The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund or Grand Bouvier Suisse is a dog breed which was developed in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland. The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn or Senner, dairymen and herders in the Swiss Alps. The dogs are almost certainly the result of mating of indigenous dogs with large Mastiff-type dogs brought to Switzerland by foreign settlers. At one time these dogs were believed to have been among the most popular dogs in Switzerland. The breed was assumed to have almost died out by the late 19th century, as their work was being done by other breeds or machines, but they were rediscovered in the early 1900s.

It is a large, heavy-boned dog with incredible physical strength. Despite being heavy-boned and well-muscled, the dog is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Standard calls for a black, white and rust colored coat. These are big dogs.

This breed is a sociable, active, calm and dignified dog, and loves being part of the family. This breed is relatively healthy for their size; Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have far fewer problems than more popular breeds in the similar size range. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is considered the oldest of the four Swiss breeds. It is the largest of the four Sennenhund breeds; all four have the same colors and markings but are different sizes.


The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, muscular dog with a tricolour coat. Males should weigh around 45 to 59 kg and females 36 to 50 kg. Height at the withers is 66.8 – 74.4 cm for males and 64.6 – 70.6 cm for females. The length to height ratio is around ten to nine. There is black on top of the dog’s back, ears, tail and the majority of the legs. There should be rust on the cheeks, a thumb print above the eyes and also rust should appear on the legs between the white and black. There should be white on the muzzle, the feet, the tip of the tail, on the chest down and some that comes up from the muzzle to pass between the eyes. The fur is a double coat, the top coat being around 5 cm long, the bottom coat being thick and a type of gray which must be on the neck, but can be all over the body; with such an thick coat, most Sennenhund moult twice a year.


As with all large, very active working dogs, this breed should be well socialized early in life with other dogs and people, and be provided with regular activity and training if they are to be safely kept as a pet. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog ”is basically even tempered” and “a good family dog”.


One study in the United States found that about 98 percent of Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs ”carry the genes to produce epilepsy”. The number ofGreater Swiss Mountain Dogs that actually have epilepsy is not known. Other possible health problems are the same as those found in other large, heavy dogs, bloat and hip dysplasia, although the percentage of the breed affected by either ailment is not known.  Puppy buyers should make sure the sire and dam of their puppy have been tested for hip dysplasia, as it is an inherited condition and common in large dogs. However, many amateur breeders (so-called backyard breeders) and large commercial breeders (that sell puppies in lots to brokers and pet shops) will not do such health tests, as they are expensive; they also may breed the dogs before they are two years old, the earliest age at which tests are done. The Swiss breed club, the Klub für Grosse Schweizer Sennenhunde, has had breeding suitability tests that include testing for hip dysplasia since the 1960s, and does not allow dogs that test positive for hip dysplasia to be bred. In the 1980s, they began to test for shoulder dysplasia as well. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, although it has no Code of Ethics for breeders, strongly encourages members to “obtain passing clearances on their breeding stock” on elbows, hips and eyes, and the club maintains a health database.