This easygoing, gentle giant was bred to guard and herd livestock. Although he won’t reach maturity until he’s four or five years old, the confident Swissy is a born watchdog.
Switzerland has four varieties of farm dogs, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (often nicknamed the Swissy), is the largest. On the farm, his jobs included guarding and herding livestock and pulling carts loaded with milk and cheeses. This is a giant breed, with males weighing in at 105 to 140 pounds and females at 85 to 110 pounds.
These days, the Greater Swiss is primarily a family companion or show dog, beloved for his gentle, easygoing temperament. He has many good qualities, including an alert nature that makes him an excellent watchdog. But, like any breed, he’s not right for everyone. If you want a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, be prepared to do a lot of homework to find him and to put in plenty of effort training and socializing once you bring him home.
Like any dog, Swissy puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size can potentially do more damage than puppies of other breeds. They are prone to ingesting items such as socks and dish towels, resulting in veterinary visits or even surgery for intestinal blockages.
The Swissy has moderate exercise needs and is adaptable to his family’s lifestyle. In general, plan to give him a long walk daily or several short walks throughout the day, avoiding strenuous exercise when it’s hot outside. He’s a great hiking companion and can excel in activities such as agility, drafting (pulling a cart or wagon), herding, obedience, rally or tracking. Greater Swiss also make excellent therapy dogs, with a gentle, mellow temperament.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have a short, easy care coat. Weekly brushing — more often during shedding season — will help to keep loose hair under control. Clean the ears and trim the nails as needed, and bathe the Swissy when he’s dirty to keep his tricolor coat gleaming
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs love people and will pine without human companionship. They should have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home the Swissy should be with them. It’s also important to remember that the Swissy does not tolerate heat well, so during hot weather he needs to stay in a cool, shady place with ready access to fresh water.
Other Quick Facts
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was an all-around farm companion who drove livestock to pasture, pulled milk carts to the dairy, and acted as a watchdog. They usually hauled the heavy cans of milk in pairs, so it was common to see two of them hooked up to a cart.
The Swissy is a large dog with a tricolor coat, a gentle expression, dark-brown eyes, triangular-shaped drop ears, and a long tail.