The Great Swiss Mountain Dog (Deutsch: Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund) or Swissy is a large multipurpose working breed used by the Senn dairymen of the Swiss Alps for herding cattle, as a guard dog, and as a carting dog used to pull milk carts to and from cheese factories. The Great Swiss Mountain Dog often works in pairs and is the largest of the four Swiss herding breeds and the heaviest in build. It is described as self-assured, alert, watchful, even-tempered and confident with strangers. Its physical appearance denotes a masculine and heavy-boned dog with a tri-colour coat and distinct markings in different parts of the body. An imposing character with a strong, large, muscular neck and broad chest, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog is the perfect all-around dog for the Swiss Alps. The weather-resistant double coat is made of dense, outer coat of medium length with grey or black undercoat. The average height of a male Swissy is 65 – 72cm while a female stand between 60 – 68cm from paws to shoulder.
All dog breeds have different levels of intellect. Some dog breeds; working dogs in particular, are very independent thinkers and have been evolved to be very intelligent. Typically, a highly intelligent dog does well in obedience training and other activities. A highly intelligent dog can be very demanding and do require lots of physical and mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a relatively laid-back dog, that doesn’t require lots of mental and physical stimulation, then you must fully understand the level of intelligence of your dog breed of choice.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, you must fully understand their intellect levels and their specific levels of energy. To keep your dog well-balanced and happy, their needs must be met and maintained.
All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to the level of exercise they require. For the high energy dogs; which are your typical working dogs, they have a lot of energy and require lots of daily exercise along with plenty of mental stimulation. A highly energetic dog breed would suit an individual or family that is equally as active and loves the outdoors. There are also breeds that have relatively low exercise needs, such as toy dog breeds. Although they require daily exercise and mental stimulation, they’re just as happy chilling at home with their loved ones. This type of dog breed would suit an individual or family that prefers the peace and quiet and relaxation.
Before deciding on your chosen dog breed, Mypetzilla recommends that you research the exercise needs and whether you’re well equipped before committing to buying or adopting a particular dog breed.
There are several dog breeds that are known and potentially predisposed to developing health related conditions. Sensible breeding can help prevent the onset of health related conditions and this should always be taken into condition when researching your dog breed of choice. Before committing to a dog, you should speak to the breeder about any health related conditions that may affect the dog you’re looking to buy or adopt. You can also request to see any test results from genetic testing.
There are many dog breeds that tolerate children really well and are not affected by the constant noise and need for play-time. However, there are some dog breeds that don’t do very well with children and can become frustrated and snappy. That being said, all children should be shown how to handle and care for a dog in their home and should always be supervised when playing. As much as a dog can become annoyed and snappy with a younger child, the child can also become less tolerant and misbehaved towards the dog.
Mypetzilla recommends that you always supervise play-time between your children and dog. Children need to respect the boundaries and feeding time for the dog and likewise for the child. We also strongly advise that play-time doesn’t get out of control and too rough which can cause injury to both child and dog.
There are lots of dog breeds that are well suited to living in an apartment. It’s worthwhile noting that you need to check that you’re allowed dogs in your building before committing to bringing one home. If you do decide to own a dog and are living in an apartment, then you must make sure that they have plenty of room to roam around and frequent walks outside to prevent them from becoming bored and depressed.
Mypetzilla recommends that you check as to whether you’re allowed dogs in your apartment building and to fully ensure your apartment is dog proof before committing fully to bringing a dog home.
All dog breeds shed to some extent, some more than others. With this, all potential dog owners should be aware of this, as it will be a matter of putting up with some hair or lots of hair being left around the house. Depending on the dog breed, there are certain times during the year where some dog breeds shed the most and this is typically around spring and autumn. However, there are some dog breeds that shed all year round.
If you’re very house-proud, they you may want to choose a dog breed that sheds very little. Mypetzilla strongly recommends that you fully research your dog breed of choice and their shedding levels before committing.
All dog breeds require different levels of grooming. Some dog breeds are easier to maintain than others and only require a weekly brush to help keep their coat in good condition. There are some dog breeds that require regular trips to the grooming parlour and this can come at a huge cost. Either way, all dog breeds require their coat and nails to be maintained and cared for.
Mypetzilla strongly advices that potential owners research the grooming needs and associated costs with their desired dog breed before fully committing.
Barking is a necessity for your dog to communicate. However, it can also be a nuisance to yourself and fellow neighbours if it’s not kept under control. If you live in an apartment, then you’re better off choosing a dog breed that doesn’t bark as much. If you live further out and far from civilisation, then it’s worthwhile looking into a dog breed that does bark and will bark to alert you of any other company on your property.
Mypetzilla advices that you research the behaviours of your dog breed of choice and whether this would work for you and your family. It’s worth noting that dogs can be trained to bark less and this will take a lot of effort and training from the owner.
Majority dog breeds form very close relationships with their owners and as a result can become very stressed when left alone for a period of time. If a dog is suffering with separation anxiety then they’re very likely to become destructive around the home as a way of dealing with their anxieties. Dog breeds that do form strong bonds with their owners are better accustomed to a household where one member of the family remains home, whilst the others are out, this is to help avoid further anxieties and destructive behaviours.
