The Appenzeller Sennenhund or Appenzeller for short is a dog breed that originated in Switzerland. It is one among the four Swiss shepherd dog breeds, the other three being Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the more popular Bernese Mountain Dog. Let us study the breed’s characteristics, temperament, physical description, and other details you need to know before you adopt or buy an Appenzeller.
Cool facts about the Appenzeller Sennenhund
- The Appenzeller is known by several other names like Appenzeller Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Cattle Dog, Appensell Cattle Dog, or simply Blass (blaze).
- Appenzeller is a stellar cattle drover and a property guard.
- Pronunciation of Appenzeller Sennenhund is App-en-zel-er Sen-nen-hundt. The word Appenzeller comes from the name of the region where the breed was first developed: Appenzell. The area is also famous for its cheese which is called Appenzeller cheese. The word Sennenhund refers to the Senn herders in the region.
- The breed also functioned as cattle drovers to bring milk and cheese from the farms to the shops. Other duties performed by these dogs were watching the farm and property, guarding the flock, and herding the cattle to safety.
Appenzeller looks very similar to its distant cousins: the Entlebucher Mountain Dog and the Bernese Mountain dog. However, there are some distinct differences. Compared to the Entlebucher, this is a medium-large sized dog with a muscular, compact, and rectangular build. They have a strong bone structure and wedge-shaped head with a moderate muzzle and strong jaw. Ears hang flat and close to the cheeks. Eyes are almond-shaped and brown in color. The tail is set high and curls tightly over the back.
Males measure between 52-56 cm at withers and weigh between 22-32 kilograms. Females are between 50 and 54 cm and weigh about 22-32 kg.
This large breed has a short, glossy, and smooth coat. Like the other Sennenhund, they are tricolored with black, Havana brown and white colors. The brown color is distinct above the eyebrows, legs, and the areas between the white and black colors.
The Appenzeller is a robust working dog. He is fearless, bold, but also tends to be assertive. Being a natural herder, his herding instincts can be seen inherently when he is playing with kids or around other dogs or animals. They show average compatibility with other dogs and need socialization to prevent a display of aggression.
Their high barking frequency often leads them to be mistaken for being aggressive. In reality, they are friendly, loving companions that love their family members. Often, they tend to bond with one family member. They can be very protective of their owners and tend to show aloofness or wariness around strangers.
This good-natured dog is also very energetic and won’t like being cooped up indoors. He needs to be exercised and he also needs to be given a job to do. With small children, the Appenzeller is usually affectionate but he could demand attention which might frighten the younger kids. Since they are very intelligent dogs, they are quite easy to train. However, they also have an independent streak that can test their owners.
You must socialize your Appenzeller with other farm animals and house dogs if you want him to work with them side by side. The Appenzell loves to stay outdoors as he was always bred as a farm dog. However, these days, most dogs mainly kept indoors as household companions. They have a tendency to bark and that can annoy the neighbors. That is why they do best in a large house with a secure yard. Barking and aggression can usually be managed through proper training and socialization.
Training an Appenzeller
Early obedience training and socialization are both musts when it comes to keeping an Appenzeller. Without socialization, they tend to become shy or aggressive. As soon as you bring home your pet, show him the rules of the household. Early training must include showing your puppy where to ‘eliminate’. For this, you must take your puppy to a designated spot in your back yard (or a dog park nearby) and assign a spot where it is acceptable to pee and poop. This can help prevent a lot of cleanup at home. Also, you must get your pet used to sleeping in a crate unless you want to allow him in your bed.
As your puppy grows, you can either choose to enroll him in puppy kindergarten/obedience classes or train him at home. Either way, you must be consistent. Use the same word or commands so that your Appenzeller knows what is expected of him and doesn’t get confused. Never shout or scold your Appenzell as that would only make him shy or aggressive. With positive, consistent training you can definitely have a friendly, well-behaved dog you are proud of.
The Appenzeller is an energetic dog that has been bred to manage a herd of about 40-50. So he needs to expend all that energy. If you have purchased him with the intention of working him on your farm, then there shouldn’t be a problem in that aspect. But if you are simply looking to keep him as a household companion or a couch potato, then you are sadly mistaken. You must make sure that he gets his 45 minutes to an hour of daily exercise – either walking, hiking, or playing a game of fetch with the kids. Without physical activity, he is bound to get bored, aggressive, and could even turn destructive.
This is an easy-care breed with a short coat that does not require too much grooming. They shed once a year during which, you can brush his coat once a day to prevent getting his hair all over your belongings. Shampoo your pet once a month or as needed. You can also utilize the grooming sessions to inspect his ears, eyes, and also clip his nails as needed.
Health issues and lifespan
No common health issues have been recorded in the breed. The average lifespan of the Appenzeller dog is between 12-15 years.
Where to find an Appenzeller Sennenhund
Appenzeller Mountain Dog Club of America is the best place to find reliable breeders near you. You can also contact animal rescue shelters to enquire about an Appenzeller sennenhund. The average cost of a purebred Appenzeller is between $600 and $1500.