Appenzell Mountain Dog Breed Characteristics & Traits

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is an absolute bundle of energy with a fearless nature. He is very robust and has an attentive nature. With its athleticism, high stamina, and incorruptible guard instinct, it is highly valued as a loyal family dog. Once integrated into the family, he loves his people more than anything and goes with his owners through thick and thin!

History & Origin

Unfortunately, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is one of the dog breeds that are threatened with extinction. The breed is currently widespread in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. But the breed is also valued in countries that fought for its preservation. The original breeding area was the Alpenzellerland. Today the breed is bred throughout Switzerland and in many other countries. The term “Appenzell Mountain Dog” is clearly defined and the breed is to be distinguished from the other mountain dogs. Even though many lovers have found each other, the breeding base is very small.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a typical farmer’s dog, which developed together with the local farming system. As early as 1853, an Appenzeller Sennenhund was described in the “Tierleben der Alpenwelt”. In 1898 a commission wrote the first description of the breed for systematic breeding. Pure breeding began at the beginning of the 20th century in order to obtain a uniform appearance. This was documented in stud books. For and through the Swiss farmers and shepherds, have become what defines them today: good keepers and drivers of the cattle. They are also suitable as guard dogs. The farmers of the Appenzellerland bred the dogs primarily for their usefulness and less for their beauty.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: Switzerland
  • Life expectancy: 10-14 years
  • Weight: 25-35kg
  • Males: 52-56 cm
  • Bitches: 50-54 cm

Timeline Highlights

  • In 1853, an Appenzell mountain dog was first described historically
  • In 1895 the great promoter of the breed, Max Sieber, asked the SKG to do something for the Appenzeller Sennenhund
  • 1898 first description of the breed for systematic breeding
  • 1906 Founding of the “Alpenzeller Sennenhunde Club” and beginning of pure breeding
  • 1914 Development of the first breed standard


The Appenzeller Sennenhund is mainly used for driving and herding cattle. The energetic dog can also herd large numbers of scattered animals over large areas. He is very robust, weather-hardy, intelligent, and watchful. It is therefore also suitable as a good watchdog and is even used as an avalanche dog. In recent years, there have even been successes in training guide dogs for the blind. Of course, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is also a popular and loyal family dog.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Section 3: Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Without work test

Character & Nature of the Appenzeller Sennenhund

He is a very active, temperamental, weatherproof, and fearless dog, with a special gift for observation. With his intelligent nature, he is the perfect working dog and wants to be challenged mentally every day, in addition to exercise. He appears carefree and is loyal to his owners but also alert. The bright and distinctive bark is typical of the breed. This underscores his alertness as well as his joy. He is able to quickly assess his owner’s facial expressions and gestures and be absolutely obedient. Like all dogs, it needs a certain consistency in its upbringing.

Behavior in family & children

The Appenzeller Sennenhund has a pronounced social nature and, once integrated, loves his family more than anything. He also behaves appropriately and gently towards children. The breed of dog usually poses no danger to one’s own family (the pack).

Behavior with strangers

As an alert guard dog, he is suspicious at first and likes to bark loudly. However, he does not show any aggressiveness towards strangers, but, after a short period of getting to know each other, his very social behavior.

Behavior with other dogs

Through early socialization, the Appenzeller Sennenhund behaves attentively, socially, and friendly towards other dogs.

Behavior with other pets

As a herding and cattle dog, the Appenzeller Sennenhund has a distinctive social behavior towards cattle. He often knows every single animal in his herd inside and out.

Urge to move

The active dog has a great will to work and learn and needs a lot of exercises every day, regardless of the weather. When purchasing, it should be borne in mind that keeping them in a city apartment is not suitable. Owning your own property provides sufficient exercise and employment. It fits into rural areas and is suitable for active dog owners. Dog sports such as agility and real competitive dog sports are ideal alternatives to herding.

The hunting instinct

Does not have a strong hunting instinct. However, as with any dog, this should be observed during training and corrected if necessary.

Optics and Fur

The three-colored, medium-sized dog is built almost square but appears well proportioned. He is muscular, very agile, and agile. The clever expression on this dog’s face speaks for itself. The stock hair is firm and close-lying. His topcoat is dense and shiny. The basic color is black or brown with white or brown-red markings that are as symmetrical as possible. The white markings are usually clearly visible on the head, on the throat to the chest, on the paws, or on the tip of the tail. The brown-red markings can be found on the cheeks, chest, and legs.

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