Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
|Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund
Large Swiss Mountain Dog
|Country of origin
|Swissie or gentle giant
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 2 Section 3 #58
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
|The CKC "miscellaneous class" is for breeds working
towards full CKC recognition.
The Greater Swiss Mountain
Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, is the largest of the traditional Swiss
breeds, the Sennehunds, a grouping in which the
Bernese Mountain Dog is also included. They are believed descended from
large dogs brought to
Switzerland by the
in the first century B.C., although another theory states that they arrived many
centuries earlier with
traders. In any case, they are almost certainly the result of the mating of
dogs with large mastiff-type dogs brought to Switzerland by foreign settlers.
Greater Swiss Mountains Dogs are believed to be in the ancestry of both the
Saint Bernard Dog and the
This dog is a large, muscular, tricolour (black, red, and white; typically
with a white blaze) dog of up to 140 pounds (64 kg). It is double-coated, with a
gentle expression and triangular, folded ears. The dog should give the
impression of working ability.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a reputation of combining protectiveness
with a gentle nature, particularly with respect to its love of its family,
These dogs are strong and active. A Swissy can be trained for weight-pulling
competitions and/or to pull carts behind them carrying goods or even a person.
Prospective owners need to be prepared to give them lots of time and attention.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, a dog of great strength, was originally a
herding dog, but was later used for draft. It may have been the advent of
mechanized vehicles, combined with the rise in popularity of the Saint Bernard
Dog, that led to the decline in popularity of the GSMD. However it happened, the
breed was believed to be extinct, or nearly so, by the turn of the 20th Century.
In 1908 an owner named Franz Schertenlieb entered his mountain dogs in the
Swiss Kennel Club (SKG) jubilee
knowing that they would be seen by an expert in native Swiss dogs, Dr. Albert
Heim. Dr. Heim, an avid fancier, was apparently delighted to find a living
example of the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, and exhorted the members of
the Kennel Club to do all that they could to safeguard the breed, including
scour farms and villages for healthy specimens for a breeding program.
His suggestion was acted upon, and a careful
breeding program was begun. Due to the meticulous nature of the selection
process, the lack of worthy brood bitches, and the requirement that all puppies
be reexamined as adults for
conformation and temperament before being certified as suitable for
breeding, breed numbers grew slowly.
All-breed club recognition
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, now often known as the GSMD or ‘Swissy’, is
an example of an ancient, well-documented and established pure breed that was
nevertheless not recognized by large all-breed
clubs around the world. The first GSMDs were introduced to the
United States in 1968, and were recognized provisionally by the
AKC in 1985 and received full recognition in 1995, an ironically late date
for such an old breed of dog. It was recognized by the
UKC in 1992.
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