These dogs are strong, active, and remarkably agile for their size. A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can be trained for weight-pulling competitions and/or to pull carts behind them carrying goods or even a person. They also excel at herding and pack hikes. Also, unlike other mountain dogs, they do not drool excessively. Prospective owners need to be prepared to give them lots of time and attention.
Swissies have a very strong pack instinct. They are protective of their family and training is important for them to learn their place. They want the pack to be together and get distressed when a member wanders off.
The Greater swiss mountain dog is part of the Sennenhund family of dogs that include the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, all of which are similar in colour and temperament but vary in size. The Sennenhund dogs were originally used to assist in general farmwork but they are also used as mountain rescue dogs in some areas of the Swiss mountains today.
The Greater swiss mountain dog is one of the larger species of dog, and adult males can often exceed 70 cm in height. As with other breeds of dog, the male Swissie is generally slightly larger than the female. The Greater swiss mountain dog has a short, thick coat and has beautiful markings that are black, white and tan in colour.
The Greater swiss mountain dog is thought to be one of the oldest of the Sennenhund breeds, as it was originally used for pulling carts. The Greater swiss mountain dog almost became extinct at the beginning of the 20th century when the need for dogs to pull carts was on the decline. Despite this though, the population has been saved and the Greater swiss mountain dog has been linked to the St Bernard, as despite the obvious colour difference, these two breeds of dog have a very similar build and are strongly believed to have very close ancestors.