Although the information of its beginning is vague, the origin and historical background of Greater Swiss Mountain dog dates back to first century B.C. There are three stories that are usually told about these dogs’ origin. According to the first one, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog originated when Roman Legions invaded Switzerland. They brought along a Mastiff type dog, which is commonly known as molossers. Dogs of that kind had two jobs to do: they had to guard the troops at night and herd flocks which supplied the army with food. Molossers interbred with the local Swiss dogs and this was the beginning of the four famous breeds of Switzerland.
According to the second story, a Molossian kind of dog already existed in central Europe and when Romans brought their dogs, they mated the native dogs to produce the Sennenhunds. As for the third theory of their origin, that story states that the mastiff dogs were brought with Phoenicians in Spain in 1100 B.C. As they interbred with the local dogs of Europe, the kind began to spread all across Europe.
Whatever may be told about their origin, one thing that is told by everyone is that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs disappeared around the start of 20th century. Even though the Sennenhunds had existed in the Alps for quite a long time, this so called extinction was visibly noticed. At first, the dog was more commonly known as the ‘poor man’s horse’ because people used to buy it to pull carts. Because of its large size, it was used by cattle dealers, manual workers and farmers. However, once the Industrial Revolution started, machines took over the jobs of these animals, and this reason is thought to be the cause of their disappearance.
In 1889, in Winterthur, an International Dog Show was held. In the dog show, many kinds of Sennenhunds were displayed. It wasn’t until later in 1908 that this breed’s categories were made. During the 25th anniversary of the Swiss Kennel Club, it was the famous dog expert Dr. Albert Heim who recognized the breed with short hair as a new breed. According to him this breed was not that of Bernese Mountain Dogs, but a different breed of Sennenhunds. It was then that he christened these dogs as the ‘Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs’.
There were quite a few of these dogs in Switzerland. The reason for this was the meticulous nature of the dogs and the less availability of well bred bitches. For this reason, the appearance of this dog in the US was delayed until 1968. In the same year, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was also born. Till date, the organization is known for training this breed of dogs for weight pulling, herding, drafting and other security and life saving purposes.
Today, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog seems to the best dog to buy. You can keep it as a pet in your house or you can purchase it for security purposes. Like other large sized dogs, this dog usually has a high price and is more commonly used by the police department. Its large size and alert nature gives it an advantage to work for this purpose.