The German Shepherd or German Shepherd Dog breed is the most widely used and known to the world. Called by many laymen “wolf dog” because of its resemblance to the wolf in general terms. Versatile, intelligent and courageous widely used as a police dog in many countries.
Average life span: 7 – 10 years
Weight: Male: 35-43 kg, Female: 25-33 kg
Height: Male: 60-65 cm / Female: 55-60 cm
Coat color: Black with brown-red, brown, yellow, gray. Black and gray solid color.
Physical characteristics of the German Shepherd
Medium-sized dog with an elegant bearing. Possesses an excellent construction which allows the race to have a big boost in movement. It has an excellent muscles and very good relations.
Character of the German Shepherd
The German Shepherd Dog is a very balanced and smooth. It ‘s the most suitable dog ever to undergo training, due to the incomparable intelligence and character. E ‘with courage and confidence. It is very attached to the person who takes care of him, for which it would be willing to give his life.
Attitudes of the German Shepherd
Ethnicity is extremely versatile: suitable for many types of training as the guard, the defense of person and property. Used a lot by the police canine as “police dog”.
The origins of the German Shepherd
The German shepherd owes its origin to Captain Max Von Stephanitz that, after a long selection among many herding dogs existing in some areas of Germany, received in 1895 the current homogeneous, morphologically perfect and balanced character. The same captain in 1899 founded the Union of German Shepherd Dog and published the first standard of the breed. The origin of shepherd dogs is very old. Are currently assigned to the sheepdogs fifty races grouped according to place of origin: of these the best known is the German Shepherd Dog.
The Utonagan is a breed of dog that resembles a wolf, but in fact is a mix of three breeds of domestic dog: Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, and Siberian Husky.
The Utonagan is medium/large in size and well-muscled, but possesses a slender build that lends to its wolflike resemblance. The breed has a thick double coat that appears quite different in winter and summer. The guard hair is straight and slightly coarse to the touch. The pelage can be silver grey, cream, or brown with black overlay and a characteristic wolf mask. It also comes in all white, all black and Ink Marked, meaning white with markings of brown, silver or black which look like ink spilled on blotting paper.
The Utonagan is a dog with a superb temperament; this in turn makes for a wonderful family dog and companion. They love the company of people and also socialize well with cats and smaller dogs. They are not a dog that likes to be left alone and problems may arise if they are, such as destructive behaviour and escaping. They have a high “pack” mentality, and it is best they have the company of another dog(s), unless you are able to give them your full time companionship. If trained incorrectly, the dog may suffer same-sex dog aggression during its “teenage” years. They are very intelligent, are boisterous in play, and can do well at many activities.
Unlike some of their ancestors, Utonagans will return to their owner when called, if they are trained to do so from a young age. Utonagans enjoy being trained and they are exceptionally quick learners and are always eager to please their owners. They need firm, but fair training starting at a young age.
The Utonagan’s coat is very easy to manage and (roughly) only requires a twice weekly brush. However, when the dog is moulting, its coat will require more attention.
Some have thick coats that keep them warm in cool conditions but they have great difficulty staying cool in summer. This becomes a problem when walking the dog during hot weather, so owners must be careful not to over-exercise the dog and to keep water available when playing.
Utonagan can live up to 10–15 years of age.
Generally the Utonagan is an active agile and healthy dog, they should not be overly exercised until their bones are fully mature.
Prior to breeding all breeding stock should be KC/BVA hip scored and eye tested clear.
The Utonagan and Northern Inuit were created from 5 rescue dogs of unknown origin imported to the UK from America in 1987. Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute and German Shepherd were added. The original dogs were bred by Edwina Harrison, who advertised them as wolf-dog hybrid. Buck, the founding father, looked like an Alaskan Malamute. His more wolf-like pups were prized for breeding.
The Utonagan and the Northern Inuit originally came from the same stock, but the Utonagan Society further developed its lines by returning to stock from the conceptual breeder. They are now considered two separate breeds.
The name Utonagan was found in a book of Native American mythology by one of the original breeders, Lyn Barraclough. It was then suggested by Brian Jenkins, her partner, as the breed name. It is originally from a Chinook tale where Ut!ô’naqan is interpreted as “Spirit of the Wolf”
The St. Bernard is a breed of very large working dog from the Italian and Swiss Alps, originally bred for rescue. The breed has become famous through tales of alpine rescues, as well as for its large size.
The St. Bernard is a large dog. The average weight of the breed is between 140 and 264 lb (64–120 kg) or more and the approximate height at the withers is 27½ inches to 35½ inches (70 to 90 cm) The coat can be either smooth or rough, with the smooth coat close and flat. The rough coat is dense but flat, and more profuse around the neck and legs. The coat is typically a red color with white, or sometimes a mahogany brindle with white. Black shading is usually found on the face and ears. The tail is long and heavy, hanging low with the end turned up slightly. The dark eyes should have naturally tight lids, with “haws only slightly visible”. Sometimes the eyes, brown usually, can be icy blue, nearly white.
Painting by John Emms portraying St. Bernards as rescue dogs with brandy barrels around their neck. The brandy was supposedly used to warm the bodies of trapped people in avalanches or snow before help came.
The ancestors of the St. Bernard share a history with the Sennenhunds, also called Swiss Mountain Dogs or Swiss Cattle Dogs, the large farm dogs of the farmers and dairymen of the Swiss Alps, which were livestock guardians, herding dogs, and draft dogs as well as hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, and watchdogs. These dogs are thought to be descendants of molosser type dogs brought into the Alps by the ancient Romans, and the St. Bernard is recognized internationally today as one of the Molossoid breeds.
The earliest written records of the St. Bernard breed are from monks at the hospice at the Great St Bernard Pass in 1707, with paintings and drawings of the dog dating even earlier.
The most famous St. Bernard to save people at the pass was Barry (sometimes spelled Berry), who reportedly saved somewhere between 40 and 100 lives. There is a monument to Barry in the Cimetière des Chiens, and his body was preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne.
The classic St. Bernard looked very different from the St. Bernard of today due to cross-breeding. Severe winters from 1816 to 1818 led to increased numbers of avalanches, killing many of the dogs used for breeding while they were performing rescues. In an attempt to preserve the breed, the remaining St. Bernards were crossed with Newfoundlands brought from the Colony of Newfoundland in the 1850s, and so lost much of their use as rescue dogs in the snowy climate of the alps because the long fur they inherited would freeze and weigh them down.
The Swiss St. Bernard Club was founded in Basel on March 15, 1884. The St. Bernard was the very first breed entered into the Swiss Stud Book in 1884, and the breed standard was finally approved in 1888. Since then, the breed has been a Swiss national dog.
The name “St. Bernard” originates from traveler’s hospice on the often treacherous St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps between Switzerland and Italy, where the name was passed to the local dogs. The pass, the lodge, and the dogs are named for Bernard of Menthon, the 11th century monk who established the station.
“St. Bernard” wasn’t in widespread use until the middle of the 19th century. The dogs were called “Saint Dogs”, “Noble Steeds”, “Alpenmastiff”, or “Barry Dogs” before that time. They were also used for rescuing people in the Alps.
The breed is strikingly similar to the English Mastiff and Newfoundland. This can be attributed to a common shared ancestry with the Alpine Mastiff and the Tibetan Mastiff. It is suspected that these breeds were used to redevelop each other to combat the threat of their extinction after World War II.
The four Sennenhund breeds, the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog), the Berner Sennenhund, (Bernese Mountain Dog), the Appenzeller Sennenhund, (Appenzeller), and the Entlebucher Sennenhund (Entlebucher Mountain Dog) are similar in appearance and share the same location and history, but are tricolour rather than red and white.
St. Bernards share many characteristics of many Mountain dog breeds.
Kennel Club recognition
The St. Bernard is recognised internationally by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale as a Molosser in Group 2, Section 2. The breed is recognised by The Kennel Club (UK), the Canadian Kennel Club, and the American Kennel Club in the Working Dog breed group. The United Kennel Club (US) places the breed in the Guardian Dog Group. The New Zealand Kennel Club and the Australian National Kennel Council place the breed in the Utility Group
St. Bernard demonstrating its strength.
St. Bernard dogs are not used for alpine rescues as much as before, but do participate in a variety of dog sports including carting and weight pulling. The Saint Bernard are still trained at the Barry foundation for alpine rescues. The dogs at the Barry foundation are smaller than the average St Bernard.
The very fast growth rate and the weight of a St. Bernard can lead to very serious deterioration of the bones if the dog does not get proper food and exercise. Many dogs are genetically affected by hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) has been shown to be hereditary in the breed. They are susceptible to eye disorders called entropion and ectropion, in which the eyelid turns in or out. The breed standard indicates that this is a major fault. The breed is also susceptible to epilepsy and seizures, a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, and eczema.
Due to the likelihood of health problems in later years, the average lifespan for a St. Bernard is around 8 years. A few St. Bernards may live beyond 10 years, but this is highly unusual.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a breed of working dog as classified by the American Kennel Club. Portuguese Water Dogs are originally from the Portuguese region of the Algarve, from where the breed expanded to all around Portugal’s coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen’s nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught cod to bring home. Portuguese Water Dogs were often taken with sailors during the Portuguese discoveries.
In Portugal, the breed is called Cão de Água (pronounced Kow-the-Ah-gwa; literally “water dog”). In its native land, the dog is also known as the Algarvian Water Dog (“Cão de Água Algarvio”), or Portuguese Fishing Dog (Cão Pescador Português). Cão de Água de Pêlo Ondulado is the name given to the wavy-haired variety, and Cão de Água de Pêlo Encaracolado is the name for the curly-coated variety.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed; only 15 entrants for Portuguese Water Dogs were made to England’s Crufts competition in 2002. Though some breeders claim they are a hypoallergenic dog breed, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that hypoallergenic dog breeds exist. However, their non-shedding qualities have made them more popular in recent years. The Portuguese Water Dog has recently gained more fame by being the chosen dog of US president Barack Obama. He was given the name of Bo
The closest relatives of the PWD are widely thought to be the Kerry Blue Terrier, Barbet and Standard Poodle. Like Poodles and several other water dog breeds, PWDs are highly intelligent, can have curly coats, have webbed toes for swimming, and do not shed. However, Portuguese Water Dogs are more robustly built, with stout legs, and can have a wavy coat instead of tightly curled. If comparing the structure to that of a Poodle, there are significant differences between the two breeds. The Portuguese Water Dog built of strong substantial bone; well developed, neither refined nor coarse, and a solidly built, muscular body. The Portuguese Water Dog is off-square, slightly longer than tall when measured from prosternum to rearmost point of the buttocks, and from withers to ground. Portuguese Water Dog eyes are black or various tones of brown, and their coats can be black, brown, black and white or brown and white.
Male Portuguese Water Dogs usually grow to be about 20 to 23 inches (51 cm to 58 cm) tall, and they weigh between 40 and 60 pounds (18 kg to 27 kg), while the females usually grow to be about 17 to 21 inches (43 cm to 53 cm) tall, and they weigh between 35 and 50 pounds.
