Appenzeller Sennenhund

Other Names: Appenzeller, Appenzell Cattle Dog, Appenzeller Mountain Dog

Country Of Origin: Switzerland

Dog Group: Working dog

Size: Medium

Recommended For: Families, couples, single owners

Maintenance Level: Medium

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, lively


Good For First-Time Owner: Yes

Good With Children: Yes

Good With Other Animals: Yes

Good With Strangers: No

Good For Apartments: No

Exercise Requirements: Daily walking

Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes

Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes

Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes

Grooming: Low/moderate

Trainability: Moderate

Breed Overview:

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is one of the four regional breeds of dog from Switzerland, which are all quite similar, but served different roles. Others are in Swiss and English names:

  • Berner Sennenhund (Bernese Mountain Dog)
  • Appenzeller Sennenhund (Appenzeller Mountain Dog)
  • Entlebucher Sennenhund (Entlebucher Mountain Dog)
  • Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog)

The Appenzeller was used for herding cattle, and is a dog of medium size that was used in the mountains.

Appenzellers make great family pets, and are good with children. They’re friendly and intelligent, and take well to obedience training.

For this reason, they make a good choice for owners with any experience level.

Color: Tricolor: black, fawn, and white

 Height: Males – 20-22 inches, females – 20-21 inches

 Weight: 49-71lbs

Personality and Temperament:

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is known for being a friendly and energetic breed.

Appenzellers are very lively, and need to be walked frequently to keep them healthy and entertained. Their personalities make them a good choice as a family dog, and they are known to form intense bonds with their owners.

Appenzellers are quit easy to train, but owners need to be strict with their training because the breed can become bored with basic obedience commands.

Their role as working dogs means they’re receptive to commands, but the breed’s intelligence also means they can be quite stubborn.

Training should begin at a young age to ensure success. Similarly, this will also help with socializing around other dogs.

Appenzellers are fine to be kept around other animals, and have little problem with dogs or other pets. Their size means they’re not as much of a threat to small pets as other breeds, but owners should still be wary because the dog’s herding instincts can still kick in.

These won’t be a problem on their own, but the dogs can get a bit nippy when herding. Socializing should be started as early as possible to ensure success.

The breed is fine to be kept around children, and their friendly nature makes them a good choice for having around young children.

Appenzellers are more tolerant of children than some other breeds, but there might be some issues if the child is only brought in later in the dog’s life.

However, any issues are few and far between, and can be prevented with careful monitoring and training.

However, Appenzellers can be very wary around strangers, and might become aggressive if they feel threatened.

This will be more of a problem with people coming into their home, as opposed to out walking, but this is quite a natural reaction for dogs, and actually means they make quite good alert dogs.

When it comes to living arrangements, Appenzellers aren’t suitable for keeping in an apartment. This is because of their high energy levels, which can be challenging at the best of times, but will be almost unmanageable in confined spaces.

The breed is much better suited to a house with land, which should be fenced in to prevent the dog going walkies on their own. Considering the breed was used for herding cattle, they’re perfectly happy to spend the day walking, which will be much easier to deal with in a larger house.

Appenzellers should be walked daily for at least 30 minutes, but an hour would be better.

In fact, they can take basically as much exercise as you can give them, so bear this in mind if you don’t want to be making several walks a day part of your routine.

Walking can be supplemented with playtime, but the more exercise you can give them, the happier they’ll be.

The Appenzell Cattle Dog was bred for use in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, and so is designed for cold climates.

However, their coat isn’t that thick, so they can tolerate living in warmer climates, but there is a limit to this. Reconsider going for this breed if you live somewhere very warm, as it could start to get dangerous for the dog if it’s too hot.

Due to their easy trainability, and their general low maintenance, Appenzellers make a good choice as a first-time pet.

Unlike some other breeds, there aren’t really any complicated rules and allowances for their care, and so they make quite a good training dog for first-time owners. However, this should always be taken with caution, as not every dog is suitable for every first-time owner.


 Appenzeller Sennenhunds have a double-layered coat, which consists of a thick undercoat, and a shiny topcoat.

As a result, they shed quite a lot, so be prepared for plenty of dog hair around the house. Their hair sheds all year round too, so there’s very little you can do about this.

Appenzellers should be brushed weekly using a slicker brush or short bristle brush. This will help to remove any loose hairs and keep their coat looking nice and shiny. Doing this outside will obviously help minimize mess, too.

You should aim to bathe your dog about once every other month or so. However, this should really be kept to a minimum, as bathing strips their coat of its natural oils, and so too much of it will cause the hair to look dull, and will make it more fragile.

You should really be able to clean most messes off with a good brush, and should save bathing until they get really stinky.

The breed has floppy ears, which are smaller than other breeds (such as the Cocker Spaniel), but should still be checked weekly for debris and foreign bodies.

Floppy ears are the perfect place for ticks to hide, and these are a particular problem in the summer. Ears should be cleaned with a piece of damp tissue, and never with cotton ear buds.

As with any other breed, you should brush their teeth several times a week to minimize tooth decay, and should provide chew toys that promote oral health.

Similarly, you should trim their nails every few weeks, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if the dog is getting enough exercise. Walking wears the nails down, and so they shouldn’t really need trimming if they get daily walks.

Common Diseases and Conditions:

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a relatively healthy breed for a number of reasons.

The first is that they’re currently not recognized by many major kennel clubs, and so there isn’t such a push for a desired breed standard, which often leads to hereditary health complications.

Similarly, any breeding programs used for the breed, such as those conducted in Switzerland, have been carefully controlled to minimize the risk of conditions developing.

This is obviously not the case for all genetic lines, but if you have any health concerns, then speak to a breeder. They’ll be able to give you more accurate information about their specific line of dogs.


The Appenzeller, like the other regional Swiss breeds, are descended from a common ancestor – the Sennenhund.

Experts believe this is a very ancient breed, and can essentially be traced back to antiquity. They believe that the breeds are descended from cattle herding dogs left behind by the Romans.

Appenzellers were kept for a variety of working purposes, including cattle herding, guarding livestock, cart pulling, and general farm duties.

The breed is still used in some rural areas for working purposes, but is more commonly kept as a companion dog because of its loyal and friendly temperament.

The Sennenhund was first written into a studbook in 1906, and a breed standard was written in 1916.

The Appenzeller was recognized as a separate breed in 1989, although it isn’t recognized by many English-speaking kennel clubs.

The American Kennel Club has the breed listed as foundational stock, although there are several owner-run fan clubs in America based around the breed.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Facts & Figures

Did You Know?

  • The name “Appenzeller Sennenhund” comes from the region the dogs were bred in, Appenzell (a region in the northeast of Switzerland), and the people who created the breed, the Senn, who were dairy farmers.
  • Due to the breed’s working purposes, they are excellent in agility and athletic competitions.
  • They’re surprisingly strong, and can pull carts much heavier than their own weight, which is impressive considering their size.
  • The breed is used as a rescue dog in the Swiss Alps.
  • The international breeding program for Sennenhunds started in 1898, and was started by Albert Heim, the same man who wrote the breed standard.
  • Appenzellers would control cattle by nipping at their heels, which is why owners should be wary of having the dog play herding with children or small pets.
  • The Swiss nickname for the breed is “blass”, which refers to the blaze across their face.

About the author: Chalene Johnston graduated with honors from University with a BA in psychology. She is a proud stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old French Bulldog puppy, Stella! When she is not looking for adventure travel destinations, she loves to write! She writes for a wide variety of topics – with animals being one of her favorites.