Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs

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Breed Notes

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, as the name implies, originated in the Swiss Alps. He is the largest and oldest of the four breeds of dogs used by Alpine herdsmen and known as Sennenhund. Another of the Sennenhund is the Bernese Mountain Dog which The Greater Swiss Mountain dog closely resembles. The Swissie was bred to pull carts for butchers and farmers but as motorization replaced the need for him in that occupation, the breed almost became extinct. Swiss breeders revived the breed and he was accepted by the Swiss Registry accepted him in 1910. He was introduced into the United States in 1968 and accepted by the American Kennel Club in the Working Group in 1995.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is even-tempered, calm and steady. He is a willing worker and faithful companion. He has a definite sense of territory so makes an excellent guard dog. He is a fine family dog.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog's skull is flat and broad with a slight drop off (stop) to the muzzle. The muzzle is strong and straight with a scissors bite. The nose is black. The ears are of medium size, triangular shaped and set level to the top of the skull. They are carried close to the side of the head. The eyes are medium sized, dark brown with an animated and gentle expression. The neck is moderately long and muscular. The chest is deep and broad. The topline is level. The tail is straight and reaches to the hock. The legs are straight and strong. The coat is double with a thick undercoat and a short, shiny, weather resistant outer coat. Coat color is tri-color: jet black on the body and head; white in a blaze on the face and muzzle, as an inverted cross on the neck and chest, on the tip of the tail and on the feet; rust-brown between the white and black markings on the legs, each cheek, and above each eye. Average weight is 130 pounds. Average height is between 23 and 29 inches. of Pocono Mountain, PA writes:

A novice "parent" to Swissy.
When researching an appropriate breed to fit our family, we came across the GSMD (Swissy). The thing that we were most attracted to is temperament. We have a very active six-year-old child who loves dogs, and we wanted a family addition that is willing and able to keep up with her, while maintaining proper "manners." We believe we found this in the Swissy. However, with ANY breed, you must WORK to get the result you want. It is imperative that you train your Swissy well, and constantly. Our family chose the "reward" method &shyp; reward good behavior always, do not reward the bad behavior. We feel punishing a dog is inappropriate and only serves to break a dog's spirit, which Swissy's have a great deal of. Employ a behavior trainer, take your Swissy to Puppy-K (puppy kindergarten), socialize your Swissy, and most of all, be prepared to have a "Velcro" dog. Swissies NEED their people with them in order to be happy. If you work outside the home or are away from your dog for eight hours a day, a Swissy is not for you.
A Swissy chews, paws, throws his weight around, barks and sheds quite a bit more than the websites lead a person to believe. A Swissy is a giant breed, muscular, strong, and mouthy dog. Proper training in a loving manner is absolutely necessary. Swissies are very intelligent, strong-willed and very protective of their family members, home and extended home (such as the family car when out on trips).
To anyone thinking of owning a Swissy, PLEASE do your homework! We researched this breed for more than a year, attended dog shows, talked with several breeders and joined forums and discussion groups. The best way to learn about a dog is to hear from a variety of owners; not solely a breeder. Let's face it, this is their business and many (certainly not all) treat puppies as "products" to sell, focusing on the good traits. We chose a breeder who is interested in bettering the breed. We keep in close contact, keep her up-to-date on what our puppy is learning, doing, vet visits, interactions with other animals, training classes, etc. A good breeder will WANT to hear all about the good AND the bad, and offer assistance whenever possible.
We are very happy we have added a Swissy puppy to our family, and he is adjusting well. He loves to be exercised (by playing), take long walks, and most of all, loves our company. We can't imagine life without him. Happy researching! of Maryland writes:

I've raised Swissys and only Swissys for eighteen years now.
A long time ago, I was born into a family who had dogs before they had me, so I've been around dogs virtually my entire life. Many of these dogs were purebred and some, the great American Mutt. They ranged in size from the five-pound pocket puppy to a Saint Bernard. Of all the dog varieties, NONE have been so inspiring to me as the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. They are intelligent, loyal, totally trustworthy, loving, have few health problems and actually possess a sense of humor. I find Swissys to be "the ideal family dog" just like they were advertised when introduced into this country. of Virginia Beach, VA writes on 3/4/01:

