Greater Swiss Mountain Dog?

My husband and I are looking for our next dog. We have always had labs (yellow so you can see the dirt on them before they get into the house lol!) and growing up in the 90’s I had a Bernese Mountain Dog which has so far been my favourite breed. Love the size, look and personality of the breed, but I did not like all the hair. He was always hot and hated the summer and being outside then. He lived on the AC grate. We travel a lot to horse shows in Canada and the US all summer long so I would hate to leave a long haired dog outside while we show. It would be unfair in my opinion. We do have a LQ trailer with AC, so they can go inside if its really hot, but we also like to spend time with our dogs and like to keep them outside with us under a tent since we spend so much time outdoors during the summer months.

My husband and I live on a farm with 4 ponies, a barn cat and an older yellow lab (who is perfect in every way). We have never owned more than one dog at a time, but I’m hoping my lab can teach a young pup the ropes and hopefully rub off some great habits (honestly, our lab is perfect in every way!! I’ve never owned such a perfect dog and I wish he could live forever. He is 11 now and starting to slow down but will still play with young dogs and can move around really well).

I have known about Swissys for many years but my husband has always had labs so I just went with it. He now has no issues with getting a Swissy, but I’ve never met one in person. I would think they would be similar to a Berner, but I was hoping some people had some info/insight on this wonderful breed. I have found a local breeder and they will have pups in December, but I would love to hear back from others what they know about the breed.

Any info would be appreciated. The good, bad and the ugly!

Thanks in advance!

An entlebucher (Sp) is a small Swiss breed. Know a couple, - nice dogs, friendly, less hair …

I don’t have any first hand experience but have chatted with a Swissy owner/breeder/handler who was set up near us at a dog show. I think I remember her saying something along the lines of they’re a sharper dog compared to a Berner. While Berners many times seem like lovable, go-with-the-flow characters, I don’t believe the GSMD is quite like that. It overall seemed like they require a bit more dog savvy than some of the others out there. But, again, I have no first hand experience, so the breeder near you would probably be super helpful.

I have know quite a few of them - they all had great temperments. They do Not live long - and their hips seem to go out toward the end and have to have a harness with a handle so you can lift them up when the hips start deteriorating . They shed - as you know with labs - shorter haired dogs shed 24/7 - 12 months of the year. You may want to ask a breeder, but I think they live anywhere from 8 to 11?

A good breeder should be able to answer this question - they are similar breeds so someone in the breed should be able to explain how they differ. If you liked the Berner, I’d definitely be more concerned about finding a GSMD breeder that breeds to the standard for temperament and does health screenings of the parents. Otherwise, it’s not really possible to predict the temperament anyway. OFA recommends hip and elbow screenings at minimum.

Friends have one. She’s lovely and she’s BIG. Her owners are really fit, healthy people in their 70’s and she is a lot of dog when she wants to go one way and they want to go another! Sweet dog, with a formidable bark that makes guests and intruders pause. As a puppy, she needed day care because living on a farm wasn’t enough socialization for her.

I actually met my very first one yesterday! A store customer brought her’s in, and he was very sweet. Definitely a very big boy!

Thanks everyone! I have been doing a lot of research and have spoken with a couple of breeders.

The Swissy’s are more mastiff like in dispostion and looks from my understanding. They are similar to the Berner, but do act slightly differently. I’m still quite interested in the breed and I’m used to shorter life spans (our Berner was put down at 5 so a really short life). Labs tend to be around 10-14 as well… Our 11 year old lab is slowing down quite a bit and gave us a bit of a scare with cancer the other week. We had a lump removed from his leg but he is doing well.

I did know that they shed all the time (as does my lab!) and that they have the 2 coats. This does not bother me at all, I’m so used to it!

I plan on taking my pup to classes to socialize but the dog will be going to all of our horse shows all summer so will be super socialized by that time. I do find that really important no matter the breed of dog :slight_smile:

I mentioned Entlebucher earlier - they are the third member of the Swiss family, smaller more light weight but similar colouring. A friend has one - she is friendly to strangers, and generally not so much dog as the larger versions.
Might be worth researching - definitely more rare.

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@Foxtrot - Yes, I have heard of and looked at the Entlebucher. I’m not a fan of the size of the dog as I tend to like a 100lb + breed. I know, crazy!! But thank you for the reccomendation! I wonder if there is any breeders around me. I would like to look into that…

Just found out that the dog I was thinking of when I read this is an Entlebucher. She is absolutely lovely but very high energy. Her people are very active - own a farm and do a lot of hiking etc - so she’s perfect for them. Another friend has a Swissy. I don’t know her well but have never heard a bad word about her, and this is in a busy horse farm with lots of dogs around context. Not as high energy, bigger, beautiful, and just a sweet dog. Pretty sure she’s from Swiss Run in VT.

