The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, a member of the American Kennel Club’s Work Group, is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. These are one of the most hardworking dogs you can come across. In historic Switzerland, and even in current times, they have been known as “the poor man’s horse”. This dog can do anything, and for a farmer in Switzerland, that attribute is priceless.
These dogs will guard and protect territory, sheep and other livestock. They are also excellent at drafting, pulling wagons and carts for their owners. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhunds, are just a great multipurpose breed to have on the farm to help with routine chores.
But how does this translate as pets in our homes? Many of their traits can easily be observed even when the dog is more of a pet than a hired hand. The Swissy is a gentle natured dog who is extremely loyal to his family which he will protect to his fullest capabilities. Even when the slightest thing is out of the ordinary, these dogs are sure to let their owners know about it. There was once a Swissy who stood barking and howling in his yard simply because the outside trash can had been moved a couple of feet to the left. Another example is the dog who warned his owners that broom had slid down and was laying on the floor rather than hanging on its hook. As many Swiss Mountain Dog owners will tell you, this is typical of these dogs. Nothing goes unnoticed.
Its sweet nature towards children and desire to win your praise makes this dog a wonderful family pet and friend. These dogs aim to please and they do a great job of it. Every dog needs training when young and these are no exception to that rule. As this is an extremely intelligent breed, puppy socialization and dog obedience training will only benefit him.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are the largest of the four Swiss Sennehund breeds which also includes the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzellar Mountain Dog, and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. These guys weigh in between 100-140 pounds for males and 80 – 115 for females. Males stand at approximately 25-29 inches at the withers while females stay at around 23 – 27 inches. Don’t let their size fool you, though, and don’t be surprised when this beast jumps into your lap to watch the evening movie with you.
As with any breed of dog, there are health concerns. The Swissy is predisposed to hip displaysia, as are most large breed dogs. The most common health concerns with this breed include gastric dilitation-volvulus (GDV or bloat), cancers and epilepsy. While some things cannot be detected ahead of time, it is best to purchase a puppy from a breeder whose dogs have had hips, eyes, and elbows certified and who can show a long line of healthy dogs. Preventative measures can be taken to keep from having to go through bloat and routine monitoring of blood tests can be done to detect any problems internally before situations get too bad to treat. There are always concerns with just about every breed of dog when it comes to their health status which makes it necessary to do your homework and take some time in finding the one that is right for you.
Whether your dog will be pulling a cart of cattle feed, apples, or children or whether he is guarding the sheep, backyard or sofa this dog has a simple goal in life and that is to please his family through hard work, loyalty and a loving nature. Because of his intense desire to satisfy his owner, this isn’t a breed that does well when left as an outside dog to live on his own. He craves human attention and is happiest when he has his family in his sights and knows they are safe. He’s a protector by nature and a loving family member with a strong working dog soul.