Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Becky Roberts

Quick Summary: The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, often referred to as the Swissy, is a classic favorite in Switzerland. The American Kennel Club did not officially recognize the breed until 1995, but they’re now consistently in the top 70 to 80 percent of the most popular breeds of dogs across America. They’re powerful dogs and require an experienced owner. They are a fantastic breed that can bring joy to all family members if properly trained. The Swissy is a healthy dog breed; however, it has a shorter life span than other dogs. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure they’re healthy so they’ll be with you for a long time. Maintaining their fitness with regular exercises and keeping current with medical exams are among the most effective methods of ensuring this.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is becoming a more popular dog across the country for a variety and many reasons! In this article, we’ll guide you through a Swissy dog walk. From his background to how it affects his character, to the grooming regimen he follows to his food requirements, we go over everything and more.

He’s a gorgeous dog and is as sweet as can be! However, the truth is that he isn’t the ideal pet for everyone. He’s not the ideal choice for people living in small spaces or people looking to get their first pet. However, if you’re looking for an enormous dog that’s a great family pet and a lively dog companion, he is right up on the list of top dog selections. Let’s begin with our Swissy tour guide to assist you in determining if he’s the right dog for you.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Breed History and Background

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog dates back to the Roman period, and it has been believed his predecessors were Julias Caesar’s army dogs. They were selected due to their size and defense-minded nature These traits are still present in the Swissy at the present day. It is believed that this is why they are referred to as the “greatest” among the 4 Swiss breeds of dogs since it is the first Swiss breed. If you’re interested about the other three breeds, they include three: the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Appenzeller Sennenhund, as well as the Entlebucher Mountain Dog.

In contrast to other Swiss breeds, the Swissy isn’t restricted to a specific region within Switzerland. In reality, he can be located throughout Switzerland and the surrounding European countries. Particularly on farms that are used to transporting heavy-weighted carts filled with meat, dairy and other products. The industrial revolution almost saw the end of farm dogs because they were no longer required.

Fortunately, a renowned dog expert from the early 1900s, the late Mr. Albert Heim, helped save his beloved Swiss breeds from becoming extinct. He advocated to get an organization called the Great Swiss Mountain Dog Breed Club to be created and also for them to be recognized as an individual breed of their own. In 1967, an American couple called Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman fell in love with the breed at an event for dogs in Frankfurt. The following year they brought their very first Swissy home to America.

The breed was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until the year 1995. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs now consistently are in the range of 70 to 80 percent most popular breeds of dogs across America. The breed is often misinterpreted as that of the Bernese Mountain Dog. The breed also played an important role in the creation of St Bernard (who is not an original Swiss breed, contrary to popular belief) as well as the Rottweiler.

Temperament and Personality Traits

Swissies are friendly dogs that are balanced and lovable in their nature. He’s a truly gentle giant. Those who choose to keep him as their pet frequently say they will never again have another breed!

The Swissy is a lover of people and seeks the company of his family. He’s also friendly to strangers so long as they can give him positive vibes from them. If he feels his family members are in danger, he’ll be on guard to protect them.

He’s always on guard, and this, along with his sacrosanct nature, is what makes him a great guard dog. He is brave and can bark at anyone who is intruding and let you know there’s someone in the area. His large size and loud bark mean that few individuals would be able to intrude on your property with malicious intentions. He is, in fact, closely related to Caesar’s selected battle breed. The fact that he is protective makes him different from other Swiss breeds. This is the reason the breed requires a seasoned pet owner. The dog breed is a natural in a home environment, with a strong person to look up to.

He isn’t cuddly or demanding, which is among his main attraction. In contrast to other dogs that constantly trip over you, he is content to lie on his back while you watch TV at night or just sit in the corner, watching your cooking at the table. This also means the boy is more independent than the majority and would be happy at home (alone) for a couple of hours. If he’s feeling up to it, he’ll be happy to climb on the couch with you for cuddles. All that weight is a great dog warm water bottle.

The dog is an extremely serious dog who takes his role as guardian of the family seriously. However, he is a fun dog due to his enthusiasm and passion for being with his human. He is also well-known for making the most of his puppyhood, usually not growing until around 3 years of age. He requires plenty of stimulation, which is ideal for those who are looking for an animal friend who will be a joy in their lives. He is aware of kids and is a big dog. However, he must be watched when playing with children in case of an accident bump.

