The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, also known as Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, is a large and powerful working breed hailing from Switzerland. It is believed to be one of the oldest Swiss breeds, descending from ancient mastiff-type dogs that accompanied Roman armies in the first century B.C. The breed was primarily used as a draft dog for pulling carts, herding cattle, and guarding farms in the Swiss Alps. However, its numbers declined over time, and it faced near-extinction in the late 19th century. Thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated breed enthusiasts, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was revived, and it gained recognition by the Swiss Kennel Club in 1909. The breed has a double coat. The outer coat is dense, short, and straight, while the undercoat is thick and insulating. This coat combination provides protection and warmth, making them well-suited for their historical working roles in cold mountainous regions.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, shoulder issues, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration. A specific hereditary condition related to abnormal bleeding for which they should be tested is the P2Y12 Receptor Platelet Disorder.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are known for their calm, gentle, and friendly nature. They are loyal and affectionate with their family members and get along well with children and other pets. As a working breed, they possess a strong work ethic and are highly intelligent, making them trainable. Early socialization and consistent training are essential for a well-adjusted and obedient adult Swissy. They are generally alert and make decent watchdogs, but they are not aggressive unless provoked.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is one of the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, with the others being the Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller, and Entlebucher.
The breed's iconic tricolor markings include a black base coat with white on the muzzle, chest, and blaze, as well as rust-colored markings on the cheeks and legs.
Due to their impressive strength and size, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were nicknamed "gentle giants."
The breed's versatility allows them to excel in various dog sports and activities, such as obedience, agility, and herding trials.