Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have large, muscular frames—slightly longer than tall—that are covered in short, dense coats. They usually come in black with rust and white markings. Swissys have large, broad heads with dark eyes and triangular ears that hang close. Their thick, tapered tails are carried low. Overall, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs look sturdy but nimble.
Great Swiss Mountain Dogs are very amiable household companions, generously sharing space and getting along with everyone in the family, including cats. They get very tight with their families and love being involved in activities and special occasions.
Sometimes, Swissys can be a little standoffish with new people. They are very alert to environmental changes, barking at odd sounds and smells. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs make very effective watchdogs.
Big as they are, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs will be happy living in apartments as long as they get plenty of exercise. A good walk will satisfy them—Swissys are not really into jogging, especially in warm weather.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can live as long as 12 years. Common health problems include hip dysplasia, eye problems and epilepsy. They are fairly easy to groom, needing only regular brushing. They shed every spring and fall.
Hailing from the remote, mountainous regions of Switzerland, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was used primarily as a farm dog. These robust canines, which descended from ancient Roman Mastiffs, pulled carts to market and herded flocks of sheep. When 19th-century technology took over, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs dropped in number. Slowly, dog enthusiasts have been restoring the breed.