The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a Swiss breed of medium-sized working dog. It originates in the Appenzell region of north-eastern Switzerland, and is one of four regional breeds of Sennenhund or Swiss mountain dog, all of which are characterised by a distinctive tricolour coat.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is one of the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, along with the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Great Swiss and the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. The origins of this medium-sized breed go back to the farm dogs that were traditionally used as drovers and herders in the Swiss Alps, especially in the canton of Appenzell.

These dogs are known for their highly agile and smart character, traits that made them excellent for herding cattle and protecting them from intruders. The history of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is deeply intertwined with that of other molossers, including the Tibetan Mastiff.

Historically, these dogs were bred for their strength and courage, which made them valuable working dogs in the rural areas of Switzerland.

Their history as working dogs has shaped their physical and mental attributes well, making them smart and alert companions. Officially recognised by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), the Appenzeller Mountain Dog shares the same characteristics as its Mountain Dog counterparts.

Praised as promoters of Swiss dog breeds, these breeds are highly valued for their loyalty and versatility.

The appearance of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog, a medium-sized breed originating from the Swiss canton of Appenzell, is an active and confident dog with a striking tricolour appearance. Their coat is short and consists of black or havanna brown with yellow to reddish-brown markings.

These dogs are a product of purposeful pure breeding, which has resulted in a very typical trait and distinctive physique. The Appenzeller’s character has been shaped by the tasks they traditionally performed as drovers and herders in the Swiss Alps.

This made them extremely agile and watchful, traits that have been preserved to this day. Their ears are triangular and their expression shows their confident temperament.

Often used as a watchdog, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is known for its bark and certain level of distrust of strangers, while being very loyal to their own people and acquaintances. Their curly tail adds a unique feature to their robust appearance.

Hereditary diseases and disorders

Although the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is generally a healthy breed, there are some hereditary diseases and conditions that breeders and owners should be aware of.

  • Hip dysplasia: A common condition in medium to large breeds, in which the hip joint is not well formed.
  • Elbow dysplasia: Like hip dysplasia, a joint problem that can cause pain and restriction of movement.
  • Bloat (Stomach Torsion): A life-threatening condition in which the stomach turns over on itself.
  • Eye problems: Such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): A condition affecting the joints, especially in young, fast-growing dogs.

The character of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

Part of the Sennen dogs, which also include the Great Swiss and Bernese Sennen, the Appenzeller is known for its strong character and self-confidence. These medium-sized dogs have traditionally been used as drovers and herders, contributing to their highly agile and alert nature.

Typical of an Appenzeller’s character is their activity and need for exercise. They love to run and jump, and require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can quickly become bored, which can lead to undesirable behaviour. Towards strangers, Appenzellers can be somewhat suspicious, a trait that makes them excellent guard dogs.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund enjoying the open nature

The Care of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

This active dog breed, has specific needs.

  • Activity: the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is an active dog that needs a lot of exercise. They love to run, jump and are extremely agile. Regular exercise, such as long walks or play sessions, is essential to keep them both physically and mentally fit.
  • Coat care: Their coat care is relatively simple. Regular brushing is necessary to remove loose hairs and keep their coat clean and healthy. This also helps prevent tangles and dirt.
  • Socialisation: Proper socialisation from an early age is crucial. This helps develop a well-adjusted temperament and reduces distrust of strangers.
  • Training: Raising an Appenzeller requires a consistent approach. They are intelligent and learn quickly, but a strong, patient owner is needed to manage their natural herding and guarding instincts.

Socialisation and upbringing of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

The socialisation and upbringing of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog, are crucial to developing a well-adjusted and balanced pet.

As with all dog breeds, but especially breeds with a strong working background like the Appenzeller, early and consistent socialisation is essential. When bringing an Appenzeller Mountain Dog into your home, start socialisation as early as possible. Expose your Appenzeller to different people, animals, environments and situations.

This helps them become extremely agile and versatile in social situations, and teaches them to respond well to strangers and new experiences. Education should be approached with a mix of patience, consistency and positive reinforcement.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is highly intelligent and learns quickly, but needs strong leadership. A consistent approach ensures that their natural herding and guarding instincts are well guided. Pay attention to physical and mental challenges. These dogs love activities and love completing tasks, which helps them channel their energy in a positive way.

How much experience does an Appenzeller Mountain Dog require

Keeping an Appenzeller Mountain Dog, a member of the Molosser group, requires a certain level of experience with dogs. These dogs are known for their strength, stamina and highly agile nature. Our Appenzeller Mountain Dog is a breed that is not very forgiving of mistakes in upbringing and socialisation. They are intelligent dogs that need a strong but fair hand.

They respond best to owners who are consistent and assertive, without being harsh. Experience in understanding and guiding their behaviour is essential to ensure that their natural protective instincts are properly guided and do not cause unwanted behaviour.

For novice dog owners, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog can be challenging. Without proper guidance and training, these dogs can become dominant or overprotective. However, with an owner who understands the breed standard and takes the time to manage their Appenzeller, this dog can be a loyal, loving and protective companion.

Is training necessary?

Training is absolutely essential for the Appenzeller Mountain Dog. These intelligent and energetic dogs have a strong natural urge to work and protect, which without appropriate training can lead to undesirable behaviour.

