The Appenzeller Sennenhund or Appenzeller Mountain Dog

Appenzeller Sennenhund

Also called the Appenzeller Mountain Dog or Appenzeller Spitzhauben, this dog breed originates in Switzerland, in the canton of Appenzell, which is also famous for its cheese! It is one of 4 Sennenhund dog breeds. The others are;

  • Berner Sennenhund (Bernese Mountain Dog)
  • Entelbucher Sennenhund (Entelbucher Mountain Dog)
  • Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund (Great Swiss Mountain Dog).

This is a medium size dog with a tri-color coat, a strong, square head, and an alert nature.

An Appenzeller Sennenhund dog standing on grass on a sunny day
Appenzeller Spitzhauben

Appenzeller Sennenhund Temperament

This is a breed that was bred to herd cattle and protect flocks of livestock. This means that the Appenzeller Sennenhund is wary of strangers, and protective of those it considers family.

They love being active and getting out and about, which means they are not really suited to apartment living. Some of the activities to keep your Sennenhund alert include chasing tennis balls, frisbee, playing tug-of-war, pulling small carts and agility trials.

When it comes to being in a family, the Appenzeller Sennenhund will be in the middle! They enjoy being with their family members, and will romp around with children happily. However, they can become boisterous, and may knock over small children by accident.

This breed is constantly alert, and will let you know if anything is going on in the vicinity, even if it is just the neighbors going past! With their wary nature, they need early socialization to develop a stable personality.

An Appenzeller Sennenhund dog walking in a brown grass field
Appenzeller Sennenhund

Appenzeller Sennenhund
Breed History

According to the AKC, the first records date back to1853, when the Appenzell Cattle Dog was first described as a short-haired, multi-colored cattle dog of the Spitz Dog type. (Typically, the tail curls up over the back).

After being promoted by prominent breeder Max Siber, the breed was recognized by the Swiss Cynological Society in 1898. The Appenzeller Sennenhund Club was established in 1906 to promote the breed. A valid breed standard was established in 1914, and then compulsory registration of puppies in the Appenzeller Dog Stud Book.

This dog breed was being used on farms in the canton of Appenzell to herd cattle to market, pull small carts, and also to guard flocks of sheep. The United Kennel Club recognized the Appenzeller Sennenhund in 1993, in the Guardian Dog group. The Appenzeller Sennenhund is still quite rare outside of Switzerland.

Two Appenzeller Sennenhund dogs sitting down in a field, looking at the camera, on a sunny day
2 Appenzeller Mountain Dogs


The Appenzeller Sennenhund is easy to groom and look after. They have a short, dense double coat which repels dirt, and only needs a weekly brushing to keep the coat looking good. They only need occasional bathing if they get particularly dirty, or develop a ‘doggy’ odor.

Vital Statistics:

Height;  19 inches to 23 inches.

Weight; 50 lbs – 70 lbs

Lifespan;  12 to 15 years

Appenzeller Spitzhauben Colors;  Tricolor – black, white and red.

An Appenzeller Sennenhund puppy lying down on a step, against a wooden door.
Appenzeller Mountain Dog puppy

Ease of Training

Not an easy breed to train. They were bred to have a dominant personality, to deal with herding cattle, and also to be protective, from guarding flocks of livestock. This gives them an independent, strong nature.

The solution is early socialization and an early introduction to training. Early socialization can be achieved by taking the puppy out as much as possible, to expose them to new and unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, and of course people and other animals.

Next comes puppy training classes, for basic obedience training. This introduces the dog to the idea of training. As the Appenzeller Sennenhund is intelligent and bright, they pick up on new ideas quickly, and are keen to please their owners.


Because the Appenzeller was bred to guard flocks of livestock, they are alert and wary of strangers. This means they will bark at the slightest movement or sound they do not recognize. While this makes them great watch dogs, it may be irritating for close neighbors.

Should an unwanted intruder try to venture any further, this dog will practically bark its lungs out, and try to intimidate the stranger. If provoked enough, this fiercely territorial dog may well attack. They may not have the intimidation factor of some larger breeds, but they will get the job done.

An Appenzeller Spitzhauben dog lying down on grass, looking at the camera
Appenzeller Spitzhauben dog

Health Considerations

There are few health issues with the Appenzeller Sennenhund. This is a very healthy breed! Nevertheless, responsible breeders will have their dogs regularly checked by a vet for hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as eye problems and heart conditions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *