All About the Breed Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Have you recently fallen for the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog? Learn all about the breed here, including: Breed History, Personality Traits, Train-ability, Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed, and Common Health Concerns.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a protective yet gentle breed. But how do you know whether you are ready to purchase a pet and if this breed is right for you? This information is absolutely necessary in making the decision to purchase a pet.


Developed in ancient Switzerland, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a descendent of the ancient Mastiff breeds, quite obvious by its size and protective nature. Enthusiasts believe that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was instrumental in later creating such breeds as the St. Bernard and the Rottweiler, though this has never been proven scientifically.

Due to its impressive size and strength, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has been used as both a herding and guard dog throughout its history. By the end of the 19th century, technological advances and the creation of other working dog breeds brought the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog down to frightening numbers. Famous for being a "dog expert" at the time, Dr. Albert Heim stepped in and located breed-able specimens. After years of hard work, Dr. Heim finally brought the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog back to stable numbers.

In 1910, the breed was recognized by the Swiss Kennel Club and began making its way through Europe and North America. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was formed in 1968 and the breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1995.

While the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is yet to become a household name, this breed has achieved world wide popularity within underground circles.

Personality Traits

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is best known for its alert and protective nature towards its owners and property. This breed thrives on strong human relationships and requires daily attention. These large dogs are loyal, sweet, affectionate, and often referred to as "gentle giants". The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is very active, strong, and loves to play.


Basic training and commands generally come easily to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, due to their need for human relationships and attention. These dogs are intelligent and alert, and require strong leadership.

As with any breed, establishing immediate dominance and trust is key to successfully training the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed

There are many benefits to owning a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, such as their low maintenance coat. This breed is protective and territorial, making an impressive guard dog. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog generally gets along well with all people, favoring children, and enjoys spending time with other pets, when properly socialized. These strong dogs are loyal, affectionate, and very sweet tempered, making an excellent family pet and companion alike. This breed is highly intelligent and typically responds quickly to training.

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to owning a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. These athletic dogs require large amounts of daily exercise and room to run and play. Anyone wishing to purchase this breed lacking the adequate amount of time and space to dedicate to the dog is strongly advised against doing so. A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog not receiving the proper amount of exercise will often act out by destroying property, chewing, barking, whining, and ignoring basic training such as housebreaking.

Due to their instinct to herd, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog will occasionally indulge in a good chase. Surprisingly, this large breed is rather fast and can be difficult to keep up with, posing a possible threat to other animals, neighborhood pets, and small woodland creatures. This breed must be leashed or properly secured at all times when outdoors.

As previously mentioned, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog remains somewhat rare outside of its native Switzerland and can prove difficult to obtain. Individuals seeking to purchase this breed will face such challenges as inability to locate a breeder, high prices, and being placed on long waiting lists.

Common Health Concerns

While the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is known as a healthy and hearty breed, they do face a few help problems, including: hip dysplasia, various joint problems such as arthritis, bloat, epilepsy, osteochondrosis - a degenerative bone disease, and eye problems such as cherry eye and infection.

Now that you know all about the breed, do you think you are ready to own a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog? Remember, purchasing a pet is a big decision and should be discussed thoroughly and seriously with your entire family.