Smart, Energetic and Loyal


Smart, Energetic and Loyal, the Swiss Appenzeller Must be Kept Occupied at All Times!

The Appenzeller was originally an all-purpose farm dog in Switzerland, doing everything from pulling carts to guarding livestock. These smart, energetic, and very active dogs have become one of today’s loyal family pets. This is not, however, a dog for a sedentary lifestyle.

Of the many Sennenhund breeds, including the Entlebucher Sennenhund , or Entlebucher Mountain Dog; the Berner Sennenhund, or Bernese Mountain Dog ; and the Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund, or Greater Swiss Mountain Dog , the Appenzeller is not only the rarest but quite possibly the earliest in origin dating back to the Bronze Age. Another theory purports that the Appenzeller may have emerged from Molossus dogs who were the ancestors of today’s Mastiffs brought to Switzerland by the Romans. Though ancient in its ancestry, today's Swiss Appenzeller still offers tireless energy and a strong work ethic. Not lazy in the least, this breed will always need to be kept occupied.


With somewhat nebulous origins, it is believed that the Appenzeller lineage had its inception in now extinct molossus-type dogs, which were derived from Asiatic hounds that the Greeks brought to the Roman Empire. In Helvetia, these molossus-type dogs probably crossed with native dogs from the lower Alps. However, the source of the Appenzeller may also have been from a purely native dog of the Alps.

The first possible mention – and perhaps the only one – was in 1853, in a book by Friedrich von Tschudi, called Animal Life Forms in the Alpine Region. In it, he describes a shorthaired Sennenhund of medium size, with many colors. In 1914, Dr. Heim sought to preserve the Appenzeller as well as the other Sennenhund breeds, and announced a breed standard for the Appenzeller. At least one Appenzeller was exported to the United States in 1950, and emigrant Swiss farmers also brought their dogs with them. Because the Appenzeller has such a huge need for activity, it is logical that only individuals and families with vigorous lifestyles should adopt this breed. They remain relatively rare in the United States, are the rarest of the Sennenhund pedigree and remain among the rarest of all breeds. The American Kennel Club has recorded the Appenzeller in its AKC Foundation Stock Service, which is the first step to full breed acceptance by this organization.


Massive without being cumbersome, this molosser-type dog is relatively lean compared with others of its category, donning a heavy build and bone structure without the bulk. The Appenzeller almost always has a tricolored coat, black or brown with rust-and-white symmetrical markings. Rust markings over the eyes with a white blaze in the middle of the forehead may also occur, with rust occurring as a color separating patches of black and white. Adults stand 18 to 23 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 49 and 70 pounds when fully grown. Their glossy fur is thick and tight, for good protection in harsh climates.


Although sober and intelligent, this brave dog can be utterly charming among those it loves. The Appenzeller can function well as a family dog – but will not enjoy lying around while you watch television. The Appenzeller MUST be kept active. These dogs are very agile, love the outdoors and serve as excellent watchdogs. They can be tolerant of children and other dogs, but will be suspicious of anything not properly introduced – which is not a particularly bad feature in a guard dog.

Daily direction, structure, and guidance are very important for this pet who will need a strong master as its “pack leader.” If you can't provide firm boundaries and gentle but consistent discipline, and you can't provide the level of activity needed by this breed, it's best to choose another type of dog. An unhappy Appenzeller can mean a large dog that barks excessively, is difficult or even impossible to control, and can become neurotic and destructive. Although not generally considered a dangerous dog, the Appenzeller can become "nippy" and irritable, if not given enough stimulation. They can even be prone to going after small children who aren't always particularly well-behaved. Yet, a well-trained Appenzeller is wonderful around small children – even those who may annoy the dog. However, with this in mind, it's not wise to leave your small child alone with a pet who could be inadvertently provoked.

Proper Environment

The Appenzeller will never be able to live successfully within a small space like an apartment. These dogs MUST be kept active – living a life of constant labor and action. This dog prefers to work hard on a daily basis, whether through simple exercise or performing a useful function on a ranch or farm. In fact, this activity is what keep keeps this dog happiest. Although your pet will certainly be affectionate to you and your family once you've bonded, don't expect to cuddle at night on the couch with a peacefully serene dog. Instead, this breed will still need to be “working,” doing something interesting, even when relaxing with you and your family. Rather than a “drawback,” this is just a unique trait of the Appenzeller which must be recognized. Keep this dog busy at all times.


This naturally sturdy farm dog is also hardy physically, and should need little attention beyond regular vet visits. Average life span is 12 to 13 years.


Straight, sleek, and double coated, the Appenzeller's fur needs relatively little grooming. Brush a couple of times a week with a rubber brush to remove dead hairs, and bathe only if necessary.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Appenzeller Sennenhunde.

Retrieved July 15, 2013.

Appenzell Mountain Dog (Appenzeller Sennenhund) (Appenzell Cattle Dog) (Appenzeller Sennenhunde).

Retrieved July 15, 2013.

Appenzeller Sennenhunde.

Retrieved July 15, 2013.

Appenzeller Sennenhund.

Retrieved July 15, 2013

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