Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund is a dog breeds, the largest of the traditional Swiss Sennenhunds, a dog type that includes four regional breeds. The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn or Senner, dairymen and herders in the Swiss Alps.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, muscular dog with a tricolour coat. Males should weigh around 110 - 140 lbs and females 90 - 120 lbs. Height at the withers is 66.8 - 74.4 cm (26.3 - 29.3 in) for males and 64.6 - 70.6 cm (24.6 - 27.8 in) 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".

No reliable information exists on the average lifespan of healthy Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, although many varying estimates are given by fanciers and kennel websites. Dog lifespans may vary in different countries, even in the same breed. Inbreeding, done to set breed type, or resulting from overuse of a popular sire, may contribute to a shorter lifespan. The Swiss breed club regulates the use of stud dogs in order to decrease this problem. Heavier dogs, such as the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, tend in general to have have shorter lifespans than medium and small size lighter dogs.

One study in the United States found that about 98 percent of Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs "carry the genes to produce epilepsy". The number of Greater 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.

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