Meet These 10 Incredible Mountain Dog Breeds

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key point

  • Mountain dogs used to pull carts, guard their owners, or herd livestock are typically large, protective canines.
  • Named after its city of origin, Bern, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the result of a cross between a Roman Mastiff and a Shepherd Dog.
  • Named after Saint Bernard of Menton in Switzerland, the Saint Bernard is a descendant of the Asian Mastiff.

You can hardly miss a mountain dog. With their thick, shaggy coat, protective instincts, friendly demeanor, and sometimes bulky size, Mountain Dogs always stand out from the crowd. Plus, they're often featured in videos that hit the Internet.

Whether you have a beautiful tricolor Berner or a Teddy Newfie, you might be interested to know that your favorite big dog was originally bred to thrive in the rugged mountains. This explains their hardy fur and love of the outdoors.

Historically, the breed was developed to help with tasks such as pulling carts, guarding owners, herding livestock, and guarding farms. They have evolved over time and are now being trained to be loving and energetic family dogs. Remember, mountain dog breeds are very strong and active. As such, they are expert dogs that deserve the care of experienced dog parents.

Wondering if the mountain dog breed lives up to the hype? Here are 10 of the most popular mountain dog breeds. Although, you may be convinced that you need one or two.

bernese mountain dog

best big dog bernese mountain dog
Berners are intelligent, family-oriented canines that get along well with their family and other pets.

©DragoNika/Shutterstock.com

Need a big fluffy mash for your family? Look no further. Bernese Mountain Dogs are affectionate and protective. Berners take their name from their city of birth, Bern, Switzerland. There, they pull wheelbarrows, serve as watchdogs, and help with farming activities. They are said to be the result of a cross between a Roman Mastiff and a Collie.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is distinguished by its long coat and is one of four breeds of the Sennen Hound. This refers to four closely related Swiss mountain working dogs. They all have a nice tri-color coat (black base with rust and white markings). Three other cousins of Berners are the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the Enterbucher Mountain Dog and the Appenzell Mountain Dog.

Berners are intelligent, family-oriented canines that get along well with their family and other pets. Although they are naturally protective and especially friendly with children, one lucky person develops a unique attachment to the Bernard.

With its thick double coat and energy needs, make sure your Berner gets some exercise every day. The coat should be brushed weekly to minimize shedding.

saint bernard

Saint Bernard on the beach
Sages are sociable dogs that enjoy the company of people. They are trustworthy and often serve as "nanny dogs" for children.

©everydoghasastory/Shutterstock.com

This breed is one of the quintessential dog breeds of the Swiss Alps and one of the most popular in the world. The Saint is said to be a descendant of the Asiatic Mastiff, which was used by the Romans as a war animal.

The St. Bernard is famous for rescuing tourists stranded in the snow-capped Swiss Alps. It is named after Bernard de Menthon, a monk who founded the Great St. Bernard's Hospice in 1050. In the 17th century, they were originally employed to watch over monks and guests of hospices. According to historians, St. Bernards evolved into rescue dogs once the monks discovered that they were very good at finding stray tourists.

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Today, Saints are sociable dogs who love to socialize with people. They are trustworthy and often serve as "nanny dogs" for children. Relaxed, quiet, and spacious, they only need a few brisk daily steps to get some exercise, but many are willing to do more.

careful! The St. Bernard has plenty of snorts to give. So, if you find drool disgusting, this isn't for you.

great pyrenees

Great Pyrenees with white buds in front of the tree
The Great Pyrenees is one of the largest dog breeds.

©iStock.com/JZHunt

This huge working dog originated on the border of Spain and France. They patrol the high slopes of their flocks, protecting them from wolves and bears. While they can be calm and loving family companions, Pierces can turn into menacing watchdogs when the situation calls for it.

The all white or white with tan, gray and reddish-brown coat, the Great Pyrenees is fiercely protective of its home and loyal to its family. This is another large breed that is considered great for kids, but it needs a lot of space to be comfortable.

