Swissies and Children

 

Olivia (3 yrs) and Axel (1) 

 

These photos are not here to demonstrate how wonderful Swissies are with children, but rather to illustrate how these large, powerful dogs stack up against a couple 2-4 year old children.  There is much hype on the internet about the Swissy being the "ideal family dog."  Unfortunately, this is leading to the misconception that GSMDs are little more than larger, tricolored Labradors.  This is definitely not the case.  Typical GSMDs are, by nature, more independent than Labs, as in independent-minded (not to be confused with aloof, which Swissies most definitely ARE NOT).  Their desire to please themselves is naturally stronger than their desire to please you.  They tend to be more protective and wary of strangers than Labs.  They are certainly larger and more powerful.  As retrievers, Labs are born with soft mouths.  GSMDs have a strong herding/prey drive, and many enjoy chasing and nipping at moving appendages (as well as moving little people).  Swissy puppies must be taught bite inhibition and to use a soft mouth.  Swissies are, on the whole, more challenging, slower to train, and require a great deal of time and commitment toward training and socialization...especially through the first two years of their lives. 

 

So if you have small children, think about whether or not you will have the time to devote to a Swissy puppy. It will be like having another child during those first eighteen months or so.  Also, you must take your specific children and how they handle themselves into consideration.  Are they physically strong enough to fend off a pushy Swissy?  Do they remain calm and respectful around large, at times boisterous dogs?  Are they mature enough to understand the possible consequences of their behaviors around a large dog?  Will they be able to effectively establish their own leadership and position in the family pack, above the dog?

Yes, Swissies can become well-mannered, gentle members of the family, but they are not automatically born that way.  Only through consistent training and socialization of the GSMD, and some training/education of your children as well, will that balance be reached.  Even then, Swissies and small children should never be left unattended without adult supervision.  Your Swissy is NOT a baby-sitter.  If you have any doubt, or concerns, speak to Swissy owners who have small children in their household to find out what challenges they have faced.  Take your children with you when you visit breeders or other Swissy owners, and see how they react and handle themselves.  And you may also want to read The Top 5 Reasons Rescue Is Called, which was published in the GSMDCA's Senntinel.  This article outlines the most common reasons that Swissies wind up in Rescue situations, the first two of which are Dominance and the owners Cannot Handle the New Baby and the Dog

 


RESOURCES


Living Harmoniously With Kids and Dogs from the Pawfectionist
"Invisible" Signals - Why Parental Supervision Isn't Enough from the Pawfectionist
Kids and Dogs: How Kids Should and Should Not Interact With Dogs by Sophia Yin

 

 

 

 

 

    

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