Greater Swiss Mountain Dog: Origins and Characteristics

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog: Origins, Characteristics, Personality

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a dog breed developed for work. His history includes pulling carts, herding cattle, and being a guard dog. Today, he enjoys family time as a pet.  This big one is great at sports, agility, and weight pulling.


The true origin of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is unknown, but there are several theories. The most accepted one states that he is descended from these large Mastiff-like dogs brought by the Roman Legions when they invaded the Alps.

Built to work on the farm, they were once Switzerland’s most popular breed. Their numbers dwindled by the 1900s, partly due to the introduction of other dogs to do his job and the introduction of machinery. His popularity has been growing slowly but steadily since Alber Heim, a canine researcher found two dogs at a Swiss Kennel Club jubilee in 1908.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1995 and placed it in the working group.

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Physical Characteristics

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has an incredible strength and pretty heavy boned. Despite this, he is surprisingly agile and capable of performing the hard works of the Swiss mountains, where he is originally from. They have a double coat, dense, and short.

The coat color pattern consists of a black on the back, ears, tails, and legs in the majority.  A thumbprint above the eyes is standard, with rust on the legs and cheeks.


This massive dog is gentle, loving, and alert. They are dignified and confident dogs that can be stubborn at times. If he sees any stranger approaching, he will bark loudly, making him a great watchdog.

He is alert and always on the look for something out of the ordinary.

Caring for a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, working dog and is not suited for apartment life or condo. Ideally, he should be placed in a large and strong fence.

He needs a moderate amount of exercise. A short and brisk daily walk should be enough. Remember that these dogs are better suited for the cold weather and love to romp in the snow. During hot spells or in hot weather, keep him cool with a fan or air conditioning.  Limit the walks to early in the morning or late in the evening.

The puppies grow fast and big. This means that they are prone to suffering bone disorder and injury. Socialize them properly so that they can handle themselves among people.


This dog needs a confident but gentle leader. He is stubborn and with a mind of his own.  It might take some time to train him but with enough effort and perseverance, you will see results.

Fun Facts

  • The breed is one of the four Sennenhund breeds that were developed in Switzerland.
  • He is good with kids but being a large dog, he can accidentally knock down a child.

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