Like other mountain dog breeds, Pyrs need occasional long walks. Despite their fear of strangers, Great Pyrenees are fiercely loyal to their owners and loved ones.

appenzell hound

Young Appenzeller Sennenhund, playing with long sticks.
Appenzeller Sennenhunds were bred to herd livestock, pull carts and work on farms.

©MyImages – Micha/Shutterstock.com

The Appenzeller Sennenhund, sometimes called the Appenzeller Mountain Dog or the Appenzell Cattle Dog, is one of four breeds of the Swiss Sennen type.

Similar to the other three breeds in its group, the Appenzeller Sennenhund was bred to herd livestock, pull carts and work on farms.

Despite its cheerful and energetic personality, this breed makes an excellent watchdog, as it is generally wary of strangers. Due to their high demands on activity and exercise, they are not suitable for apartments and are best cared for by experienced owners.

This breed also requires constant training. Puppy obedience and early socialization with people and other dogs is important when training the Appenzeller Sennenhund.

newfoundland

type of big dog
Newfoundland dog on the grass in the park. They are able and hardworking dogs, well suited to work on land or water.

©iStock.com/volofin

This working dog breed originated in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, which has a rocky and rugged natural landscape. The Newfoundland is a versatile dog that is comfortable on land and in the water. As such, Newfies assist in managing catch and trawls like a seaman's dog.

With its bushy coat tolerating icy water and harsh winters, the breed is now used as a search and rescue dog in water and mountain rescue operations.

With a calm personality and full of love, Newves has also become the children's beloved companion and "nanny dog". To stay healthy and happy, Newfoundlanders should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

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enterbuch mountain dog

Enterbuch mountain dog standing in a field
This breed was developed in the Entlebuch Valley where it was used as a property guard dog and as an all-purpose farm dog.

© Sandro Pavlov/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the Laughing Dog of the Swiss Alps, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is the smallest of the four Alpine dog breeds that originated in Switzerland. It is also considered the fastest as it needs speed to perform its duties as a cattle rancher.

This breed was developed in the Entlebuch Valley where it was used as a property guard dog and as an all-purpose farm dog.

Although Entles are independent and intelligent, they are loyal to their human family and enjoy some family time. Don't worry, they're usually kid-friendly.

Although smaller than other mountain dog breeds, Entles require a lot of exercise and training to develop to their full potential. They also have the ability to excel in any canine sport.

Entles, if we haven't made it clear, aren't for everyone. If you are a first-time dog owner or an inexperienced dog owner, you should avoid this breed to reduce stress.

Tibetan mastiff

Two Tibetan Mastiffs on the grass
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of those mountain dog breeds that needs a lot of space to move around in order to be completely happy.

©Olga Anime/Shutterstock.com

This ancient breed was developed for survival in the Himalayan highlands. It was used by shepherds to guard their livestock, whether guarding the flock or not, and it has become a nocturnal breed.

The Tibetan Mastiff is one of those mountain dog breeds that needs a lot of space to move around in order to be completely happy. They are also known for not liking strangers.

Sure, they can make great family dogs, but that's first. Tibetan Mastiffs need to benefit from early socialization and training. They perform best when cared for by skilled owners.

greater swiss mountain dog

Great Swiss Mountain Dog lying down
The Swiss can transport a flock of sheep to the foot of a hill because they are very agile and muscular.

©Anze Urbanija/Shutterstock.com

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest of the four traditional Swiss mountain dogs and has the same tricolor coat. It is only slightly larger than a St. Bernard. Meanwhile, the Great Swiss may be taller than you, standing up to 28.5 inches tall and weighing about the same as an average-sized person.

It was bred to be a hardworking farm dog that could help guard property, herd livestock, and pull carts to market. The Swiss can transport a flock of sheep to the foot of a hill because they are very agile and muscular. They make great watchdogs and will alert homeowners if there are any suspicious strangers in the area.

Similar to other dogs, Swiss Terriers need a lot of socialization as puppies to avoid shyness as adults. The Swiss is also great for families with older children.