Size and Appearance

Swissies are huge to gigantic-sized dogs that weigh in at 140 pounds. The tiniest breeds weigh 85 pounds, which isn’t lightweight by any means! They range from 23 1/2 to 28,5 inches in height, from shoulder to paw. Generally, females weigh on the lower side of the scales than males. However, it’s not always the case, so don’t be too sure! It is believed that the Swissy is the biggest among the 4 Swiss breeds.

The Swissy breed is described as a strong dog with a robust appearance. Always well-behaved and confident in his stride. He’s a little longer than taller and more strong. He has a bigger head and a wide muzzle. Their eyes are almond-shaped medium and are always dark brown.

If you’re looking to showcase your Swissy dog, he’ll have to align with his breed’s standard. In contrast to other breeds of giant dogs, their dewlaps are quite compact. This means that there isn’t any doggy drool. Hurray!

Coat and Colors

The Swissy is a stunning canine, however, not just for his size. The three-colored coat is a common feature of all Swiss breeds. It is white, black, and red. The topcoat is black, as are his marks, which range from rich white and rust-colored. The coats are usually uniform and have an elongated white blaze that runs up to the top of his head. The most common thing is an eagle-like white cross on his chest that is the same as the white cross that is on the Swiss flag.

Certain Swissies are either charcoal or blue or red and white, and others are just white and red. However, these dogs are not allowed in the show arena. However, their color does not affect their character, and they are equally amazing.

Their coat is thin and shiny. It is his coat that makes him stand apart from other Bernese Mountain dogs. The top coat of the Swissy is about 2 inches long, and it is dense and thick. The outer coat shields your undercoat against the weather. The undercoat is also smaller and softer.

Nutrition and Food Requirements

The larger Swiss Mountain Dogs will consume between four to five cups of premium kibble each day. Be aware of the issues with gastric torsion the food should be divided into at least two distinct meals.

The amount you feed the dog is different for each dog and will be based on various variables. The factors that determine this include age, size, energy levels, and general appetite. It is important to note that the Swissy is a large dog that needs to be kept in shape as being overweight puts excessive stress on his joints and heart system.

The food you choose for him must be specifically designed for giant or large breed dogs. Large breed food is formulated to maximize calcium and phosphorus levels, as well as fats and vitamin D, that regulate the rapid bone growth. 

Feeding your Swissy big breed with kibbles, particularly during the puppyhood period, is essential to battling skeletal disorders like joint dysplasia. Good quality kibbles can also offer an adequate diet that keeps your puppy as healthy as possible.

Large dogs also require food that contains the proper quantity of healthy omega fats and glucosamine. Omega-fatty acids constitute among the main elements in your Swissy diet. They are also beneficial for an ideal coat, cognition as well as organ functions, joint support, and overall health for just some of the benefits. These nutrients are present in meat dishes as well as flaxseed, fish and fish oils, as well as plant oils, and other supplements. Make sure you look out for the ingredients listed above.

Grooming Requirements

The breed has a relatively easy grooming routine, but it doesn’t mean that his coat is completely free to roam. It will require regular brushing all through the year, and due to the size of his breed, it should take about 20 minutes or less. Use a bristle brush or a slicker brush to get the most effective results.

In the shed season, he’ll require daily brushing to control the shed. He’ll blow his coat, and you’ll have to stay up with it and anticipate a tri-colored snowstorm. A top-quality de-shedding tool is your ideal tool! The best times to shed are the fall and spring.

The Swissy needs to bathe every six-to-8 weeks. His thick coat can benefit from a concentrated shampoo to give a thorough cleaning. Make sure to use a shampoo specifically designed for dogs. Also, choose an organic dog shampoo that is gentle on the skin. Do not wash him more than once each six-week period. If you do, you’ll harm his pH levels and natural oils for coats.

The Swissy will require his nails trimmed every two weeks, or more or as often as you can hear them tapping across the flooring. His teeth will require cleaning at least once a week using doggy toothpaste. It will help keep his breath clean (as fresh as a doggy breath get!) and help prevent periodontal disease. The ears of a dog can require regular cleaning every week using an ear cleaner or warm water if they seem dry inside.

