Photo by John M. P. Knox

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog - Breed Profile:

Origin: Switzerland
Colors: Tri-colour
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
Dominance: Moderate
Noise: Average barker

Physical characteristics

The Greater Swiss Mountain is a large dog with a strong, muscular built. The body is slightly longer than tall. The front legs are straight and powerful, with rounded, compact feet. The chest is broad and deep, with the breast bone extending slightly ahead of the legs. The skull is wide and flat, with a slight stop; the length of the skull should be approximately equal to the length of the muzzle. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The nose and the eye rims are black. The eyes are dark brown. The medium size triangular ears are gently rounded at the tip; they hang down close to the head when the dog is relaxed. The tail is long.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog weighs 85 to 145 pounds. The height is 23 to 27 inches. Females tend to be smaller.


The Swissy has a very loyal and protective nature without being aggressive. It is an excellent watchdog that will bark at strange noises and intruders. Courageous, loyal, and steady. Very eager to please, this dog loves to be part of the family and participate in all your activities. Great around children. Although this breed is known to occasionally chase, proper training and human leadership should correct this behaviour. Slightly territorial, the Swissy should be introduced to newcomers, but it will quickly warm up to those the family accepts. Generally good with other dogs and non-canine pets.

Coat and grooming

The double coat consists of dense outer hair approximately 1-2 inches long, and a thick undercoat. The Swissy comes in black colour with rich rust (tan) and white markings. On the head, tan markings are common over each eye, on each cheek and on the underside of the ears. On the body, they usually appear on both sides of the forechest, on all four legs and underneath the tail. White markings are common on the head (blaze), the muzzle, the tip of the tail, and on the chest. This breed requires regular brushing. Shedding is average.


Prone to bloat and hip dysplasia. Many Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have distichiasis, a condition when extra lashes curl inwards and scratch the eye. Although it may not cause significant problems, distichiasis sometimes requires a surgical correction. Some lines have incidences of epilepsy and digestive disorders. The lifespan is under 10 years.

Other interesting facts

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was developed in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland, descending from the Roman Mastiffs brought to the area more than 2000 years ago. This breed was originally used for draft work, livestock management (herding and guarding) and as a farm sentinel.
These dogs are slow to mature. Puppyhood can last up to 2-3 years.