Dog Breeds 101: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

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Dog Breeds 101 – Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Photo – Wikipedia (PD)

The powerful and confident Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest of all farm dog breeds from Switzerland. Fondly called Sissy, it was the dog’s job to guard and herd livestock and also to pull carts loaded with supplies. This is a large, well-muscled and heavily boned dog but despite its size, it is still agile enough to work efficiently in the mountainous regions of Switzerland. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a giant with males weighing up to 105 to 140 pounds and females at 85 to 110 pounds and can grow up to 23.5 to 28.5 inches tall. Because it is a large breed, it has a shorter average life span of 7 to 9 years. [1] [2]

The exact origins of the breed is still not determined, however, the most popular theory is that they descended from the mastiffs brought to the Alps by the Romans. Over time, the dogs were used to guard property, herd livestock and work in farms. They were the most popular dogs in Switzerland at one point but when farm duties were taken over by machines, the breed’s population started to dwindle. In 1908, Professor A. Heim spotted two dogs at the Swiss Kennel Club jubilee while he was conducting a study on Switzerland’s native mountain dog breeds. The dogs were listed as “short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs” but Professor Heim identified them as a completely different breed. He worked hard so the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog would be recognized as a separate breed and succeeded in 1909. [3]

As pets, these dogs enjoy attention and are generally good with youngsters. Since they are large, they don’t do well living in an apartment or condo because they need plenty of space for them to move around comfortably. They don’t need a lot of exercise – occasional walks will do. These dogs are also prone to heatstroke and should be provided with shade and lots of water whenever they are outside. [3]


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