PWDs have a single-layered coat that does not shed (see Moult), and therefore their presence is tolerated extremely well among many people who suffer from dog allergies. Some call PWDs hypoallergenic dogs, but any person with dog allergies who would like a dog with these qualities should actually spend time with the animals before purchasing, to test whether the dog is truly non-allergenic to them.
Most PWDs, especially those shown in conformation shows, are entirely black, black and white, brown, or silver-tipped; it is common to see white chest spots and white paws or legs on black or brown coated dogs. “Parti” or “Irish-marked” coats, with irregular white and black spots, are rare but visually striking. “Parti” dogs are becoming more common in the United States. However, in Portugal the breed standard does not allow more than 30% white markings. Overall, white is the least common Portuguese Water Dog color, while black with white markings on the chin (“milk chin”) and chest is the most common color combination.
This breed does not shed its hair. The hair is either wavy or curly. Many dogs have mixed pattern hair: curly all over the body but wavy on the tail and ears.
From the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Revised Standard for the Portuguese Water Dog come these descriptions of the two coat types
Curly coat: “Compact, cylindrical curls, somewhat lusterless. The hair on the ears is sometimes wavy.”
Wavy coat: “Falling gently in waves, not curls, and with a slight sheen.”
White is one of the less-common colours among PWDs
Black and white wavy.
If left untended, the hair on a PWD will keep growing indefinitely. Problems associated with this include the hair around the eyes growing so long as to impede vision, and matting of the body hair, which can cause skin irritations. For these reasons, PWDs must be trimmed about every two months and the coat brushed every other day. This is not the breed for those humans wishing to have a low maintenance breed. In addition to the grooming, which typically costs between $75–100 a session, this breed requires daily exercise and consistently firm yet positive training techniques. Although it is possible to groom them at home, many owners find it easier to pay a professional groomer and, to avoid matting, they brush out the coat regularly between groomings.
The hair of PWDs grows continually and requires regular brushing and cutting or clipping. The coat is usually worn in a “retriever cut” or a “lion cut”
The lion cut
In the lion cut, the hindquarters, muzzle, and the base of the tail are shaved and the rest of the body is left full length. This cut originated with the fishing dogs of Portugal. This is the traditional cut and perhaps the most functional, given the breed’s main historical significance as a fisherman’s companion. The lion cut diminished the initial impact and shock of cold water when the breed jumped from the boats, as well as providing warmth to the vitals. The hindquarters were left shaved to allow easier movement of the back legs and the breed’s powerful, rudder-like tail.
The retriever cut
The retriever cut is left 1″ (2.5 cm) long evenly over the body (although some owners prefer the muzzle or the base of the tail shorter). This cut is a more recent style and originated because breeders wanted to make the breed more appealing and less unusual looking for buyers.
Sometimes owners will clip the hair of their dogs very short, especially in the summer months, in modified retriever cut.
Portuguese Water Dogs have a multi-octave voice. They tend to be quiet dogs although they will warn when the home is approached, and they will communicate their desires vocally and behaviourally to their owner. Their bark is loud and distinctive. They may engage in “expressive panting”, by making a distinct “ha-ha-ha-ha” sound as an invitation to play or to indicate a desire for nearby food. They sometimes whine.
The PWD’s biddability, high intelligence, and tendency to vocalise and then seek out its human master when specific alarms occur make it an ideal hearing-ear or deaf-assistance dog. PWDs can be readily trained to bark loudly when a telephone rings, and then to find and alert a hard-of-hearing or deaf master.
Portuguese Water Dogs are active and well-suited to many dog sports.
Portuguese Water dogs make excellent companions. They are loving, independent, and intelligent and are easily trained in obedience and agility skills. Once introduced, they are generally friendly to strangers, and enjoy being petted, which, due to their soft, fluffy coats, is a favour that human beings willingly grant them.
Because they are working dogs, PWDs are generally content in being at their master’s side, awaiting directions, and, if they are trained, they are willing and able to follow complex commands. They learn very quickly, seem to enjoy the training, and have a long memory for the names of objects. These traits and their non-shedding coats mean they excel at the various Service Dog roles such as hearing dogs (assistance dogs for the deaf), mobility dogs, and seizure response dogs. They also make unusually good therapy dogs.
A PWD usually stays in proximity to its owners, indoors as well as outdoors. This is typical of the breed. Though very gregarious animals, these dogs will typically bond with one primary or alpha family member. Some speculate that this intense bonding arose in the breed because the dogs were selected to work in proximity to their masters on small fishing boats, unlike other working dogs such as herding dogs and water dogs that range out to perform tasks. In any case, the modern PWD, whether employed on a boat or kept as a pet or a working dog, loves water, attention, and prefers to be engaged in activity within sight of a human partner. This is not a breed to be left alone for long periods of time, indoors or out.
As water dogs, the PWD’s retrieving instinct is strong, which also gives some dogs tugging and chewing tendencies.
A PWD will commonly jump as a greeting. Owners may choose to limit this behavior. Some PWDs may walk, hop, or “dance” on their hind legs when greeting or otherwise enthusiastic. Some PWDs will stand upright at kitchen counters and tables, especially if they smell food above them. This habit is known as “counter surfing” and is characteristic of the breed. Although it can be a nuisance, many PWD owners evidently enjoy seeing their dogs walking, hopping, standing up, or “countering” and do not seriously discourage these activities.
While they are very good companions to people who understand what they need, Portuguese Water Dogs are not for everyone. Because of their intelligence and working drive, they require regular intensive exercise as well as mental challenges. They are gentle and patient — but not “couch potatoes”, and boredom may cause them to become destructive.
In ancient times
Portuguese Water Dog in his native land, the Algarve, Southern Portugal.
One theory is that some of the rugged Asian herding dogs were captured by the Berbers, people who spread slowly across the face of North Africa to Morocco. Their descendants, the Moors, arrived in Portugal in the 8th century, bringing the water dogs with them.
Another theory purports that some of the dogs left the Asian steppes with the Goths, a confederation of German tribes. Some, (the Ostrogoths), went west and their dogs became the German poodle, called in German the poodle-hund or puddle-dog, that is, water-dog. Others, (the Visigoths), went south to fight the Romans, and their dogs became the Lion Dog, groomed in the traditional lion cut. In 400 CE, the Visigoths invaded Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal, then known as Hispania) and the dogs found their homeland.
A Portuguese Water Dog is first described in 1297 in a monk’s account of a drowning sailor who was pulled from the sea by a dog with a “black coat, the hair long and rough, cut to the first rib and with a tail tuft”.
“History of the Portuguese Water Dog”, Kathryn Braund and Deyanne Farrell Miller, The Complete Portuguese Water Dog, 1986, webpage: DeLeao.
These theories explain how the Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog may have developed from the same ancient genetic pool. At one time the Poodle was a longer-coated dog, as is one variety of the Portuguese Water Dog. The possibility also exists that some of the long-coated water dogs grew up with the ancient Iberians. In early times, Celtiberians migrated from lands which now belong to southwestern Germany. Swarming over the Pyrenees, circulating over the whole of western Europe, they established bases in Iberia, as well as in Ireland, Wales, and Brittany. The Irish Water Spaniel and Kerry Blue Terrier are believed by some to be descendants of the Portuguese Water Dog.
The PWD was a breed on the verge of extinction when, during the 1930s, Vasco Bensaude, a wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate, began to seek out fishermen’s dogs and utilize them in a breeding program to re-establish the breed. Bensaude’s kennel was named Algarbiorum, and his most famous dog was Leão (1931–1942), a very “type-y” fisherman’s stud dog who was bred to so many different females that about half of the pedigreed Portuguese Water Dogs in existence can trace their lineage back to him.
US president Barack Obama and his family with Bo, their Portuguese Water Dog.
Bensaude was aided by two Portuguese veterinarians, Dr. Francisco Pinto Soares and Dr. Manuel Fernandes Marques. His work was carried on by Conchita Cintron de Castelo Branco, to whom he gave his last 17 PWDs and all his archives.
Dr. António Cabral was the founder of the Avalade kennels in Portugal. Ch. Charlie de Avalade (Charlie), a brown-coated dog, and C. B. Baluarte de Avalade (Balu) were two of his many famous PWDs. He registered his first PWD in 1954, after Bensaude had pioneered the re-establishment of the breed in Portugal. Cabral worked with Carla Molinari, Deyanne Miller, Sonja Santos and others to establish PWDs in the US. The “Mark of Cabral” is a triangular shape of different color/textured hair, usually a few inches from the base of the tail. You can see it more easily on a fresh lion clip—it can look like the clipper got too close.
Deyanne Miller is the single person most responsible for the rise of the PWD in America. In 1972, the Millers, along with 14 other people, formed the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc. (PWDCA) She worked with dogs from both the Cintron and Cabral lineages to establish a stable genetic pool of PWDs in the United States at her Farmion kennels. Another early US breeder of PWDs was the actor Raymond Burr.
As with all purebred dogs, PWDs are vulnerable to certain genetic defects. Due to the limited gene pool for this breed, conscientious breeders carefully study pedigrees and select dogs to minimize the chance of genetic disease and improper coat. Unfortunately, like many breeds, a growing popularity has encouraged breeding by people who are not knowledgeable about the breed.
Like poodles, PWDs are vulnerable to hip dysplasia. However, the risk of a PWD developing hip dysplasia can be greatly reduced by thoroughly checking the pedigrees and health clearances in both the sire and dam of your dog. Hip dysplasia is a congenital and developmental problem with the hip joints.
Cataracts, PRA, and distichiasis
Cataracts and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) are two eye diseases found in PWDs. As with hip dysplasia, some lines carry these defects more frequently than others. PRA, which causes “night blindness”, may lead to complete blindness. Fortunately this is a simple recessive gene. DNA testing is now available which can identify a dog carrying the gene for PRA. Known as “Optigen Testing” a “normal” or “A” dog does not carry the gene for PRA. A “carrier” or “B” dog carries one copy of the PRA gene and the dog will NOT express the disease but may or may not pass the gene to offspring. An “affected” or “C” dog has two copies of the PRA version of the gene and will probably express the disease as late onset Progressive Retinal Atrophy. A “B” or “C” dog should be bred only to an “A” dog to ensure that any offspring will not express the disease.
Ingrown eyelashes (distichiasis) occurs in some curly-coated breeds, but is not particularly common in PWDs. Ingrown eyelashes will rub the eye causing extensive corneal ulcerations. The condition is minor so long as it is not ignored, and can be surgically treated if necessary.
The curly coat type PWD: A dog with this type of coat can be susceptible to distichiasis.
GM1 Storage Disease
GM1 Storage Disease, one of a family of conditions called GM1 gangliosidoses, is a recessive, genetic disorder that is inevitably fatal. It is caused by a deficiency of beta-galactosidase, with resulting abnormal storage of acidic lipid materials in cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems, but particularly in the nerve cells. Because PWDs are all rather closely related to one another and share a limited gene pool, PWDs who were GM1 Storage Disease carriers were able to be genetically identified, and the condition has now been almost entirely eliminated from the breed. All breeding stock should be tested for GM-1 storage disease or GM1 gangliosidoses, which is a fatal nerve disease that typically appears when a puppy is approximately six months of age. The affected puppy will show clinical signs of cerebellar dysfunction including ataxia, tremors, paresis, and seizures. The pet may also exhibit a change in temperament. Lesions of the retina and clouding of the cornea may occur. GM-1 storage disease is a recessive deficiency of betagalactosidase. The condition has been genetically identified and is no longer common.
Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a rare, fatal condition caused by an autosomal recessive gene. It affects young dogs, who succumb to heart failure before reaching adulthood. As a simple recessive gene, it had been difficult to identify and was particularly heartbreaking as seemingly healthy puppies would suddenly die, often shortly after joining their adopted families. Since a recessive gene is responsible, that means if at least one parent is homozygous dominant (that is, it does not carry a copy of the cardio version of the gene), its offspring can not contract the disease.
In 2007 a genetic linkage test became available which appears promising. This is not a test which confirms if a dog has, or does not have the disease; nor will it definitively predict the disease, as even if a dog is a JDC carrier this does not guarantee its offspring will suffer the disease. It only links certain strains of DNA as carriers of JDC. This is significant in that these strains can now largely be deselected for in the breeding process, as has been successful with GM1 Storage Disease (see above). The test is not yet complete for every bloodline, and why the identified strains are implicated is still unknown, and so in essence the cause of the condition remains a mystery to be solved.
The Newfoundland is a breed of large dog. Newfoundlands can be black, brown, gray, or black and white. They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland, now part of Canada. They are known for their giant size, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue/lifesaving due to their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.
Newfoundlands (‘Newfs’, ‘Newfies’) have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat. Males weigh 60–70 kg (130–150 lb), and females 45–55 kg (100–120 lb), placing them in the “Giant” weight range. Some Newfoundland dogs have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb). The largest Newfoundland on record weighed 120 kg (260 lbs) and measured over 6 feet from nose to tail, ranking it among the biggest Molossers. They may grow up to 22–28 inches tall at the shoulder.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard colors of the Newfoundland dogs are: black, brown, gray, and landseer (white dog with black markings) Other colors are not rare, and not recommended due to breeding double recessive genes; The Kennel Club (KC) permits only black, brown, and landseer; the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) permits are only black and landseer. Contrary to popular belief The Landseer is named after the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. AKC, CKC, and KC all treat Landseer as part of the breed. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) consider the ECT Landseer to be a separate breed; as do the AKC, and the CKC. It is a taller, more narrow white dog with black markings not bred with a Newfoundland.
The Newfoundland’s extremely large bones give it mass, while its large musculature gives it the power it needs to take on rough ocean waves and powerful tides. These dogs have great lung capacity for swimming extremely long distances, and a thick, oily and waterproof double coat which protects them from the chill of icy waters. The droopy lips and jowls make the dog drool.
In the water, the dog’s massive webbed paws give it maximum propulsion. The swimming stroke is not an ordinary dog paddle. Unlike other dogs, the Newfoundland moves its limbs in a down-and-out motion, which can be seen as a modified breaststroke. This gives it more power with every stroke.
The Newfoundland dog is legendary for its calm and docile nature and its strength.They are incredibly loyal and make incredible working dogs. It is for this reason that this breed is known as “the gentle giant” or the nanny dog. International kennel clubs generally describe the breed as having a sweet temper. It typically has a deep bark, is easy to train if started young. It is exceptionally good with children, but due to their size at a very young age, small children could get accidentally leaned on and knocked down. The breed was memorialized in “Nana,” the beloved dog guardian in Peter Pan. The Newfoundland in general is good with other animals, but their size can create problems if not trained.
Newfoundland Dog Stamp
There are several health problems associated with Newfoundlands. Newfoundlands are prone to hip dysplasia (a malformed ball and socket in the hip joint). They also get Elbow dysplasia, and cystinuria (a hereditary defect that forms calculi stones in the bladder). Another genetic problem is subvalvular aortic stenosis. This is a common heart defect in Newfoundlands involving defective heart valves. SAS can cause sudden death at an early age. It is common that “Newfs” live up to only about 10 or 8
The Newfoundland shares many characteristics with other mastiffs, such as the St. Bernard and English mastiff, including short, stout legs, massive heads with very broad snouts, a thick bull neck, and a very sturdy bone structure. In fact, many St. Bernard Dogs have Newfoundland Dog ancestry. Newfoundlands were brought and introduced to the St. Bernard breed in the 18th century when the population was threatened by an epidemic of distemper. They share many characteristics of many mountain dog breeds such as the Great Pyrenees.
The Newfoundland breed originated in Newfoundland, and is descended from a breed indigenous to the island known as the lesser Newfoundland, or St. John’s Dog. The mastiff characteristics of the Newfoundland are likely a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by Portuguese fishermen beginning in the 16th century.
The speculation that Newfoundlands may be partly descended from big black bear dogs introduced by the Vikings in 1001 A.D. is based more in romance than in fact.
By the time colonization was permitted in Newfoundland in 1610, the distinct physical characteristics and mental attributes had been established in the Newfoundland breed. In the early 1880s, fishermen and explorers from Ireland and England traveled to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where they described two main types of working dog. One was heavily built, large with a longish coat, and the other medium-sized in build – an active, smooth-coated water dog. The heavier breed was known as the Greater Newfoundland, or Newfoundland. The smaller breed was known as the Lesser Newfoundland, or St. John’s Dog. The St. John’s Dog became the founding breed of the modern retrievers. Both breeds were used as working dogs to pull fish nets, with the Greater Newfoundland also being used to haul carts, and other equipment.
Newfoundland dogs are well-known for their even temperament and stoic nature.
Because of that, they were part of the foundation stock of the Leonberger (which excelled at water rescue and was imported by the Canadian government for that purpose); and the now extinct Moscow Water Dog, a failed attempt at creating a lifesaving dog by the Russian state kennel — the unfortunate outcross with the Caucasian Ovcharka begat a biting and not a rescuing dog.
Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits. Over the last two centuries, this has inspired a number of artists, who have portrayed the dogs in paint, stone, bronze and porcelain. One famous Newfoundland was a dog named Seaman, who accompanied American explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition.
The breed’s working role was varied and another famous all black Newfoundland performed as the star attraction in Van Hare’s Magic Circus from 1862 and for many years thereafter in one England’s founding circus acts, traveling throughout Europe. The circus dog was known as the “Thousand Guinea Dog Napoleon” or “Napoleon the Wonder Dog”. Van Hare trained other Newfoundland dogs to perform a steeplechase routine, with baboons dressed up as jockeys to ride them. Nonetheless, his “wizard dog” Napoleon was his favorite and would compete at jumping against human rivals, leaping over horses from a springboard, and dancing to music.
The breed prospered in the United Kingdom, until 1914 and again in 1939, when its numbers were almost fatally depleted by wartime restrictions. Since the 1950s there has been a steady increase in numbers and popularity, despite the fact that the Newfoundland’s great size and fondness for mud and water makes it unsuitable as a pet for many households.
During the Discovery Channel’s second day of coverage of the AKC Eukanuba National Championship on December 3, 2006, anchor Bob Goen reported that Newfoundlands exhibit a very strong propensity to rescue people from water. Goen stated that one Newfoundland alone once aided the rescue of 63 shipwrecked sailors. Today, kennel clubs across the United States host Newfoundland Rescue Demonstrations, as well as offering classes in the field.
Many Newfoundlands are known to drool in excess, especially in warmer climates or on hot days.
An 8-weeks Newfoundland puppy
An unnamed Newfoundland is credited for saving Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. During his famous escape from exile on the island of Elba, rough seas knocked Napoleon overboard. A fisherman’s dog jumped into the sea, and kept Napoleon afloat until he could reach safety.
In 1828, Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, her father, her brother, and a Newfoundland Dog named Hairyman saved over 160 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Dispatch.
In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.
In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park.
In 1995, a 10-month old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.
Further evidence of Newfoundlands’ ability to rescue or support life saving activities was cited in a recent article by the BBC. The breed continues in that role today, along with the Leonberger, Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever dogs; they are used at the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs, Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, SICS, founded by Ferruccio Pilenga.
The Mastiff referred to by most Kennel Clubs simply as the Mastiff, is a breed of large dog perhaps descended from the ancient Alaunt through the Pugnaces Britanniae. Distinguishable by enormous size, massive head, and a limited range of colors, but always displaying a black mask, the Mastiff is noted for its gentle temperament. The lineage of modern dogs can be traced back to the early 19th century, and the modern type was estabilised in the 1880s. Following a period of sharp decline, the Mastiff has increased its worldwide popularity.
With a massive body, broad skull and head of generally square appearance, it is the largest dog breed in terms of mass. Though the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane are taller, they are not nearly as robust.
The body is large with great depth and breadth, especially between the forelegs, causing these to be set wide apart. The AKC standard height (per their website) for this breed is 30 inches (76 cm) at the shoulder for males and 27.5 inches (70 cm) (minimum) at the shoulder for females. A typical male can weigh 150–250 pounds (68–110 kg), a typical female can weigh 120–200 pounds (54–91 kg).
Coat colour standards
The former standard specified the coat should be short and close-lying (though long haired Mastiffs, called “Fluffies”, are occasionally seen) and the color is apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, fawn, or dark fawn-brindle, always with black on the muzzle, ears, and nose and around the eyes.
The Mastiff has a distinctive head with dewlap and flews.
The colours of the Mastiff coat are differently described by various kennel clubs, but are essentially fawn or apricot, or those colours as a base for black brindle. A black mask should occur in all cases. The fawn is generally a light “silver” shade, but may range up to a golden yellow. The apricot may be a slightly reddish hue up to a deep, rich red. The brindle markings should ideally be heavy, even and clear stripes, but may actually be light, uneven, patchy, faint or muddled. Pied Mastiffs occur rarely. Other non-standard colours include black, blue brindle, and chocolate mask. Some Mastiffs have a heavy shading caused by dark hairs throughout the coat or primarily on the back and shoulders. Brindle is dominant over solid colour. Apricot is dominant over fawn, though that dominance may be incomplete. Most of the colour faults are recessive, though black is so rare in the Mastiff that it cannot be certain if it is recessive, or a mutation that is dominant.
The greatest weight ever recorded for a dog, 343 pounds (156 kg), was that of an English Mastiff from England named Aicama Zorba of La Susa, although claims of larger dogs exist. According to the 1989 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, in March 1989, when he was 7 years old, Zorba stood 35 inches (89 cm) at the shoulder and was 8.25 feet (251 cm) from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, about the size of a small donkey. After 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records stopped accepting largest or heaviest pet records.
The Mastiff breed has a desired temperament, which is reflected in all formal standards and historical descriptions. Though calm and affectionate to its master, it is capable of protection. If an unfamiliar person approaches near the Mastiff’s perceived territory or its master, ideally, it would protect its master. If the approaching person is perceived as a threat, the Mastiff may take immediate defensive action by placing itself between its master and using a “warning growl” although some will actually hide behind their master and issue their intimidating growl from there. Mastiffs, even fearless ones, will rarely attack an intruder or perceived threat (unless severely provoked) and instead will generally pin the individual until a human they know arrives and tells them it is ok. Mastiffs are good natured, calm, easygoing, and surprisingly gentle for their size. They are a very sensitive breed, and as such harsh training methods and discipline are not recommended. It is a well-mannered house pet, requiring minimal daily exercise and activity. The Mastiff is typically an extremely loyal breed, exceptionally devoted to its family and good with children and small dogs and is often described by owners as “their giant teddy bear.”
