Before you decide this is the right breed for you….
Have you done the following?
- Read An Introduction to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog by Shannon Hennigan
- Read Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, A Complete and Reliable Handbook by Jim Barton
- Read Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Kennel Club Dog Breed Series by Nikki Moustaki
- Read the “Swissy Owner’s Guide” available from the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America
- Joined the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America and any other regional club
- Searched for as much information as possible on the breed
- Become familiar with large breed dogs
- All family members are comfortable around large breed dogs
- Researched training classes in your area
- Researched Veterinarians that know large breed dogs in your area
- Researched all medical issues of this breed as well as dogs
- Investigated pet health insurance
- Read books on housebreaking, training and care of dogs
- Met some Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs in person
- Have an adequate home and yard for a large breed dog
- Plan on having this dog as a family pet, sharing your living space with it
- Ability to afford a premium dog food, medical care, training classes and other necessary items
- Full intention to fulfill your obligation to man’s best friend!
If you have said yes to all of the above items, and still desire to find out more about the breed, then contact as many breeders as possible and plan to be patient. Often times the breeders do have waiting lists for puppies and responsible breeders do not breed to meet demands. Always look for a puppy from a responsible breeder. Talk to and/or visit with as many breeders as possible. You will want to stay in contact with your breeder for the lifetime of your pet. For a listing of Swissy breeders’ web sites click here.
Make sure you are purchasing an AKC registered Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Many puppy mills will use other pet registries where reputable breeders use AKC to register their puppies.
Ask your potential breeder about the following:
- Have parents been x-rayed and cleared of hip and elbow dysplasia? Ask to see proof
- What is the temperament of the parents? Meet the parents whenever possible
- Ask about eye certification of the parents (OFA Eye Clearance). Ask to see the proof
- Ask about the longevity of the parents as well as close relatives
- Ask about bloat and splenic torsion
- Ask about any known bleeding disorders
- Ask about epilepsy and if there are any relatives in the pedigree that have it;
- Good breeders will know the background of their dogs and will know how much epilepsy is in the pedigree. Bottom line is every Swissy line has epilepsy somewhere in the background. Quality breeders will know where it is and will try to breed away from it.
- Ask if both parents are AKC registered on a full, breeding registration
- Ask how puppies are raised, (home or kennel). Socialization to humans is very important
Does the breeder have a contract? Ask for a copy and read it and be honest with what you are looking for in your puppy. A responsible breeder puts each puppy in the best possible home. If you get a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, please be a responsible pet owner! Realize that these are big, strong dogs that require obedience and socialization.
More things to think about:
- The temperament should be calm and steady, often bold. A Swissy is athletic, but does not need hours of exercise. However, you need to be prepared that some are high energy and may need a productive outlet for that energy
- Swissies love humans, but often jump, shove their body against and have large paws that they are willing to demand attention with. They will naturally want to pull even when on a leash
- Many are watchdogs with a fierce bark. They can often scare people (especially children) when they announce visitors…or in some cases announce that your neighbor has visitors
- Most accept your guest with a happy tail wag, however, some are more wary, shy, spooky or aggressive. Early socialization is essential
- Some Swissies have a high prey drive and will chase children and other animals
- The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is related to the Rottweiler, Mastiff, St. Bernard and the other Swiss Mountain Dog breeds.
Consider getting pet health insurance. Many issues that can happen to a Swissy are expensive. We recommend the following plans (click on image to visit site):
Research your potential puppy’s family history at the GSSH site:
To learn a bit more about the breed, watch the Animal Planet special on them, but please keep in mind this is a TV special and contains trained Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.