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Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breed Profile

Jun 26, 2008
It is thought that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest of the descendants of the dogs which were brought to the Swiss Alps by the Legions of Caesar on his march through Europe. The "Swissie" is similar to the Bernese Mountain dog in many respects, especially in the markings of a black base coat with white and tan markings. The Bernese Mountain dog however has longer coat and a different working attitude than the Greater Swiss Mountain dog.

The "Swissie's" coat is a deep lustrous black and the tan markings are deep rich red, it is indeed a striking looking dog. The Berner is a somewhat protective guarding dog while the Swissie is more open to the approach of strangers and generally a friendly and outgoing dog.

The Greater Swiss Mountain dog is a large breed, often reaching 27 inches at the shoulder. The dog has a massive appearance with good "substance" and bone. This is a breed with relatively few health issues, except for checking for hip and elbow dysplasia which of course is often a problem with large breeds. There is also a tendency towards eye problems.

The dog had always been a dog much in use in the country of Switzerland but was never selectively bred until the early 1900s. When it was recognized that there were few good specimens left and the breed's uses were gradually going away (the dogs were used for pulling butcher carts) two men , Dr. Albert Heim and Franz Scertenleib took on the job of encouraging a renewed interest in the breed among the Swiss fanciers.

Gradually the dogs became more familiar within the European breeding community and by the 1930s pedigrees were researched and good "true to type" dogs were being systematically produced. By 1985 the dog had become well known and was admitted into the American Kennel Club, joining the working group ten years later.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has now become a familiar sight in the American Kennel club conformation show ring and is also seen more often at weight pulling contests and the like. This is a breed which has become popular with obedience enthusiasts. Owners of Swissies can even use this large and happy dog to pull their own kids or the neighbor's kids in a cart and the dog is a popular therapy dog also. His short coat also makes him an "easy keeper" as far as coat care, (as opposed to some of the other breeds who pull carts but have many more grooming issues than the Swissie.)

It possesses an even temper and a love for children, family and all other people. It is a friendly and affectionate dog with a stable temperament and a desire to please people, altogether it is a dog that is a quick learner with an eager attitude and yet a placid and calm manner. This is a breed that has become a favorite for those families who have had the pleasure of owning one.
About the Author
For more information on the greater swiss mountain dog or a complete list of dog breeds visit this Dog Behaviour website.
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