Couvas

Cute Kuvasz dog playing in water in summer.
Since the Middle Ages, horses, sheep and cattle in Hungary have been protected by kuvasz, large all-white flock guardians.

©Jakab Flora/Shutterstock.com

Since the Middle Ages, horses, sheep and cattle in Hungary have been protected by kuvasz, large all-white flock guardians. Although the breed is Hungarian, its ancestors likely lived in the steppes of the Ural Mountains in Siberia.

This breed is not recommended if you are an inexperienced dog owner as it requires a lot of daily exercise, lifelong training and early socialization of puppies.

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In addition to being protective and loyal to their family, Kuvs often feel comfortable around well-mannered children.

Leonberg

The large, shaggy Leonberger breed comes from the German city of Leonberg. German kings favored Leos due to their large size and loyal nature.

As generalists, Leos are used in a variety of situations, including search and rescue operations and farm work. While not entirely unique, the breed's flippers are quite distinctive and showcase the breed's proficiency in swimming.

They are now a popular choice for therapy dogs working in senior centers and schools. With its gentle temperament and personality, this breed makes a loving family dog.

Another interesting thing about this working dog breed is that they are one of the few breeds that are sexually dimorphic, meaning that it is easy to tell the difference between animals without looking at their genitals.

If you live in a city apartment or home on an average suburban lot, this breed may not be for you. While adult Leonbergers tend to be calm and docile, they still require vigorous exercise on a daily basis.

Leonberger standing in the field
Leonbergers have a double layer of thick hair. Given its profuse shedding, grooming is important.

©Aneta Zabranska/Shutterstock.com

Mountain Dog Breed Summary

index mountain dog breed birthplace
1 bernese mountain dog Bern, Switzerland
2 saint bernard Switzerland
3 great pyrenees france and spain
4 appenzell hound Switzerland
5 newfoundland Newfoundland, Canada
6 enterbuch mountain dog Entlebuche Valley, Switzerland
7 Tibetan mastiff Himalayas, Tibet
8 greater swiss mountain dog Switzerland
9 Couvas Ural Mountains, Siberia
10 Leonberg Leonberg, Germany

in conclusion

Mountain dog breeds require early socialization and training to ensure their size doesn't become an issue.

While most people are naturally kind, they do need to observe etiquette. Before choosing some of the more demanding breeds, consider your previous experiences with dogs, especially large breeds. Another tough pill to swallow is that most mountain dogs live between six and ten years.

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featured image

Two Tibetan Mastiffs on the grass

© Olga Anivin/Shutterstock.com


about the author

allen


Allen is a freelance writer and avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he's home, he enjoys spending time with his family, Rottie, Opie.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which large dogs have the best temperament?

Despite their intimidating size, most large dogs are soft. Their temperaments are usually the softest when they are with man's best buddies. If you're looking to adopt a large canine, some gentle giant dogs to consider are the Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bullmastiff, Leonberger, Newfoundland, and Great Pyrenees.

Why Do Large Dogs Have Short Lifespans?

The fact that small dogs live longer than larger ones seems to defy logic, since this is not the case for mammals such as whales. Although the main cause remains unknown, scientists have highlighted factors that may be responsible. Size, weight, dental health and cognition are some of the factors.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

source
  1. The Spruce Pets, available here: https://www.thesprucepets.com/mountain-dog-breeds-5090238
  2. Pet Keen, available here: https://petkeen.com/mountain-dog-breeds/
  3. Daily Paws, available here: https://www.dailypaws.com/living-with-pets/pet-compatibility/mountain-dog-breeds
  4. Great Pet Care, available here: https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-breeds/8-mountain-dog-breeds/
  5. Hepper, available here: https://www.hepper.com/types-of-mountain-dog-breeds/
  6. Pet Keen, available here: https://petkeen.com/saint-bernard/
  7. AKC, available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/newfoundland/
  8. AKC, available here: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-do-small-dogs-live-longer/