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11 Switzerland Dog Breeds

How many Switzerland dog breeds do you know?

If asked to name a dog from Switzerland, most people will say the famous St Bernard which has been featured in movies, cartoons, songs and many other places.

In fact there are many beautiful dog breeds that come from Switzerland and many interesting stories behind the breeding histories.

Let’s start with the Sennenhund.

There are four breeds of Sennenhund which originated in the Swiss Alps. They are all large and sturdy farm dogs with an unusual tricolor coat of black, white and red/brown.

The name Sennenhund refers to people called Senn or Senner who were Swiss alpine herdsmen and dairymen.

Let’s find out more about the four Sennenhund breeds.

1. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog photographed in front of a lake

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a very large, strong dog that often weighs more than an adult.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog descended from Roman Molossian war dogs that arrived in the Alps with Julius Caesar’s legions.

It was bred to be used as a herding, farm work and guard dog. They were often used to pull heavy items such as meat to the markets due to their great strength and stamina.

Or they would often be seen carrying big back packs full of essential supplies during long hikes.

The dog’s nature is gentle and patient and it can skillfully round up a large flock of sheep on a steep mountain in low temperatures.

An interesting fact is that it has webbed feet and can swim well and enjoy the chance to cool down in the water.

Of course this powerful dog, also known as a Swissie, eats a lot.

Isn’t a fussy eater and is prone to overeating which can lead to obesity and health problems. With a healthy, controlled diet it will be on fine form.

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

A Bernese mountain dog photgraphed on white background

The Bernese Mountain dogs arrived to Switzerland with the Romans 2,000 years ago.

This affectionate, loyal dog was very useful for many kinds of farm tasks including pulling carts, herding cattle, guarding and companionship.

Of the four breeds of Sennehund dogs they are the only one with long hair. It came from the Canton of Bern and was given it’s name after that area.

It is a big dog with a calm and sociable temperament.

Easy to train. with a very agreeable nature the Bernese Mountain Dog is still a lot to handle due to its large size.

Train it early and well, give it lots of love and exercise and you will have a loyal friend for life (who will drool on you a lot).

3. Appenzeller Mountain Dog

appenzeller sennenhund on white background

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog or Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium-sized canine bred to carry out farm duties like pulling large carts, herding cattle, guarding and companionship.

Hailing from the Appenzeller area, it is the rarest of the four dogs in the Sennehund group.

This outgoing, confident dog needs a lot of attention, training, grooming and exercise to keep it under control.

It does make a really great family pet and guard dog. It likes to bark so your neighbors and any visitors will certainly quickly know you own a dog.

4. Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Entlebucher Mountain Dog standing on the lawn

The handsome Entlebucher Mountain Dog, also known as the Entlebucher Sennehund or even just the Entle, is the smallest of the 4 in this group. It comes from an area in Switzerland called Entlebuch.

It loves people but also has an independent character. It needs a lot of exercise and a quick walk in the park won’t be enough.

It enjoys being given tasks to do such as games and fetching. This dog is very loyal, giving and affectionate and makes a great pet.

The four breeds are well known in Switzerland and the rest of Europe.

In the United States, the Bernese Mountain Dog has some popularity, while the other breeds are marketed as rare to people wanting to buy unusual pets.

Next let’s learn about the five different breeds of Swiss Hound.

5. Bernese Hound

Bernese Hound at a dog showAlso known as the Berner Laufhund and the small Bernese Hound, this breed was developed for its scenting ability and for hunting.

This dog has 3 colors in its coat and either wire hair or smooth hair. Droopy ears and curious eyes are some of the lovely features of the Bernese Hound.

With a sharp mind and determined, friendly nature it is a lovely dog with a lifespan of 10-12 years and is a medium-sized pooch.

6. Bruno Jura Hound

Bruno Jura Hound walking on the lawn

The Bruno Jura Hound, usually black and tan or two tones of brown, is a breed of scent hound from the Jura Mountains on the French-Swiss border.

