GSMD Breed Standard

These are the Breed Standards of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, as defined by the American Kennel Club and the breed's country of origin (the F.C.I. Standard).

Dogs shown in the United States are evaluated against their AKC approved breed standard.  However, it is very important to keep in mind the F.C.I. standard from the Swissy's country of origin (Switzerland).  While it does not significantly contradict the AKC standard, it is much more complete and descriptive, and something to keep in mind when considering what these dogs were bred to do in their native Switzerland.

Axel, looking very at home while rehydrating in Maroon Lake...Aspen, CO


American Kennel Club

Breed Standard of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog


General Appearance

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a Draft and Drover breed and should structurally appear as such. It is a striking, tri-colored, large, powerful, confident dog of sturdy appearance. It is a heavy boned and well muscled dog which, in spite of its size and weight, is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin.


Size, Proportion and Substance

Height at the highest point of the shoulder is ideally: Dogs: 25.5 to 28.5 inches. Bitches 23.5 to 27 inches. Body length to height is approximately a 10 to 9 proportion, thus appearing slightly longer than tall. It is a heavy boned and well muscled dog of sturdy appearance.



Expression is animated and gentle. The eyes are almond shaped and brown, dark brown preferred, medium sized, neither deep set nor protruding. Blue eye or eyes is a disqualification. Eyelids are close fitting and eyerims are black. The ears are medium sized, set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip, and hang close to the head when in repose. When alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base. The top of the ear is level with the top of the skull. The skull is flat and broad with a slight stop. The backskull and muzzle are of approximately equal length. The backskull is approximately twice the width of the muzzle. The muzzle is large, blunt and straight, not pointed and most often with a slight rise before the end. In adult dogs the nose leather is always black. The lips are clean and as a dry-mouthed breed, flews are only slightly developed. The teeth meet in a scissors bite.


Neck, Topline and Body

The neck is of moderate length, strong, muscular and clean. The topline is level from the withers to the croup. The chest is deep and broad with a slight protruding breastbone. The ribs are well-sprung. Depth of chest is approximately one half the total height of the dog at the withers. Body is full with slight tuck up. The loins are broad and strong. The croup is long, broad and smoothly rounded to the tail insertion. The tail is thick from root to tip, tapering slightly at the tip, reaching to the hocks, and carried down in repose. When alert and in movement, the tail may be carried higher and slightly curved upwards, but should not curl, or tilt over the back. The bones of the tail should feel straight.



The shoulders are long, sloping, strong and moderately laid back. They are flat and well-muscled. Forelegs are straight and strong. The pasterns slope very slightly, but are not weak. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. The dewclaws may or may not be present.



The thighs are broad, strong and muscular. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. Feet are round and compact with well arched toes, and turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws should be removed.



Topcoat is dense, approximately 1-1/4 to 2 inches in length. Undercoat must be present and may be thick and sometimes showing, almost always present at neck but may be present throughout. Color of undercoat ranges from the preferred dark gray to light gray to tawny. Total absence of undercoat is undesirable and should be penalized.



The topcoat is black. The markings are rich rust and white. Symmetry of markings is desired. On the head, rust typically appears over each eye, on each cheek and on the underside of the ears. On the body, rust appears on both sides of the forechest, on all four legs and underneath the tail. White markings appear typically on the head (blaze) and muzzle. The blaze may vary in length and width. It may be a very thin stripe or wider band. The blaze may extend just barely to the stop or may extend over the top of the skull and may meet with white patch or collar on the neck. Typically, white appears on the chest, running unbroken from the throat to the chest, as well as on all four feet and on the tip of the tail. White patches or collar on the neck is acceptable. Any color other than the "Black, Red and White" tri-colored dog described above, such as "Blue/Charcoal, Red and White" or "Red and White" is considered a disqualification. When evaluating the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, markings and other cosmetic factors should be considered of lesser importance than other aspects of type which directly affect working ability.



Good reach in front, powerful drive in rear. Movement with a level back.



Bold, faithful, willing worker. Alert and vigilant. Shyness or aggressiveness shall be severely penalized.



The foregoing is the description of the ideal Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Defects of both structure and temperament are to be judged more severely than mere lack of elegance because they reduce the animal's capacity to work. Any fault that detracts from the above described working dog should be penalized to the extent of the deviation.



Any color other than the "Black, Red and White" tri-colored dog described above, such as "Blue/Charcoal, Red and White" or "Red and White." Blue eye or eyes.


Approved: April 8, 2003

Effective: May 29, 2003



Federation Cynologique Internationale (F.C.I.)

