PLEASE read the information on this site to familiarize yourself with all aspects of the GSMD
before rushing to get a puppy. If you are seriously interested in a Jotunheim puppy please complete my application.
To arrange a time to visit me and my Swissies, please contact me
ARE YOU REALLY PREPARED FOR SWISSY OWNERSHIP?
If you are thinking of adding a Swissy to your family, I strongly urge you to read the following articles in order to gain a better perspective on this wonderful breed.
- Is A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Right For You? & Regarding Temperament - both articles by Karen Conant
- Twenty-One Ways to Love Your Swissy - by Dori Likevich
- Top Five Reasons Rescue is Called - by former GSMDCA Rescue Chairs
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a WONDERFUL breed but it is not for everyone!
Swissies vary in size, energy level and temperament and can be challenging for the first time dog owner or even those who haven't had experience with large WORKING Group breeds.
Many breeders will not mention the challenges of Swissy ownership because they are only interested in selling you a puppy. If you are a family busy with a lot of young children or a first time dog owner, you might want to consider adopting an adult Swissy.
Adopting an older puppy or an adult has proven to be a wonderful compromise for those who want a Swissy but may not want to deal with the challenges that come with a puppy.
Contact the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue Foundation if you are interested in older dogs available for adoption. Breeders sometimes have older puppies or adults available for placement. You should of course ask why the breeder is placing the older dog and also ask about health and behavioral problems.
In addition to reading the articles linked above, I strongly urge you to meet as many Swissies as possible before you commit to a puppy.
You can't possibly know if you are well suited for GSMD ownership if you have never met a GSMD in person!
Information from books, television or the internet should never be a substitute to meeting the dogs and talking with experienced owners and breeders in person.
Please become familiar with the common health problems affecting the breed. Be aware that even if you get a dog from a reputable breeder from healthy lines, your beloved dog could still develop a condition for which you need to be both financially and emotionally prepared. If you aren't sure you are equipped to handle the challenges or costs of a Swissy, please consider adopting one of the many dogs available at shelters and all breed rescue around the country.
Take Your Time, Ask a LOT of Questions and Most Importantly, GET TO KNOW YOUR BREEDER!!
There are more people out there now than ever before, calling themselves "breeders". Some are reputable but many are not. Before you send a deposit to some "breeder" whose website or Facebook page pictures "available" Swissy puppies, please do your homework. Make no assumptions.
Avoid online classified sites such as puppyfind.com as such sites are typically used by big commercial kennels (which often refer to themselves as "show kennels"), puppy mills and backyard breeders.
Reputable breeders do not need online classified sites to place their puppies. True hobby breeders will not use Facebook or other social media to place "available puppies". Be aware that some of the "Sellers" found at online classified sites who use terms such as "home raised" or "champion bloodlines' to describe their puppies, may very well be Amish puppy mills who plagiarize wording from reputable breeder websites to mislead buyers about their own practices.
This is why it is important to visit any breeder from whom you are considering getting a puppy. It is crucial that you see for yourself how that breeder's dogs live and how their puppies are raised.
Unfortunately there is a lot of misleading information on breeder websites. A breeder claiming to have "puppies occasionally" may very well be a large volume breeder whose dogs spend most of their time in a kennel. Their definition of "occasionally" may be very different from yours!
This is why it is important to ask specific questions and demand specific answers. Many breeders do not want to publicly disclose how much they are breeding. Therefore you will be unable to find even the most basic information (sire, dam, health clearance info, etc) on past or current litters on their websites. Instead they will ask that interested parties contact them privately for such information.
A true hobby breeder is one whose livelihood does not depend on selling puppies. A true hobby breeder typically has only a few dogs all of which live as family members in the breeder's home. A true hobby breeder typically breeds only a couple of litters a year but is active in conformation showing and other breed related activities. True hobby breeders support their dogs. Their dogs do not support them. So, if getting a puppy from a hobby breeder is important to you, verify said information. A true hobby breeder has a job or other primary source of income. Does the breeder claim to work full-time? if so, what is their job? How do they manage to fit breeding, raising puppies and socializing them into their work schedules? Does the breeder claim to only have one or two liters a year? If so, you can verify said information because any reputable transparent breeder will have all past litters listed on their website.
When a person depends on breeding for their livelihood it inevitably affects their practices.
Breedings are done out of convenience and often with urgency to produce puppies rather than thoughtfully and carefully to improve the breed.
Some breeders claim to work full time but the truth is that full time "job" is breeding.
That is of course their choice and their right but if breeding is their primary profession, it is not a "hobby" and they should at least be honest about it.
Be sure to ask about and VERIFY important information on the sire and dam of any litter you are considering. Breeder should provide all such information on their website but the reality is many do not.
So, in order to make an educated decision, you as the prospective owner should ask the ages of the sire and dam and be sure to verify the health clearances of the sire and dam as well . If a dog has health clearances you will find them on the website for the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) You will need the registered name of the dog in order to search for clearances. OFA does not issue permanent clearances for dogs under the age of 24 months. However, some breeders have preliminary evaluations done on their dogs and follow up with permanent clearances once the dog turns two years old. Dogs under the age of two years should not be bred.
If a breeder claims to have bred a dog "on prelims", first ask the age of the dog at time of breeding, then ask to see the paperwork if the results cannot be found on the OFA website. Also note the age of the dog when the prelims were done. According to OFA, "NORMAL" hips are those with a Fair, Good or Excellent rating and are the only ones that will be issued a clearance number. Said clearances should be published on the OFA website. Don't assume that because a breeder is a member of a Club (or even holds a high position on the Clubs Board) and/or is listed in the GSMDCA Breeder Classifieds, means they adhere to the guidelines. Unfortunately there is NO enforcement of those Guidlelines.
I was a GSMDCA member for almost 25 years and a Club Officer for over a decade.
I would not want this to impress anyone to the point where they felt they didnt need to research my practices as much as they would any other breeder. In fact, I encourage prospective owners to ask me a lot of questions . It is those who don't feel comfortable questioning me that cause me concern.
I believe parent Breed Clubs should be about protecting the breed, not promoting breeders. Unfortunately, many parent clubs no longer reflect the priorities I feel are essential for the welfare of the respective breed: transparency about health and enforceable breeder guidelines.
That being said I would not discourage anyone from joining a parent, or local Club for the social benefits as many local and regional clubs host a lot of fun events, such as Specialties , Working events and other gatherings where you can meet a lot of nice people who share your love for this wonderful breed.
Please take all of this under consideration. Dont rush into getting a puppy. Do your homework and be sure the GSMD is the breed with which you wish to share the next ten years of your life , hopefully longer...!