Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are intelligent, alert, and usually gentle. By participating in dog sports such as carting or drafting, herding, tracking, agility, rally and standard obedience as sport, or by being hiking companions, they can receive physical and mental stimulation while bonding with their families. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs also bond with people by serving in search and rescue and animal-assisted therapy. Their reputation as a good family dog allows them to be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are considered good watchdogs due to their tendency to bark and be wary with strangers. However, socialization can minimize the development of any fear-based defensive aggression.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large breed that is believed to be descended from the Asian Mastiff, which was brought to central Europe by Romans in the First Century BC. It is the largest of the Swiss herding breeds. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are believed to be the ancestors of the St. Bernard and the Rottweiler, and are excellent herding and guard dogs. The popularity of the St. Bernard almost caused the extinction of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, but they were re-established by the efforts of Dr. Albert Heim, in 1908. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was not introduced to the United States until 1967, and even today they are considered to be relatively rare around the world. Full recognition as a member of the American Kennel Club Working Group came in 1995.