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Great Swiss Mountain Dog

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog is a sturdy, agile and well-muscled breed. Males of this breed are markedly bigger and heavier boned than females, but both genders are impressive with broad heads, strong chests and alert, deep brown eyes. The richly marked coat is short and close fitting with a dense insulating undercoat.

7 – 9 years
50 – 70kg
60 – 72cm
Distinctive tri-coloured markings of white and tan over a black coat
UK Kennel Club Groups
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog breed is prone to:
- Gastric dilatation volvulus 
- Epilepsy¹ which is a condition where abnormal brain function can lead to seizures which damage the brain.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
None but there are several recommended schemes that the Kennel Club recommends which can be found here.

¹M. K. Boudreaux et al, 'P2Y12 receptor gene mutation associated with postoperative haemorrhage in a Greater Swiss Mountain dog', 2011, Veterinary Clinical Pathology


Despite being a working and general farm dog, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog is a family-oriented breed who loves to be with people, and will not thrive chained or kennelled. They have a natural instinct to guard and protect and must be socialised thoroughly from a young age.

They are slow to mature, both mentally and physically, retaining puppy-ish behaviour well into their 3rd year of age, and this must be taken into account when considering this breed. A 3-year-old puppy of full adult height is capable of being a nuisance and a danger, even though their intention will be fun and games!

Did You Know?

  • The Great Swiss Mountain Dog very nearly died out in the late 1800’s. Albert Heim who saved the breed had to search the Alpine farms and eventually found 7 or 8 true examples of the breed, which he used as his basis to increase numbers.
  • Originally the Great Swiss Mountain Dog was so closely linked to the St Bernard that any Great Swiss puppy who was born with red and white markings was considered to be a St Bernard. This continued until Heim and the Swiss Kennel Club members standardized the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds in the early 1900’s.
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