Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is employed as a draught dog for transporting goods in carts. Its nickname is the Swissy.


Late in the 19th century, as modern methods of transport replaced the old dog carts, the breed had become increasingly rare, and most people imagined that it was already extinct. Swiss canine expert Professor Albert Heim of Zurich was certainly of this opinion, and was therefore delighted when Franz Schertenleib, who was also instrumental in saving the Bernese Mountain Dog, was able to show him a pure-bred specimen that he had discovered living on a distant homestead. Early in the 20th century a few more examples were found and serious breeding began to save this important, native Swiss dog.

The breed's future ensured by its success as a show dog, even though its cart-pulling duties were now greatly reduced. The first examples to reach the US arrived there in 1968, and an American breed club was soon created.

Like the Bernese, in its earlier days this breed was used to haul all kinds of local produce. The dogs usually worked in pairs, with specially designed harnesses made of wide leather straps that were carefully fitted to ensure the dogs’ comfort.


As with its close relative, this dog has a patient, kindly and shows no aggression. It is calm and steadfast and always ready to work.

Devoted, sensitive and affectionate, the Greater Swiss makes a great companion for the entire family. He is calm and laid-back, very good with kids and generally friendly with other pets. This breed is very protective and watchful and can therefore be reserved, if not suspicious, with strangers.


This breed is very similar to the Bernese Mountain Dog, with the same, symmetrical, tricolour pattern, but in weight it reaches 135 lb (61 kg) instead of only 97 lb (44 kg). And whereas the Bernese has a long, soft, silky coat, this dog has a short, dense coat.

Health Matters

Generally, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, healthy animal but some eye problems may exist. All breeding stock should be X-rayed for hip dysplasia after it is two years old.

Smooth-coated, albeit with a thick coat, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog should be groomed regularly and bathed as necessary. Its teeth should be kept clean and hard biscuits should help with this. The nails should be looked after and trimmed regularly. The ears of this breed need gentle weekly cleaning. Any ear odor should be checked by a vet.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a well set up, attractive breed that moves with reach and drive.

General care

The Greater Swiss requires a good walk or a strenuous play session every day to stay fit and happy. He enjoys being outdoors, particularly in cold weather. In the house, he needs a lot of room to stretch his legs. Brushing is required at least once a week, more often when shedding.

Gallery of Greater Swiss Mountain Dog