Swiss Mountain Dog: Facts, Personality, And Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Here is everything that you should know about the fantastic Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. History of the breed, temperament, and grooming requirements - all in one place.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
23 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder
85 to 140 pounds
Life Span:
7 to 9 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a faithful, family-oriented, and strong worker famous for a strong coat of striking red, black, and white markings.

They are faithful and dependable. If you are interested in welcoming this breed into your home, you should read further to discover more about this amazing breed.

Quick Facts

Real name: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Origin: Switzerland
Breed type: Working dog
Weight: Male 90–135 lb (41–61 kg) Female 80–110 lb (36–50 kg)
Height: Male 25.5–28.5 in (65–72 cm), Female 23.5–27 in (60–69 cm)
Lifespan: 10 – 11 years
Color: Tricolor (black, rust or tan, and white)
Coat: Short, double coat

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – History

The large Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is nowadays a famous dog, but yet so little is known about this breed. The exact origin or how the breed was actually developed is still unknown.

Overall, it’s known that the breed is from the Alps and that they were brought by Julius Caesar’s legions. As soon as the breed reached Switzerland the Swiss used these mastiff-types to be working dogs.

In distant and remote areas, this breed was used to work on the farm. Physically, this breed is closely related to Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, and mostly to the Bernese Mountain dog.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is one of the oldest dog breeds in Switzerland. A canine researcher named Albert Neim, in 1908 spotted two dogs at a Swiss Kennel Club jubilee, who he listed as “short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs.”

He recognized these dogs as large members of the Sennenhund type, a breed from the Swiss. Heim fought hard to get the dogs recognized as a separate breed. Ever since the breed’s popularity grew, but slow.

When the breed was brought to the States in 1968, their popularity grew faster and in 1995 the breed was recognized by American Kennel Club, as a member of the working group.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – Physical Appearance

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large dog, and he is structured as such. The breed is almost always tri-colored, powerful, striking, and confident.

The breed is always heavy-boned and well-muscled, regardless of its weight and overall size. This is a true mountain dog who won’t mind spending a lot of time outdoors and being active.

Eyes are always brown and almond-shaped, while and other eye colors but brown means disqualification. Ears are medium-sized, set high and gently rounded at the tip.

Ears are only brought forward when alert. The bones on the tail are really strong, and this is one more reason why you should tell your children never to pulls the dog’s tail, and overall educate them on how to treat dogs.

Forelegs are strong and straight, while shoulders are long, next to feet that are round and compact. Undercoat color ranged from light gray to dark, and sometimes it can be tawny.

The total absence of an undercoat is undesirable and always penalized at the dog shows. The thighs are muscular, broad, and strong. The feet are compact and round.

Overall, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a heavy-boned dog with amazing physical strength. Males are always slightly bigger than females.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – Personality and Temperament

The Swissy’s temper and personality is fun, loving, and calm. They are not easygoing, they are more confident, and with a mind of their own.

Because they are independent and fearless, they might be stubborn occasionally. Because of their unique personality, they thrive with experienced owners, who are kind, gentle, and confident.

This breed is observant and alert, and always on the lookout, which makes them a nice watchdogs. They are not aggressive, although they may be wary of strangers.

Just like in any other dog breed, their temperament may be affected by a number of external factors, including socialization, heredity, and training.

Puppies are always playful and curious, and more than willing to approach people and even be held by them. If possible, you should always aim to choose a middle-of-the-road puppy, meaning that you want the puppy who is not hiding in the corner or that who is insisting on the fight – but the one in the middle.

If possible, ask if you can meet the puppy’s parents before making the final decision. If parents are nice and health, the chances are that the entire litter has a similar nature.

Meeting any siblings can also be helpful. Like every dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain dog needs early socialization – early exposure to different sounds, people, and sight. Only the proper socialization can guarantee that your puppy will grow to be a well-behaved dog.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – Training

Just like with any other dog breed, if you want to have a well-behaved and disciplined Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, you need to train him. Training your dog is a first step toward a good relations.

Through training your dog learns how to behave, to see you as a pack leader, and to know how to behave among people.

This breed responds amazing to food rewards, so for easy training use a reward-based system. As with all dogs, puppy training, early socialization, and proper daily exercises are highly recommended.

If you feel as if you can’t train your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog on your won, hire a professional trainer, or got to a dog training class. This can do wonders in the long run.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise. A quick walk around the building should do, or a strong romp in the woods. They will follow you gladly if you are up for a long hike or any outdoor activity actually.

If you are looking for a marathon-running partner or a bicycling partner, this breed gladly follows you.

Every dog is different, but you will have to put extra effort into training your Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.

Some owners claim that this breed takes more time to teach house rules, to get used to the kennel, and to master house training.

Like any other dog, proper training requires time, energy, puppy training equipment, and well-structured training sessions.

Since this breed loves being outside, it would be amazing if you have a backyard of your own or a green area for doggo to run near your home.

You should start training your GSMD from day one, as soon as he is introduced to your family members. Only early socialization and proper training can guarantee to have a well-behaved dog.

Since this breed is partly independent you can expect some mind games, so make sure that you know how to train him. If needed, hire a professional dog trainer, or organize puppy school.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – Grooming

Grooming of Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is not time-consuming. The breed’s short and thick double coat is easy to groom.

Weekly brushing is mandatory. For this coat, it’s best to use a rubber curry brush or hound glove. You can’t go wrong with either choice, because you will, either way, manages to remove the dog’s dead skin.

Without dead skin, the dog’s coat and undercoat will be healthier, and shinier.

You can expect heavy shedding twice a year, in the spring and fall, and having a vacuum on hand in that period will be your salvation.

Luckily, opposite to mastiff-type dogs, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog doesn’t drool that much.

The rest is basic care. Have weekly check-ups of ears, eyes, and teeth. Serve him the best foods for healthy teeth, and bath only when it’s really necessary. Dog’s are not fond of weekly bathing, because they don’t need it.

Trim the nails as needed, don’t allow for them to grow too long, and use only vet-approved products for overall grooming.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – Health

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog doesn’t have any breed-specific disorders but can have common problems that affect large-breed dogs. There is always the possibility of bloat, which can be fatal.

Swissy dogs may have major and minor concerns, including:

  • Seizures
  • Female urinary incontinence
  • Panosteitis
  • Distichiasis
  • Gastric torsion
  • CHD

Epilepsy may occur at any age and urinary incontinence in spayed bitches and puppies. Owners should provide regular veterinarian check-ups and proper nutrition to maintain a good diet and nutrition.

Recommended Health Tests:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Shoulder Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can thrive on a different type of food, including raw food, as long as you combine food well. Make sure to know how and when to feed your dog.

Make sure that you know how to feed your puppy or your senior dog. Once you welcome your dog into your home, you can keep him safe from one of the most common problems in pets nowadays – obesity.

Don’t overfeed your canine, because weight loss is a long and difficult path. Moreover, you should know that obesity comes a long line of other health problems.

The Bottom Line

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a loyal and sensitive breed. This breed is a great family companion and gentle with children. Your GSMD will love spending time outdoors, especially in cold weather.

Make sure that you provide proper nutrition, regular exercise, and regular veterinarian check-ups to raise a well-behaved and healthy canine.

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