Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a faithful and friendly dog breed, with an interesting lineage. It is a perfect choice for dog lovers to take home as a pet. Let us now understand a few interesting facts about them...
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest and strongest of the four regional Sennenhunds (Berner Sennenhund, Appenzeller Sennenhund, and Entlebucher Sennenhund being the other three) found in the Swiss Alps. It is also known as Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, large Swiss Mountain Dog, great Swiss cattle dog, or Bouvier Suisse, in various European languages. It is a hefty animal, with males weighing 60-70 kg and the females weighing 50-60 kg.

Physical Characteristics
  • The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is endowed with a double coat that comprises of three colors: black, white, and rust.
  • Black is the dominant color, seen mostly on the ears, nose, tail, back, and a major part of its legs.
  • White appears around the nose, feet, chest, the tip of the tail, and the area between its eyes. Its cheeks and the areas above its eyes are rusty in color.
  • Its ears are triangular, and the undercoat is thick and gray.
These characteristics are typical to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Origin and History

The origin of these dogs is not clear. These dogs lived in the farms and villages of the Swiss Alps a thousand years ago. It is believed that they are a mixed breed of the strong and sturdy Mastiffs, brought by the Romans in the 1st century BCE, and the local dogs in the Swiss Alps. A few people also believe that Phoenicians brought them to Switzerland in 1100 B.C. Due to their strong and sturdy body, they were well-known as butcher dogs, herding dogs, and guard dogs.

The St. Bernard and the Rottweiler dog breeds are similar to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. However, due to the increasing popularity of the St. Bernard, the latter was believed to be extinct. Its popularity was revived by Dr. Albert Heim, a famous dog expert from Zurich, whose efforts bore successful results, and people started adopting this breed. It was acknowledged for the first time by the Swiss Kennel Club in 1910. It was brought to America in 1967. Though they are a recognized breed, these dogs are considered rare. They are no longer known as working dogs, but are used as guard dogs, sled dogs, police dogs, and rescue dogs.

Temperament

These dogs are known for their warm and caring nature. They have a calm expression on their face, and are perfect watchdogs. They are extremely protective and loyal towards their owners. If socialized in their early years, they can turn out to be excellent family dogs. They can be particularly affable towards babies and sensible young children.

Training and Grooming

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog matures very slowly and may take almost 2-3 years to attain full maturity. Training for The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog should start at a very young age, as it tends to be dominating by nature. Due to this, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog may not be an appropriate pet for a first-time dog owner. It is important that these dogs be trained by experienced trainers.

As these dogs have always been used for laborious tasks like cart-pulling and agricultural activities, it's necessary to keep them engaged. They should be taken for a walk once a day, and their fur coat should be brushed regularly.

Health Problems

The average life expectancy of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is 10-12 years. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is prone to various ailments. One of them is hip dysplasia, which is very common in large animals, and is equivalent to human arthritis. This breed is highly susceptible to epilepsy and other diseases like distichiasis (ailment of the eye) and gastric torsion.

People who own the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog claim that it is an intelligent and lovable dog. This dog feels most comfortable in a family setting, where it can always stay close to its owner.