The Mastiff is a particularly large dog demanding correct diet and exercise. Excessive running is not recommended for the first two years of the dog’s life. However, regular exercise must be maintained throughout the dog’s life in order to discourage slothful behavior and to prevent a number of health problems. A soft surface is recommended for the dog to sleep on in order to prevent the development of calluses, arthritis, and hygroma (an acute inflammatory swelling). Due to the breed’s large size, puppies may potentially be smothered or crushed by the mother during nursing. A whelping box, along with careful monitoring can prevent such accidents. The average lifespan of the Mastiff is about 7 years although it’s not uncommon for some to live to 10–11 years.
Major problems can include hip dysplasia and gastric torsion. Minor problems include obesity, osteosarcoma, and cystinuria. Problems only occasionally found include cardiomyopathy, allergies, vaginal hyperplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, hypothyroidism, OCD, entropion, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and persistent pupillary membranes (PPM)
When purchasing a purebred Mastiff, experts often suggest that the dog undergo tests for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, thyroid, and DNA for PRA.
History before the First World War
The Pugnaces Britanniae (Latin) was the name given by the Romans to the original English Mastiff.
The origin of the term “Mastiff” is unclear. Many claim that it evolved from the Anglo-Saxon word “masty”, meaning “powerful” Other sources, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, say the word originated from the Old French word mastin (Modern French mâtin), the word being itself derived from Vulgar Latin *ma(n)suetinus “tame”, see Classical Latin mansuetus with same meaning.
In 1570, Conrad Heresbach, in Rei Rusticae Libri Quatuor, referred to “the Mastie that keepeth the house”. Heresbach was writing in Latin; his work was translated a few years later into English by Barnabe Googe as Foure Bookes of Husbandrie. This work is adapted from De Re Rustica by 1st century Roman writer Columella, which highlights the Roman connection, but it has been speculated the Mastiff is descended from dogs brought to Britain by the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC. From Roman to Medieval times, these dogs were used in the blood sports of bear-baiting, bull-baiting, dog fighting, and lion-baiting. Dogs known as Bandogs, who were tied (bound) close to houses, were of Mastiff type. They were described by John Caius in 1570 as vast, huge, stubborn, ugly, and eager, of a heavy and burdensome body. Throughout its history, the Mastiff has contributed to the development of a number of dog breeds.
When in 1415 Sir Peers Legh was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt, his Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle. The Mastiff was later returned to Legh’s home and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall Mastiffs. Five centuries later this pedigree figured prominently in founding the modern breed. Other aristocratic seats where Mastiffs are known to have been kept are Elvaston Castle (Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington and his ancestors) and Chatsworth House. The owner of the Chatsworth Mastiffs (which were said to be of Alpine stock) was William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, known to his family as Canis. Mastiffs were also kept at Hadzor Hall, owned by members of the Galton family, famous for industrialists and scientists, including Charles Darwin.
Some evidence exists that the Mastiff first came to America on the Mayflower, but the breed’s documented entry to America did not occur until the late 19th century.
In 1835, the Parliament of the United Kingdom implemented an Act called the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, which prohibited the baiting of animals. This may have led to decline in Mastiffs used for this purpose, but Mastiffs continued to be used as guards for country estates and town businesses. Organised breeding began in the 19th century, when J.W. (John Wigglesworth) Thompson sought out a bitch, Dorah, from John Crabtree, the head gamekeeper of Kirklees Hall, whose dogs were often held in the name of his employer, Sir George Armitage. Dorah was descended in part from animals owned by Thompson’s grandfather, Commissioner Thompson, at the beginning of the century, as well as a Mastiff of the Bold Hall line, recorded from 1705, one purchased from canal boat men and another caught by Crabtree in a fox trap. J. W. Thompson’s first stud dog Hector came from crossing a bitch, Juno, bought from animal dealer Bill George, to a dog, Tiger, owned by a Captain Fenton.
Neither of these had any pedigree, as was normal for the period. Between 1830 and 1850 he bred the descendants of these dogs and some others to produce a line with the short, broad head and massive build he favoured. In 1835, T.V.H. Lukey started his operations by breeding an Alpine Mastiff bitch of the Chatsworth line, Old Bob-Tailed Countess (bought from dog dealer Bill White), to Pluto, a large black Mastiff of unknown origin belonging to the Marquis of Hertford. The result was a bitch called Yarrow, who was mated to Couchez, another Alpine Mastiff belonging (at the time) to White and later mated to a brindle dog also in White’s possession. Lukey produced animals that were taller but less massive than Thompson’s. After 1850, Thompson and Lukey collaborated, and the modern Mastiff was created, though animals without pedigree or of dubious pedigree continued to be bred from into the 20th century. Another important contribution to the breed was made by a dog called Lion, owned by Captain Garnier. He bought two Mastiffs from the previously mentioned dealer Bill George. The bitch, Eve, bought by George at Leadenhall Market, was old enough to be gray-muzzled, but of good type; the dog, Adam, was of reputed Lyme Hall origin, but bought at Tattersalls and suspected by Garnier of containing a “dash of Boarhound”, an ancestral form of Great Dane. Garnier took them to the United States with him and brought back their puppy, Lion. He was bred to Lukey’s Countess to produce Governor, the source of all existing Mastiff lines. (Lion was also mated to Lufra, a Scottish Deerhound, and their puppy Marquis appears in the pedigrees of both Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds.)
The controversial Ch. Crown Prince, pictured in old age.
In the 1880s soundness was sacrificed for type (widely attributed to the short-headed but straight-stifled Ch. Crown Prince), and subsequently, the Mastiff lost popularity but gained a consistency of type. In the USA particularly, Mastiffs declined steadily through the 1890s and the early 20th century. From 1906 to 1918, only 24 Mastiffs were registered in the United States, none American bred after 1910. By the time the First World War ended, other than for a few imports, the breed was extinct outside of Great Britain.
History after the First World War
In 1918, a dog called Beowulf, bred in Canada from British imports Priam of Wingfied and Parkgate Duchess, was registered by the AKC, starting a slow re-establishment of the breed in North America. Priam and Duchess, along with fellow imports Ch Weland, Thor of the Isles, Caractacus of Hellingly and Brutus of Saxondale, ultimately contributed a total of only two descendants who would produce further offspring, Buster of Saxondale and Buddy. There were, however, a number of other imports in the period between the wars and in the early days of the Second World War, and those whose descendants survive were 12 in number, meaning the North American contribution to the gene pool after 1945 consists of 14 Mastiffs. In the British Isles, virtually all breeding stopped due to the rationing of meat. After the war, such puppies as were produced mostly succumbed to canine distemper, for which no vaccine was developed until 1950. Only a single bitch puppy produced by the elderly stock that survived the war reached maturity, Nydia of Frithend, and her sire had to be declared a Mastiff by the Kennel Club, as his parentage was unknown, and he was thought by some to be a Bullmastiff. After the war, animals from North America, prominently from Canada, were imported. Therefore all Mastiffs in the late 1950s were descended from Nydia and the 14 Mastiffs previously mentioned. It has been alleged that the Mastiff was bred with other more numerous giant breeds such as Bullmastiffs and St. Bernards, as these were considered close relatives to the Mastiff. In 1959, a Dogue de Bordeaux, Fidelle de Fenelon, was imported from France to the USA, registered as a Mastiff, and entered the gene pool. Since that time, the breed has gradually been restored in Britain, has reached 28th most popular breed in the USA, and is now found worldwide.
Extract from Abraham Fleming’s translation of John Caius’s description, dated 1570, of the “Mastiue or Bandogge”.
“This kind of Dog called a Mastyue or Bandogge is vast, huge, stubborn and eager, of a heavy and burthenous body, and therefore but of little swiftness, terrible, and frightful to behold, and more fierce and fell then any Arcadian curre (not withstanding they are said to have their generation of the violent Lion.) They are called Villatici, because they are appointed to watch and keep farm places and country cottages sequestred from common recourse, and not abutting weapon other houses by reason of distance, when there is any fear concealed of thieves, robbers, spoilers, and night wanderers. They are serviceable against the Fox and the Badger, to drive wild and tame swyne out of Meadows, pastures, glebelandes (church lands) and places planted with fruit, to bite and take the bull by the ear, when occasion requires. One dog or two at the uttermost, sufficient for that purpose be the bull never so monsterous, never so fierce, never so furious, never so stearn, never so untameable. For it is a kind of dog capable of courage, violent and valiaunt, striking could fear into the hearts of men, but standing in fear of no man, in so much that no weapons will make him shrink, nor abridge his boldness. Our English men (to the intent that their dogs might be the more fell and fierce) assist nature with art, vise, and custom, for they teach their dogs to bite the Bear, to bite the Bull and other such like cruel and bloudy beasts (appointing an ouerseer of the game) without any collar to defend their throats, and oftentimes they train them via fighting and wrestling with a man hauing for the safegarde of his life, either a Pikestaffe, a club, or a sword and by using them to such exercises as these, their dogs become more sturdy and strong. The force which is in them surmounteth all beleefe, the fast hold which they take with their teeth exceed all credit, three of them against a Bear, force against a Lyon are sufficient, both to try master with them and utterly to out match them.”
Extract from Barnaby Googe’s 1577 translation of Conrad Heresbach’s description of the Bandog for the house:
“First, the Mastie that keepeth the house. For this purpose you must provide you such a one as hath a large and mightie body, a great shrill voyce, that both with his barking he may discover, and with his sight dismaye the theefe, yea, being not seene, with the horror of his voice put him to flight. His stature must be neither long nor short, but well set ; his head, great ; his eyes, sharp and fiery, either browne or grey ; his lippes, blackish, neither turning up nor hanging too much down ; his mouth black and wide ; his neather jaw, fat, and coming out of it on either side a fang appearing more outward than his other teeth ; his upper teeth even with his neather, not hanging too much over, sharpe, and hidden with his lippes ; his countenance, like a lion ; his brest, great and shag hayrd ; his shoulders, broad ; his legges, bigge ; his tayle, short ; his feet, very great. His disposition must neither be too gentle nor too curst, that he neither faune upon a theefe nor flee upon his friends; very waking; no gadder abroad, nor lavish of his mouth, barking without cause; neither maketh it any matter though he be not swifte, for he is but to fight at home, and to give warning of the enemie.”
