle typically have a white marking (the “blaze”), setting off a sweet expression. Several big mountain-dog breeds are described as “majestic,” but Swissies practically invented the word.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.

Find a Puppy: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

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Care

NUTRITION

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can thrive on many types of diet, from kibble to raw to a combination of both. The most serious issue with feeding the GSMD is overfeeding, which leads to many digestive problems, including loose stools, and also leads to obesity, which is one of the greatest health problems in the breed.

GROOMING

This is basically a “wash and wear” breed, but they are double coated and do blow their undercoat, usually twice a year. When this is occurring they benefit from a good bath and blow-out, followed by a thorough brushing with a rake or shedding tool. For the rest of the year the occasional bath and brushing usually does the trick. They need regular nail-trims and ear and teeth cleaning.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise. A walk around the block or a romp in the woods generally will satisfy their daily exercise needs. This breed is much better suited for the person looking for a hiking companion than the person wanting a bicycling or marathon-running partner.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

The GSMD is very food motivated and responds well to training using food rewards. They can also have a stubborn streak, however, so their owners must be more determined than they are. It is not recommended to use any harness-type training device on this breed. They are a draft breed, and the use of a harness (other than for draft work) just tends to make them pull that much harder. As with all dogs, early socialization and puppy training classesare recommended.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

The GSMD does not have any breed-specific disorders but can have health problems that affect large-breed dogs. This can include orthopedic issues, although overall the GSMD’s orthopedics tend to be very good for a large breed. Splenic torsion, unrelated to gastric torsion, occurs more often in this breed than in other breeds. Owners should be aware of the possibility of bloat and know the symptoms, and what to do should it occur. Urinary incontinence is fairly common in puppies and spayed bitches. Epilepsy can occur in any pedigree; genetic markers for this have not yet been identified. Overall the GSMD tends to be a very healthy breed. More information on breed health can be found on the website of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Shoulder Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

History

Swissies descend from war dogs brought over the Alps by Julius Caesar’s legions. The Swiss utilized these mastiff-types when breeding their Alpine mountain dogs, or Sennenhund. Of these, Swissies are the oldest and the largest (or, the “greater”).

In remote mountain passes they toiled as all-around farm-and-pasture hands, specializing in hauling loads of meat and dairy to market in smartly outfitted dogcarts. The Greater Swiss is closely related to the Bernese Mountain Dog and is a component breed of the Saint Bernard and Rottweiler.

Did You Know?

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a relatively new AKC breed, fully recognized in 1995.
The Greater Swiss is one of four types of Sennenhund breeds developed in Switzerland as a herding, guard, and utilitarian draft dog.
The Greater Swiss is the AKC's 137th breed.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America formed in 1968 with the express purpose of obtaining AKC recognition.
The Greater Swiss breed was resuscitated in the early 1900's by famous dog expert, Dr. Albert Heim of Zurich.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was introduced in the United States when J. Frederick and Patricia Hoffman saw the breed at a show in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1967. The following year the Hoffmans, along with Perrin G. Rademacher, imported the first Swissy into this country.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a Draft and Drover breed and should structurally appear as such. It is a striking, tri-colored, large, powerful, confident dog of sturdy appearance. It is a heavy boned and well muscled dog which, in spite of its size and weight, is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin.

HEAD

Expression is animated and gentle. The eyes are almond shaped and brown, dark brown preferred, medium sized, neither deep set nor protruding. Blue eye or eyes is a disqualification. Eyelids are close fitting and eyerims are black. The ears are medium sized, set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip, and hang close to the head when in repose. When alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base. The top of the ear is level with the top of the skull.

BODY

Body is full with slight tuck up. The loins are broad and strong. The croup is long, broad and smoothly rounded to the tail insertion. The tail is thick from root to tip, tapering slightly at the tip, reaching to the hocks, and carried down in repose. When alert and in movement, the tail may be carried higher and slightly curved upwards, but should not curl, or tilt over the back. The bones of the tail should feel straight.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are long, sloping, strong and moderately laid back. They are flat and well-muscled. Forelegs are straight and strong. The pasterns slope very slightly, but are not weak. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. The dewclaws may or may not be present.

COAT

Topcoat is dense, approximately 1-1/4 to 2 inches in length. Undercoat must be present and may be thick and sometimes showing, almost always present at neck but may be present throughout. Color of undercoat ranges from the preferred dark gray to light gray to tawny. Total absence of undercoat is undesirable and should be penalized.

HINDQUARTERS

The thighs are broad, strong and muscular. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws should be removed.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK, WHITE & RED Check Mark For Standard Color 362
BLUE WHITE & TAN 260
RED & WHITE 146