The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, is a dog of great strength and strong-will. It was an originally a herding dog, but was later used for drafting. They are also known as the “poor-man’s horse”. They are believed to be descended from large mastiff type dogs brought over with the Roman soldiers in the first century B.C., although another theory states that they arrived many centuries earlier with Phoenician traders. Either way these dogs were left behind in the Alps and created into the four Swiss Sennenhund breeds. Of the four breeds the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the larges. With of the rise in popularity of the Saint Bernard (The Saint Bernard had help being produced from the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog also with the Rottweiler.), the Swissys almost became extinct. The Swissy was thought to be extinct until the turn of the 20th century.
In 1908, an owner named Franz Schertenlieb entered his Swissy in the Swiss Kennel Club. This sent out a search for all the best specimens of the Swissy to use in a strict breeding program. Slowly the breed numbers grew. The First Greater Swiss Mountain Dog’s were introduced to the United Stated in 1968, and were recognized provisionally by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1985 and received full recognition in 1995. Then it was recognized by the UKC in 1992.
Living in the Alps, the Swissy worked side-by-side with their owners as helpers and companions. The Swissy can do any job on the farm. They are great at guarding the family and livestock. He is a herder of livestock. They are known to make rounds and check on anything from the crops to farm equipment. They need to make sure everything is still in their place and nothing new is around that shouldn’t be there. They are also very good at entertaining their family with silly tricks and antics. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog love to pull a cart. They were believed to pull butchers and dairy carts, and during the war time they were enlisted by the military to help transport supplies and firearms over the mountain regions that could not be traveled by cars.
To this day the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is still a very loyal and hard working breed.