The Versatile Swissy

draft jethroWhat are the requirements to earn a VGS or VGSX? A dog must be an AKC conformation champion and earn an AKC CD title, along with at least two other working/performance titles, before it can be designated as a VGS. The other working titles, like the CD, may be at the ‘primary’ level. The various areas qualifying for working titles are AKC agility and tracking, with herding, drafting, packing and weight pulling recognized under GSMDCA rules and regulations. Additionally, a Swissy may earn titles in Search and Rescue and other meritorious services, each considered by the GSMDCA based on individual merit. The club is also creating a program by which a dog may earn primary and advanced titles as a Working Therapy Dog.

The higher designation of VGSX has nearly identical requirements, except that the dog must earn advanced titles in all of the working areas, including a minimum of a CDX in obedience.

Dogs not competing in the conformation show ring may earn versatility designations, too - Working Greater Swiss (WGS) and Working Greater Swiss Excellent (WGSX). Since these dogs won’t have a CH in front of their names, they must earn three working titles behind their names in addition to an obedience title at the primary or advanced levels. Currently, our club can boast only one dog, a rescued Swissy, as having achieved the WGS, and the first to earn the AKC’s versatility title. He is Hunter, CD, NA, NAJ, TD, VCD1, DD, HIT, NWPD, WWD, WGS, owned by Todd and Sandi Snyder of Castle Rock, Colorado. If you stand Hunter’s titles on end, they reach a height close to that of Pike’s Peak.

In previous columns, we’ve reviewed that the Swissy, historically, was bred to drive cattle and pull the farmer’s products to market, two diverse functions. Swissies were also expected to guard the farm and provide amiable companionship to their human family. For an extra-large working breed, the GSMD is amazingly versatile. Not only is it strong, but also agile and explosively quick in a sprint. Easily trainable, especially at the primary levels, we are seeing our dogs excel in every arena, from weight pulling to flyball, tracking to agility, therapy to Search and Rescue.

Although Swissies have been labeled as ‘couch potatoes,’ they are not content to lie around all day. They like mental and physical stimulation. Involvement in activities, along with job assignments, brings out a Swissy’s enthusiasm and zest for life.

This breed is fortunate that many of its breeders promote the working aspect of their dogs. Club leaders at all levels continuously tout the stellar performances and accomplishments of our dogs in our newsletters and on-line discussion lists. The GSMDCA has an awards program in place, recognizing working titles and versatility designations. The ongoing support is resulting in increased numbers of owners working and competing with their dogs.

Because our breeders want dogs from their kennels to achieve working titles, attention to breeding mentally and physically sound dogs is on the rise. The club-wide enthusiasm for our versatility program is taking a very positive direction and can only perpetuate the betterment of our breed.

Submitted by Dori Likevich