A five star dog for a well informed, working dog-educated person!
I write my "swissy review" from the swissy owner point of view. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a "working" dog. This means they need, they must have, a job or task to do, in their life. They must be socialized from the very day the puppy buyer enters their life. This socialization must remain a constant in the swissy's life. They also require obedience training. The swissy will grow from 20 pounds at 8 weeks old to 100 pounds at one year old. This is not the dog to be
unruly! I mentioned "Constant". The swissy is a creature of habit! If you move your trash can, from its usual place, the swissy will "Barr-rro" (this is a description of the swissy bark) at the can until it goes back to the usual spot or the swissy adjusts to the new location. The swissy likes to be fed at the same times every day. The swissy expects its schedule to remain constant. The swissy expects to be
in your life, at your side. If you are looking for a dog that can live its life from the back yard and be happy to spend time with you, when you feel like spending time with the dog - DON'T GET A SWISSY! I would not suggest a swissy to a first time dog owner. The swissy can and will be a challenge. This is a breed that I suggest to be owned by people experienced with large...working breed dogs! If you are looking for a constant friend, large lap dog, hair shedding, "BarrrRRROO'ing", will herd you children or ducks or neighbors, strong as an ox and weighs more than many people... and you have time to excercise, obedience train, clean up after ... then you will love a swissy. Why do I have Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs? Because they love me, they are my friend, my guardian, my alarm clock, my door bell before people even reach my house, and (in case I haven't enough to do) my constant duty.... the AKC doesn't put them in the working group
for nothing! Swissies are work!

Name withheld by request of Avondale, PA writes on 3/4/01:

A misunderstood breed.
These are very active dogs, and need plenty of activity--they are not laid back like a St. Bernard,Great Dane, or Mastiff. No, they do not drool like a Mastiff or a Saint, but they make a huge mess when they drink. They all will walk away from the water dish with a mouthful of water, which will leave a trail across the floor. Many people pick them because unlike the Bernese, they have short hair. Yes, the hair is shorter, but they shed constantly year-round, and they 'blow-coat' twice a year. Many have a very guardy personality, and will alarm bark for everything--the mailman, the school bus, the garbage man, your husband, even if they have seen that same person jog by every morning for 2 years--they will bark each time he goes by. I have not heard of many families who have successfully owned swissys. Despite some breeders' attempts to project them as 'the perfect family dog,' this is nothing more than a marketing attempt. Due to their guardiness, protectiveness and chase instinct, it is difficult to raise them with children. If you have children, they must be very dog-smart, or this is not the dog for you. Most people I know who own them do not have kids, and I know several breeders who had dogs returned to them because the dog/child relationship just couldn't work out. They require alot of training, and are generally very high maintenance dogs. I have a friend with a mutt, and you can go over there and not even know that the dog is there. If you have a swissy, everyone will know they are there. Lotsa work, but I wouldn't have anything else. of Illinois writes on 10/8/01:

The real truth.
My husband and I have bred and exhibited Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs for 15 years.
We feel that there is a great deal of misinformation being spread on the internet and in general about the breed.
There ARE those who portray the breed as "The Ideal Family Dog" ... while others are trying to portray the breed as dominant..high powered...aggressive dogs with questionable temperaments that need to be knocked down at every turn. The real truth about the breed lies somewhere in between. GSMD pups require training and socialization ... as does any breed of dog. They are large, powerful puppies who remain mentally and physically immature for a long period of time. They are mouthy puppies and can be unruly. They can be barky when young .... and very stubborn.
I fear that the continued mislabeling of these dogs as dominant and aggressive when by and large the problems are those of the owners ... is going to lead to problems with breed bans being placed on this very great breed. They are supposed to be stable, confident, friendly dogs. They are supposed to bark when someone shows up at your home....but should never be aggressive.
You will get out of any dog...let alone a Swissy .... what you put into it. If you buy any dog and dump it in your backyard...never train or socialize it ....t hen soon you will have a 100 pound nightmare living in that matter what the breed. We have successfully placed MANY GSMD's with families with children ... and they do fine. Swissys are great, companionable trustworthy dogs ... if raised correctly by people who believe in responsible ownership.

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