Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Temperament: Faithful, Family-Oriented, Dependable

  • Height: 25.5-28.5 inches (male), 23.5-27 inches (female)
  • Weight: 115-140 pounds (male), 85-110 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 8-11 years
  • Group: Working Group 

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, immensely strong worker famous for a dense coat of striking black, red, and white markings. Dependable and faithful Swissies earned their feed as herders, drafters, and all-around pasture dogs.


The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a Draft and Drover breed and should structurally appear as such. It is a striking, tri-coloured, large, powerful, confident dog of sturdy appearance. It is a heavy boned and well muscled dog which, in spite of its size and weight, is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin.

About the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

“Greater” than what? Well, standing as high as 28.5 inches and weighing as much as a midsize human, a Greater Swiss might easily be greater than you.

Swissies are immensely strong, yet agile enough to move a flock across the sloping foot of a mountain. The coat is a striking tricolour—black, red, and white. The head and muzzle typically have a white marking (the “blaze”), setting off a sweet expression. Several big mountain-dog breeds are described as “majestic,” but Swisses practically invented the word.

NUTRITION The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can thrive on many types of diet, from kibble to raw to a combination of both. The most serious issue with feeding the GSMD is overfeeding, which leads to many digestive problems, including loose stools, and also leads to obesity, which is one of the greatest health problems in the breed.

GROOMING This is basically a “wash and wear” breed, but they are double coated and do blow their undercoat, usually twice a year. When this is occurring they benefit from a good bath and blow-out, followed by a thorough brushing with a rake or shedding tool. For the rest of the year the occasional bath and brushing usually does the trick. They need regular nail-trims and ear and teeth cleaning.

EXERCISE The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise. A walk around the block or a romp in the woods generally will satisfy their daily exercise needs. This breed is much better suited for the person looking for a hiking companion than the person wanting a bicycling or marathon-running partner.

TRAINING The GSMD is very food motivated and responds well to training using food rewards. They can also have a stubborn streak, however, so their owners must be more determined than they are. It is not recommended to use any harness-type training device on this breed. They are a draft breed, and the use of a harness (other than for draft work) just tends to make them pull that much harder. As with all dogs, early socialisation and puppy training classesare recommended.

HEALTH The GSMD does not have any breed-specific disorders but can have health problems that affect large-breed dogs. This can include orthopaedic issues, although overall the GSMD’s orthopaedics tend to be very good for a large breed. Splenic torsion, unrelated to gastric torsion, occurs more often in this breed than in other breeds. Owners should be aware of the possibility of bloat and know the symptoms, and what to do should it occur. Urinary incontinence is fairly common in puppies and spayed bitches. Epilepsy can occur in any pedigree; genetic markers for this have not yet been identified. Overall the GSMD tends to be a very healthy breed. More information on breed health can be found on the website of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

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

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