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My family and I have been in discussions recently about our next family dog. Our finances won't allow a new addition right now, but we've always been a multiple dog household so as soon as our situation improves we'll be ready to add a second dog again. My daughter (13) mentioned that she'd like a Doberman, but after doing some research and learning about same sex aggression, and some other issues that can arise with the breed, I don't really think a Dobie would be a good fit for us.

Just for fun I took one of the "which breed is right for you" quizzes (I think it was the one on Animal Planet) and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was one of our top results. I've never met a Swissie and was hoping for some insight about whether or not they would truly fit in with our family.

We're looking for a large to giant breed that's intellegent, fairly easy to train, and relatively low maintenance in the grooming department. I can handle a little bit of drool, but nothing excessive. We have two kids at home that are 11 and 13 but I have a great nephew that's 7 months old and we've talked about adding another baby to our family at some point as well, so patience with small kids is a must. Most of the other dogs in our extended family are small breeds and we have a cat so that would be an issue as well. My hubby doesn't work outside the home, so the most the new dog would be left alone would be a couple of hours at a time on the weekends. We will hopefully be moved to a new place by the time a new puppy comes home so room for play and exercise won't be an issue. We try to be fairly active, especially during the warmer weather months and spend time on hiking trails and playing in the creek on our family's property.

On paper, the Swissie seems like it would be a great fit for us, but like I said, I've never met one in person, so any insight that an experienced Swissie person could provide would be awesome!

Also, if we do decide on a Swissie, what types of health testing do I need to be looking for when checking out breeders. There seem to be quite a few that seem reputable in my surrounding states, so any breeder recommendations would be welcome as well. I know it's never too early to start making contact!
 

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So, a Swissy eh?
Well I can tell you about Caeda. She was bought from a byb before I knew anything about such things, about breeders, or even about swissies. Caeda was supposedly purebred, but no papers and I didn't see the sire, so the truth of that I'm unsure of. Our vet, who is an AKC judge was very shocked to find out that we had no papers, he figures she is pure, though a runt (at almost 65lbs now). I'll tell you what I can, not all will be the best generalizations (though from what I've read, she's relatively representative.

Dry mouthed dogs! Very little slobber (Caeda only really drools when chewing on stuff or about to vomit in the car. Swissies blow their coats...so shed minimally the rest of the year.

Very sweet and loving, but have to be taught early on and consistently to be gentle (even a runt like mine). She has been shockingly good with children despite having minimal contact with them (I've heard this is common). With some training she has become fantastic with the cat.

Swissies need their people, lots of attention. Caeda is needy quite often, no SA, just wants company. Despite needing their people, very intelligent, independent, capable of making decisions and thinking on their own. I swear sometimes she is smarter than I am. (Its made Caeda a little tough to train sometimes!). Stubborn and belidgerant sometimes lol....though that may be a personality quirk in Caeda.

Crazy strong. I just had Caeda pull a spare tire with her weight pulling harness. She goes like it isn't even there, even through a snowbank! Be sure to leash train very well before letting a child even hold the leash. If Caeda bolts when I'm not paying attention she can easily take me off my feet. Interesting factoid, the Swiss army used Swissies to get their gear through the mountains during the war instead of using horses which wouldn't fare as well. Crazy eh!

Swissies (and I've read this lots of places) will EAT ANYTHING. I've read tons of stories of people finding whole socks in their dog's poo!! If there is food around they want it....eating machines (Caeda is odd in this, barely food-motivated).

Prone to bloat. Many owners get the stomach tacked at the same time as getting them fixed. We didn't since Caeda is smaller. Hip dysplasia is also common. Some aren't full grown until over 2 yrs, adolescence is LONG (trust me on this lol).
There's tons more, I'm sure, this (if you can believe it) is off the top of my head.

There is a Swissy forum
. It hasn't been functioning quite right lately, so you might have to check it in a week or two.

Overall verdict on my Swissy, on Caeda.....since she's the only swissy I know well. She is a pain in the butt, defiant handful, a brat who takes up way more time and effort than I ever expected. That said, she is a better dog than I could ever imagine, she's sweet, smart, beautiful, funny and SO full of personality that I can barely believe it. She's my heart dog :). I'd take a Swissy again in a heartbeat, even if I knew I was getting the same lovable pain in the butt that I've already got. Worth every second I've spent on her.

I personally would recommend a Swissy if you're ready for the challenge, and since you're used to a multi-dog household, I'm sure you'll do great (Caeda was our first dog...so we got in WAY over our heads!).
 
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