Sydenham Edwards (1800), wrote in the Cynographia Britannica, London: C. Whittingham:
“What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sinking before him. His courage does not exceed its temper and generosity and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race. His docility is perfect; the teasing of the smaller kinds will hardly provoke him to resent, and I have seen him down with his paw the Terrier or cur that has bit him, without offering further injury. In a family he will permit the children to play with him and will suffer all their little pranks without offence. The blind ferocity of the bulldog will often wound the hand of the master who assists him to combat, but the Mastiff distinguishes perfectly, enters the field with temper, and engages the attack as if confident of success: if he overpowers, or is beaten, his master may take him immediately in his arms and fear nothing. This ancient and faithful domestic, the pride of our island, uniting the useful, the brave and the docile, though sought by foreign nations and perpetuated on the continent, is nearly extinct where he was probably an aborigine, or is bastardized by numberless crosses, everyone of which degenerate from the invaluable character of the parent, who was deemed worthy to enter the Roman amphitheatre and in the presence of the masters of the world, encounter the pard and assail even the lord of the savage tribes, whose courage was sublimed by torrid suns, and found none gallant enough to oppose him on the deserts of Zaara or the plains of Numidia.”
The Leonberger is a breed of large dog. The breed’s name derives from the city of Leonberg in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. According to legend, the Leonberger was ostensibly bred as a ‘symbolic dog’ that would mimic the lion in the town crest. It is in the Working Group for dog shows such as Crufts, but not at the World Dog Show.
This Mountain dog comes with a generous double coat, the Leonberger is a large, muscular, and elegant dog with balanced body type, medium temperament, and dramatic presence. The head is held proudly, adorned with a striking black mask, and projects the breed’s distinct expression of intelligence, pride, and kindliness. Remaining true to their early roots as a capable family and Working dog and search and rescue dog (particularly water), the surprisingly agile Leonberger is sound and coordinated, with both strength in bearing and elegance in movement. A dimorphic breed, the Leonberger possesses either a strongly masculine or elegantly feminine form, making gender immediately discernible. When properly trained and socialized, the Leonberger is vigilant, loyal, and confident in all situations. Robust, adaptable, obedient, intelligent, playful, and kindly, the Leonberger is an appropriate family companion for modern living conditions.
Size, Proportion, and Substance
Height at withers:
Male: 28 to 31.5 inches (71 to 80 cm)-average 29.5 inches (75 cm) 
Female: 25.5 to 29.5 inches (65 to 75 cm)-average 27.5 inches (70 cm)  
Males: 120–170 pounds (54–77 kg)-average 140–150 pounds (64–68 kg) .
Females: 100–135 pounds (45–61 kg)-average 115 pounds (52 kg).
For a mature Leonberger, the height at the withers is ideally the median of the breed’s range— 28 to 31.5 inches (71 to 80 cm) for males and 25.5 to 29.5 inches (65 to 75 cm) for females. The weight of his trim, well-muscled body is in direct proportion to his size. Elegantly assuming a rectangular build, the Leonberger is a well balanced dog in form and function; the proportion of his height to his length is at about nine to ten. Necessary for efficient movement and providing for a harmonious silhouette, his front and rear angulation are moderate and balanced. Capable of demanding work, the Leonberger is a dog of ample substance. His frame is effortlessly supported with well-muscled, medium to heavy bone in direct proportion to his size. A roomy chest is sufficiently broad and deep for the purpose of work. Seen in profile, the chest curves inward from the pro-sternum, tangently joins the elbow to his underline at fifty percent of the withers’ height, and then continues slightly upward toward the stifle.
Correct head and expression in harmony with overall size and coat, are hallmarks of the Leonberger and are always appropriately masculine or feminine. The head is well balanced in proportion to the size of the dog and is deeper than broad with the length of muzzle and the length of skull approximately equal. The head is painted with a striking black mask that extends above the eyes; the Leonberger’s good-natured expression is elegant, intelligent and confident. Likewise, the nose and lips are black and effortlessly blend with his dark mask. With close fitting eyelids, the eyes are elegantly set into the skull upon a slight oblique; the eyes are medium sized, almond shaped, and colored a rich dark brown. Integral to the head’s silhouette, the ears are fleshy, moderately sized, and pendant shaped, with sufficient substance to hang close to the skull and drop the tip of the ears level with the inside corners of the mouth. Vigilantly set slightly forward, when alerted, the Leonberger’s ears rise from halfway between the eye and the top of his skull to level with the top of his skull. True to his refined nature, the upper lip fits tightly and seamlessly around the lips of a strong lower jaw, preventing drooling (unlike many other Mastiff-like dogs) under most circumstances. Though level bites and slight anomalies not affecting the robustness of the lower jaw are common, the ideal Leonberger capably possesses a strong scissor bite with full dentition.
Well muscled in support of a proudly held head, the Leonberger’s neck flows elegantly from the backskull into well laid back shoulders, blending smoothly into withers on the topline and flowing cleanly through the underline. The backline remains strong and level through the rump. Coupled with a pronounced pro-sternum and conducive to strenuous work, a well sprung, oval-shaped rib cage supports a moderately broad and roomy chest, achieving a depth sufficient to meet properly placed elbows. Back and loin are broad and strongly coupled with a slight tuck-up. The croup smoothly slopes into his tail which is set just below the level of the back. The tail is rather long and reaches the hock of a properly angulated rear assembly; the tail is also well furnished and blends harmoniously with rear feathering. Denoting their confidence when in repose, the Leonberger’s tail hangs straight down. Though showy males may adopt a sickle tail in the ring and leonbergers’ tails commonly manifest excitement or rise toward the level of the back in movement, the ideal tail carriage is always relaxed.
Both a necessity for work and a defining attribute of the breed, the Leonberger has a generous, water resistant, double coat on his body that is complemented by the shorter, fine hair on his muzzle and limbs. The long, profuse, outer coat is durable, relatively straight, lies flat, and fits close, strengthening his silhouette. Mature, masculine Leonbergers exhibit a pronounced mane which proudly parades the entirety of his neck and chest, helping to define a lion-like outline. The Leonberger is harmoniously festooned with distinct, ample feathering on the back of his forelegs and breeches. Similarly, his tail is very well furnished from the tip to the base where it blends harmoniously with the breech’s furnishings. Climate permitting, his undercoat is soft and dense. Apart from a neatening of the feet, the Leonberger is presented untrimmed.
Accompanying his striking black mask, a variety of coat colors are acceptable, including all combinations of lion-yellow, red, red-brown, and sand. His coat may be highlighted with black tippings which add depth without ever dominating the overall color. Nose leather, foot pads and lips should always be black. Faulty colours include brown with brown nose leather, black and tan, black, white or silver and eyes without any brown. A small patch of white on the chest or toes is permitted.
First and foremost a family dog, the Leonberger’s temperament is one of his most important and distinguishing characteristics. Well socialized and trained, the Leonberger is self assured, insensitive to noise, submissive to family members, friendly toward children, well composed with passersby, and self-disciplined when obliging his family or property with protection. Robust, loyal, intelligent, playful, and kindly, he can thus be taken anywhere without difficulty and adjust easily to a variety of circumstances.
With an efficient, balanced, ground-covering gait, the Leonberger is effortless, powerful, free, and elastic in movement. Balanced, and controlled at the trot, he always maintains a level topline. Viewed from the front or from behind, forelegs and hind legs travel straight. Increasing reach and drive, his legs tend to converge toward the centerline of the body as his speed increases.
Care and maintenance
The Leonberger sheds fur very heavily. A good brushing every week is sufficient to keep it in fine shape, except when the undercoat is being shed; then daily combing or brushing is in order for the duration of the moult. Regular use of a drag comb (it looks like a small rake), especially in the undercoat, is highly effective. The Leonberger should never be shaved. Its double coat insulates against both heat and cold, and shaving can affect the dog’s natural body temperature regulation. Regrowth is also more likely to be curly and therefore more susceptible to matting. See Dog grooming. A Leonberger is a family dog, the desire to be with his pack is far more important than a large yard, he can adapt to modest living quarters if he is given time with his people, a daily walk and regular training time. Leonbergers are good with children, family pets and other dogs. Socialization and thorough obedience training are extremely important with any giant breed, including Leonbergers.
Leonbergers are strong, generally healthy dogs. Hip dysplasia, which devastates many large breeds is largely controlled because of the effort of many breeders who actively screen their Leonbergers using x-rays evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and leave dysplastic specimens out of the gene pool, thereby reducing the risk of bone/joint problems. For over twenty years, breeders belonging to the Leonberger Club of America, which issued pedigrees for the Leonberger breed in America, adhered to many aspects of the German breeding program whereby member kennels may only choose to breed dogs that were certified as three generation free of hip dysplasia. As a likely result, the incidence of Hip Dysplasia in the breed was reduced to almost 10% and the occurrence of OFA rated “Excellent” hips increased by over 60% in just twenty years. Current incidence rates of hip dysplasia in Leonbergers are likely around 13%
Though not common, Leonbergers do inherit and/or develop a number of diseases that range in their impact from mild to devastating. In addition to hip dysplasia, Leonbergers can inherit and/or develop heart problems, Inherited Leonberger Paralysis/Polyneuropathy (ILPN), osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, Osteochondrosis Dissecans, allergies, digestive disorders, cataracts, entropian/ectropian eyelids, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), perianal fistulas, and thyroid disorders. Though rumors persist of Leonbergers being more sensitive to anesthesia than other breeds of dog, they are largely untrue. Leonbergers, like other large breed dogs, require less dosage per pound of sedative than smaller breeds to yield the same effect. The Leonberger Health Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation whose sole mission is to support major researchers who are seeking to identify genetic markers for serious diseases which affect the breed, is currently focusing on osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and Leonberger Polyneuropathy.
Longevity and causes of death
Leonbergers in UK and USA/Canada surveys had a median lifespan of about 7 years which is about 4 years less than the average purebred dog, but typical of similarly sized breeds.
Unfortunately, there are some serious diseases that can affect the Leonberger. Certain types of cancers are very common in the breed. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, commonly called “Bloat”, is another serious condition that affects many of the large and giant breed dogs, particularly those with deep chests. It causes the stomach to twist and can be fatal quite quickly. Adult Leonbergers should always be fed twice a day rather than one large meal in order to reduce the likelihood of bloat. Leonbergers are not alone in inheriting serious diseases and according to the University of Sydney’s LIDA taskforce, Leonbergers have relatively few health issues compared to other dog breeds.
In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (45%), cardiac (11%), and “unknown” (8.5%) In a 2000 USA/Canada Leonberger Club of America survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (37%), old age (12%), cardiac (9%), and “sudden death” (8%).
Studies have indicated problems with inherited polyneuropathy in certain populations of Leonbergers and cataracts in dogs in the United Kingdom.
In the 1830’s, according to tradition, Heinrich Essig, a dog breeder and seller from Leonberg near Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, originally created the Leonberger by crossing a female Landseer Newfoundland with a “barry” male from the Great St. Bernard Hospice and Monastery (which would later create the Saint Bernard breed). Later, according to Essig, a Pyrenean Mountain Dog was added, resulting in very large dogs with the long white coats that were the fashion for the time. The first dogs registered as Leonbergers were born in 1846 and had many of the prized qualities of the breeds from which they were derived. The popular legend is that it was bred to resemble the coat-of-arms animal of Leonberg, the lion. By the end of the 19th century, Leonbergers were kept as farm dogs, much praised for their abilities in watch and draft work.
