Swiss Mountain Dogs---anyone familiar with them, females especially?

My daughter and her husband may decide on this breed for their next dog, their first purebred puppy. They already have 3 rescue dogs, and between us we have 4 rescue cats, so a puppy to bring up with the older ‘kids’ is the plan. They have an acre or more fenced, are very experienced dog owners, and my dd works from home.
So, if you know about this breed, I’m all ears! As live in grandma, I’ll be pretty involved and I’m used to baby weims myself. And fwiw, between us we have 7 rescue animals on the property, this one will probably be a purchased pup, so please just don’t bother posting if it’s about rescue. Not this time, thanks.

I’ve only known a couple, but they’re both super barn dogs. Doofy, friendly, a little bull in the china shop and not necessarily the most aware of their bodies, but good natured. They play hard and seem pretty high energy, but that may be youth as much as the breed - and probably don’t hold a candle to weims. :wink: They’re also beautiful, which never hurts. Pretty sure they’re from the same breeder in VT. Good luck and have fun!

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I have a now 8 month old Swissy who weighs in at 92lb so they are big dogs. As someone else mentioned, she has no idea of her size and will crash into things/people and really does love everyone!

I’m working with her with an e collar (educator) as her recall is not as good as I want (though I’m on a 70 acre farm, we are close to a road and she has been known to go down to it to chase bikers or birds) and to work on keeping calm on a leash when greeting people. She’s not aggressive in any way, but will jump all over people and just be obnoxious which is no good at her size! But she’s also still a pup so there’s that…

I was told by the breeder to make sure she is well socialized as they can be aloof with strangers if not brought up with the idea of them. So I took her everywhere with me when she was a pup - all of the dog friendly stores, walks etc. This has seemed to work for her as she’s very people and dog friendly.
A little too much so!

She also can pull like a train on leash. They have been known to pull 3,000 lb in competitions as remember they are cart dogs and can PULL!!! No harness for them as they just pull back. She even at her young age has literally launched me off my feet to see people/dogs/something to chase. I use a Perfect Pace halter on her at times and can stop her with a finger with it - it was recommended by others on a great facebook site called *Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club - I highly recommend this group as a lot of breeders are on there. You can ask any question and they will answer it with a lot of knowledge. My new e collar works for pulling as well, but I’ve only used it for a week so its still new to both of us. I have used the e collar and a leash on her regular collar (have a martingale collar but she literally just chokes herself on it) and we can approach people with minimal pulling.

My girl is not food or treat motivated so she has been a challenge to train. I always have a pocketful of liver treats but before the e collar, she really couldn’t have cared less about them. I also tried a squeaky toy which worked for a bit, but then stopped. Now with the e collar and some treats, so literally comes running, even from hundreds of feet away and on a scent! It really is a game changer.

I would have thought twice of getting her as a farm dog due to her high prey nature. She will chase anything that moves - birds, bugs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, deer but not the horses! Not a huge deal on a farm, but as I mentioned, we are close to a very busy road and she gets so focused when chasing birds that I constantly worry she will chase one across the road and that will be the end of her. Which is why I’m working so hard on her recall. She is amazing with my 4 ponies and they also just love her. She will just lay down in their paddock and watch them graze. They come up for kisses and she loves their sniffs and licks as well. My ponies will actually gently groom her. Its so funny to watch. She will also park herself outside of my riding ring and watch me ride. She never moves from the shade and will sit there for 40 + mins.

I would be careful if you have small animals there on the farm. I have heard they will kill chickens, sometimes by a mistake, but I wouldn’t trust my girl around them. She has chased our barn cat away which is too bad. I don’t think she would try to hurt the cat, but the cat is not impressed with her and will run away from her which she just loves! She loves to chase anything that runs.

She has a double coat but does not shed as much as you would think (at least so far!). She does hate the heat, really anything over 80F and will seek out the shade. So its early morning and evening romps for her, which works well for me. I only have had her as a young pup in the cold/snow here in Ontario, and she did not like it, but she was only a couple of months old. Will be interesting to see this winter.

