There are four Swiss sennendogs: The Appenzeller Sennenhund, The Entlebucher Sennenhund, The Berner Sennenhund and The Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, which translates into Greater Swiss Mountain dog in English.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, also called Swissy, is the largest of the 4, and most probably also the oldest of them.
In the beginning of the 20th century these dogs were nearly extinct until two of them showed up at a dog show in Switzerland and were recognized as the large sennenhund.
In 1909 the breed was recognized in the Swiss studbook. Since then their numbers grew very slowly, and today they are still a rare breed.
They have a wonderful, soft character. They are supposed to be gentle, strong, brave and very loyal to their owners. They are true family dogs, not suitable to be held in kennels or gardens, but with their families in the house. Leaving them alone for a full day is also something a Swissy will not appreciate, although it is normally not a problem to leave them alone for a couple of hours per day.
Because of their soft character, training should be gentle, consequent and based on trust.
Praising the dog when he behaves well works better than punishing him when he misbehaves, the latter might lead to a distrustful, fearful dog, which is unwanted. Swissies thrive on praise and attention.
Females weigh between 40 and 55 kgs with a height at shoulder level of 60 – 68 cm.
The males weight between 50 and 65 kgs with a shoulder height between 65 and 72 cm.
On the left of the picture you see a 2 year old female and on the right a 2 year old male.
So Swissies are big dogs!
They are known to be fond of children and are generally friendly to other dogs. They can be protective of their family and more distant to strangers.
When they are around cats, chickens, or any other animals starting at a young age they will consider them part of he family and can live together without problems.
In and around the house they are good guardians who will alert you through a loud and deep bark if they think there is something suspicious around.
Swissies take long to mature, only at the age of 2,5 – 3 they will be fully grown and adults. They can show puppy behavior even when their size might make you think they are fully grown, which also makes them sometimes a bit rough when playing as a youngster. Once adults they become calmer.
This also means that generally they are not quick learners, which does not mean they cannot learn! There are Swissies that do really well in obedience, tracing trails, cart pulling, herding and so on. Swissies are working dogs from origin so there is nothing they like to do more than working for their bosses.
Swissies are generally easy to train but require more patience.
Despite their size Swissies are relatively active dogs. Once grown up they can enjoy long walks and you can bring them on holiday or shopping. In the house they are normally calm, once they are adults.
Swissies were bred to pull carts of milk in Switzerland and that is something that is still noticeable….swissies pull on the leash towards something that is more interesting than you.
It is important to train them already at a very young age not to pull on the leash as it will be very difficult to walk them once they weigh 60 kg !
Best way to do this is to ensure that you are always more interesting than anything else around, which can be achieved by bringing treats on walks as the biggest hobby of a Swissy is eating, and to stop every time he pulls, and only walk again when the they are not pulling anymore. When you start doing this at a young age he will know that pulling means a standstill…and that is not what he wants !
Swissies are wonderful family dogs when they are raised in a good way, friendly, calm and gentle. A true friend for adults, children and other animals.