The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, also known as the Swissy, is a sweet and gentle dog that loves to please its owner. They are smart and can sometimes be stubborn, but their loyal personality will make up for it. They are calm around children, pets and strangers that are welcomed into your home, but will make good watchdogs as they are very alert. They originate from Switzerland where they date back almost 2000 years, making them one of Switzerland’s oldest breeds. They were originally bred as herding, guarding and draft dogs, but today they are very versatile and excel in competitive obedience, carting, tracking and guarding.
These stunning canines are thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds of Switzerland, having been discovered around 2000 years ago. Although the history of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is not known for sure and has more than a few theories as to how they came to be, the most popular one is that they descended from large dogs that were similar to the Mastiff. It is assumed that Roman Legions brought these dogs to the Alps. These dogs, like their ancestors, were used for herding, guarding and as draft dogs. At one point they were one of the most popular choices for farm dogs in Switzerland, but their numbers slowly began to decrease in the 1900s when their jobs got replaced by other dog breeds or machinery. Albert Heim, who was a canine researcher, found two dogs of this breed in a Swiss Kennel Club jubilee. At first he described these dogs as a short-haired version of the Bernese Mountain Dog, but then worked to get them recognized as their own breed. He succeeded in 1990 when the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog got listed in the Swiss Stud book of the Swiss Kennel Club. These dogs have then grown in numbers and in popularity slowly but always at a constant rate. They were first brought to the United States in 1968, which soon led to the foundation of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America. Today their talents include guarding, tracking, being watchdogs, competitive obedience and carting.
The outer coat of these dogs is about one or two inches thick and very dense, and the undercoat is also thick. The fur is short and tri-colored, with a black base and rust markings on the chest and cheeks as well as over the eyes, and white colored markings on the chest, muzzle and possibly on the neck. They are sturdy and muscular, with flat and broad skulls that have a slight stop. Their muzzle is about the same length as the back skull. Their teeth meet in a scissor bite, with a black nose and lips. The color of the eyes will vary from chestnut to hazel, but are always almond shaped and medium in size. The ears are also medium in size but are triangularly shaped with slightly rounded tips and they lie close to the head. The topline of these dogs is level and the front legs will be straight. These dogs have round paws that are compact, and broad chests. Their tails will be thicker at the base than at the tip where it ends in a point, and it will reach down to the hocks.
Because these dogs are large and are working dogs, they will do best in houses with large fenced in yards that allow them to roam freely as opposed to small apartments or condos. These dogs do best in cold climates and will love to play in the snow, but do not do so well in hot weather and can be prone to heatstroke. Because of this, you must be careful when exercising your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog in the heat. Make sure that they always have access to water and shade, and limit their exercise to the early mornings and evenings when it is not as hot. Since they are such big dogs, you have to keep them from jumping and running on hard surfaces until about the age of two when their bones will be done growing. Every dog is different, but some people say that their Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs take some time to get the hang of housetraining. However, with consistent effort, your dog will understand it eventually. These dogs should get 4 to 5 cups of food a day, divided into two meals. They have minimal shedding with the exception of twice a year when they will shed the undercoat all at once. Grooming is simple and only required once or twice a week as they are relatively clean dogs. They should be bathed every month or so, more often if needed. Brushing their teeth should also be done once or twice a week, but every day is best. The nails should be trimmed once or twice a month, or less often if they get worn down naturally.