Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
"Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund "

descriptive textInformation about the
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
(Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund)
Weight: 85 — 140 lbs
Height: 24” — 28”
AKC Rank 2008 #87
Lifespan: 10—12 yrs
Group: Working
Origin: Switzerland

Dog Breed Info - Swiss Mountain Dog

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Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Draft dog, Guardian, Today: Herding, Companion.

The AKC registered Bernese Mountain Dog is one of four Sennenhunde, or Mountain Dogs which includes the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the largest of the four. They probably all originated from the Mastiff dogs of the Romans back in ancient times. These dogs worked at guarding livestock and herding chores. Some were known as “butcher dogs.” A Professor Heim picked the smooth-coated Greater Swiss out from a show ring of Bernese Mountain Dogs and because it looked like the ”butcher dog” he had once seen, he gave it the name “Greater Swiss.”

The Greater Swiss was brought to the United States around 1968 and has since been recognized by the AKC but is not found in any numbers. It’s rather an uncommon breed in America even though it ranks #90. This breed is quite territorial and vigilant, always ready to protect her family and home. The AKC registered the breed in 1985.


Yes. Easy to train. The Mountain Dog loves training and wants to please everyone. The best way is with clicker training and positive reinforcement, both for the dog and for you. It's simple and very effective.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Swiss Mountain Dog puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog puppies are relatively easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


This is a very loyal, devoted family companion pet and protector. She can be sensitive so training should be on the positive side. The Greater Swiss is a calm, laid-back and gentle with kids and other household pets. The breed is not aggressive.

If you happen to get a Greater Swiss puppy with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Maybe. Some can be wary of strange dogs. This is not an aggressive breed and generally will get along with other dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Usually not a problem This is a friendly breed.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes if introduced by her owner. She’s wary, even protective at first.


Not very playful. Maybe some fetch with a ball.


Moderately affectionate. The Greater Swiss needs to be with her family. She is a loyal family dog that wants lots of family interaction and companionship.

Good with children

Yes. Does well with kids, Tolerant and romps with children.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. Greater Swiss Dogs are good companions for seniors. She’s loyal and a good protector. The senior must be able to walk and rive a car to the vet. This is a highly interactive breed so she's good for seniors. If longevity or training are issues, find a Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue group or kennel and get a dog 2 or 3 years old that is house trained and knows a few commands. It will save some headaches for the senior!

Living environment

Apartment, farm, condo, anywhere is okay.

The Swiss Mountain Dog would appreciate a fenced-in medium size backyard where she could chase a ball and play a brisk game of fetch for that needed exercise.

Energy level

Not a high energy dog.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate exercise needs. A good walk or two daily on leash and some play time with a ball.


Yes, good watchdog.

Guard dog

Somewhat. She will bark but is not very aggressive.




Brush weekly, 2 to 3 times a week when shedding. Get a stiff bristle brush from your pet store.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Swiss Mountain Dog puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breeders with puppies for sale.

Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue At the time of this writing, Petfinder is listing only 28 Swiss Mountain Dogs for the entire country. That figure can change of course
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but this is a rare and scarce breed. Try a search online for Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue and also add "Greater" to the name. Look for "kennels and dogs for sale" under the breed name too.

Health Issues For The Swiss Mountain Dog
Below are the illnesses or medical problems listed for the Swiss Mountain Dog by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking. You may notice your Swiss Mountain Dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Panosteitis—Intermittent lameness caused by excessive formation of bone of differing maturity of some joints in young Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds.

  • Splenic torsion—Abnormality of the spleen, causing great abdominal pain, possibly throwing up and indigestion as the spleen is free to “float” around. Very rare disease.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Epilepsy - A serious seizure disorder that appears in dogs from 2 to 4 or 5 years of age.

  • Female urinary incontinence. Not too common.

Other health problems could occur with your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. If you notice any problems with your pet, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide

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