Leonbergers have been owned by royalty including Napoleon II, Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary, the Prince of Wales, Otto Von Bismarck, Emperor Napoleon III and Umberto I of Italy. Around the beginning of the 20th Century, Leonbergers were imported by the Government of Canada for use as water rescue/lifesaving dogs. The breed continues in that role today, along with the Newfoundland, Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever dogs; they are used at the Italian School of Canine Lifeguard.
The modern look of the Leonberger, with darker coats and a black masks, was developed during the 19th century by introducing other breeds. Leonbergers were seriously affected by the two world wars. During World War I most Leonbergers were left to fend for themselves as breeders fled or were killed. Only five Leonbergers survived World War I and were bred until World War II when, again, almost all Leonbergers were lost. During the two world wars, Leonbergers were used to pull the ammunition carts, a service to the breed’s country that sadly resulted in the Leo’s near-destruction. Leonbergers today can have their ancestry traced to eight dogs that survived World War II.
The Leonberger received American Kennel Club recognition as a member of the Working Group in June 2011, alongside the Icelandic Sheepdog and the Cane Corso. It was the 167th breed to be recognized by the AKC.
The Komondor (Hungarian plural komondorok) is a large, white-colored Hungarian breed of livestock guardian dog with a long, corded coat.
Sometimes referred to as ‘mop dogs,’ the Komondor is a long-established powerful dog breed that has a natural guardian instinct to guard livestock and other property. The Komondor was brought to Europe by the Cumans and it was mentioned for the first time in 1544 in a Hungarian codex. The Komondor breed has been declared one of Hungary’s national treasures, to be preserved and protected from modification.
Etymology and history
The name Komondor derives from Koman-dor, meaning “dog of the Cumans.” The breed descends from Tibetan dogs and came from Asia with the Cumans, whose homeland was near the Yellow River. In the late 10th century, Mongols began to expand their territories at the expense of the Cumans, forcing them to move westwards. Fleeing from the Mongols, they reached the borders of Hungary in the 12th century. Cumans were granted asylum and settled in Hungary in 1239 under Köten Khan. Komondor remains have been found in Cuman gravesites.
The Komondor is a large dog (many are over 30 inches tall), making this one of the largest common breeds of dog, or a molosser. The body is covered by a heavy, matted, corded coat. The dogs have robust bodies, strongly muscled, with long legs and a short back, with the tails carried low. The body, seen sideways, forms a prone rectangle. The length of body is slightly longer than the height at the withers, approximately 104% of the height at withers.
The Komondor has a broad head with the muzzle slightly shorter than half of the length of the head, with an even and complete scissor bite. Nose and lips are always black. People unfamiliar with the breed are often surprised by how quick and agile the dogs are.
The minimum height of female Komondors is 25.5 inches (65 cm) at the withers, with an average height of 27.5 inches (70 cm). The minimum height of male Komondors is 27.5 inches (70 cm) with an average height of 31.5 inches (80 cm). No upper height limit is given. Komondor females on average weigh between 88–110 lb (40–50 kg) and Komondor males weigh on average between 110–132 lb (50–60 kg).
Komondor lying down
The Komondor’s coat is a long, thick, strikingly corded white coat, about 20 – 27 cm long (the heaviest amount of fur in the canine world), which resembles dreadlocks or a mop. The puppy coat is soft and fluffy. However, the coat is wavy and tends to curl as the puppy matures. A fully mature coat is formed naturally from the soft undercoat and the coarser outer coat combining to form tassels, or cords and will take around two years to form. Some help is needed in separating the cords so the dog does not turn into one large matted mess. The length of the cords increases with time as the coat grows. Shedding is minimal with this breed, contrary to what one might think (once cords are fully formed). The only substantial shedding occurs as a puppy before the dreadlocks fully form. The Komondor is born with only a white coat, unlike the similar-looking Puli, which can be white, black, or sometimes grayish. However, a working Komondor’s coat may be discolored by the elements, and may appear off-white if not washed regularly. Traditionally the coat protected the Komondor from wolves’ bites, as the bites were not able to penetrate the thick coat. The coat of the Komondor takes about two and a half days to dry after a bath.
The Komondor’s temperament is like that of most livestock guarding dogs it is calm and steady when things are normal, but in case of trouble, the dog will fearlessly defend its charges. It was bred to think and act independently and make decisions on its own.
It is affectionate with its family, and gentle with the children and friends of the family. Although wary of strangers, they can accept them when it is clear that no harm is meant but is instinctively very protective of its family, home and possessions. The Komondor is good with other family pets but is intolerant to trespassers and teasing, and is not a good dog for city life. The dog is vigilant, will rest in the daytime, keeping an eye on the surroundings, but at night is constantly moving, patrolling the place, moving up and down around the whole area. The dogs usually knock down intruders and keep them down until the owner arrives. Hungarian Komondor breeders used to say that an intruder may be allowed to enter the property guarded by a Komondor, but he will not be allowed to come out again.
The breed has a natural guardian instinct and ability to guard livestock. An athletic dog, the Komondor is fast and powerful and will leap at a predator to drive it off or knock it down. It can be used successfully to guard sheep against wolves or bears. The Komondor is one breed of livestock guardian dog which has seen a vast increase in use as a guardian of sheep and goats in the United States to protect against predators such as coyotes, cougars, bears, and other predators.
Due to the Komondor’s size, power, speed and temperament, a lack of obedience training, which should start from a young age (4 – 8 months), can result in danger to others. Komondors generally take well to training if started early. A Komondor can become obstinate when bored, so it is imperative that training sessions be upbeat and happy. Praise is a must, as are consistent and humane corrections. Once a Komondor gets away with unfriendly or hostile behavior, it will always think such behavior is appropriate. Therefore, consistent corrections even with a young puppy are necessary to ensure a well-adjusted adult. Socialization is also extremely important. The Komondor should be exposed to new situations, people and other dogs as a puppy. Because it is a natural guard dog, a Komondor that is not properly socialized may react in an excessively aggressive manner when confronted with a new situation or person.
Given the proper environment and care, a Komondor is a responsible, loving dog. They are devoted and calm without being sluggish. As in any breed, there is quite a range of personalities, so your needs should be outlined clearly to your breeder. An experienced breeder can try to identify that personality which would be happier as an independent livestock dog, or that which wants more to please and would make a good obedience dog or family pet. Adolescence can be marked by changes in a Komondor’s temperament, eating habits, trainability and general attitude. Many Komondors are “late bloomers,” not fully mature until nearly three years of age.
Komondors do not suffer many hereditary problems. Perhaps because the breed has descended from centuries of hardy working stock, Komondors have few genetically linked problems. In particular, there is no evidence of the retinal eye problems found in other breeds, nor is there dwarfism or hereditary blood disorders.
Main article: Hip dysplasia (canine)
As in all large breeds (and some small ones) there is some hip dysplasia, though the incidence is about 12% of all radiographs submitted to the OFA.
Main article: Entropion
Main article: Cataract
There are two eye disorders found in the breed. Entropion is indicated by the curling inwards of either the upper or lower eyelid. This lid deformity causes the lashes to rub against the cornea causing lacerations and infections. More recently, juvenile cataracts have been documented. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation, CERF, located at Purdue University, evaluates eye exams and assigns a CERF number to it if the dog’s eyes are free from genetic problems.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Rarely, Komondors may have an autosomal recessive gene which prevents absorption of Vitamin B12. Prompt diagnosis is key, as the condition is easily treated with semimonthly B12 injections.
Main article: Bloat
There is some indication of bloat, a life-threatening condition. The incidence of bloat is no greater than with any other large breeds. To possibly help to avoid bloat do not feed soon before or after any exercise.
External parasites can be a problem due to the heavy coat. As with any long-haired dog, a skin check should be part of a regular grooming routine. If fleas or ticks are found, aggressive measures are in order. ‘Spot-ons’, shampoos and powders work well, but great care should be observed as it is easy to miss a spot where the fleas can hide. Owners should check anti-flea and tick preparations carefully with a veterinary surgeon as the Komondor can be extremely sensitive to some of these products. Be wary of over-the-counter treatments as these are often too weak to effectively treat infestation, others can cause severe reactions if dosed incorrectly. It is recommended to spot-test the coat before dipping as some flea dips have been known to discolor the white coat. Flea collars can also discolor the hair beneath them, so look for a white or transparent one.
Ear care should also be routine. As Komondors have ears which prevent air circulation, it is especially necessary to keep them clean and hair-free. Some ear canals are more hairy than others, but commercial powders, cleansing fluids and plucking of the hair can greatly reduce infections.
Thick hair grows between the pads of the feet which also requires maintenance. This hair can pick up burrs, or become a source of irritation and infection when wet. For the health and comfort of the dog, this hair should be cut out with an electric clipper or scissors to keep mats from forming between the foot pads.
As in all breeds one should be careful that a Komondor have the proper vaccines against rabies, distemper, canine parvovirus, etc. Dogs should also be checked periodically for worms and other internal parasites. Like all stock guard dogs Komondors are usually extremely sensitive to anesthetics. These drugs should always be administered to effect, never by weight.
The Hovawart is a German dog breed. The name of the breed means “an estate guard dog,” which is the original use for the breed. The breed originated in the Black Forest region and was first described in text and paintings in medieval times.
A black and gold Hovie. Black and Gold is the most popular color of Hovawart.
The three permitted colours
The Hovawart is a medium dog. Male Hovawarts are 63-73 cm (25″–29″) and females 58-65 cm (22.5″–26″) at the withers. The weight is approximately 30–45 kg (65–95 pounds). The correct color descriptions are Black, Black and Gold, and Blond.
The Hovawart is an outstanding watch dog and somewhat reserved towards strangers. They make excellent family dogs as they are totally devoted to their family. They are a working dog breed, and require a consistent and loving yet strict training and meaningful activity throughout their lives.
One of the first documented recordings comes from the year 1210 when the German castle Ordensritterburg was besieged by Slavic invaders. The castle fell and its inhabitants including the Lord were slaughtered, however the Lord’s infant son was saved by one of the castle’s Hovawarts. In spite of being wounded itself, the dog dragged the tiny child to a neighbouring castle and thus saved the boy’s life. This young boy, Eike von Repkow, grew up to become a legendary figure in the history of German law. He later published the Sachsenspiegel, the oldest Code of Law to survive from medieval Germany. Not surprisingly, the Hovawart is mentioned with praise. The Schwabenspiegel, a law text published in 1274 and based on Eike von Repkow’s Sachsenspiegel, lists the Hovawart among the dogs you have to replace and pay restitution for if they are killed or stolen.
By 1473, Heinrich Mynsinger described the Hovawart as one of “The Five Noble Breeds” and among its uses listed that it was useful for tracking the robber and miscreant. This along with references to the Hovawart in German law show that it was a readily identifiable breed and held in similar esteem to that of hunting dogs.
