Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

 Bernd Klute / Eyem / Getty Images

Mighty and majestic are the two adjectives that jump out at you when looking over a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Their large size is impressive, but don’t be fooled—these gentle giants are excellent family pets.

They are often confused with the similar-looking Bernese Mountain Dog, but Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are significantly larger with a much shorter coat.

Affectionately referred to as Swissys, these dogs were originally bred as working dogs to herd cattle, pull carts, and serve as a watchdog.

Needless to say, they love being busy and having jobs to do. They’re naturally protective of those they love and make wonderful, loyal guard dogs. However, though their bark is menacing, their bite is relatively nonexistent. With Swissys, intimidation is key.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can be boisterous, forgetting about their large size and neglecting manners. To avoid this, make sure to begin obedience training when they’re puppies. With proper training and socialization, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs make top-notch family pets.

Their friendliness, trainability and strength have led to their success as therapy pets and search and rescue dogs.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Working Group (AKC)

  • Size:

    • Weight: 85-140 pounds

    • Height: 23-29 inches

  • Colors: Tri-color black, red and white

  • Life Expectancy: 8-11 years

Characteristics of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Affection Level








Exercise Needs




Energy Level






Tendency to Bark


Amount of Shedding


Tolerates Hot Weather


Tolerates Cold Weather


History of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are working dogs to the core. They’re considered one of Switzerland’s oldest dog breeds that experts theorize descended from very large mastiff-type dogs brought to the Alps when the Romans invaded Switzerland some 2,000 years ago.

As industrialization grew, farmers no longer heavily relied on working dogs to help out on the farms. Instead, farmers used machines and motorized vehicles that did not need to be pulled by a dog. As a result, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog breed nearly disappeared.

However, in 1910, the breed was recognized by the Swiss Kennel Club, launching a breed club and sparking new interest in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Their population grew slowly and remained a rare European breed.

Fifty years later, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was brought to the United States. In 1995 it was recognized by the American Kennel Club and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was formed, promoting careful, selective breeding to increase the strength and popularity of the big, beautiful canines we know and love today.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Care

Taking care of a large breed dog is a responsibility that should be taken seriously—it’s a big job. But keeping your Swissy happy and healthy will bring out their lovable, bubbly personalities.

Luckily, this big breed is exceptionally food motivated, making training that much easier. They respond well to positive, reward-based training using small training treats or even pieces of kibble.

They’re not picky.

Swissys are quite intelligent, which can be both a good and bad thing when it comes to training. Instead of strict obedience, they can begin to think independently. That’s why short and repetitive training sessions tend to work well. Training may be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

After a short training session, bring your Swissy into the great outdoors for a romp in the woods or a game of fetch. Because these dogs originated in the Swiss Alps, the woods is their natural habitat. Plus, with their large size, the outdoors may be the only place they can stretch their legs and run freely.

Though they are athletic and full of energy, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs don’t require an enormous amount of exercise. A daily walk or game of fetch is enough to satisfy them.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs will even enjoy a romp outside when the temperatures dips down low in the winter.

They have thick double coats to keep them nice and warm while they play.

In warmer months, Swissys do shed their undercoats. Regular brushing and bi-annual deshedding baths will help keep their massive amounts of fur off your furniture. When they aren’t shedding, you can stick to occasional baths and brushings as needed.

Common Health Problems

While they have no breed-specific disorders, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are prone to health problems that many large-breed dogs face. Due to their large size and weight, orthopedic problems like arthritis can arise. Typically, though, Swissys have great bone health.

Bloat is always an issue with large-breed dogs as well, and especially with Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs due to their fondness of food. If they eat too fast, it could be fatal. Owners should know the symptoms of bloat and have a plan of action in case it happens.

If you find your Swissy from a breeder, make sure to get a certificate of health to ensure you have a fit pup who will live a long and happy life by your side.

Diet and Nutrition

Like we said before, these dogs are not picky. They love food in any form—raw, dry, or wet. The problem with Swissys is overfeeding, which can lead to a number of digestive problems and obesity. Obesity can consequently lead to orthopedic issues, so it’s wise to avoid it.

Feeding your dog dry kibble may help clean his or her teeth as the friction works to remove plaque. On the other hand, wet food may be easier to digest. Many experts rave about the health benefits of a raw diet, too, so it’s really up to you and your pup to find the diet that works best for them.

No matter the type of food you decide on, stick to brands that list whole, healthy ingredients. Lean meats high in protein support healthy large dogs, so look for food brands that list those as the first ingredient. Stick to foods with limited additives and whole vegetables, grains and fruit.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Have you fallen for the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog yet?

We hope this dog breed profile taught you more about this beautiful, bouncy breed. Whether you’re in love with the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog or not, you should do more research before picking out your next forever friend.

Here are some similar breeds to check out:

Still want more dog breed information? Check out all of our dog breed profiles. Researching breeds before adopting a pet is a responsible choice that will help you ensure a happy and furry future.