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Appenzeller Sennenhund Temperament: (Devoted, Protective, Energetic)

The Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament is an interesting blend. She is both exuberant (with friends and family) and reserved (with strangers).

In the right hands, she is a loving and devoted family member. But the Appenzeller Sennenhund a.k.a the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is not the breed for everyone.

This is a hard-working dog who needs a job to do. She is strong-willed and highly territorial.

This dog needs a family with a good understanding of her special temperament.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Temperament


The Appenzeller Sennenhund is smarter than most other dogs. She learns fast and is eager to please, but she can be manipulative. You need to always be a step ahead of her.


Her cattle herding instincts make her stubborn and strong-willed at times. She needs firm training from a strong alpha leader.


They form strong attachments with their human families and want to be near them.


The Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament is very sensitive. She is great at sensing and responding to human emotions.


She is self-confident and sure of herself. This breed knows what needs to be done and trusts in her abilities to do it.

Sometimes she thinks she knows this better than you do.


The Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament is playful. This can lead to problems because they are quite rambunctious, especially when they’re young.

They are boisterous, and they’re powerful. You will need to be watch her around small children. They usually calm down a bit by age two.

The Appenzeller is not recommended for homes with small children or elderly family members.


This breed is very physical about showing affection to family and friends. She’s not shy about asking the same of them.


Her personality is cheerful, enthusiastic, and outgoing once she warms up to someone. She’s excited to greet people she knows.


The Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament is very territorial. Appenzeller’s have been known to give up their lives to protect their people or property.


She’s bred to work with animals much larger than she is. The Appenzeller Mountain Dog has no problem with that.


Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament is steady and dependable. She’s not likely to be impulsive or to act out of character.


Appenzellers are fast, agile, and powerful. They are able to travel quickly over mountainous terrain. This breed loves to run and has great endurance. They are very successful at dog sporting events.


This gal has a lot of energy. She needs vigorous activity every day. If she gets the exercise she needs, she will be a content family companion.

However, she’s no apartment dog. She needs space to run.


The Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament can be pushy. She needs a strong leader to remind her who’s in charge.

They will likely go through an adolescent period, much like humans, where they will start testing your limits. This breed needs to have firm boundaries set by a strong leader from the very beginning.


Appenzellers were bred to be cattle herders. They will chase almost anything that moves, including cars, bicycles, and joggers. This includes nipping at heels to try to herd humans.


Be prepared. Appenzeller Sennenhund barking may be an issue. Again, this is part of her cattle herder breeding and may be difficult to control.


She is suspicious of strangers and makes a steadfast, five-star watchdog. This dog needs to be well socialized around people to keep this in control.

Appenzeller Sennenhund History

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a Spitz-type breed from Appenzell, Switzerland. There are two theories about her origin.

One is that she comes from an ancient breed from the bronze age. The other is that the Romans brought her to Switzerland.

In any event, the earliest description of an Appenzeller Cattle Dog was in 1853. She is one of a group of four dogs from the region.

The others are the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. The Appenzeller is the rarest of the four.

She was originally known as the “dairy farmer’s dog.” However, she has actually worked at several jobs, including to cattle herding, cart pulling, guard dog and farm dog.

She is also a livestock guardian dog (or LGD). The breed still does all of these things in Switzerland.

In 1906, mostly due to the hard work of Dr. Albert Heim, the Appenzeller Sennenhund Club was formed “to promote and preserve the breed.” The breed standard was established in 1914.

Today the Appenzeller is considered a rare breed. However, they are more common in Switzerland and have spread into other regions of Europe.

They are gradually increasing in North America as well. The Appenzell Mountain Dog Club of America (AMDCA) is the official breed club for the Appenzeller Sennenhund in the United States and Canada.

This breed is beginning to become more common in the North America. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has not fully recognized the breed yet. However, it admitted the Appenzeller Sennenhund to its Foundation Stock Service in 2007.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Training

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a high-energy dog that needs a skilled handler. With the right training, she has a steady, reliable temperament and is a devoted family companion.

Early and continuous socialization is critical for this breed. They are very territorial and need to be exposed to strangers, children, and other dogs early and often.

According to the AMDCA, they need extensive socialization to many people so they can learn “how the good guys act.” This is important so that they can recognize someone with suspicious intent.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Appenzeller Sennenhund dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

They also need obedience training from the very beginning. These dogs have minds of their own and are used to bossing cattle around. They need to be taught that they are not in charge at home.

The AMDCA also recommends that heel training is important with this breed because they are powerful enough to knock you off your feet.

You will also want to teach her that it’s not OK to follow people around and nip at their heels.

The bottom line is that this is not a dog for an inexperienced dog owner. Some Appenzeller Sennenhund characteristics call for patience and experience.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Appearance

General Appearance

The Appenzeller is a medium-sized breed with a muscular, square build. (Her width and height are nearly the same.) She has a short, thick, glossy topcoat and a thick undercoat as well.

