My Most Asked Question
Do Swissys make good service dogs?
Would you recommend them for service work?
Can they make good service dogs? Yes, they can make excellent service dogs. Would I recommend them? No, I wouldn’t and here’s why.
Swissys are a powerful breed not only in stature but personality. A male can weigh in between 90-130 pounds up to 28 inches tall and females 80-110 pounds up to 27 inches tall when fully mature. They are one of the four types of sennenhund breeds developed in Switzerland as a herding, guard, and utilitarian draft dog. They are a sentinel breed by nature. This means they sound the alarm when something isn’t right, startles them or is perceived as a threat. This is just who they are as a breed. This can cause many issues when training public access. Their behavior could (and will) be perceived as aggression by the general public when a dog is being trained by an inexperienced trainer or one not used to working with large, powerful breeds. This perception not only damages the public’s view of the breed but the general opinion of service dogs as well. Because of this alarmist trait, I absolutely do not recommend them for psychiatric service dog work.
As a breed they are very intelligent. Explain A and they’ll figure out B to get to C. Unlike Goldens or Labs, Swissys in general are not people pleasures. They are a dominant breed and are not pushovers to raise and train. A Swissy wants to be the boss and you must be firm and consistent when raising one. This makes them a poor prospect for a first time owner-trainer or someone who isn’t used to working with powerful, intelligent breeds.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs enjoy doing their own thing in the proximity of their people. They’re a jovial working breed. Without proper guidance, exercise and boundaries a Swissy has the potential to destroy your home and become aggressive with other animal family members.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are also hard to maintain. As of right now Anakin eats one pound of raw food in the morning and three cups of dry food in the evening. If he wasn’t on raw he’d eat seven cups of dry food a day. For comparison Willow only eats two cups a day. (Note that for training Anakin as a puppy I went through one to two brand new six ounce bags of training treats during a normal outing. If it was an all day outing all bets were off where treats were concerned.)
Swissys also take longer to mentally mature than other breeds. Physically they mature around 2 years old but mentally they’re still puppies until around 3 years old. Because of this most won’t shed the “in training” title until then.
Not everyone can handle a Doberman or Belgian Malinois as a service dog and not everyone can handle a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog either. Each breed is powerful in its own right with their own basic traits that need constant attention and training.
If you are still interested in a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog as a service prospect or a pet contact me and I will put you in touch with my breeder. I must caution most Swissy breeders will not sell to a service dog home. Just because my breeder sold to me does not mean she will sell to you.