This medium-sized dog is descended from the St Hubert Hound. It was used to hunt fox, hare and deer and was famous for it’s sharp scent-detecting skills and determination which was especially valued in the dense mountain terrain.

This dog is thought to be a descendant of the French Chien Saint Hubert Hound during the Middle Ages.

Active, loyal and gentle is how the Bruno Jura Hound can be described. It is still commonly used for hunting today and needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Without that they can become bored and destructive.

7. Saint Hubert Jura Hound

5 Saint Hubert Jura Hounds at the park

The Saint Hubert Jura Hound is a black and brown bred and is slightly bigger than it’s close relation the Bruno Jura Hound.

Described as a super sniffer with supreme scent detecting skills the dog is used to hunt small game animals in the Jura Mountains on the Swiss side of the Swiss-French border.

It’s a short, fast and agile short-coat dog with a life span of around 12-14 years.

Not recommended for a pet unless the owner can spend a lot of time with the dog training it and giving attention.

It’s best working in a cold environment with a lot of physical and mental activity to keep it content.

8. Lucerne Hound

Lucerne Hound at the park looking to its left side

Meet the Lucerne Hound, named after the town of Lucerne. This friendly, active dog is sturdy and hard-working. It can work well in high altitudes and low temperatures with high energy levels.

In the 15th century, this breed was popular with Italian dog lovers and by the 18th century the French had discovered it and were impressed with its outstanding skills for hunting hare.

Its native lines have been influenced by scent hounds of French breeding that came to Switzerland with mercenaries.

It can make for a wonderful and loving pet which develops a strong bond to its owner over time. A sensitive and loving nature but with a stubborn streak, it is a bit friendly to be considered for a guard dog.

9. Schwyz Hound

Schwyz Hound in the park standing

The Schwyz Hound named after the town of Schwyz, also known as the Schweizer Laufhund, was bred with a strong hunting instinct for the purpose of hunting hare, fox and deer.

The Schwyz Hound is believed to have been influenced by French scent hounds which came to Switzerland by traveling mercenaries.

It’s an intelligent, energetic hound and these days makes a loyal and loving pet. Owners need to put time in for training this dog which can be stubborn and strong-minded.

A firm hand and discipline with rewards will keep it well in control.

Not falling into the previous groups is the White Swiss Shepherd Dog.

10. White Swiss Shepherd Dog

White Swiss Shepherd Dog playing at the park

The White Swiss Shepherd Dog, also known as the Berger Blanc Suisse, is a firm, loyal and devoted dog. It is closely related to the German Shepherd and has similar traits and skills.

It can be prone to health problems and also sometimes be timid and jumpy if not socialized properly.

Otherwise, they are a friendly dog, great family pet and loyal companion. They need grooming about twice a week and have a double coat.

Finally, we couldn’t forget the adorable St Bernard dog who most people first encountered in a book, magazine or on TV. A big dog with a big heart and also a big reputation around the world.

11. St. Bernard 

St. Bernard dog standing on a rock

The St. Bernard is a very large dog with lovable droopy eyes and a lot of fur to care for. It came from the Western Alps in Switzerland and Italy.

Originally it was bred by monks at the hospice of the Great St Bernard Pass on the Italian-Swiss border.

They sent the dogs on rescue missions to find and assist lost travelers. Imagine being lost in the Alps and having this friendly, furry face turn up to save you.

A playful and affectionate character, this giant dog is also patient and even-tempered.

Despite its size it’s great with children and seems to be aware of the need to take care when around them. Exercise, grooming and attention is needed from the owner of this gentle giant.

Its lifespan is generally not much more than a decade.

Final Thoughts:

This completes our look at the fascinating collection of dog breeds from Switzerland. The country can be proud to have such a great collection of fine dogs that are breed to be beautiful, useful and memorable.

In fact, Swiss locals like to say their dogs are similar to their people: reliable, calm and even-tempered.

Check Out Other European Dog Breeds below: