Though relatively unknown outside their fan group, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog temperament is unmistakable and unmatched.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Temperament and Personality
Although the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog’s size is, as his name would suggest, quite large, people often refer to him as a “gentle giant.”
“Swissies” – as their devotees call them – are both alert and fun-loving. SwissiesWhat they aren’t, however, are pushovers.
They are confident to the point of acting stubborn sometimes. But, with a little training and persistence, you should be able to help him understand who the boss around here truly is (hint: it's not him!).
Always on the lookout, this breed is very observant and will instantly notice when something isn’t right. His loud bark may scare both friends and foes, but Swissies are not typically aggressive toward strangers.
Rounding out at over 100 pounds, and along with their intimidating bark, Swissies make for excellent watchdogs. However, their sweet nature prevents them from actually following through on their threats.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have incredible endurance and strength.
They tend to have a long puppyhoods. It is not uncommon for them to reach maturity at around four or five years old.
All the Small Things
Swiss puppies are mouthy, active, and rambunctious, so they aren’t ideal for families with small children. They're also not at all what you might consider a “nanny dog.” In other words, he won't be guarding the baby against fireworks on the Fourth of July – he's just not the type is all.
Thanks to their herding instincts and strong prey drive, they also may not do well around smaller animals or cats, but they are generally friendly with other dogs.
However, with a proper introduction, this breed should be able to live harmoniously with small animals or cats – especially if you raise them together.
Swissies can take their friendliness to the next level, doing exceptionally well as therapy dogs.
However, sometimes he doesn't realize his own size or strength. Yes, this is the kind of dog who will crush your lap because he wants to stand on you and show you affection. He loves to love you – even if that means shoving his massive face into your face for a lick!
With strangers, it all depends on the dog. Some Swissies have no problem with meeting new people, while others can act aloof or even aggressive. The more you socialize him while he's young, the better off you'll both be.
This breed sure is mouthy – and I don't mean bite-y. I mean, you have to stop him from mouthing on your hands – something he'll do well into adulthood, since he takes so long to mature.
He's also like a little kid in that he loves to explore the world around him with his mouth.
You name it, he's putting it into his mouth, whether it's pebbles or sticks. Don't let him eat every little thing he picks up, as some can make him sick and perhaps even require surgery to fish out!
A Brief History of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breed
Interestingly, the true origin of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog remains unknown. This is because Switzerland was, for the better part of three centuries, disconnected from world history.
There are many theories regarding the origin of the Swissies, with experts speculating that either the Romans or the Phoenicians created the dog we know today.
However, what we do know is that breeders designed Switzerland’s oldest dog breed to pull carts, herd cattle, and act as the protector of the house.
Training the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Since the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is, by nature, a pack leader, early training can make all the difference in helping him recognize that you are the leader of his pack.
Something crucial to note here is heeling. You must teach this dog how to heel because, if you don't, he can very easily pull you off your feet by the leash. Then, you're on your face in the street while he's off investigating.
Remember: patience is key when it comes to training a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
Start training your Greater Swiss Mountain puppy as soon as you bring him home, and you have a much greater chance at raising him into a manageable adolescent.
Do this and he will grow into a more manageable adult!
Because the Swissy tends to push back more once he becomes an adolescent, trust me, you'll be grateful you started training him early.
Swissies respond best to positive reinforcement training – think a lot of treats, praise, and rewards.
Okay, well, maybe not lots of treats – you don't need him gaining weight, and acquiring the health problems that come with excess weight. But be sure to heap on the praise – he'll appreciate that just as much.
Be sure to keep his training sessions fun and interesting to prevent boredom and burnout both for you and for him.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
For help with training your Greater Swiss Mountain dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Appearance
As I mentioned earlier, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is one large pup. Full-grown males are between 26 and 28 inches in height, while females are between 24 and 27 inches tall.
And these dogs aren't just tall – they're hefty, too! A healthy weight for a full-grown male is between 130 and 150 lbs., while a female averages between 110 and 130 lbs.
As far as colors go, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a tricolor mix of black, white, and red. So, you could say he's “black and white and red all over.”
How Do You Groom a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog?
This distinctly tri-colored breed is relatively easy to groom. Swissies have a dense outer coat with a thick undercoat.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog sheds minimally, with the exception of his twice-yearly “blow-outs”, meaning they shed their undercoats.
