The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, an early descendant of the large Mastiff-type dogs, was developed in the
remote and isolated areas of Switzerland. It was adapted to general farm use as a herding dog, guard dog,
and utilitarian draft dog. Of the four Sennenhund breeds developed in Switzerland, the Greater Swiss
Mountain Dog is both the largest and the oldest. Though little known outside its country of origin for many years,
it was instrumental in the development of both the Saint Bernard and the Rottweiler.
Buster showing his beautiful tri color markings
By the late 19th century, much of the work previously done by the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was replaced by machines.
In 1908, a Greater Swiss was shown to the famous dog expert, Dr. Albert Heim of Zurich. It had been assumed that the
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog had already died out. With the urging of Dr. Heim, other specimens were located, and he called
upon breeders to save this ancient Alpine dog. By 1910, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was recognized by the Swiss Kennel Club.
The first Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was imported in the U.S. in 1968 and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was
formed to obtain wider recognition for this breed. In 1995, the American Kennel Club gave the breed full recognition status
with a Working Group designation.
This is still a rare breed. In Switzerland just over 100 puppies are born a year. In the U.S. 575 puppies were registered
in 2003 compared to the Laborador Retreiver which had over 150,000 puppies registered.