Road to Helvetia

Great swiss mountain dog

An intriguing tale to start with


How the breed was recognized and named must be a story to be told to descendants. You can find the official version in the book »Die schweizer hunderassen«, written by Hans Raber in 1971.

Leta 1908 je priznani švicarski vzreditelj bernskih planšarskih psov Franz Schertenlieb na razstavo v Langenthal (Švica) pripeljal pokazati izredno močnega, vendar

kratkodlakega bernca. Ni bil njegove vzreje, kupil pa ga je ker se mu je zdel izredno zanimiv in

poseben. Z velikim zanimanjem je čakal priložnost, da bi psa predstavil profesorju Heimu in počakal kaj poreče na to različico pasme. Psu je bilo ime Bello vom Schlossgut in bil je izredno lepo obarvan, močan, 67 centimerov visok pes. Tako se začne uradna zgodba o velikem švicarskem planšarskem psu. Če ne bi bil predstavljen profesorju Heimu, ki je podobne pse srečeval že desetletja prej, bi tega psa zaradi kratke dlake označili le kot neprimernega predstavnika pasme. Profesor pa je v njem prepoznal novo pasmo.

Gospodu Schertenliebu je rekel: » Ta pes spada v drugačen razred: je čistokrven in preveč lep, da bi ga označili zgolj kot slab primer bernskega planšarskega psa. To je predstavnik starega, skoraj izumrlega mesarskega psa.« V uradni opis pa je zapisal: »Bello je izreden predstavnik starega, skoraj izumrlega planšarskega psa. Če bi ga prijavili pod »ostale pasme« bi ga prepoznal kot velikega švicarskega planšarskega psa in mu z veseljem podelil prvo mesto. Vendar je prijavljen kot »Durrbach« in zato mu ne morem podeliti več kot drugo mesto. To ni pravo mesto zanj.«

Tako je pasma dobila svoje ime in prvič je bil uradno prepoznan njen predstavnik. Brez profesorja Heima bi mogoče sedaj govorili o kratkodlakem bernskem planšarskem psu ali pasme sploh ne bi bilo. Bello je tako postal pes na katerem je temeljil nov pasemski standard in začelo se je iskanje

predstavnikov, da bi lahko pričeli z usmerjeno vzrejo. Minilo je stoletje in švicarji so poznani po celem svetu. Potrebno je bilo zgolj naključje, zanimanje dveh ljudi in ščepec usode.


If you live with a swissy you must... to be beaten by their powerful tail!

They are a very expressive breed and when they are happy their tails go in over-drive. Being long and strong they can clean a coffee table in seconds, slap you when you try to put your shoes on before the morning walk, move smaller furniture,make your cup of fresh coffee fly away from your hands.

...learn to talk the talk!

They are very vocal and love to tell the whole world how they are feeling. May it be barking loudly because you are not paying attention and looking at a silly movie, mouning when they are tired, snoring hard through the night, opening their lungs in full extension when a stranger is at the door, growling because the play of pulling is such a wonderful invention, making monkey noises when you are doing something strange and helping you to tell the cat it should get of the bed. Pity the cat does not speak "swissian".

...get used to have your own personal shadow!

Your swissy will follow you everywhere. When you work on the computer he will insist you leave some space under the desk. When you cook he will lay down in the middle of the kitchen. When you will want to take a bath he will insist to check the water. Dancing to your favorite tune without him? Impossible! When you will sit down to watch a movie he will poke you and let you know you should at least use your hands for a good scratching time. the leader of your pack!

Swissies are strong minded and can be quite dominant (toward people, animals, in new situations, responses). They enjoy being just a pack member, but in absence of a guide they will gladly take over.You should always remember that they are regarded as a working breed in the original standard from Switzerland. That is why it is important for you to be that guide, protector and care taker. Firm but understanding, sure of your demands and consistent, but as every great leader the one your dog can count on in every situation.

...look out for him during growth!

As any big breed, the swissy grows in height very fast. Till the 9th month they will reach 90% of their adult height.The rapid growth, combined with the weight gain and their very high level of activity, can be a ticking bomb for joint diseases. Dysplasia and OCD-they are both influenced by how the dog grows, his food and movement. Your swissy depends on you to give him a healthy start to his life! 

...socialize, socialize, socialize your dog!

Nowadays many swissies live in suburbs and are becoming pets more than working farm dogs. Because of their strong mind and big stature you cannot afford to have a un-socialized swissy by your side. Start from puppyhood and take him everywhere with you, make him get in as many different situations as you can, meet as many different dogs and animals as possible, get over his fears. If you do it right soon your puppy will grow in to a self-assured big dog. Happy to share his life with you and you will be happy to share your life with him- there is nothing better than to have a patient, calm, stable and still goofy and joyful friend by your side. And a swissy is just all of that.

