Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Swissy the "ideal family dog" as portrayed on television and in books?
While the Swissy can become an excellent family companion, no dog is just born that way! They, like other dogs, require extensive socialization and training to become a well mannered canine family member. Socialization must include early and frequent exposure to all manner of people and situations so that they learn how to properly interact with all ages of people and react to varied sights and sounds. Additionally, the Swissy is a very social breed and needs frequent interaction with their family. They will not be content confined in the backyard with the only family contact coming at feeding time and an occasional play time. Swissys must be kept as members of the family and included in the family's ongoing activities. A Swissy which is excluded from this type of interaction can become excessively shy or possibly aggressive toward people.
What is a Swissy's usual temperament?
Swissys have what could be characterized as a "working temperament" as they were originally bred to do drafting work, livestock herding and guarding of the farm. As most Swissys are not actively involved in drafting or herding, it is the guarding/watch abilities that are most frequently seen. Swissys are naturally territorial and can at times be quite protective of their home and family. A Swissy's temperament would be much closer to that exhibited by the average Rottweiler , rather than that of a Labrador or Golden Retriever. Swissys will generally approach a stranger barking loudly (sometimes with hair raised), which can be quite intimidating, although once signaled by their owners they will generally become friendly. Of course, individual Swissy's temperaments can vary from individual to individual, ranging from high energy, busy and bold to more laid back, calm and sometimes aloof. A Swissy, like other working breeds, can be an excellent companion however they are often not an appropriate breed for a first time dog owner or individuals who are not familiar with large working breeds.
Are Swissys good with children?
Swissys generally do enjoy the attention of children. However, with small children or toddlers a Swissy puppy can inadvertently knock the child down and possibly injure them. So it is very important that young children are never left unattended with a Swissy or any other breed of dog for that matter. Additionally, Swissy puppies must be taught how to play appropriately with children, so they do not play too rough for the child. And conversely, a child must be instructed to treat the puppy with respect and kindness.
How are they with pets and livestock?
Swissys do seem to get along very well with other dogs and many other types of animals. However, as the Swissy does have a well developed prey drive it is important that they be socialized to other pets and livestock while they are young, and be trained to how they are expected to behave. Many Swissys will naturally attempt to herd livestock, and must be trained to refrain from this, if necessary.
What are the major health concerns of Swissys?
Swissys share many of the same major health concerns of other large breed dogs, such as; hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Osteochrondrosis Dissecans (OCD), bloat, splenic torsion, urinary incontinence and epilepsy. Please see our page on Health Concerns for more detail on these conditions.
Are Swissys easy to train?
Swissys respond well to positive training methods and are eager to please their owners. However, they can be stubborn at times and do become bored with numerous repetitions. Due to this Swissys are not among the best breeds for competitive obedience. Additionally, Swissys do seem to be slower than average to housetrain, due to a combination of their slow rate of physical and mental maturity. It is not unusual for a Swissy to be up to nine months of age before they are totally trustworthy alone in the home.
How big will a Swissy get and how fast do they grow?
Adult swissy males will range in size from 110-140 pounds and stand from 25-28 inches at the shoulder. Females are smaller weighing from 85-110 pounds and standing 23-27 inches. Swissy puppies can vary dramatically in size at eight weeks (10-25 pounds) and grow rapidly thereafter gaining from 6 to15 pounds per month. However, their ultimate adult size is regulated by their genetics, therefore their size at 8 weeks and growth rate cannot be correlated to their ultimate size. Over feeding your puppy will not make their final adult size any larger, but will only led to a fat puppy with possible orthopedic problems.
Do Swissys drool?
No, Swissys are a dry mouthed breed.
Where can I meet a Swissy in person?
There are many venues where Swissys and their owners are available to meet with you and introduce you to the breed. The American Kennel Club has numerous all-breed dog shows each year, in which Swissys are often exhibited. A listing of AKC shows and events can be found at www.akc.org. Regional Swissy Clubs are also a good resource to locating local Swissy events, which in addition to AKC events often have working events such as drafting, herding, weight pull, etc., in which the public is invited to attend to view Swissys at work. The regional club in the Pacific Northwest US, is the Cascade Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club, www.cascadeswissyclub.com. The Cascade Club's web site has an extensive listing of Breed Information Contacts that are available to give you more information about the breed and also specific events that the breed is involved in. And finally if you believe the breed is right for you requesting a home visit with a breeder or Swissy owner is invaluable to making the determination if the breed would be a good fit for your home. Please feel free to contact us here at Painted Mountain if you would like to setup an appointment to visit our Swissys.
Is the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog the right dog for you?