I have dogs I show in performance venues, particularly agility (Standard Poodles, not Swissys) but there is a very involved Swissy breeder about an hour from me on Long Island, NY. She has bred numerous champions and I’ve seen her at some obedience trials as well. She is also pretty involved in herding and a couple of my friends (non Swissy owners) take herding lessons from her with their dogs. I see you are in Ontario, but you might want to reach out to her to see if she knows any breeders closer to you that she could refer you to. Matterhorn Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. Laurie Carmody. You also might want to check out her website, she has lots of information regarding breed characteristics, health issues, etc…


I love the Entlebucher Mountain Dog breed. This breed has the independent spirit of other herding breeds, but still relishes spending time with their people — especially if they give this dog a job to do. They can be territorial and will bark to warn you of visitors. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are highly affectionate with our family members, and they’re fairly easy to groom (

We have a Swissie at the barn. My BO would never recommend one and will not get another. She barks aggressively at everyone, except those that ply her with treats. She has a HUGE bark that is quite disrupting when a lesson or activity is going on. She is difficult to train, and my BO got excellent professional help. She is a different sort…Can’t say as I like her a lot.
As a result of her aggressive stance and loud bark, she just stays at the house a lot…I think, if you know and love the breed, you’d be fine, but as a general, friendly, lovable sort…not so much.

Oh wow! Did she get the dog from an AKC breeder or an amish breeder? That temperament is absolutely NOT normal for a swissy whatsoever.

I know this is an older thread, but since it got bumped back up… I am a huge swissy fan!

Greater swiss as already mentioned are the largest of the four swissy breeds. They are not inbred like the berners and 10-12 years is a fairly accurate lifespan. As far as personality, they are more similar to a “less-intense” rottweiler than a berner.

Entelbuchers are the smallest of the swissies and aside from looks are not at all similar to the swissy. I would compare them to a less energetic and less yappy (but still very demanding) jack russel terrier. While all four swiss breeds are working dogs, entels are 40 lb dogs who were literally bred to body slam livestock. They are good family dogs but are demanding and pushy.

I highly, highly, highly recommend ANYONE looking for a swissy to check out Janelle at Seneca GSMD in Indiana. She raises and shows exceptional dogs and had a bitch win the national in 2019 (didn’t have one last year due to covid). The judges like to place the bigger dogs over the bitches since they are usually more substantial, so it was a huge deal to win with a bitch (that she bred herself). Plus, she is also an exceptional dressage rider!


I am sure she got her from an AKC breeder, but this is the only swissy I know, so she could very well be an exception.

Hmm. There aren’t a lot of AKC swiss breeders in the US. I think the amish typically breed CKC (which is not the same). Really shocked to hear about one with that personality.

I was surprised and happy to see a post about Swissies!
The Amish are indeed breeding AKC Swissies. And if they are AKC, they can be listed on the AKC marketplace. I often see owners posting on Swissy FB pages about the problems they are having with ones from the Amish. Health and temperament wise.
Berners average life span is 7-10 years, Swissies are 10-12. Dogs never live long enough. but IMO, that is a good lifespan for such a large breed.
I own two Swissies. I LOVE my dogs. Are they for everyone, of course not. I don’t think any breed is. Mine are farm dogs and sometimes show dogs, one is a Canine Good Citizen and has her Trick Dog title. She also has done well with Lure Coursing. The boy is younger and he will also do the same, minus the Coursing. And he will be a fabulous Therapy dog.
They are BIG dogs and have quite a bit of energy. Mine were well raised/socialized (but not any more than any other puppy I’ve raised) and have NEVER EVER shown aggression to humans or animals. They greet strangers with happy exuberance. This breed is known to be difficult to house train. And that has been my experience. They are super strong, one of the things they were bred for was to pull carts. They were known back in the day as the poor man’s horse. So good leash training is important. These dogs are not stupid and I find mine to be sooooo very trainable and fun to work with. They also want to be with their people but are generally not neurotic if left alone.
Oh and the coat can vary a bit. One of mine is shorter haired and doesn’t shed much, and one has a bit longer hair and sheds like nuts. :smiley:
Of course, the breeding and the way a dog is raised makes all of the difference.

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Breeding a dog that can be registered is no indication of quality, at all. It only means the dog was bred by a registered sire and dam, not necessarily selected for breeding because they were good. They could have been the worst possible representative of the breed, but they are still registered because their parentage is known. It doesn’t mean anything.

Quality breeders have more than a piece of paper with a pedigree. The vast majority registered dogs are not of breeding quality. Even those with titles are not necessarily worthy of breeding.