Information about the Appenzeller Sennenhund

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium-size breed of dog, one of the four regional breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs from the Swiss Alps. The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn, herders in the Swiss Alps. Appenzell is an alpine region in the northeast of Switzerland.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a large mountain dog, 18.5-23 ins (47-58 cm) at the withers and weighing 49-70 lbs (22-32 kg). Like the other Sennenhunds, the Appenzeller Sennenhund has a heavy, molosser-like build and a distinctive tricolour coat. The breed’s ears are small and triangular, set high and hanging down against the dog’s cheeks, similar to a button ear. Faults in the breed’s appearance include wall eye, kinked tail, a single coat, and a coat that is not tricolour.

The four breeds of Sennenhund, with the original breed name followed by the most popular English version of the breed name.

  • Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
  • Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Appenzeller Sennenhund, Appenzeller
  • Entlebucher Sennenhund, Entlebucher 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 as a flock guardian, a draft dog, and general farm dog. The breed also was used for herding and as a guard dog. Today the breed is primarily kept as a companion, and excels in obedience competitions and Schutzhund.

As with all large, very active working dogs, the Appenzeller Sennenhund should be well socialized early in life with other dogs and people and provided with regular activity and training if they are to be safely kept as a pet. If trained properly, they bond closely with their owners and like to seek for attention.

According to the breed standard, the Appenzeller Sennenhund are lively, high spirited, athletic and suspicious of strangers. Due to his large size and high energy levels, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is not recommended as an apartment dog.

The breed is recognised with the Swiss breed standard under the name Appenzeller Sennenhund, translated into English as Appenzell Cattle Dog, by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer- Molossoid breeds- Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs and other breeds, Section 3 Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs. The breed is also recognised in the United States by the United Kennel Club in their Guardian Dog Group under the name Appenzeller, and is listed as a breed in the Foundation Stock Service by the American Kennel Club with the name Appenzeller Sennenhunde. The breed is not currently recognised by The Kennel Club or the other major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world, although it is also registered by small clubs and internet-based breed registries, and is promoted in North America as a rare breed for puppy buyers seeking a unique pet.