Living Space Conditions

It is said that the Swissy is a huge-sized dog that requires a huge house to reside in. For city dwellers living in small apartments, this is not enough for this breed. As an outdoor-loving dog, he prefers an area to run around and relax.

As a Swiss dog, he prefers cooler climates. However, his shorter coat suggests that he can live happily in warmer climates.

Their well-balanced and friendly temperament makes him a great pet for the family. The size of his breed might not be ideal for families with children due to the possibility of bumps that aren’t intended and tail swings. However, many families have found that when they supervise, everyone is well.

He’s also well-suited to families with multiple pets and enjoys being around other pets, including cats. Beware, he can keep birds and cats that are not family members away from your backyard. Therefore, you must secure it by fencing to protect everyone!

Exercise Requirements

This breed is a very hard-working dog with a decent quantity of energy. He requires about an hour of exercise each day to stay healthy and content. It doesn’t have to be intense, and it’s unlikely he’ll be the ideal jogging companion (if that’s what you’re seeking). Instead, he prefers walks that are long and steady as well as exploring the nearby forest or park.

If he doesn’t get enough exercise, you’ll soon observe that he’s an anxious and unfocused dog. When you combine the two with their size and sometimes domineering nature, it’s an ideal recipe for catastrophe.

If you’re looking to live a life of happiness with your Swissy family member, you must be able to ensure that he gets this amount of regular exercise every day without fail. If you aren’t able to, then he’s not the breed for you. Also, to keep your dog entertained all day, make sure you purchase a variety of dog toys that are suitable for active and individual play.

He’s an independent but smart dog. This means that you’ll have to vary your activities during each week to keep him engaged. However, you must also be in charge, or your dog will wander off to play as he likes. One great method to keep him entertained and happy is to bring him to the nearby dog park to meet new people. You’ll be amazed, and you can just sit in your chair relaxed and just enjoy watching him play.

Method of Training

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are intelligent dogs that can be trained. However, (and it’s a huge but!) he’s also very self-sufficient, which can occasionally make teaching difficult. Additionally, you must be able to manage a stubborn dog. You must be the boss and not allow him to get away by causing trouble.

The most important thing is to start your training early to get the most effective outcomes. Everyone in the family must be involved in the program, and you must adhere to the rules and boundaries. The socialization process starting early is the most crucial element of any dog’s education.

An experienced breeder should expose the puppy to various dogs, people, and even sounds. It is your responsibility to keep this learning going. It will not only build his confidence, but it will also make sure that he develops into an obedient dog that’s not too guarded.

It is believed that the positive reinforcement method of training is the most effective. The dog will be receptive to tasty treats or favorite toys, so make sure to have a few in your possession to make the most of him. The size of his body and his power will make it necessary to train him on leashes at a young age. If he can pull a wagon full of cheese easily, he’ll be capable of pulling you over without difficulty.

Health Issues

It is said that the Swissy is an extremely healthy breed of dog. However, as with all large dogs, the Swissy has a shorter life span than other breeds of dogs. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that he’s as healthy as you can to ensure that he’s with you to the maximum extent possible. Maintaining his fitness with regular exercises and keeping current with medical exams are among the most effective methods to ensure that he is fit and healthy. Also, feed him the highest quality food which you can afford.

The Swissy, as with all purebreds, are susceptible to a particular range of health issues more than other breeds. Below are the most frequent ailments that befall those of the Swissy breed, however it’s important to remember that this list isn’t comprehensive.

Eye Conditions

The Swissy is susceptible to a variety of eye problems as well. The most frequent eye problems include progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts caused by age. Distichiasis is another common condition which is when eyelashes develop on the eyelid’s inner surface and cause irritation to the eye. Also, entropion is the rolling inward of the lid. Eye problems of all kinds can be painful and eventually cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Hip, Elbow, and Shoulder Dysplasia

Joint dysplasia is a typical problem in giant and large breeds. The Swissy is among one breed that is susceptible to shoulder dysplasia. Joint dysplasia occurs when the joint isn’t formed correctly and develops differently. It is usually caused by the rapid growth phase puppies experience. The uneven growth leads to increased wear and tear and can eventually lead to mobility issues. Signs of stiff joints and limbs include the inability to stand in a straight line, climb stairs, or general exercise inability are all common when joint dysplasia is present.

