18 Mountain Dog Breeds: Intelligent & Independent Dogs

Mountain dog breeds are known for their intelligence, strength, and independence. These dogs were originally bred in the mountains of Europe and Asia to help with herding and guarding livestock.

Today, mountain dog breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernard Dog, and the Tibetan Mastiff make great family pets and are often used as working dogs in law enforcement or search-and-rescue missions.

If you’re looking for an intelligent and active dog, a mountain breed may be perfect for you. Here’s a list of 18 popular mountain dog breeds.

18. Great Pyrenees

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The Great Pyrenees is also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. This breed was used for a variety of work in the region including herding and personal protection.

They are generally very friendly and even-tempered dogs. With proper socialization, they will get along well even with strangers. However, they are very territorial and tension with other pets is to be expected.

The Great Pyrenees is also known for being very vocal. This could come in handy if you want to keep it as a watchdog. If not, you will have to invest time and effort in training them to stop the habit.

17. St. Bernard

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The Saint Bernard has quite an inspirational history in the Swiss Alps that just reinforces the notion that dogs are angels and we just might not deserve them.

These dogs were developed and trained primarily for use as rescue dogs for travelers and recreational hikers in the sometimes brutal mountains. They would track trapped individuals and report back to their human masters guiding them to the lost.

They were at times also used to drag sleds with the rescued individuals and/or their belongings.

16. Estrela Mountain Dog

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This is one of the oldest dog breeds from Portugal and survives to date as popular as ever due to its personality and physical prowess.

The Estrela Mountain Dog was initially kept for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators when out grazing. Its strength, vigilance, and protective nature have been adopted these days to the function of guarding homes.

They are also great family pets and will get along with children, strangers, and even other pets with socialization and early obedience training.

15. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

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The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is the largest shepherd dog breed there is. It is also one of the true giant mountain dog breeds measuring 28 to 30 inches in height and up to 110 pounds or more in weight.

Today, they are very popular as guard dogs both in homes and in law enforcement branches like prison guard units.

When kept as pets, a lot of care needs to be taken as they can get aggressive when they feel threatened or frustrated.

14. Anatolian Shepherd

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This is quite an impressive breed with a colorful history as livestock guarding breed including encounters with wild animals including wolves and even cheetahs. Now that is one heck of a guard dog.

At first glance, you will be forgiven for shuddering in fear at the sight of this formidable dog. However, they are some of the sweetest and friendliest dogs on this list. They are very rarely aggressive and only need a bit of socialization to calm their mistrusting nature.

13. Appenzeller Mountain Dog (Swiss Mountain Dog)

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This is not even close to being one of the larger dogs on our list of mountain dogs. However, the strong, muscular breed makes the pooches some of the most athletic mountain dogs.

They also make up for their lack of size with their high intelligence and strongly protective nature that will have them taking on threats much larger than them with bravery and strength.

12. Australian Shepherd

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No, the Australian Shepherd is not actually from Australia but was instead developed in the United States as a herding dog.

The breed made its debut in the Rocky Mountains as both a herding dog and a livestock protector.

Today, these dogs are more commonly kept as companion pets. This is due to their loyalty and highly affectionate nature, especially to their human families.

11. Kuvasz

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This snow-white breed is a thing of real beauty with its medium to large build and beautiful snowy white fur.

What is interesting about this color is that it was a result of intentional selective breeding by Hungarian shepherds. This helped them to separate the dog from predators like wolves and bears who often had darker coats whether black or tan.

Today, the breed is used as a herding dog in mountainous, rural regions in Hungary but it is also popular in the west as a companion pet.

10. Leonberger

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This German dog was bred to look like a lion and one glance at this beast of a dog and you will appreciate the efforts of the breeders. In addition to the large size, they managed to get the aesthetic with features like its long fur and the thick, mane-like coat around the neck and face.

Despite being quite scary looking, these dogs are the very definition of the term โ€œgentle giantโ€ and are fantastic family pets with training and socialization.

9. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Swiss Mountain Dog)

The Great Swiss Mountain Dog Breed is the oldest and largest of the 4 main Swiss mountain dogs. At its prime, this dog was highly valued for its strength and diligence which made it easy to apply in a variety of tasks including pulling carts and sleds, herding, and even guarding.

Like a few other breeds on our list, it almost went extinct in the 19th century and it is definitely a good thing that breeders managed to save them from that fate.

