My primary goal, as a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog breeder (and I almost hate using that word these days: please see Breeder or Anti-Breeder) is to preserve the type, temperament and working ability that IS a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, as defined by its breed standard. I do not breed often and much research and thought goes into my decisions. I always strive to improve upon type, structure, health and temperament, with each generation.
I do not keep more dogs than I can care for and love IN MY HOME. So if you are looking for a breeder with a kennel full of dogs,keep on looking. Because I live with my Swissies, in my home, and they often accompany to me work, I am with them all the time. They are tremendously well socialized and I can tell you exactly what they are like in a wide variety of situations and locations, how they will respond to various situations, stimuli, etc. The same is true of my Greater Swiss Mountain Dog puppies, who live in my home until they are ready to go to their new homes. By that time they will have been exposed to a wide range of noises, environments, people of all shapes and sizes, strange dogs, etc.
I will tell you all I can about my dogs and their pedigrees. I do not expect you to take my word for anything, and I will show you how to verify their Hip, Elbow and Eye clearances online. And I WILL NOT breed dogs without passing clearances -- in other words it's not enough to say I test for Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, etc. If my dogs do not receive passing grades (OFA numbers), they will not be bred. The more digging you do into my practices and my dogs' backgrounds, the more impressed (NOT insulted) I will be. I will tell you whatever I know about any other health issues their bloodlines have produced. All lines have produced health problems of some kind, there is no way to guarantee against most of them. But we can do everything possible to lower the risks, by breeding only healthy dogs who have all their health clearances.
I breed primarily for myself, never to fill a growing demand for Swissy puppies. That said, I will only keep a puppy that is an improvement upon its parents, and only those best puppies will be sold as "show potential" puppies. So yes, there will always be Swissy puppies looking for loving, dedicated companion homes. In my opinion, there is no need to "breed for pets" because even when breeding the best dogs to each other, not every puppy will be "the best." Also, I choose not to work with breeders who make a living by breeding and selling Swissy puppies, because I care deeply about where the descendants of my dogs will wind up (sadly, we have seen Swissies even from prominent kennels wind up in pet stores and puppy mills).
Even though you may just want a Swissy as a companion/pet, please adopt your Greater Swiss Mountain Dog puppy from someone who shows their dogs, participates with them in a wide variety of activities, does ALL the requisite health clearances and is open and honest about ALL health concerns and risks...particularly when it comes to epilepsy, bloat/torsion, and the myriad of orthopedic issues that can affect a Swissy.
Whether you're in the market for a Swissy puppy now or down the road, from me or someone else, PLEASE do as much research as possible and meet as many Swissies and their owners, IN PERSON, as you can. The Greater Swissy Mountain Dog is not a breed for everyone, and you definitely want to make an informed decision before committing the next 10-12 years to one.
ARE YOU READY TO ADOPT A SWISSY?
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BRINGING A SWISSY INTO YOUR FAMILY, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND
READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, WHICH WILL GIVE YOU AN HONEST PERSPECTIVE ON THIS WONDERFUL BREED:
"Is A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Right for You?" & "Regarding Temperament"
(both written by Karen Conant )
"Twenty One Ways to Love Your Swissy"
- by Dori Likevich
"Top Five Reasons Rescue is Called"
- by GSMDCA Rescue Chairs
These articles were written by dedicated, long time Swissy owners. They are not just more hype promoting the GSMD as the "ideal family dog" but an honest description of the reality that is Swissy ownership. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a very wonderful and special breed but it is not for everyone! Swissies vary in size, energy level and temperament and can be challenging for the first time dog owner and even experienced dog owners who have never lived with a true working breed. Many breeder websites gloss over the challenges of Swissy ownership because they are only interested in selling puppies and looking out for their pocketbook, not your best interests or those of their puppies.
In addition to reading and researching as much as you can, you should absolutely meet as many Swissies as possible before you commit to this breed. You can't possibly know if you are well suited for Swissy ownership if you have never met a GSMD! Information from books, television or the internet should never substitute for meeting the dogs and talking with experienced owners and breeders in person.
OTHER RECOMMENDED BREEDERS
I am very selective about breeders to whom I refer potential puppy buyers. Basically, I look for breeders who share my practices, priorities and ethics. The following are true hobby breeders who typically have a couple of litters a year and their dogs live in the home as members of the family. They care very much about the health of the breed, and will be honest/transparent about health issues/testing. Most importantly, they are dedicated to the preservation of the GREATER Swiss Mountain Dog -- a dog that has the type, temperament and health/soundness to perform the jobs the Swiss farmers required of him.