Her head is wedge-shaped. The ears are triangular in shape, broad with rounded tips. They sit fairly high on the head and hang down to lay flat against her cheeks.

She has small, dark, almond-shaped eyes. According to the breed standard, she has a lively or “cheeky” expression. Her jaws are strong with a scissor bite.

She has the Spitz-type tail that curls upward over her back.

Appenzeller Sennenhund color is usually black, tan, and white. Occasionally an individual will have chocolate brown instead of black as its main color.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Must-Knows

Appenzeller Sennenhund Lifespan

The life expectancy of an Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog is 12 to 15 years.

Other Names

  • Appenzeller.
  • Bouvier d'Appenzeller.
  • Appenzeller Cattle Dog.
  • Appenzeller Mountain Dog.

Caring for the Appenzeller Sennenhund

Appenzeller Sennenhund Grooming

Because of her thick double coat, the Appenzeller needs brushing at least weekly. She is a moderate shedder.

Like all dogs, she needs her ears checked regularly for foreign bodies or dirt that can build up in them.

Where she is outside so much, you will also want to check her coat and ears carefully for ticks if you have them in your area.

Otherwise, like all breeds, she needs regular nail trimming and toothbrushing.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Diet

The Appenzeller Sennenhund will do just fine on any high-quality food. She has no specific dietary needs.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Exercise

Bred as a working dog, the Appenzeller Mountain Dog has almost endless energy. She needs a lot of vigorous exercise.

This is a very intelligent breed that also needs mental stimulation. They do best with an interesting job to do. This breed also enjoys organized canine sports and excels at them.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund would not do well in a city environment or an apartment. She prefers to be outside because Appenzellers form very strong bonds to their territory.

They do best in a home with acreage or on a farm. Appenzellers need lots of space to run and the freedom to do it.

It’s best not to contain an Appenzeller with fences. Because of that strong territorial nature, she is not likely to run off.

If she doesn’t get enough exercise, you may see some negative Appenzeller Sennenhund behaviors. She is likely to bark, get rowdy, and even become destructive or high-strung.

But if you can meet her needs, the Appenzeller makes a great family companion. She’ll be content to relax at home with her people.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Health Issues

This is a healthy breed with no known breed-specific health concerns.

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Finding an Appenzeller Sennenhund

Buying an Appenzeller Sennenhund from a Breeder

Finding an Appenzeller Sennenhund for sale is not impossible, but this is a rare breed. Expect to be put on a waiting list.

The breed is becoming more popular in North America, though, so the waiting period should decrease with time.

There are some Appenzeller Sennenhund breeders in North America. We were able to find one in the US and one in Canada at the time of this writing. That would be a good place to start.

A word of caution about breeders: Never buy a puppy online without a trustworthy recommendation. You will want to be sure you’re not buying from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.

Irresponsible breeders often raise their dogs in horrendous conditions. They don’t vet them, and they have no concern about genetic soundness or the welfare of the parents.

The best way to get recommendations for a reputable breeder is by speaking to other Appenzeller Sennenhund owners.

Online forums and Facebook user groups are a great way to connect with other Appenzeller enthusiasts. These groups exist for nearly all breeds.

You could ask for recommendations for responsible breeders. If possible, you should then do a site visit.

A responsible breeder’s facility and dogs will be clean and healthy. They will give you a health guarantee for your Appenzeller Sennenhund puppy and lifetime support. And they will have records of the parents’ health.

You will get no guarantees with a backyard breeder or puppy mill.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Rescue/Adoption

If you would prefer to find an Appenzeller Sennenhund for adoption, you may have better luck and a shorter wait. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Rescue Foundation is a great place to start. They are located in Florida, and they work with the Appenzeller Sennenhund.

If you were to adopt an Appenzeller, it would likely be an adult dog. There are a lot of advantages to adopting an adult.

The shelter or rescue will have spayed or neutered the dog. It will have been vetted and will be up to date with its immunizations.

The dog will probably have at least basic obedience training. It may even be microchipped.

Someone else will have gone through the early sleepless nights with the puppy. And chances are good she will already be housebroken.

You can also expect to pay less for an adopted dog. The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is still rare enough that they are expensive.

Online estimates for Appenzeller Sennenhund puppies range from $800 to $1200. Depending on the breeder and the pedigree, the actual Appenzeller Sennenhund cost could be a lot more.

Adoption would probably cost between $75 and $300.

Is the Appenzeller Sennenhund the Right Breed for You?

With its charming personality and loving nature, the Appenzeller Sennenhund certainly is a special breed. But this breed also needs a special type of family.

If you or your family do not live an active life, or if you live in an urban area, you should consider another breed. And if you can’t or choose not to commit to the firm training and discipline this breed needs, again, this is not the dog for you.

But if you do live an active life and can provide your Appenzeller with the exercise and training that she needs, she might be just the companion you’re looking for.

If you are that lucky person, the Appenzeller Sennenhund temperament will reward you with love and devotion for years to come.