8. Karakachan

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This is a very rare dog breed that is native to Bulgaria. What is most interesting about it is the fact that it has been gifted to two famous world presidents, Vladimir Putin, and George Bush.

Their popularity in the region is for the most part due to their confidence and strength. These were traits that came in handy with their use as both livestock guard dogs and home watchdogs.

They are also quite intelligent and easy to train to make them good family pets.

7. Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog

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This is another snow-white beauty that is commonly kept as a herding dog and protector breed for livestock. These dogs are often mistaken for other white breeds of similar build and physical characteristics including the Kuvasz and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog.

These dogs are very outdoorsy and are known to be very unhappy and even aggressive if they do not get enough time outdoors. They are also very territorial and require a lot of socialization.

6. Siberian Husky

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This is probably one of the most recognizable mountain dog breeds on our list largely due to recent social media popularity. There is just something so cute about them whether they are โ€œtalkingโ€ or play fighting with their human besties.

Before their popularity as companion pets, these spitz-type breeds were hard workers in mountainous regions of Siberia doing everything from pulling sleds to guarding homes. Their strength, resilience in cold weather, and intelligence is what made them so versatile.

5. Icelandic Sheepdog

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Icelandic Sheepdogs went over and beyond their job of herding and guarding livestock. These dogs are among the few breeds of herding dogs out there that would actually go out of their way to find lost sheep and return them to the rest of the flock.

In general, the Icelandic Sheepdog is a very friendly, playful, and curious dog. It is very trusting, even of strangers, and is a fantastic companion dog.

4. Entlebucher Mountain Dog (Swiss Mountain Dog)

This is the smallest of the Swiss mountain dog breeds. However, it packs quite the punch in that small package and was actually quite an effective livestock guardian against human raiders and smaller predators.

Today, they are mainly kept as companion pets for their loyalty and good-natured temperament. However, they can also be kept as watchdogs in which case their alertness and the wariness of strangers come in very handy.

3. Tibetan Mastiff

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The Tibetan Mastiff is a beast in every sense of the word. They are some of the biggest dog breeds on earth. They are also quite volatile in terms of personality and have been known to get aggressive and even physically violent with strangers and their owners.

Despite all this to worry about, this mountain dog is as popular as ever in Asian countries and is actually seen as a sign of wealth and status in China.

2. Pyrenean Mastiff

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This should not be confused with other Pyrenean breeds like the shepherd and mountain dog breeds despite their similar line of work as well as their shared origins.

The Pyrenean Mastiff served as more of a protector for livestock herds than an actual herding dog. Its large size came in very handy for scaring off small predators and taking larger ones on in order to protect the flock.

Despite its large size, this is quite a graceful dog capable of traversing even the most unforgiving of mountainous terrain.

1. Bernese Mountain Dog (Swiss Mountain Dog)

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This dog breed has quite a rich history with ancestors from ancient mastiff bloodlines. They were and still are mainly used as guard dogs for their large size and confidence. However, in this capacity, they usually just bark to scare off any perceived threats and will only attack if circumstances are really dire.

On the other hand, these dogs are complete sweethearts when around their families. They get along particularly well with children especially if exposed to them from their puppy years.

What Are Mountain Dogs? 

Mountain dogs are a group of dog breeds bred for work in mountainous regions in different parts of the world. Most, if not all, mountain dogs were primarily bred for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock. However, most were versatile serving in different capacities including as sled dogs and rescue dogs.

What Are The 4 Types Of Swiss Mountain Dogs? 

The 4 Swiss mountain dogs are:

  • Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog)
  • Berner Sennenhund (Bernese Mountain Dog)
  • Appenzeller Sennenhund (Appenzeller Mountain Dog)
  • Entlebucher Sennenhund (Entlebucher Mountain Dog)

They were all bred for use as livestock breeds in the Swiss Alps regions. The larger Bernese and Greater Swiss mountain dogs were also used as a guard, rescue, and sled dogs for their strength.

How Much Is A Swiss Mountain Dog? 

The price of a Swiss mountain dog depends on a variety of factors including the specific breed of the four. The larger Swiss mountain dogs are often more expensive with the Great Swiss averaging $1,500 to $2,300 and the Bernese costing $800 to $2,000 per dog. The smaller dogs are more affordable settling in at an average cost of about $1,200.

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Pete Decker