10 Rugged Mountain Dog Breeds For Every Terrain
Most of us can recognize the iconic mountain dog breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog or the Saint Bernard. But there are actually so many different amazing breeds that were first bred to live and work in mountainous terrain. Many of these pups are large, strong, protective, and hard working. They’re also seriously fluffy and very beautiful. Which of these adorable doggos is going to be your favorite?
What Is a Mountain Dog Breed?
Of course, all breeds and dogs are different but mountain dog breeds do have a few common characteristics. A lot of mountain dogs are considered some of the best guardian dogs in the world. They’re big, protective, and specifically bred to look after livestock in the mountains. They’re not necessarily aggressive, but their sheer size means they can scare off wolves and thieves alike!
Mountain dogs have to be strong as they were also bred to pull carts to market. Spending a lot of time in the mountains, these dogs often have long, thick coats that help protect them from severe weather. Although hard-working dogs, many of these breeds also make wonderful family pets and companion dogs that love to spend time with their families. They can be really adoring!
Some love to be in the center of a family but most really need experienced owners. Their size and power alone can make them overwhelming for novice owners and they need strict training and socialization.
10 Beautiful Mountain Dog Breeds
Here are 10 of our absolute favorite mountain dogs. All beautiful and all capable of managing mountainous terrain, these doggos make wonderful family members for those who can handle large dog breeds!
Ok, so let’s start off with one of the classic Swiss mountain dog breeds. Saint Bernards are massive, like, really big. Males can grow to be 30 inches tall and weigh 180 pounds! Although enormous, these dogs are wonderful around children and are often nicknamed ‘nanny dogs’. They’re very affectionate with their families and love to spend time playing and snuggling with people they love. Despite their size, they don’t need too much exercise. A good walk or some time running around the park (or preferably an Alpine pasture) will keep a Saint Bernard happy.
Generally, these mountain canines don’t need that much grooming (in comparison to others). They come in both long and short-haired varieties and both need just one good brushing a week. One thing about these dogs (which you can tell from any picture) is that they drool a lot, so make sure you have some tissues to hand! You also need to take into consideration that these pups need a lot of dog food to eat which can make them even more expensive.
Appenzeller Sennenhund (Appenzeller Mountain Dog)
The Appenzeller Sennenhund is the second of the Swiss mountain dogs on this. Like their other tri-colored cousins, they were originally bred to herd cattle in the Swiss Alps. Because of their size and strength, they were also used on farms to pull heavy carts.
Appenzeller Mountain Dogs need a lot of exercise and love to be in the great outdoors. They’re happy to roam in fields and ideally need a large backyard that they can chill in (you might want to consider getting them an outdoor dog bed). Although relatively affectionate around family members and people they know, these mountain dogs can be very apprehensive and sensitive around strangers. That, combined with their strength and size means they’re no easy dog breed to have around. This shepherd dog is best left to experienced owners who can manage them well.
They also need lots of socialization (exposure to new sounds, people, smells, and places) if they’re not to become too wary of others or potentially reserved and aggressive.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Many confuse this Swiss mountain dog breed with the Appenzeller (and you’d be forgiven if you did too). But the Bernese Mountain Dog is actually quite a lot bigger and is the only Swiss breed on this list to have a long coat.
As their name suggests, the Bernese Mountain Dog was first bred in the Swiss region of Bern where they were widely known for being incredible farming dogs. They could herd, work as watchdogs, and their size makes them great guard dogs too. They can be protective of their homes and people but are actually very rarely aggressive.
Bernese Mountain Dogs might be enough to deter intruders and other animals, but they’re really lovey-dovey. They’re great with children and other pets and only need moderate daily exercise.
They do, however, shed a lot. So make sure you groom them regularly and have the vacuum cleaner ready!
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
It’s hardly surprising that so many mountain dog breeds come from Switzerland. After all, this mountainous country is the perfect place for strong, outdoor dogs to be bred. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the oldest and the largest of the tri-colored Swiss breeds and, unsurprisingly, looks like both the Appenzeller and Bernese.