...make that body work!

Swissies can do many things, but some activities (like running by the bike, frisbee catching, etc...) are better left to a light-weight pastoral breed. His body is made for endurance, not speed. Your dog will enjoy long walks, backpacking, pulling the cart, the occasional run with you, swimming, rally obedience. He needs a lot of movement every day to be a healthy and happy dog. To develop right structurally and keep his high spirit. And there is nothing like the lively spark in the eyes of your swissy.

...learn not to turn a hair hair!

Swissies are short haired, but their coat is made of two types of hair: the black dense top coat and the thick undercoat.The undercoat changes a lot between seasons and you might observe shedding is stronger two times a year. But nonetheless, they shed continuously. So if your dog lives in the house with you, you will have to vacuum nearly everyday. That is a fact. aware food plays a great role in the development of your dog!

Some of us feed raw, some kibble, some a little bit of both. But the same rules apply for all food types:

- two meals and rest before and after them to prevent bloat

- appropriate ratio of calcium (low) in the diet, to prevent skeletal pathologies

- appropriate calorie intake: your growing dog should gain a healthy 1-1,5 kg/week: obesity in a young swissy is just calling for trouble

Please take 10 minutes and read the article from Daniel C. Richardson: Developmental skeletal disease in young dogs. One of the best articles I have read. Concise and letting you know all the really important facts to understand better the needs of your giant dog.

will be continued...



Feeding guide

I had dogs from childhood, attended the veterinary faculty in my twenties and I have been living with Great swiss mountain dogs from 2004.Through those life stages my understanding of dogs has grown and viewing their nutrition from different aspects has led me back to a simple and natural way of feeding them. I have a motto that is growing stronger and stronger, the more I get away from using processed foods, foods veterinary medicine and the industry tells me I should use.

"Keeping the bowels alive and well is the road to health."

I am now used to rely on homeopathy, herbalism and have been finding out (with a grin on my face) that I can find the same facts in veterinary books about proper nutrition for our pets. Older books maybe, that have no connection with the food industry of today. I am at the beginning of this road to the knowledge I would like to have some day, but I can proudly say that our 2011 will finish with my dogs on a raw/cooked diet that made them more active and more enthusiastic about their food, that made their stools hard and really low in quantity, that cured some limping, prostatic enlargement and prevented ticks from invading their skin.

I like to feed my dogs raw/cooked food, made from ingredients produced locally. I follow the advice of homeopathic medicine and information deriving from studies in standard (veterinary) medicine. The ratio is: protein source 50%,carbohydrates 30%, vegetable&fruit, to ensure a proper acid-alkaline balance. But it can change with age or specific health needs.The ration is done before cooking, when the ingredients are raw!


Meat: horse, bovine, sheep, deer, chicken, turkey. Organs: liver, heart, tripe, kidney, meaty bones, esophagus, tongue, testicles. Fish: salmon, anchovies, trout, hake, carp, picarels. Animal produced: eggs, curd, goat milk, yogurt, cheese.

Meat should be used raw when possible (but a grilles chicken and boiled salmon do no harm), some organs need to be cooked to be more palatable.


I use complex carbohydrates like barley, oats, millet, buckweat ( not more then twice a month), rice, spelt, kamut, corn...but as my dogs have no related starch intolerance old bread, potatoes and pasta sometimes.

Vegetables: carrots, lettuce, sour cabbage, celery, turnip, zucchini, kohlrabi, cauliflower, leek, peppers, broccoli, eggplant, cucumber, yellow pumpkin, spinach.

Always shred the vegetables or put them on the cooked carbohydrates, so they will be processed in a way and easier to digest, but without loosing the vitamins. 

Fruits: apples, pears, watermelon, mandarins, apricots, peaches, pineapple, plums

Herbs: parsley, garlic, basil, thyme, turmeric, ginger, sage.

Various seeds and nuts:

I add sources of vitamin E (olive oil, pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds), vitamin C, omega 3 and MSM constantly. Other specific components added if the need arises (health, activity level, pregnancy, growth...etc).


If you are afraid to feed raw/cooked two thoughts from friends breeders and homeopaths:

1. Do you get all the vitamins every day? No you do not. You need a rich diet for your body to assimilate them and use them!

2. If you think your dog will not thrive on natural food and will have digestive problems...of course he will if you fed him only dry, processed food before. A dog must be thought how to eat (related to meaty bones especially) and his intestine on how to digest back again.


Will be adding recipes, feeding tables for all my dogs (different ages different problems) and more with time.

Breed nature

Look at this short movieCLICK