But she’s a wonderful dog. Super happy all the time, loves to play, thinks she’s a lap dog, loves people but is quite a Velcro dog to me. Is independent but does love to be with her people. She’s sassy and can be vocal when she’s not happy or wants something. She is like a kid! Can get cranky when tired, wants what she wants, is super stubborn but oh so much fun!! I honestly have never loved a dog anymore than her. She is the best (though my husband prefers the perfect lab) and I’m totally smitten!

Make sure to vet the breeder she is coming from!! So important! Seizures are very common in the breed. If the breeder says they don’t have any or that its not an issue - stay clear! It is there and hopefully they have culled any dogs that have had it in their lines (my breeder was very honest about it and said she had one present it at 6 years old and she culled him right away). A lot of GI issues is common and something called Lick Fits which is mainly only in this breed - so several meals a day is best for them for life. Bloat is super common so many get stomachs tacked when they are spaying. Remember they are a giant breed and grow until they are 2. So late spaying is best. I’m waiting until at least her first heat which is usually over 1 years old. I’m going to hold off as long as I can. I’ve never had a female dog before so I’m going to try my best for the latest spaying as possible. It is more $ as she will be over 100lb so remember that as well. I have had quotes for over $1000 due to her size. I also have pet insurance for her. OCD is also common and my friends pup had it at 10 months in his shoulder. $9,000 for that surgery but she had Trupanion and it covered 90% of it. I also have Trupanion but have not had to use it fingers crossed

Kudos to you if you have read this all! Sorry for the long post!!


Great detailed info----ok to copy and send to my daughter? Thanks so much!!

For sure!! I truly love my Swissy and would get another in a heart beat. I may have to convince hubby though…it may be a battle I won’t win the next time as he’s such a lab lover.

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I also meant to say she is smart. Very smart. I was told they are a big doofus unintelligent breed. Very untrue with Harley. I kinda wish she was as little dumber ha ha!

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Thanks SO much!!! This pup will be a combined 40th bday present to each other—and they’re loving the research as much as they will the actual dog i think lol. Atm they’re both worrying a pup might be too much for their current pack, I’m glad they’re being so extremely thoughtful about the process for sure.

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I helped an elderly neighbor with her young Swissy - her daughter had gotten the dog and then basically dumped it at her mom’s acreage and moved on. Elsa was indeed a goofy doofus - but not in an unintelligent way. Just in an amiable, aw shucks kind of way. I went to basic obedience class with her and “Bev” (the daughter’s mom) came as well. Bev was a thin, tiny person and Elsa was a handful for her. Elsa and I would work through an exercise successfully - and then the trainer would have Bev do the same thing - that helped get Bev and Elsa to understand each other.

After about a year - and lots of fun classes and practice sessions, Bev’s daughter decided she wanted Elsa back as “Elsa missed her”… and just showed up one morning and loaded her into the car and left. I doubt that Elsa missed her at all. She was very happy at Bev’s little barn and taking classes with me and playing with the dogs here (including Berners) … if Bev had decided that Elsa was too much for her after all I would have gladly taken her in a heartbeat.

The daughter later told Bev that she was tired of Elsa’s “mess” and dumped her at a shelter… if only I had known…

I live and work on a farm up the road from Bev… and in the course of my time here there have been 2 1/2 Berners in residence (the 1/2 was one who only stayed whenever her owner was away - and he was away a lot). Sweet dogs… but not all that bright and poor Morris was returned to his breeder by his family as he could not be contained and was terrified of almost everything LOUD. Morris came here when he was 6 after the BO adopted him - and I spent a lot of the next 2 years helping him out, hunting him down when he left (we never figured out how he got over a solid 5 foot fence without any trace) and reassuring him through his assorted crises. Loved the poor guy despite all his issues and he eventually died of cancer… but I digress. He was not a Swissy.

YES to the Swissy!! I hope Elsa found an amazing home with people who understood her… she would be 8 now.

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Just met one on the trail last week while hiking with our pup. She was very polite however the owner did say that she shed a lot, like a whole lot, as in the house is always covered in dog hair.

Besides the challenges already presented, there is the undeniable reality that the giant breeds do not live all that long. Nine is very old for some giant breeds.


That is what I thought. But when I joined the Swissy group on FB, you would be surprised to see how many are 12+ years old. They do tend to have less health issues than Berners (ours was 5 years old when he got Wobblers - we did the surgery and we had to put him down shortly afterwards. We were heartbroken of course).