Mountain dog breeds are truly a wonderous sight to behold. More often than not, these breeds are best recognised for their formidable size and extremely fluffy coats, specially developed for them to navigate the rough terrain and withstand the harrowing temperatures that comes with living and working at high altitudes.
Often working as livestock guardians, most mountain dog breeds were originally employed to protect flocks of sheep, cattle and even horses and would frequently battle fearsome foes such as wolves and bears to protect their charges. To this day, mountain dog breeds can be found working as search and rescue dogs or herding in the treacherous ranges across the world.
10 mountain dog breeds
If you’re looking for your next hiking buddy to explore the world with, you’re bound to find the right fit for you with our top 10 mountain dog breeds.
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
Hailing from near Berne in Switzerland, Bernese Mountain Dogs originally worked as all-round farm dogs and they saw many roles including everything from guarding to pulling carts. Today, they’ve become quite popular in family homes as they’re very lovable and make fantastic companions.
2. Entlebucher Mountain Dog
The smallest yet speediest of the Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog was bred as a livestock guardian and cattle drover, meaning speed was imperative so they could quickly track the members of the herd. Incredibly smart and independent, this breed can be a challenge to train and they’re incredibly high energy with a great love of play. So if you’re a competent dog owner that wants to go on adventures, the Entlebucher is the pup for you.
3. Appenzeller Sennenhund
This Swiss Mountain Dog is also known as the Appenzeller Mountain Dog or the Appenzell Cattle Dog. Bred to work as a livestock herder and draughter, this is an incredibly strong breed that’s used to work pulling very heavy carts (so you can imagine the need for proper lead training). Perfect companions for active families or individuals, Appenzeller Sennenhunds are very high energy due to their working roots.
4. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The oldest of the Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a giant canine that held similar roles of farm work, guarding and draughting. Fantastic as watchdogs, this breed will be quick to alert you to suspicious activity, but this trait also means they tend to be wary of strangers, so they will need a great deal of training and socialisation as puppies.
5. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Coming from the Caucasus Mountain range between Europe and Asia, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog was used as livestock guardians and home protectors. Incredibly fearless when carrying out their work, when in the home they’re very kind of loving to their family members. However, due to their very bold and independent natures, training can be quite a challenge and they’re only recommended for homes with plenty of experience.
6. Saint Bernard
Thought to date back to at least the 17th century, the Saint Bernard was named after the St Bernard Hospice in Switzerland where they were used to guard the grounds. According to legend, their natural ability as pathfinders and search and rescuers was discovered by accident as the monks would take the dogs with them as protection when they left the Hospice.
Today the big, drooly canine is popular in family homes as they’re incredibly sweet natured; and are generally predisposed to being good with kids. Their massive size may make them a bit of a hazard with very small children though!
7. Great Pyrenees
This great mountain dog breed with a gorgeous white coat looks like something out of a fantasy. Hailing from the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France, the Great Pyrenees was a guardian of families and flocks and worked precariously high up, protecting their charges from wolves and even bears! Due to their origins, this breed is generally very protective of their home and families, but they’re also very loving and kind and adore having cuddles with their people.
The Kuvasz is a Hungarian dog breed that dates back to the middle-ages; however, it’s thought that they actually originated in the Siberian Ural Mountains. Used as a protector of horses, sheep, cattle and even thieves, the Kuvasz is naturally very wary of strangers so a great deal of socialisation is required during puppyhood. If raised correctly and in a loving home, this mountain dog breed is loyal and very sweet with their family.
Newfoundlands are true gentle giants. Bred as working dogs, their extremely fluffy coats don’t just serve to make them look completely adorable, but it actually helps them withstand the snowy winters and icy waters of their homeland. Although not originating as a mountain dog and instead finding their first jobs as fishermen’s hands, the Newfoundland soon became employed as a water and mountain rescue dog. As pets they’re super affectionate and are often referred to as ‘nanny dogs’ due to their gentle natures with children.
10. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is an extremely old breed, so old in fact, no-one can really pinpoint when they came to be! Bred to survive the tough climates of the Himalayan Mountains, this breed is very hardy and robust, which made them excellent guard dogs. Interestingly, due to their guarding roots, many Tibetan Mastiffs today tend to be more active at night as this was when they’d have to sit up and watch for predators. Additionally, they tend to be very protective of their homes and wary of strangers, so lots of early socialisation and training will be needed. That’s our top 10 list of the amazing mountain dog breeds! Want to find out more about the different dog breeds of the world? Check out our guide on German dog breeds, next.