A black-colored Hovawart
Following the medieval period, the popularity of the Hovawart began to decline. Newer breeds such as the German Shepherd slowly replaced the Hovawart as a guard and working dog until it had almost disappeared by the beginning of the twentieth century. Around 1915 a group of enthusiasts decided to try to save the breed. Predominant in this group was the zoologist Kurt Friedrich König. They started by looking for dogs in the farms of the Black Forest region. König then started a careful breeding program using these dogs and crossed them with Kuvaszok, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Leonbergers, a Bernese Mountain Dog and an African Hunting Dog. After much work the group was rewarded in 1922 when the first Hovawart litter was entered into the German Breeding Registry. The enthusiasts continued their work and in 1937 the German Kennel Club officially recognised the Hovawart. All this work was almost undone with the outbreak of the Second World War. Because of their abilities many Hovawarts were used in the German war effort and perished. By 1945 only a few remained. Enthusiasm for the breed remained and in 1947, Otto Schramm and some fellow enthusiasts in Coburg formed a new club, the “Rassezuchtverein für Hovawart-Hunde Coburg” which is still in existence today. In 1964 the German Kennel Club recognised the Hovawart as the country’s seventh working breed and around this time enthusiasm for the breed started to develop in other countries.
The Hovawart does exceptionally well in search and rescue, tracking and working dog activities. The females are generally lighter in build. In training and especially obedience work the trainer must keep positive reinforcement in mind all the time, as this mountain dog is not as eager to please as many other working dog breeds: it always needs some kind of motivation. It is important to realize that the Hovawart works with you and not for you. They do have the ability to think and act independently. Their guarding instinct for example does not require any real training; it is inherent, as it is what they were bred for. The Hovawart may easily become reluctant if training is built only on punishments.
The owner of a Hovawart should ideally have previous experience in owning and training a dog and as such the Hovawart is not usually suitable as a first dog.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (German: Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund or French: Grand Bouvier Suisse) is a dog breed which was developed in the Swiss Alps. The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn or Senner, dairymen and herders in the Swiss Alps. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are almost certainly the result of indigenous dogs mating with large Mastiff types brought to Switzerland by foreign settlers. At one time, the breed was believed to have been among the most popular in Switzerland. It was assumed to have almost died out by the late 19th century, since its work was being done by other breeds or machines, but was rediscovered in the early 1900s.
The breed is large and heavy-boned with incredible physical strength, but is still agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties it was originally used for. Its breed standard calls for a black, white, and rust colored coat.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is sociable, active, calm, and dignified, and loves being part of the family. It is relatively healthy for its size and tends to have far fewer problems than more popular breeds in its size range. Among the four Sennenhund, or Swiss mountain dogs, this breed is considered the oldest, and is also the largest.
This shows an 1815 painting of an Alpine Mastiff.
A painting of an Alpine Mastiff which was brought to Britain in 1815.
The origin of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is not definitively known. The Swiss people themselves cannot be clearly defined as belonging exclusively to one of the European tribes; they are inhabitants of a typical transit country. Beginning in 1515, the remote valleys of Switzerland were more or less isolated from world history for three centuries. Specific dog breeds were created by inbreeding, and puppies were given to neighbors and family members.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was developed in the Swiss Alps. There are several theories regarding the origin of the four Sennenhund breeds. The most popular theory states the dogs are descended from the Molosser, a large Mastiff-type dog, which accompanied the Roman Legions on their invasion of the Alps more than 2000 years ago.
A second theory is that in 1100 BC, the Phoenicians brought a large dog breed with them to settlements in Spain. These dogs later migrated eastward and influenced the development of the Spanish Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Dogue de Bordeaux, and Sennenhund breeds.
A third possibility is that a large dog breed was indigenous to central Europe during the Neolithic Period, when humans grew wild and domestic crops and used domesticated animals. Whether or not a domesticated large breed existed in the Alpine area when the Romans invaded, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are almost certainly the result of the mating of native farm dogs with large Mastiff-type dogs brought to Switzerland by foreign settlers. The early ancestors of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog were used by farmers, herdsmen and merchants in central Europe. The breed was bred as a draft dog to pull heavy carts, to guard and move dairy cattle, and as a watchdog and family companion.
Historical photograph showing a double team of Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs pulling a merchant’s wagon.
These two Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, forming a double team, have collar harnesses, with the shaft between their legs. The driver is in the wagon.
Selective breeding was based on a dog’s ability to perform a particular function, such as pulling loads or guarding. The Swiss farmer needed a strong, multi-purpose dog capable of contributing to daily life on the farm. Large, sturdy and confident, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a draft and drover breed that is robust and agile enough to perform farm work in very mountainous regions. The breed was also used as a butcher’s dog, having been “popular with butchers, cattle dealers, manual workers and farmers, who used them as guard dogs, droving or draught dogs and bred them as such.” Its popularity as a draft dog led to the nickname “the poor man’s horse”. By the 19th century, the ancestors of the modern Greater Swiss Mountain Dog were widely used in central Europe by farmers and tradesmen.
Renewal of breed
At one time, the breed’s ancestors were believed to have been among the most popular dogs in Switzerland. It was assumed that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog had almost died out by the late 19th century, because their work was being done by other breeds or machines, but they were rediscovered in the early 1900s.
In 1908, on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Swiss Kennel Club (Schweizerische Kynologische Gesellschaft or SKG), two short-haired Bernese Mountain Dogs were shown by Franz Schertenlieb to an advocate of the Swiss mountain dogs, geology professor Albert Heim (April 12, 1849 – August 31, 1937) Heim recognized them as representatives of the old, vanishing, large mountain dog, whose ancestors had been widely spread across Europe, and bred as guard dogs, draft dogs, and droving-cattle dogs.
This is a photograph of Dr. Albert Heim
Professor Albert Heim
Heim was a Sennenhund expert, and started to encourage breeders to take an interest them. These efforts resulted in the re-establishment of the breed. In 1909, the dogs were recognized as a separate breed by the Swiss Kennel Club and entered as “Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund” in Volume 12 of the Swiss stud book. The first breed club was formed in 1912 to promote the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. The Bernese Mountain Dog and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog are two of four distinctive farm-type dogs of Swiss origin who were saved from extinction and revitalized by Schertenlieb in the late 1800s.
There is no information about the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog written before 1907. Until 1913, it was only mentioned in reports by exhibition judges, such as Dr. Albert Heim, who is credited with introducing them into official dog breeding. Heim was sure that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was the most widely kept dog in the mountain areas of Switzerland between 1860 and 1870, but the prevailing theory asserts that within 30 years, it had nearly disappeared. Dr. Hans Raber commented on this discrepancy in his book, Die Schweizer Hunderassen:
If this dog was commonly kept around 1870, it is unbelievable that only 30 years later you could only find him in remote valleys in the Bern area. A well known and working dog cannot disappear in such a short time, especially not if he had all the good qualities he is credited with. Furthermore, this dog was not limited to Switzerland. He also was known in southern Germany, where today the Rottweiler is his noble successor, and in other areas.
—Dr. Hans Raber, Die Schweizer Hunderassen
This theory asserts that systematic breeding did not occur. Farmers did not typically take their in-season females to selected males, so breeding was left to chance. From the litter, puppies who were likable and looked suitable were chosen. Because of this strict selection, and because puppies were often kept in their original neighborhood, the appearance and character of the dogs remained stable. Practical matters were important when selecting the dog and dictated appearance. It isn’t known how much attention was given to colors, but it is possible that irregularly or asymmetrically marked dogs were considered less desirable.
Although Heim has said that the big butcher dogs, Metzgerhund, went extinct after foreign imports became more popular, there is speculation over whether farmers would get an expensive foreign dog. In 1889 an International Dog Show was held in Winterthur, northern Switzerland; various Sennenhunds were exhibited. Raber is sure the dogs were present in 1900 as draft dogs for peddlers and people going to market, watch dogs for farmers and drover’s dog for butchers; they were rarely tri-colored. Everywhere the dogs had short, rough coats; nearly all were brown, yellow or black with white and brown markings. Lons’ description of the northern and central German butcher dog also fits the Sennenhunde at the beginning of pure breeding; this applies to the Austrian butcher dog of Linz, and the French and Belgian Matin. It is to their credit that Heim and Schertenleib selected one variation of the butcher dog – possible the most beautiful – and started it on the road to a pure breed.
A photograph of the 1908 Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
Bello v Schlossgut, SSB 3965, first shown in 1908.
In 1908 the Swiss mountain dog appeared for the first time in public. At a show in Langenthal, Switzerland, Franz Schertenleib – a breeder of the Berner – showed an extraordinarily strong, short-haired Berner Sennenhund. He had seen this dog and bought him as an oddity. He was eager to hear what the Langenthal judge, Professor Heim, would say about this short-haired Berner. Bello vom Schlossgut was beautifully marked, 26 in (66 cm) high, sturdy, and with attractive colors. Heim’s first look saw the possibility of a new breed of Sennenhunde. He remembered having seen similar dogs in the 1860s in various parts of Switzerland. He said to Schertenleib, “The dog belongs in a different category; he is too gorgeous and thoroughbred to push him aside as a poor example of a Berner. He is an example of the old-time, almost extinct, butcher dog.” Heim wrote in his judge’s notes: “Bello is a marvelous, old Sennen (Butcher) hund of the large, almost extinct breed. Had he been entered under “other breeds” I would have recognized him as grossen Sennenhund and awarded him first prize with pleasure. Since he was entered among the Durrbachs, I cannot give this interesting dog more than second prize. This dog is out of place here.”
Heim gave Bello the name Grosse Schweizer Sennenhund and dismissed the first representative of a newly named breed from the ring. Heim wrote the first standard based on Bello, and Schertenleib started to search for other members of the new breed. He found two short-haired bitches and breeding began. The first Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were stockier and rougher than the modern dogs; the skulls were wider than desirable today and showed a marked stop. Judging from old pictures, the coloring was bad; the black coat was mixed with yellow wool at the neck, flanks and rear.
20th century development
Throughout the early 20th century, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog population in Europe grew slowly, and it remains a rare breed both in its native Switzerland and the U.S. During World War II the breed was used by the Swiss Army as a draft dog. In 1945 over 100 puppies were registered, indicating the existence of about 350-400 dogs of the breed at that time.
The breed was first recognised internationally in 1939, when the Swiss Standard was first published by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. In 1968 J. Frederick and Patricia Hoffman imported the first Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs to the U.S. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America was formed; the club promotes careful, selective breeding to gradually increase the strength and popularity of the breed. In 1983 the club held the first Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America (GSMDCA) National Specialty; the club registry contained 257 dogs. In 1985 the breed was granted entrance to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Miscellaneous Group. In 1992 the GSMDCA started to work toward full AKC recognition, and in July 1995 the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was officially granted full recognition in the AKC Working Group.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were featured in the Wall Street Journal as Oscar The Grouch prepared to compete in Westminster. According to the AKC, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are 88th in popularity as a breed.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a draft and drover breed it is a large, heavy-boned dog with incredible physical strength. Despite being heavy-boned and well-muscled, the dog is agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties of the mountainous regions of its origin.
The coloration on a puppy
This photograph shows the coloration of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
There is black on top of the dog’s back, ears, tail and the majority of the legs. There should be rust on the cheeks, a thumb print above the eyes, and also rust should appear on the legs between the white and black. There should be white on the muzzle, the feet, the tip of the tail, on the chest, and up from the muzzle to pass between the eyes. Symmetrical markings are preferred by breeders.