These doggos are great all-round farm pups and are excellent herders, watchdogs, and guard dogs. They can also pull heavy carts and machinery. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is very loyal and needs a lot of attention and affection from its owner. They are large, which means it’s even more important that they are socialized from a young age. If not, they may become overly sensitive, potentially aggressive, and reserved. Getting them an indestructible dog toy can help to keep them entertained and reduce anxiety.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
OK, we promise this isn’t a list all about Swiss dogs. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is the last. Also called the Entlebucher Sennenhund or Swiss Cattle Dog, these are the smallest and fastest of the similar-looking Swiss mountain dog breeds. They were primarily bred to herd cattle across pastures (which is why they’re so fast) but could also work on farms and as watchdogs.
These doggos are intelligent and need a lot of exercise. They’ll love to go out on hikes, go jogging, and have plenty of time running around fields and parks. Like other breeds here, they don’t do well in apartments and need a large backyard where they can roam and play.
They’re loyal and devoted to their families. They can, however, be a bit independent and strong-willed, so it’s best if you leave them to experienced owners who can train and socialize them well.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
These large, hairy dogs were bred to be watchdogs and protectors. They were used to look after both livestock and property and are therefore very loyal dogs that like to be around their humans and other animals.
You might not think it, but the Caucasian Shepherd dog can act a little like a lapdog (good luck getting up with a 170-pound pooch on you). They’re very loving, affectionate, and need lots of attention from their humans. They don’t mind roaming their territory on their own but are happiest in the company of others.
Very little is known about the Tibet Mastiff because they’re just such an ancient breed. They were also isolated in the Himalayan Mountains for so long that no one really knows their exact origins. For being such an ancient breed, these dogs were actually accepted by the American Kennel Club fairly late – in 2006 to be precise!
Tibetan Mastiffs are the ultimate guard dogs. They’re large, alert, aloof, and – to be honest – imposing. These big bears were used to guard monasteries in Tibet, so watching your property is really in their DNA. These pups are devoted to their families but it’s best that they have an experienced owner who can manage their intelligence and experience. They’ll enjoy plenty of interesting, fun toys to play with to keep their brains engaged. You really don’t want a mischievous Tibetan Mastiff!
As you can imagine, this mountain dog spent thousands of years wandering the Himalayas. That means they won’t adapt very well to your apartment (and let’s be honest, your apartment won’t adapt well to a Tibetan Mastiff either). They prefer a yard with plenty of mountains to climb and things to explore.
When you think of a Newfoundland, you may not think of a mountain dog breed. Seeing as they’re a breed that actually has webbed feet, you’d be correct in thinking that they’re big water lovers. But Newfoundland is actually a very mountainous and rocky land – meaning these pups are also happy wandering up and down difficult terrain.
These fluffy dogs have a huge, dense coat that’s accepted by the AKC in black, brown, gray, and white and black. Their heavy coats will need regular brushing but all that fur does allow them to withstand cold winters and icy waters. They make excellent search and rescue dogs.
Unlike some other mountain dog breeds, the Newfoundland is a very affectionate dog that loves to be at the heart of the family. They’re great with children and are even often called the nanny dog because they’re always keeping a protective eye on little ones. They’re great workers but great snugglers too.
It’s easy to see why these big doggos have ‘leon’ in their name. These lion dogs are native to Germany and, whilst they may not have been originally bred in the mountains, they’re certainly up to managing the harsh conditions and difficult mountainous terrain.
They’re often used in search and rescue missions, as well as on farms and for work. Leonbergers make great guard dogs as they’re always alert and protective over the ones they love. They’re not, however, naturally aggressive and they get on well with children. Some even call them gentle giants and they’re sometimes used as therapy dogs.
These pups love swimming as well as exploring the land. They need 2 long walks a day and are happiest with an active family that can entertain their curious nature.
The Kuvasz is definitely one of the most amazing mountain dog breeds – not just for their beautiful bright white coat. These big dogs are native to Hungary and were first bred to herd and guard livestock. These pups are very patient but also brave and could happily take on a predatory wolf when needed.
For being such big dogs they’re actually very nimble and agile. They’re also very fast. Kuvs are great with children and are protective of their property and the ones they love. In fact, these dogs need a lot of early socialization and training if they’re not to become overprotective and potentially aggressive. They, too, need a big yard that they can explore and plenty of exercise to keep them entertained and engaged.
These are ten wonderful mountain dog breeds that love to spend their time in the great outdoors. They can withstand tough conditions and difficult terrain. Many were originally bred to be livestock guardians but many also make great family pets! Which is your favorite doggo?