Meet the Breed: The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Greater Swiss Mountain dog, also called the Swissy or GSMD, is a large, sturdy working dog. The double coat is thick and heavy with the outer coat being about 1-1/2" - 2" long. The coat is tricolored and the markings are symmetrical. The coat has a black base with specific rust and white patterns. The ears are small, triangular, and close to the head. The eyes can be hazel or brown. The topline is level, and the chest is broad. The legs are straight and muscular.
The GSMD was probably a descendant of the Molossers (large mastiff-type dogs) from Ancient Rome that interbred with local dogs. It is the largest and oldest of the four Sennenhund (Swiss Mountain Dog) Breeds, which include the Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzell Cattle Dog and the Entlebuch Cattle Dog.It was developed as a working farm dog in the Swiss Alps. This large, muscular dog was used for pulling carts and known as the "poor man's horse." This was a versatile breed used for working livestock, guarding and as a watchdog. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was thought to be extinct due to modern machinery taking their jobs; however, two specimens appeared at a Swiss dog show in 1908 labeled as “short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs.” The judge, Professor Albert Heim, a canine researcher and expert on the Swiss Sennenhund breeds recognized the dogs as being of the large old type and encouraged them to be recognized as a separate breed. Throughout the early 20th century, the population of GSMD in Europe grew very slowly, and it is still a rare breed both in the US and in its native Switzerland.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a willing and able working companion. This work ethic translates well into obedience training but, keep in mind, this dog develops slowly in body and mind. Therefore, patience is required. Gets along well with children and other pets. Is not dog aggressive. Makes a good watchdog but warms up to strangers quickly.
Breed Club Links: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America
BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: As a working dog with a drafting history, we recommend adding a Dog Pack for your hiking buddy.
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Photo courtesy of John M. P. Knox.