Descended from the Mastiffs of ancient Rome, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a dog of majesty and dignity. His history, however, is not a royal one. He has quietly made his reputation by centuries of hard work for the farmers and villagers of the Swiss Alps.
The "Swissie" was used mainly as a cattle-driving dog, and was the most common dog in the Alps until the late 1800s. Swissie owners allowed their dogs to interbreed with dogs belonging to friends and neighbors. The working ability of the dogs, and not their appearance, was the only breeding consideration. Rottweilers and Saint Bernards were likely part of some of these interbreedings.
The Swissie has a thick neck, broad chest, and muscular thighs. It is a sturdy, full-bodied and alert dog, never clumsy. As a member of a family, he is gentle and calm, loving and obedient.
The Swissie's coat is always short, but his markings are like the Bernese Mountain Dog's--mostly black, with white on the chest, face, tail, and feet. His thick, double coat requires once- or twice-weekly brushing. Nose is always black; eyes are never blue.
Excerpts from the standard
General Appearance: striking, tri-colored, large, powerful dog; sturdy enough
to pull loads.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--males, 25 1/2 to 28 1/2 inches at the withers; females, 23 1/2 to 27 inches.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was not considered a specific breed until the early 1900s. In 1908, two Swissies were entered in a dog show as "short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs." The judge declared that the dogs should be a separate and distinct breed, which he named the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, or Greater Swiss Moun-tain Dog. The first Swissies came into the United States in 1968. But the breed is still small in numbers, even in Switzerland. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest and probably oldest of the Swiss mountain cattle-driving dogs.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.