Gastric Torsion

It is a very common problem in giant and large dogs. It happens when the stomach is twisted and causes death by shock. It’s a life-threatening issue that requires immediate medical attention. Do not feed your Swissy before or after exercising, as this could dramatically increase the chance of it happening. Retching, rapid breathing, no movement and drooling that is excessive, and an enlarged abdomen are all important signs of taking action on.

Splenic Torsion

It is less common than gastric torsion, but it is a problem that affects those who are Swissy greater than the other breeds. It happens when the spleen turns and it becomes full of blood. It’s not as severe as gastric torsion, but it’s just as dangerous. The appearance of pale gums, vomiting as well as fever, and a tender abdomen are signs to look out for.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog as Family Pets

  • The Swissy is a huge dog breed.
  • They require plenty of space to move around and enjoy their lives.
  • He is a balanced pet companion for the family.
  • He is a huge fan of his family and enjoys spending time with them.
  • The Swissy enjoys exercising. However, they also love relaxing on the sofa.
  • He’s not overly dependent. He’s also independent in character.
  • He should get 60 minutes of physical activity each day to keep fit and healthy.
  • The Swissy requires a lot of time to play and mental stimulation.
  • Without this, they are more likely to fall into trouble.
  • He’s a wonderful mix of calm and fun at home.
  • He is a dog that protects and barks loudly to announce the arrival of everyone.
  • When he has gotten to know the people around him, he becomes comfortable with the people he meets.
  • It is believed that the Swissy is a powerful breed of dog and requires a knowledgeable owner.
  • Swissies aren’t always easy to train, and the training must be constant.
  • He is a lover of other children as well as other pets.
  • He requires a few times per week.
  • Swissies shed lots in the time of shedding.

Breeders and Puppy Costs/Prices

The breed is a very rare breed of dog within America. This is why you should expect that you’ll need to go to the far side to locate an excellent breeder. Most, if not all, breeders of high-quality dogs will have waiting lists for puppies. It is essential to choose an excellent breeder since they will do their best to ensure healthy puppies.

A good breeder will have previous experience breeding Swissies. Find a lot of positive reviews from independent sources through search engines or an official website. Make sure you meet the breeder and puppies in person, which includes the mother of the pup. Request the health certifications, play with the puppies and check for indicators of healthy behavior and overall health. 

A negligent breeder is likely to breed sick dogs and create sick pups. They raise them with no affection or care and will only do the minimum in terms of medical attention to cut costs. If a breeder pressures you into selling or refuses to allow you to see the puppies together with their mother or give health certificates or respond to any questions you may have, walk away.

The cost of a Swissy puppy from an ethical breeder is about $2,000 or more. If you are looking for an exhibit dog or one with a renowned bloodline, they could be more expensive than this. There are additional costs to take into consideration when purchasing puppies. You’ll need to set your home with a big dog bed, crates, harnesses, and toys, for example. In addition, the ongoing costs of living, like food, vet bills, and insurance, can be costly and must be paid for.

Rescues and Shelters

It’s not everyone’s dream to purchase puppies, but that does not mean you can’t own a Swissy. Why not consider the possibility of adopting one? There are two choices. First, you could go to the nearest rescue center.

However, since it is the case that Swissy is a very uncommon dog within the United States, there might not be many available for adoption at local animal shelters. Contact the staff members who may know of an available Swissy in the nearby shelter since they frequently provide details.

If this isn’t an option or does not make sense to you, you have another option. There are a handful of Swissy rescue groups that rehome only Swissies and their mix. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue Foundation dedicates itself to finding homes for Swissies nationwide. Visit the website of their organization to fill out an adoption application to be considered, and begin the Swissy journey.

Conclusion

It is believed that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a fantastic breed of dog that is a joy for all family members. However, as you read in our article, he’s not the ideal choice for all. It is crucial to provide him with what he requires to have a positive relationship. If you can give him what is needed, most Swiss owners will inform you that once you’ve loved a Swissy, you’ll never love another breed again!

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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