Mypetzilla recommends that all potential owners research their dog breed of choice on their bonding abilities and how well-adjusted they are to being left alone at home. It’s also worth noting that you should never leave your dog for longer than 4 hours alone at home.
There are certain dogs breeds that have very high intellect and therefore easier to train than other dog breeds. There is also a downside to this; as fast as they learn the new trick or command, they can easily pick up bad habits just as quick. Other dog breeds that don’t rank as high on the intellect scale require patience and plenty of reward treats from their owners during training.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, Mypetzilla advices you to fully research your dog breed of choice and their level of training needs.
All dog breeds have different energy levels. The working dog breed has one of the highest energy levels in comparison to the low-energy dog’s breeds such as the Toy dog breed group. To keep a dog truly happy, healthy and well-balanced, their energy levels must be met.
High-energy dog breeds need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. High energy dog breeds would suit an active family or person. Dog breeds that are considered as low-energy, love to spend the majority of their time relaxing and sleeping in their favourite, comfy spot. A low-energy dog breed would suit an individual that equally loves the quiet life and relaxing lifestyle. Of course, low-energy dogs still need their daily walks and mental stimulation, just not as much as a high-energy dog breed.
Mypetzilla recommends that potential owner research fully on the type of dog breed that would suit their existing lifestyle and to also take into consideration the dog breeds energy levels and exercise requirements.
Before you decide on what dog breed would be suitable for you and your family, you must consider whether they’re a friendly dog breed and if you already have other pets within the household. For homes that already have dogs and other domestic pets, then it’s wise to choose a dog breed that has a friendly personality and temperament.
There are some dog breeds that mix well with other dog breeds and there are others that don’t suit one another and this could potentially cause issues later on down the line.
Another important point to consider is whether the dog breed of choice is friendly towards people and children.
Mypetzilla recommends to research fully on the right dog breed for your family and to also consider their temperament and characteristics.
The exact origin of the Great Swiss Mountain Dog is unknown but there are several theories that try to trace more or less how this great dog came to be. There is a theory (and the most popular) that states that the Swissy is a product of the Molosser brought by Roman soldiers to the Swiss Alps more than two millennia ago. Another theory suggests that the Phoenician traders brought a large breed of dog to Spain which migrated eastward and influenced the local dogs of the Senn among others. What is certain is that the Great Swiss Mountain Dog is a result of crossing the native farm dogs of the Senn with a large foreign Mastiff-type dog. The early ancestors of the Swissy were cart-pulling dogs used by dairymen in their farms and as guardians of cattle and properties. When modernization reached the Swiss Alps, the population of the Great Swiss Mountain Dog dwindled down to near extinction. It was through the efforts of a geology professor and breed expert named Albert Heim that breeders started to take notice of the breed and began a modest effort to bring back the population to a healthy level. In 1909, the Swiss Kennel Club recognised the Swissy as a distinct breed while the Kennel Club only accepted the breed onto the Import Breed Register in 2008 with the interim breed standard published in 2010.
This Great Swiss Mountain Dog or Swissy is a large, extremely robust dog with strong hind legs that are ideal for pulling carts traditional loaded with dairy products from cheese farms. As a household companion, it is a loyal and affectionate breed that thrives on family companionship. It will not do well in a kennel environment but it will do best in a home that can offer the dog a lot of love and attention. It is an alert and vigilant breed and it has a natural instinct to guard and protect both its family and the property, which makes it an excellent guard dog. It is territorial but is generally not aggressive unless threatened. It is one of the slow maturing dog breeds, reaching full adulthood only at the age of 3 years.
The Great Swiss Mountain Dog is an intelligent breed and is always eager to learn. It has a territorial instinct and a natural protective attitude which makes training as a guard dog fairly easy. It will bark at any noise or at intruders but is generally not a noisy barker. It is a wonderful family member but it requires a lot of obedience training and socialisation.
The Swissy moults and requires regular grooming. Brushing with a firm bristle brush on a daily basis will help keep the coat healthy and shedding to a minimal. It is a light shedder but the thick undercoat is shed twice a year, usually every seasonal change, in which case it needs more frequent attention. It does not drool or slobber like other large dogs because it is a dry mouth breed. The soft coat is not oily which means that it does not have a doggy odour like other breeds.
Typical of any large breed, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog is prone to a few health predispositions. Among them are hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, certain eye diseases, and gastric torsion or bloating. Bloating is a serious concern among large breeds and is the number two cause of deaths among dogs after cancer. To avoid bloating, do not expose the breed to strenuous physical activities like exercise at least 40 minutes to one hour after a meal.
It is a true working breed that must be kept active with regular exercise, typically up to one hour per day of walking or jogging. It will do best in a large house with an equally large garden where it can romp freely up to an hour. It will thrive in a home with plenty of wide open spaces to enjoy a free run.
The Great Swiss Mountain Dog loves human companionship and is naturally loving of children. However, adult supervision is necessary when the dog is around young children because the large size and lively nature of the Swissy can easily knock a small child down unintentionally. It is generally not dog-aggressive but it will chase small animals from time to time.