The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog BY ANNA WALLACE, AKC BREEDER-JUDGE JUDGING COLOR
G reater Swiss Mountain Dogs sport the striking black tri-color pat- tern they share with their fellow Sennenhund breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, and the Appenzeller Mountain Dog. Where they differ from their cousins is with more tolerance for variation in white markings, being either darker or brighter. The base coat, as per the Breed Standard, is always black with tan points; white feet, chest, tip of tail, muzzle, and blaze—and in Swissys, white is allowed on the back of the neck. White neck markings can be anything from none at all to a full, wide collar. While symmetry of white markings is preferred, it is not required. There is tremendous tolerance for marking variations in the breed, as the focus should always be on structure, breed type, and the ability to do the job they were bred for. The black coat may include agouti, which is a tan band of color on the black hair shaft. As per the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America Judge’s Education program, banding in the coat is not to be faulted. This banding may be seen all over, but is commonly seen on the sides of the neck. Undercoat must be present and may vary in color from dark gray to tawny, with darker gray pre- ferred. Undercoat is most often easily seen on the neck of the dog, but total lack of undercoat should be severely penalized. In all honesty, in 25 years looking at a lot of Swissys, I have never seen one with a total lack of undercoat. Even the shortest- coated Swissys will have undercoat. The only disqualifications in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are all color-relat- ed. From the AKC Standard: “Any color other than the ‘Black, Red and White’ tri-colored dog described above, such as ‘Blue/Charcoal, Red and White’ or ‘Red and White.’ Blue eye or eyes.” Blue coat is a result of the dilution gene, diluting all of the black coat and pigment to gray. Red coat is the result of the ee gene, remov- ing all black pigment from the coat. When it comes to judging, we strongly encourage judging the dog upon type, structure, and soundness as opposed to how pretty its markings turned out. The best dog in the ring may be the brightest or the darkest—or maybe it really is the one who’s “paint” is perfect.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Anna Wallace has owned and competed with Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs for over 25 years. She started her love affair with Swissys in 1996 with a dog named
‘Connor’ (CH Corner Creeks Concerto CD) who won top honors for several years in the show ring and cemented Anna’s thorough addiction to the sport of Conformation. Anna operates under the kennel prefix ‘Liberty Run’ and has gone on to finish over 70 AKC Conformation titles on Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs—and shows no signs of stopping.
272 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2023
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