Great Swiss Mountain Dog

Last updated April 2010

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Distinctively marked, tri-colour dog. Sturdy, agile, well muscled with heavy bone. Marked difference between the sexes.


Multi-purpose working dog capable of draught duties; devoted to those around him.


Self-assured, alert and watchful. Even natured. Confident with strangers.

Head and skull

Skull strong, broad and flat without coarseness. Skull and muzzle of approximately equal length. Width of skull approximately twice that of muzzle. Moderate stop, slight furrow. Strong, square muzzle, greater in length than depth. Lips well fitting, not pendulous. Full black pigmentation.


Hazel to dark brown, almond shaped, of medium size. Well-fitting eyelids. Eye rims black. Alert expression.


Medium sized, set on fairly high. Triangular in shape, lying flat in repose. When alert, brought slightly forward and raised at the base. Well covered with hair.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite.


Strong, muscular, of moderate length. Without dewlap.


Shoulders long, strong and sloping. Well muscled, close fitting to the body and forming a distinct angle with the upper arm. Forearms well boned and straight when viewed from all sides. Slight slope to the pastern.


Slightly longer than height at withers. Forechest well developed. Broad, oval chest, ribs slightly rounded with depth of brisket reaching at least to the elbow. Back strong and level with broad, well-muscled loins.


Croup long, broad and gently sloping. Well-developed first and second thigh with moderate bend of stifle. Hocks broad, strong and distinctly angulated. Viewed from behind, hocks turning neither in nor out.


Well arched, round and compact. Strong nails.


Set on follows the line of the croup. Heavy, pendulous in repose, reaching to the hock. Raised when alert or moving but never curled or carried over the back.


Reaching out well in front with good drive from the hindquarters. Balanced stride in all gaits.


Dense, close lying double coat. Outer coat of medium length with grey or black undercoat.


Tricolour. Main colour black with symmetrical tan markings and clean white markings. The tan colour is situated between the black and the white markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on the inside of the ears, on both sides of the forechest, on all four legs and underneath the tail. The white markings are on the head (blaze and muzzle), running down unbroken from the throat to the chest, also on the feet and the tip of the tail. Between the blaze and the tan markings above the eyes, a band of black should remain. A white patch on the neck or a white collar around the neck is tolerated.


Height: Dogs 65-72cm (25½ -28¼ ins), bitches 60-68 cms (23½ - 26¾ ins).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.