Breed History

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was first introduced into the United States of America in 1968. J. Frederick & Patricia Hoffman and Perrin G. Rademacher imported the first swissies to the United States. In 1970 the first litter of puppies were whelped here. Efforts continued in the United States to establish the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog with much effort from Dr. Howard and Gretel Summons. On July 1, 1995 they became fully recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and compete in the Working Group. Click here for the official AKC Breed Standard.

Prior to their arrival in the United States, they were native to Switzerland. Their family tree traces back to the Mastiff type dogs of the Roman Legions. More recent ancestors include those developed over hundreds of years by farmers and other tradesmen in central Europe. It is here that the dogs worked as cart pullers, drovers, protectors and loyal friends. Historically, this is a breed that was preserved. Click here for an article on the brink of extinction.

Click for some historical photos of Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest of four Swiss Sennenhunde breeds. The others are the Bernese Mountain Dog, Entlebucher and Appenzeller. All four breeds share the same brilliant tri-color markings. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is also related to the St. Bernard and the Rottweiler.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was found mainly in the mountain areas of Switzerland during the 1860’s, however, by the end of the century it was thought by some to have disappeared. In 1908 two dogs were exhibited at the Swiss Kennel Club (SKC) as shorthair Bernese Mountain Dogs. The judge that day was Dr. Albert Heim of Zurich, a famous dog expert. Dr. Heim recognized these dogs as a group that belonged in it’s own category. Heim named the dog “Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund”. After that people worked to rescue this long lost breed and expand their gene pool. Even today, it is still a breed with a small gene pool.

Additional information on the history of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.