The Appenzeller originated as an all-around farm dog breed, who stayed busy herding the livestock, guarding the farm, and pulling carts in his native Switzerland. Today’s Appenzellers have still got the energy, smarts, and self-confidence that makes for valuable working dogs — but they’re anything but low-maintenance. Dogs of this breed need lots of exercise, training, and a job to do.
Also known as the Appenzeller Mountain Dog and Appenzell Cattle Dog, the Appenzeller Sennenhunde is the rarest of the four ancient Swiss mountain dog breeds. The breed gets its name from the Swiss herders known as the Senn and Appenzell region of the Swiss Alps to which this breed is native.
Like its cousins the Entlebucher, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller is a well-muscled and powerfully built dog. Although a medium-sized dog, it is extremely strong and is capable of pulling small carts and trolleys and working as an all-purpose farm dog. Appenzeller’s have a thick double-coat that is black, brown and white in color and its ears are high set and floppy.
Appenzellers are an extremely hard working breed and require a great deal of physical and mental exercise to remain happy and healthy. Although an excellent herder and guarder of livestock, their high maintenance and high exercise requirements have not made them overly popular in the United States.
Dog Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 7 inches to 1 foot, 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 48 to 55 pounds
Life Span: 9 to 12 years
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles, houses with backyards, farms and rural areas
Temperament: Lively, self-assured, fearless, reliable
Comparable Breeds: Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Appenzeller Sennenhund is descended from the general Sennenhund type which may have existed in antiquity, or descended from “cattle dogs left there by the Romans”, but the first breed club for the breed was founded and the stud book for the breed started in 1906 by Albert Heim and others, who wrote the first breed standard in 1916. An early reference to the breed’s predecessors was made in an 1853 book, “Tierleben der Alpenwelt” (Animal Life in the Alps), referring to dogs in the Appenzell region. The Appenzeller Sennenhund was only recognised internationally as a separate breed in 1989.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund was originally kept primarily as a cattle herding dog, and a flock guardian. It was also used as a draft dog, and general farm dog. The breed also was known for its affinity to both herd and guard with such devotion that they would give their life to protect their charge. Today the breed is primarily kept as a companion, and excels in agility/flyball competitions, obedience competitions and Schutzhund. They are also still used in many places as working cattle dogs even now. They are highly intelligent, and learn quickly.
The Appenzeller’s working roots are still very obvious in today’s dogs. Appenzeller Mountain Dogs are exuberant, willful, playful, intelligent and loyal. While they are wary of strangers, they are very affectionate with their families and make excellent guard dogs and family dogs.