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Appenzeller Sennenhunde


Life span: 9-12 years, although many can also live past 15 years

Height: 52-56cm (Male); 50-54cm (Female)

Weight: 48-55 pounds

Also known as “Appenzeller Mountain Dog” or “Appenzell Cattle Dog”, this breed is an affectionate family dog with origins in Switzerland. Originally used for guarding livestock, this dog tends to be a pack animal and needs to recognize one of his owners as the pack leader. They have no breed specific diseases and are very intelligent dogs.

Physical Characteristics

This breed is strongly built, although considered to be medium sized. Their ears are poised high atop its head and hang down reaching its cheeks. The tail tends to be hairy and curled over the body. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Their double coat has to be straight with the undercoat completely hidden from sight by the overcoat, both thick coats. The overcoat tends to be tight and shiny, and has the color combination of black, brown and white, although sometimes they can be just brown and white. The brown starts in the areas between the black and white. The undercoat can be black, brown or grey.


Originating from Appenzell, Switzerland, this dog was used for herding cattle and guarding the house. In 1853 it was described as a Spitz type dog with high pitch barking, short hair and multiple colors. In 1898 they were considered a unique breed by the Swiss Cynological Society thanks to Max Siber. The Appenzeller Sennenhund club was created in 1906 by Dr. Albert Heim, who also set the first breed standard for this dog in 1914 and registered Appenzeller Sennenhund puppies in the Appenzeller Dog Stud Book. They arrived at the United States in the 1950s and recognized as its own breed until 1989. Nowadays this dog is kept as a family companion and guard dog, in some places it still is used to care and herd cattle. They excel in agility and obedience competitions and would give their lives to protect those it cares for.


Given their guard dog instinct, this breed can be extremely suspicious of strangers and may bark excessively if not socialized and trained properly at a young age. They love children but due to their size should be watched around them, especially young ones, as they might accidentally knock the children down or injure them. They are pack animals and therefore need an owner that establishes dominance as the pack leader and gains enough respect from the dog that it will feel no need to attempt to become pack leader. Once that happens, the Appenzeller Sennenhunde will become very affectionate and protective towards its family, doing whatever it takes to guard them. They are smart and once the owner becomes the pack leader, as previously mentioned, they become very easy to train. Otherwise, however, many problems could arise with them and they may become stubborn and difficult to train, so be sure to establish this early on in the puppy’s life and set strict boundaries for them.


The Appenzeller Sennenhunde dog is very healthy and therefore has no breed specific health problems.


This breed has a thick fur coat and therefore needs weekly brushing. Always check their ears for any dirt as well as their coat. Their nails have to be trimmed every two or three weeks, and baths are recommended once a month if living with livestock. They need daily, constant exercise in order to not develop a destructive behavior or barking problem and prefer life on big areas where they can run around freel. They are not suited for apartments.


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