Training helps form a good dog-owner relationship and ensures a well-adjusted, social and balanced pet. The Appenzeller Mountain Dog, with its herding background, needs mental and physical stimulation.

They respond well to positive training methods reinforced with rewards. Consistency in training is crucial to gain their respect and trust. These dogs have a natural tendency towards independence, so it is important to start training from an early age.

Because the Appenzeller Mountain Dog can be naturally protective and territorial, socialisation training is vital. Exposure to different people, places and situations helps to prevent fear and aggressive behaviour towards strangers.

How much exercise does an Appenzeller Mountain Dog need?

An energetic and workmanlike breed, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog requires a considerable amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy. These dogs are naturally active and need intense exercise daily. Ideally, they need at least one to two hours of exercise per day, divided into several walks, play sessions or other physical activities.

Besides physical exercise, it is also important to take care of their mental stimulation. Activities such as agility training, tracking, or learning new tricks can help keep their minds busy and stimulated.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund exploring nature to release any excessive energy

How is it getting along with children?

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog can be an excellent companion for children, if properly socialised and trained.

This breed is known for its loyal and protective nature, which can make it a good choice for families. Appenzellers are energetic and playful, and cope well with the liveliness and playfulness of children. They tend to be patient and tolerant, but as with any interaction between dogs and children, supervision is always necessary.

Early socialisation is crucial to ensure that the Appenzeller Mountain Dog gets along well with children. It is important to teach the dog how to behave around children in a calm and gentle manner.

Training should also focus on preventing overprotective or overly vigilant behaviour, which can sometimes occur in this breed. Children, in turn, should be taught how to treat the dog respectfully and gently. Teaching basic rules on how to behave around dogs, such as not disturbing the dog while eating or sleeping and avoiding rough play, is essential.

Benefits of an Appenzeller Mountain Dog

  • Loyalty and Protection: Appenzellers are known for their strong loyalty to their family. They are protective and can be excellent guard dogs.
  • Energy and Active: This breed is highly energetic and loves physical activities, ideal for active families or individuals.
  • Intelligence: Appenzellers are intelligent and can learn quickly, making training relatively easy.
  • Versatility: They are versatile, both for herding livestock and dog sports.
  • Health: In general, it is a healthy breed with a relatively long lifespan of about 12 to 15 years.

Disadvantages of an Appenzeller Mountain Dog

  • Need for Exercise: They require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Without this, they can become destructive.
  • Strong Will: Their independence can sometimes be a challenge during training.
  • Socialisation: Early and consistent socialisation is essential to avoid overprotective behaviour.
  • Care: Their coat needs regular grooming, especially during moulting.

How old an Appenzeller Mountain Dog gets

Known for their robustness, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog has an average life expectancy that is usually between 12 and 15 years. However, this lifespan can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, living conditions, nutrition and healthcare.

Price of an Appenzeller Mountain Dog

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is considered a rare breed within the US, complicating efforts to establish a fixed price range for these dogs. Here’s an overview:

Price: Be prepared for a high price, potentially over $3,000, subject to finding a dedicated breeder.

Finding an Appenzeller Mountain Dog:

  • Breeders: The US may host a scant number of breeders specializing in Appenzeller Mountain Dogs.
  • Rescue: Discovering an Appenzeller Mountain Dog through US rescue organizations is highly unlikely due to the breed’s scarcity.

Similar Breeds to Explore:

If the Appenzeller Mountain Dog’s dedication, smarts, and working prowess appeal to you, these breeds might also catch your interest and are more commonly found in the US:

  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog: Celebrated for their intelligence, loyalty, and serene nature, with prices ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.
  • Bernese Mountain Dog: Known for their amiable disposition and family loyalty, typically priced between $1,500 and $3,500.
  • Entlebucher Mountain Dog: The smallest among the Swiss Mountain Dogs, valued for their agility and trainability, with prices between $2,000 and $4,000.

These alternatives possess similar traits and may offer a better match due to their broader availability and potentially more accessible price points.

Additional Guidance:

  • Conduct Thorough Research: Confirm that an Appenzeller Mountain Dog’s character and care requirements suit your lifestyle prior to bringing one home.
  • Visit the Breeder: Should you opt for a breeder, inspect their operation and meet the puppy’s parents to evaluate health and behavior.
  • Budget for Ownership: Anticipate costs for nutrition, healthcare, training, and grooming for a double-coated breed, in addition to the initial purchase price.
  • Prioritize Socialization: Given their cautious nature around strangers, initiating early socialization and consistent training is vital for a well-adapted adult dog.

Remember: Committing to a pet requires long-term responsibility. Select a breed that complements your life and can thrive in your care for many years. Exploring breed clubs or registries for more info on finding a breeder is wise, yet anticipate possible hurdles in locating an Appenzeller Mountain Dog in the US. Adoption offers a noble alternative, possibly leading you to a similar breed or a mixed breed that could perfectly fit into your home.

About the Author: Giovanni

After a dedicated 20-year career as a veterinarian, I now share my passion and knowledge on my blog focused on pet wellness. My experience covers everything from preventive care to treating complex conditions. I strive to provide animal lovers with valuable insights on the health and happiness of their pets, from nutritional advice to behavioral guidance.