On a normal day, though, and thanks to their short coat, this breed only requires weekly brushings, and baths as needed.
Regular nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning will keep your Swissy in tip-top shape.
Staying Healthy: Be Aware of these Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Health Issues
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog lifespan is typically between 7 to 9 years.
Due to their large size, they are prone to
- Hip Dysplasia, and Elbow Dysplasia,
- Patellar Luxation(also known as “slipped stifles”),
- Gastric torsion (bloat),
- And OCD, or Osteochondrosis Disscans.
Keep in mind that not every Swissy will have or develop these conditions. If you are purchasing a pup from a breeder, make sure you receive all the necessary information and medical records prior to bringing that puppy home. You'll thank yourself later.
Helpful Dog Health Resource:
Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely dog from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.
This is because as long as they have room to run around and roam – such as in a large, secure backyard – they will be good to go. A daily walk around the city is just not going to cut it with this breed.
Taking your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog on weekly hikes will not only fulfill his exercise needs but it will encourage him to bond with you, too.
These dogs thrive in colder climates, thanks to their heritage. If, however, you live in a warmer climate, you must take the proper precautions to ensure your pup does not overheat, as he is prone to developing heatstroke.
Top Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Mixes
If a mixed breed is what you're after, then you won't be disappointed here. There are several Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mixed breeds for you to choose from. Here are a couple for you to consider:
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dane (Great Dane mix – now that's a big dog!)
- Greater Swiss Rottweiler (Rottweiler mix)
- Swissy Saint (Saint Bernard mix)
- Pembroke Corswiss (Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix)
- Swiss Mountain Basset (Basset Hound mix)
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog vs Bernese Mountain Dog
You would be hard pressed to tell a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from a Bernese Mountain Dog. The two look so much alike, right down to their tricolor coats!
But there are definitely some differences between the two that can help you decide which one you're leaning more towards adding to your family.
Let's focus on temperament because, after all, that is one of, if not the most important, aspect of owning a dog. Both of these breeds are incredibly devoted to their families and are very loving dogs.
The Swissy is “scarier” in that he is larger, has a loud bark, and is slightly more serious, though never aggressive. He also takes a long time to grow out of his puppy phase, which can prove more of a challenge when this big dog is lumbering about and climbing on the furniture, thinking he's still a puppy.
The Bernese, on the other hand, is more of a teddy bear of a dog. He's shy, more relaxed, and he's impressively aware of how to handle his large statute, especially around young children. The Bernese is more of a “gentle giant” than the Swissy is, but they both excel as family companions.
Finding the Perfect Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Puppy
Do you think you’re ready to add a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog to your family?
First, you must figure out how you are going to do this. Purchasing a puppy from a breeder is one option. Or, you can adopt a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from a breed-specific rescue or even your local animal shelter!
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescues and Adoption
If you are thinking about adopting a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, you can either go through a breed-specific rescue that only has Swissies, or you can search non-breed-specific rescues or shelters for Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.
A dedicated rescue group is the GSMDRF or Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue Foundation.
In addition to dedicated GSMD rescues, Petfinder.com and Adoptapet.com have the option to search for this breed based on location and age.
Make sure to contact your local rescue to ask if they have any Swissies or Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mixes. And don't get discouraged if they don't! Simply ask to put your name on a list so that when one does come in, you'll be the first to know!
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breeders & Puppies for Sale
If you are not interested in rescuing one of these pups, you can find Greater Swiss Mountain Dog puppies for sale through a qualified breeder.
Ask questions about the dog's living conditions, as well as how often the breeder handles the puppies and whether you can meet the pup's parents.
You should also ask for a copy of the pup's health records to make sure the breeder has had him screened for any potential health concerns.
When it comes to price, Swissies can cost between $1,500 to $2,300, depending on the location, breeder, and availability.
A Final Word About the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
I think you will agree that it is hard not to fall in love with the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog temperament. This sweet-natured, fun-loving dog is loyal to his family and an all-around sociable breed.
Despite his larger size and loud bark, he is a gentle giant who may seem like a good watchdog – but he is often too friendly to do anything about it!
Start training him early, and you’ll end up sharing your home with a well-behaved, calm companion.
Due to his striking tri-color coat and unique features, be prepared to answer, “What kind of dog is that?” from fellow dog lovers. And be prepared to be the center of attention: a walk with a Swissy is bound to turn heads!