The double coat has a dense outer coat of about 1.25 to 2 in (3.2 to 5.1 cm) long. Textures of the topcoat can range from short, straight and fine to longer, wavier and coarser. The under coat is thick and ranges from the preferred dark gray to light gray to tawny, and must be on the neck, but can be all over the body – with such a thick coat, Sennenhund shed throughout the year and they have a major shedding once or twice a year.
While the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Standard calls for a black, white and rust dog; they do come in other colors which include blue, white and tan tri-color; and rust and white bi-color. On the blue tri-color dogs, blue replaces where black would be and tan replaces where the rust would normally be. On the rust bi-color dogs, the dog is solid rust and white markings with a total absence of black coloring.
Males range between 25.5 to 28.5 in (65 to 72 cm) at the shoulder and females range between 23.5 to 27 in (60 to 69 cm) at the shoulder. There is no standard for weight in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog; males tend to range between 100 to 140 lb (45 to 64 kg) and females range between 80 to 115 lb (36 to 52 kg). Body length to height is approximately a 10 to 9 proportion; they are slightly longer than tall.
This is a side-view photograph of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog showing a short coat and properly hangin tail.
This Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has a fine, straight coat, a properly hanging tail and the desired level back.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have an animated and gentle expression. Their eyes are almond shaped, vary in color from hazel to chestnut–dark brown is preferred – medium-sized, and neither deep set nor protruding. Eyelids are close fitting and eyerims are black.
The medium-sized ears are set high, triangular in shape, gently rounded at the tip and hang close to the head when relaxed. When alert, the ears are brought forward and raised at the base. The top of the ear is level with the top of the skull.
The skull is flat and broad with a slight stop. The backskull and muzzle are approximately equal in length; the backskull is approximately twice the width of the muzzle. The muzzle is large, blunt and straight, and most often has a slight rise before the end. In adult dogs the nose leather is always black.
The lips are clean and as a dry-mouthed breed, flews are only slightly developed. They should not drool. The teeth meet in a scissors bite.
Neck, topline and body
This sitting Greater Swiss Mountain Dog exhibits the preferred forequarters of the breed.
This Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has strong, well-muscled shoulders; straight, strong forelegs; slightly sloping pasterns and well-rounded feet.
The neck is of moderate length, strong, muscular and clean. The topline is level from the withers to the croup – the croup is the fused sacral vertebrae that form the roof of the pelvis and the first few vertebrae of the tail. The croup is long, broad and smoothly rounded to the tail insertion. The tail is thicker at the base, tapering to a point as it reaches the hocks; it is carried down in repose. When alert and in movement, the tail may be carried higher and curved slightly upward; it should not curl over the back. The bones of the tail should be straight.
The chest is deep and broad with a slightly protruding breastbone, with well-sprung ribs. The depth of the chest is approximately one-half the height of the dog at the withers, and the deepest point of the chest should lie between the elbows, not above them.
The shoulders of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog are long, sloping, strong, moderately laid back, flat and well-muscled. Their forelegs are straight and strong.
A dog walks on its toes like a horse does; a dog’s pastern and paws are analogous to the back of a human’s hand and fingers, respectfully. The pasterns slope very slightly, but are not weak. Feet are round and compact with well-arched toes; the feet turn neither in nor out.
The thighs are broad, strong and muscular; broad, strong and muscular hindquarters, and proper angles between the stifles and hocks are essential for a draft dog to provide powerful rear-drive during movement. The breed standard ‘bend of stifle’ refers to where the upper and the lower thighs meet. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight when viewed from the rear. The hock joint corresponds to the human ankle and first short bones in the foot; the dog does not walk on the heel as people do. Feet are round and compact with well-arched toes; they turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws should be removed.
The gait of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog should have movement with a level back. Their gait should have good reach in front with a powerful drive in the rear. Soundness, balance and efficiency which accompany correct structure and good condition are crucial factors in their movement, not speed. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were bred to work all day on a farm and need stamina. They are a large breed; because of their history as farm dogs in mountainous terrain, they are extremely agile and this is apparent in their gait.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is happy with an enthusiastic nature and strong affinity to people and children. This breed is sociable, active, calm and dignified. They do need plenty of room to exercise. They will not be happy confined to kennel life; they want to enjoy their family. They crave attention and physical contact. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are bold, faithful and willing workers and are eager to please. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is confident in nature; the breed is gentle with children. They can be stubborn and determined. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is an intelligent breed and is a quick learner. They can be difficult to housebreak, and tends to try to eat just about anything, edible or not.
The activity level in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is variable. They are capable of being athletic, but usually that activity is in bursts; they are active for short periods of time followed by napping. They want to be with their owners and to participate; their activity level most often matches the activity level of the family. As a working dog, they like having a job to do and enjoy participating in hiking, carting, obedience trials, herding, weight pulling and backpacking with their owners.
Being alert and vigilant, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a good watchdog. They tend to notice everything in their surroundings and are quick to sound alarm. Faced with a threat, they will stand their ground and put on a show that will intimidate those unfamiliar with the dog. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are accepting of a non-threatening stranger. They are confident and comfortable in unfamiliar locations, and are stable around strange noises and unfamiliar people. They are accepting of other dogs and species, and are reluctant to bite.
This giant breed matures slowly in both mind and body, taking anywhere from 2 to 3 years. The objective in training this dog is for the owner to achieve pack leader status. As youngsters, they can be quite boisterous and they do require steady and reliable training to develop manners and physical self-control. As with all large, active working dogs, this breed should be well socialized early in life with other dogs and people, and be provided with regular activity and training.
For the most part, this breed is relatively healthy for their size; Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs have far fewer problems than more populous breeds in the similar size range.
Urinary incontinence (UI) is defined as involuntary urination, and most often occurs in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs as leaking of urine while sleeping; it is a non-life threatening condition. It seems that more than 20% of the females are affected, usually after being spayed. Incontinence is occasionally found in males as well. Incontinence can occur for many reasons, such as a weak bladder sphincter – generally the most common cause in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs – urinary tract infection, excessive water consumption, congenital structural defects and spinal cord disease.
The two most common eye issues that Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs face are distichiasis and entropion, with distichiasis being the most common issue. Distichiasis is the presence of extra eyelashes along the eyelid. Distichiasis has been reported in 19%, of the breed and in the vast majority of cases it is non-symptomatic and does not cause an issue for the dog. Extra eyelashes can be seen along the eyelid; sometimes extra eyelashes grow so that they irritate the eye. Treatment varies from vet to vet, some choosing to freeze the affected hair follicles and others choosing to use electrocautery.
Entropion, found in about 3% of the breed, is the rolling in of the eyelids, which causes the eyelashes to irritate the eye. Entropion is a condition that often requires surgery to fix, but once corrected causes no future issues for the dog.
Lick fit is a term used to describe the frantic licking to which Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs can be prone. This has been reported in 17% of the breed. When in the middle of a lick fit, the dog will lick anything they can — carpet, floors, walls — and will eat anything they can find, including grass, leaves, dirt, carpet, and will gulp air and swallow constantly. Their actions make it obvious they are in severe gastrointestinal discomfort. Many owners are able to prevent lick fits by ensuring the dog never has an empty stomach by frequent, smaller meals and large dog biscuits as between meal snacks.
Idiopathic Epilepsy (IE) is the condition of frequent seizures with no identifiable cause. Seizures occur when nerve cells in the brain become hyperexcited and send rapid-fire messages to the body. Treatment of IE depends on the severity of the case and may involve daily administration of anticonvulsant drugs. IE is present in all Greater Swiss Mountain Dog lines; it typically surfaces between the ages of 1 to 3 years, but it can become evident as early as 12 months and as late as 5 years.
Abdominal health issues
Bloat, a.k.a. gastric dilatation-volvulous (GDV), is the greatest killer of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. GDV occurs in deep-chested breeds and requires immediate veterinary care. It can be caused by wolfing down too much water, too much food too fast, exercise after eating, stress or unknown conditions. Symptoms are distended abdomen, excessive salivating, depression and lethargy. When bloat occurs it cuts off the esophagus, and blood supply to the heart is lessened causing low blood pressure as well as other cardiac problems; the dog can go into shock. Organ damage can occur as well and the stomach may rupture causing peritonitis to set in. If not treated, the dog may die.
The spleen is located in the left cranial abdomen and is held loosely in place by ligaments. Primary diseases of the spleen are splenic torsion and splenic tumors. Splenic torsion occurs when the spleen twists along the axis of the blood supply. Symptoms of splenic torsion include lethargy, abdominal distension and pale mucous membranes. One theory for the development of splenic torsion is that for dogs with chronic intermittent gastric dilatation, the dilation causes the spleen’s ligaments to stretch and increases the spleen’s mobility within the abdomen. The spleen becomes torsed because it is no longer anchored in its correct location.:8 In a normal Greater Swiss Mountain Dog the spleen is smooth and uncreased; it is about 6 to 8 in (15 to 20 cm) by 2 in (5.1 cm), and less than 1 in (2.5 cm) thick. Most of the spleens removed from Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are 18 to 24 in (46 to 61 cm) by 8 to 10 in (20 to 25 cm) and very thick. This size spleen is not an abnormal finding in this breed. It seems apparent that many dogs of the breed suffer enlarged spleens for no obvious reason other than the spleen may have been constantly twisting, folding and unfolding.
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is the irregular formation of the joint that joins the femur – the longest bone in the body – to the hip socket. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint and the femoral head must fit well into the socket for the joint to function properly. Early signs of CHD include a reluctance to go up and down stairs or to jump; difficulty rising or laying down; and bunny hopping when running – both hind limbs move together. CHD is among the principal orthopedic diseases in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog; it is rarely severe and crippling. Unless x-rays are taken many owners are not aware that they have a dysplastic dog. A goal for raising a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog from puppyhood is to feed them so they mature more slowly than smaller breeds to help avoid hip and other orthopedic problems in adulthood.
The form of Canine Elbow dysplasia most often diagnosed in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs appears to be a degerative joint disease – a slowly progressive form of cartilage degeneration usually caused by trauma or abnormal wear on the joint. Evidence suggests that most dogs of this breed diagnosed with degenerative joint disease by x-rays of the elbows have the mildest form Grade. They don’t display clinical signs such as pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion or lameness.
Osteochondrosis is a disturbance in the normal development of cartilage; cartilage becomes abnormally thickened, and small fissures and cracks may develop. Dissecans is when cartilage becomes dissected resulting in cartilage flaps, which may remain attached or become loose and fall into the joint space. In Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs most of these cases occur in the shoulder joints and occasionally in elbows and hocks. Except for very mild cases without flap development, the clinical signs are persistent or intermittent lameness. The dog may be stiff after resting and the lameness is usually aggravated by exercise. It is diagnosed by x-rays, and treatment depends on the severity of the case. Mild cases without cartilage flaps may be treated and heal with several weeks of rest and treatment with medication and supplements. Many cases require surgery to remove the flaps and loose fragments, and scraping and smoothing of the defective surface. Surgical repair of the shoulder usually has excellent results, surgical results involving other sites are not as predictable.