Mountain dog breeds is a term used generally to describe a certain type of dog that originated in mountain regions. Most mountain dog breeds were historically used as livestock guardians. They would watch over flocks of sheep, herds of cattle or other animals, and protect them from predators like wolves and would-be thieves. Some continue to work this job in modern times.
Most mountain dogs are large, powerful, and protective. Many are considered expert-level breeds best left in the hands of experienced dog owners who know how to train and handle guarding breeds.
Mountains dogs were also traditionally all-around farm dogs. Some were used to herd livestock, pull carts loaded with goods to sell at the market, or for search and rescue.
The original purpose of most mountain dog breeds was that of guardian of livestock and home. As such, these breeds tend to be protective of their families and property. Extensive socialization in puppyhood is vital to ensure protective breeds do not become overly wary or aggressive.
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The Appenzeller Sennenhund is one of four related Swiss mountain dog breeds that were developed to work on farms, herd livestock, and pull heavy carts. The other three are the Bernese Mountain Dog, Entlebucher Mountain Dog and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. All four breeds are similarly tri-colored (black and white with tan markings), but their coat type and size varies.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund, which is also known as the Appenzeller Mountain Dog or Appenzell Cattle Dog, was primarily used to herd cattle and guard the farm. They have high exercise and training needs, so are best left to expert-level owners.
HEIGHT: 20 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 50 to 75 pounds
Physical characteristics: Muscular, medium-sized and balanced. The short, straight double coat is tri-color (combination of black or brown with white and tan markings).
02 of 08
The Bernese Mountain Dog is the only one of the four related Swiss mountain dog breeds to have a long coat. It originated near the city of Berne where it was a general-purpose farm dog used as a watchdog, property guard, and carting dog.
Intelligent and devoted to family, the Bernese Mountain Dog gets along well with children and most other pets. Although Berners are naturally protective, they are rarely aggressive. This breed needs moderate daily exercise and you will need to brush out the thick coat weekly or more often to keep shedding to a minimum.
HEIGHT: 23 to 27.5 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 70 to 115 pounds
Physical characteristics: Large, sturdy and balanced. The thick, moderately long, slightly wavy or straight coat is tri-colored (jet black ground color with white and tan markings).
03 of 08
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog originated in the Caucasus mountain range, an expansive region between Europe and Asia. There, the breed was developed as a livestock guardian and protector of the homestead. The breed is also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian Sheepdog, Kawkasky Owtscharka and Kaukasische Schaferhund.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are extremely protective of their people and property and can be challenging to train. These traits, coupled with their powerful build, make the Caucasian Shepherd Dog a breed for expert-level dog owners who have experience with large guarding breeds.
HEIGHT: 23 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 99 to 170 pounds
Physical characteristics: Large, strong and muscular with plenty of bone. The double coat ranges from short to heavy and comes in solid, brindle or spotted colors.
04 of 08
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog, also known as the Entlebucher Sennehund or Entlebucher Cattle Dog, is the smallest of the four related Swiss mountain dog breeds. It’s also the fastest, a trait that was essential to the Entlebucher’s original job of cattle drover. The breed was also used as an all-purpose farm dog and property guard in the Entlebuch valley, from where it originated.
Entlebuchers are intelligent and independent, but also utterly devoted to their human families. They love to play and generally get along well with gentle children. Though on the smaller side, Entlebuchers need a great deal of exercise to be content. Training can sometimes be a challenge for these strong-willed dogs, but consistent reinforcement of desired behavior gets great results.
HEIGHT: 16 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 40 to 65 pounds
Physical characteristics: Compact and strongly muscled with ample bone. The short, dense, coarse coat is tri-colored (jet black ground color with white and tan markings).Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
With its great size and white coat, the Great Pyrenees is magnificent to behold. Also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the breed takes its name from the Pyrenees mountain range that runs between Spain and France in southwestern Europe. Here, these dogs worked high on the slopes of the mountains, guarding over flocks of sheep and protecting them from bears and wolves.
The Great Pyrenees is deeply devoted to its family and protective and watchful over its home. Though large, they are calm in the house and need only moderate daily exercise to be happy.
HEIGHT: 25 to 32 inches at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 100 to 150 pounds (males); 85 to 110 pounds (females)
Physical characteristics: A dog of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size. The thick double coat is always white, though it may have markings of gray, tan, badger, or reddish-brown
06 of 08
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest and oldest of the four related Swiss mountain dog breeds. The Swissy was a hardworking farm dog that wore many hats: herding livestock, working in the pastures, guarding property, and pulling heavy carts loaded with meat and milk to the market.
Excellent watchdogs that will alert to the presence of suspicious strangers near the home, Swissys are extremely devoted to their family. These dogs need moderate daily exercise, and many enjoy pulling carts. Socialize extensively in puppyhood to avoid shyness.
HEIGHT: 23 to 29 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 85 to 140 pounds
Physical characteristics: large, powerful, study and heavy boned. The short double coat is tri-colored (jet black ground color with white and tan markings).
07 of 08
The Kuvasz is a large, all-white livestock guardian used in Hungary since the Middle Ages to protect horses, sheep, and cattle from predators and thieves. Although the Kuvasz as we know it today was developed in Hungary, the breed’s origins are thought to be the steppes of Siberia’s Ural Mountains.
The breed gets along well with respectful children and they are loyal, devoted and protective of their family. Kuvasz need early socialization as puppies, lifelong training, and abundant daily exercise. The breed is usually not recommended for novice dog owners.
HEIGHT: 26 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 70 to 115 pounds
Physical characteristics: Sturdily built and well balanced, neither lanky nor cobby. The thick double coat, usually medium in length, is all white and ranges from straight to wavy.
08 of 08
The majestic and steadfast Saint Bernard is famous for rescuing travelers in peril in the snowy mountain slopes of the Swiss Alps. The breed was developed by monks at the St. Bernard Monastery and Hospice which was founded by Bernard de Menthon during the 11th century.
Today’s Saint Bernard is a gentle and faithful companion. They get along great with kids and love to be part of family activities. Saint Bernards are very large but calm and laidback. A few short walks a day is all they need for exercise, though many are up for more activity. Saint Bernards drool a lot, so it isn’t the best breed for the fastidious dog owner.
HEIGHT: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 130 to 180 pounds
Physical characteristics: Powerful, proportionately tall, strong and muscular. The coat, which may be short and smooth or long and silky, comes in white with red, brown or brindle markings.