Standard of the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund — FCI-Standard No. 58


Origin: Switzerland

Utilization:Originally watch and draught dog; present day aIso companion, guard and family dog.

FCI Classification-Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer type, Molossian type, Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs

Section 3: Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs


General appearance:

A tricolor, sturdy heavy boned and well muscled dog. In spite of his size and weight, he shows perseverance and mobility.


Important proportions:

Body length to height at withers = 1O: 9

Depth of chest to height at withers = 1: 2

Length of skull to length of muzzle = 1: 1

Width of skull to width of muzzle = 2: 1


Behavior - Temperament:

Confident, alert, watchful and fearless in everyday situations. Good natured and devoted towards those familiar to him. Self assured with strangers. Medium temperament.



Strong in relation to the body, but not heavy. Dogs stronger in head than bitches.


Cranial Region:

Flat and broad. The frontal furrow which begins at the stop gradually fades out towards the top. Stop: shallow


Facial Region:

Nose: always black. Nasal bridge straight, without furrow

Muzzle: strong, longer than its depth. Must not be pointed seen either from above or in profile

Lips: barely defined, close fitting. Color black

Teeth: complete, strong and regular scissor bite, The absence of just one (1) premolar (PM1 or PM2) is tolerated. Absence of molars M3 not considered

Eyes: almond shaped, medium size, neither deep set nor protruding. Hazel to chestnut brown, with alert friendly expression. Lids close fitting

Ears: medium size, triangular and set on fairly high. In repose hanging flat and close to cheeks, but raised forward when attentive. Well covered with hair, both inside and out

Neck: strong, muscular, rather thick set. No dewlap



Back: moderately long, strong and straight

Loins: broad and well muscled

Rump: long and broad. Falling away in a gentle slope

Chest: strong, broad, reaching to the elbows. Chest shaped like a roundish oval (seen in cross section); ribs neither flat nor barrel-shaped. Forechest well developed, noticeably broad

Belly: Belly and Hanks barely tucked up



Fairly heavy, reaching to the hocks, pendulous in repose. When alert and in movement, carried higher and slightly curved upwards, but never curled or tilted over the back




General: standing not too broad, straight and parallel seen from the front

Shoulders: long, strong, well laid back, close fitting to the body and well muscled, forming a not too obtuse angle with the upper arm

Forearm: heavy-boned and straight



General: straight, parallel and not too closse when seen from the back. Hocks and feet turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws must be removed.

Thighs: Broad, strong and well muscled

Hocks: Strong and well angulated.

Feet: strong, pointing straight ahead, tight, with well arched toes and strong nails.



free, striding, even movements in all gaits. Far reaching free forward movement with good drive from hindquarters. When trotting, limbs move in a straight line when seen from front or back.



Texture of coat: Double coat consisting of thick medium length outer coat and dense undercoat. The latter as dark gray or black as possible. Short outer coat permissible if there is undercoat.



Main color black with reddish-brown markings. The reddish-brown color is situated between the black and the white clean markings. The reddish-brown color is situated between the black and white markings on the cheeks, above the eyes, on the inside of the ears, on both sides of the fore chest, on all four legs and underneath the tail. The white markings are on the head (blaze) and muzzle, running along unbroken from the throat to the chest, also on feet and tip of tail. Between the blaze and the reddish-brown markings above the eyes, a band of black should remain. A white patch on the neck or a white collar round the neck are tolerated.



Height at withers:

Dogs: 65 - 72 cm

Bitches: 60 - 68 cm



Any deviation from the above points must be regarded as faults whose assessment should be in direct relation to the degree of deviation.

• strong deviation from body proportion and size

• faults in construction

• lack of correct gender characteristics

• too fine or too coarse bone

• insufficient muscle

• too fine or heavy a head

• pendant lips (flews)

• ears set on too high, too low or too far back

• pincer bite. Over - or undershot mouth

• absence of more than one PM1 or one PM2

• entropion, ectropion

• light eyes

• sway back

• badly carried tail

• bad angulation in front- or hindquarters

• splayed toes

• visible yellow brownish or light gray undercoat

• Mismarkings:

    -  blaze too wide

    -  white marking on muzzle which (clearly) reaches considerably further than the corners of the mouth

    -  white pasterns, or hocks (="boots") reaching further than the pastern joints or hock joints

    -  noticeably asymmetrical markings

    -  colors and markings not clean


Disqualifying faults:

• other than tricolor coat

• main color other than black

• wall eye

• short coat with missing undercoat

• serious faults in temperament (excessive aggression or nervousness)








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