Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart. – Judy Desmond
As their name suggests, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund) is a native of Switzerland, believed to be descended from Mastiffs brought to the region by the Romans. The “Swissy” was originally a general farm dog, used for herding, pulling carts, droving, and guarding. Over time, as machines took over their work their numbers declined. By the late 19th century many believed the breed had died out. Fortunately, the early 20th century saw their revival and and recognition as a separate breed. They began to make a slow but steady comeback.
“Sennenhund” is derived from “Senn” or “Senner”, which refers to dairymen and herders in the Swiss Alps.
Photos displayed courtesy of Leeanna Ingram, Tamarack, Alberta
This is a large tri-colour breed, standing up to 28 inches (72 cm) tall at the shoulder. The Swissy has a dense double coat of medium length in black, white, and reddish brown. This coat will blow twice a year, so shedding may be an issue! As you might expect of a dog bred for drafting, droving, and working around the farm, the Swissy is a sturdy, well-built and well muscled dog.
The Swissy does very well with tracking, carting, and agility as he is a working dog who likes to keep busy. He excels in obedience and conformation competitions, and shines in drafting, weight pulling, herding, pack hiking, and versatility. The Swissy has also served as a therapy dog and search and rescue dog.
His imposing size and loud, deep bark make him a good watch dog, although he make look more intimidating that he really is!
He needs space (so not an apartment-dweller!) and moderate exercise to remain happy and balanced. He requires a strong, self-confident owner.
Although the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is eager to please and known to be devoted to his family, he is large, powerful, alert and fearless. He should be introduced to obedience training from an early age, before he is too large and heavy for you to handle!
As a dog with guarding instincts, he should be well socialized from an early age to children and other dogs or cats as well as multiple different social situations. Some Swissys display a tendency to chase small animals. This early training will produce a good natured, self-confident dog who is a pleasure to be around. This is the dog to pull your children in a cart!
Like some other large breeds, he will take longer than other breeds to mature, displaying some puppy-like behaviour for two to three years.
This dog can overheat easily, perhaps because of his northern origins. Keep an eye out when the weather is hot and exercise him during the cooler hours of the day.