The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog can thrive on many types of diet, from kibble to raw to a combination of both. The most serious issue with feeding the GSMD is overfeeding, which leads to many digestive problems, including loose stools, and also leads to obesity, which is one of the greatest health problems in the breed.
This is basically a “wash and wear” breed, but they are double coated and do blow their undercoat, usually twice a year. When this is occurring they benefit from a good bath and blow-out, followed by a thorough brushing with a rake or shedding tool. For the rest of the year the occasional bath and brushing usually does the trick. They need regular nail-trims and ear and teeth cleaning.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog requires moderate exercise. A walk around the block or a romp in the woods generally will satisfy their daily exercise needs. This breed is much better suited for the person looking for a hiking companion than the person wanting a bicycling or marathon-running partner.
The GSMD is very food motivated and responds well to training using food rewards. They can also have a stubborn streak, however, so their owners must be more determined than they are. It is not recommended to use any harness-type training device on this breed. They are a draft breed, and the use of a harness (other than for draft work) just tends to make them pull that much harder. As with all dogs, early socialization and puppy training classesare recommended.
The GSMD does not have any breed-specific disorders but can have health problems that affect large-breed dogs. This can include orthopedic issues, although overall the GSMD’s orthopedics tend to be very good for a large breed. Splenic torsion, unrelated to gastric torsion, occurs more often in this breed than in other breeds. Owners should be aware of the possibility of bloat and know the symptoms, and what to do should it occur. Urinary incontinence is fairly common in puppies and spayed bitches. Epilepsy can occur in any pedigree; genetic markers for this have not yet been identified. Overall the GSMD tends to be a very healthy breed.