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Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Swissy, Great Swiss Cattle Dog

Family: Canidae Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, also called Great Swiss Cattle Dog and SwissyCanis lupus familiarisPhoto Wiki Commons. Licensed under Public Domain
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The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a very large mountain dog breed, yet it is also very gentle!

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a working breed. This large mountain dog is best suited to cool climates, which is no surprise due to where it originated. The term Sennenhund aptly describes this Swiss mountain dog, meaning 'dog of the Alpine pastures'.

It was originally used as a draft dog and then to move and guard cattle. Thus another common name for this breed is the Great Swiss Cattle Dog. It has a talent for tracking and some are trained as mountain rescue dogs, It is the largest, and probably the oldest, of four Sennenhund breeds from Switzerland. It was usurped in popularity with the rise of the Saint Bernard, but through dedicated efforts to preserve it, it has been making a comeback.

Although the size of Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is imposing, it is actually quite gentle and will get along with just about anyone. Many breeders and keepers affectionately call it a 'Swissy'. This loyal breed is protective of its beloved family, but rarely shows even the remotest sign of aggression.This is a great pet with children but may need some good socialization as a puppy, or may tend to chase other pets. It will also sound an alert when strangers approach, making it a suitable guard dog.

When selecting a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, check bloodlines for hip dysplasia, epilepsy and digestive problems. Distichiasis is also common in the breed. This is an eye disorder that causes the growth of extra eyelashes that may be in a position to scratch the eyes. Treatment may not be necessary, but if it is, surgery can correct the problem.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: lupus familiaris

Common Name(s) Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, (in German its Grosser Schwiezer Sennenhund, in French its Grand Bouvier Suisse), Great Swiss Cattle Dog, and Swissy

Breed Type The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a working breed. This large breed has served many purposes over the years. It is best suited to cooler climates.

Background The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is one of four Sennenhund breeds from Switzerland. It is believed to be descended from the Roman Mastiff, one of the oldest dog breeds. Some believe that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a part of the Saint Bernard's lineage, and it seems no coincidence that the breed nearly became extinct during the rise in the Saint Bernard's popularity. But Dr. Albert Heim helped rekindle interest in the breed in the early 1900s, and although still rare, it has made somewhat of a comeback.

Description Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are large, muscular animals. Their heads are large with slight stops and flat skulls, which are about the same length as the muzzle. Eyes are hazel or chestnut, the nose and lips are black, and the ears are medium-sized and triangular. The double coat is mostly black with rust markings over the eyes, on the cheeks, and on both sides of the chest, and white markings on the muzzle, chest and tip of the tail. White may also be present in the neck area. This breed measures 23 ½ to 28 ½ inches tall and weighs 130 to 135 pounds.

Care and Feeding The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog does best on a diet that includes poultry, lamb, wheat, oats and corn. Although it needs a substantial amount of food, it should be fed smaller meals two or three times a day to prevent bloat. Grooming this Swiss Mountain Dog is easy. All that is required is regular brushing.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs need yearly checkups to maintain good health. Vaccinations are due on the following schedule:

  • 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus (DHLPPC)
  • 10-12 weeks: Second DHLPPC
  • 14-16 weeks: Third DHLPPC and rabies
  • Annually: DHLPPC and rabies booster

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog sheds moderately. Regular vacuuming is important if kept indoors.

Housing Your Dog This large mountain dog isn't terribly active indoors and may be kept in smaller spaces as long as it has room to run outdoors. This dog is best suited to cool climates.

Social Behaviors This breed is able to get along with just about anyone. It does very well with children, and although reserved around strangers, it will accept and get along with them if the rest of the family does. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs get along well with other pets, but they may chase them if not taught that it is unacceptable.

Handling and Training Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can be rather strong-willed, but they are eager to please. With firmness and consistency, training can be successful.

Activities The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog doesn't need a great deal of strenuous exercise. A long walk each day is important, but a lot of running is not necessary. This large mountain dog often prefers strength exercises such as carting or sledding to traditional forms of exercise.

Breeding/Reproduction When selecting a mate for your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, check bloodlines for hip dysplasia, epilepsy and digestive problems.

Common Health Problems Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are prone to bloat. It is important to have your vet's emergency number on hand and know the signs of this potentially deadly health problem.

Availability The rare Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is not easy to find in many areas. When they are available, prices are quite often over $1,000.


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