The Appenzeller Sennenhund

Photos provided by Paula Webber
From left to right: GSMD, Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhund, Entlebucher Mountain Dog


The Appenzeller Sennenhund hails from the Appenzell region of Switzerland. “Sennenhund” refers to “Senn” herders in the Appenzell region of Switzerland. An Appenzell Cattle Dog was first described in a book as a “high-pitch, barking, short haired, med. size, multicolor of a quite even Spitz type, used partly to guard the homestead, partly to herd cattle.

The Swiss Cynological Society (SKG) formed a special commission and fixed the traits of the “Appenzell Cattle Dog,” eight of which were shown at the first international dog show in Winterthur and entered in the new, separate class of Cattle Dogs.

“Sennenhund” refers to “Senn” herders in the Appenzell region of Switzerland.


Appenzeller Sennenhund dog standing on the grass
The Appenzeller Sennenhund


History and Purpose of the Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog Breed

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium-sized breed of dog and one of the four regional breeds of Sennenhund-type dogs, originally kept primarily as a cattle herding dog and a flock guardian.

The breed was also used as a draft dog and general farm dog. Appenzellers are known for their affinityto herd and guard, and their tenacity for the task at hand.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund Club was founded in 1906 by Prof. Albert Heim who also wrote the first valid breed standard:


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s General Appearance
  • Medium-Sized Herding Dog
  • Strong Molosser-Like Build
  • Well-Balanced
  • Agile and Deft
  • Distinctive Tri-Color Coat
  • Cheeky Expression


A Breed Apart from the Other Swiss Sennen Breeds
  • The high tail set, the so-called post horn, curled tightly over his back when in motion is unique to the breed.
  • The proportion of the Appenzeller is slightly longer than tall.
  • Spitz influence is suspected in the heritage of the Appenzeller, with his tail set and energy level.
  • The Appenzeller Sennenhund has a more refined head and body than those of his Swiss cousins and is clearly defined as a breed that is quite distinct from the other Swiss Cattle Dogs.
  • Color variations within the breed include tri-color black or Havana Brown, with each having rust and white markings.
  • Appenzellers have been recognized in Europe for over 100 years. The Havana Brown as a color has been recognized internationally since 1983.


The Appenzeller Sennenhund Is:
  • Lively
  • Agile
  • Robust
  • Muscular
  • Intelligent
  • Reliable
  • Self-Assured
  • Versatile


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Size and Proportion
  • Desired height for dogs measured at withers is 52-56cm (20.5″-22″) for dogs; 50-54cm (19.7″-21 ¼”) for bitches; there is tolerance of 2cm (.8″).
  • Slightly Longer Than Tall.


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Head
  • Head is balanced, size in relation to body; slightly wedge-shaped.
  • Skull – Fairly flat on top, broadest between the ears; occiput not prominent; moderate frontal furrow and slight stop that is slightly marked.
  • Muzzle – Slightly shorter in length than the skull and tapers gradually in width towards the nose, not snipey, with strong lower jaw, lips clean and tight.
  • Eyes – Small and almond-shaped and set slightly obliquely. Black dogs have brown to dark brown eyes, Havana Brown dogs may be lighter brown. Eye rims black or brown depending on coat color.
  • Ears – Small to medium in size, triangular-shaped with rounded tips; set high and hanging down against the cheeks; may be carried slightly forward when dog is alert; top of ear is level with top of skull.
  • Nose – Black or brown depending on coat color.
  • Bite – Full complement of strong white teeth meet in a scissor bite. A level bite is acceptable.
Paula Webber with her Appenzeller dog
Paula Webber with her Appenzeller


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Body Structure
  • Body is compact and strong.
  • Forequarters – Shoulder blade and upper arms are long and sloping; forelegs are straight, lean, and muscular; pasterns slope slightly; elbows are close-fitting.
  • Body – Chest is broad and deep with definite forechest; topline is level and there may be a slight rise at the withers.
  • Hindquarters – Well-muscled, moderately angulation at the hip; hind legs are straight and parallel; typical angulation results in relatively steep hindquarters; hock joint is fairly high; rear pasterns are longer than front pasterns.
  • Feet – Short, with tight, arched toes and solid pads.
  • Tail – High-set tail is strong and densely coated, and is carried high and tightly curled over the back when dog is in motion.


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Colors & Markings

Basic color is black or Havana brown, with reddish-brown and white markings as symmetrical as possible. Small, reddish-brown spots over eyes; reddish-brown markings on cheeks, chest (left and right in the region of the shoulder joint), and on legs. The reddish-brown on the latter must be located between the black, resp., Havana Brown and the white.


White Markings:
  • Distinct white blaze, which runs from skull without break over the bridge of the nose and can reach totally or partially around the muzzle;
  • White from chin, covering throat without break at chest;
  • White on all four feet;
  • White on tip of tail;
  • White spot on nape of neck or half collar tolerated;
  • Thin white ring all around neck tolerated, but not desirable.


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Coat

Double coat, firm and fitting; topcoat thick and shiny; undercoat thick, black, brown or grey; slightly wavy coat—on withers and back only—is just tolerated.


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Gait
  • There is good reach in the forequarters and a powerful drive from the hindquarters, without any wasted action.
  • Seen from either front or rear, limbs move in a straight line when trotting. As speed increases, the dog tends to single track.


Appenzeller Sennenhund’s Temperament
  • Lively, high-spirited, self-assured, reliable, with a strong drive to guard. This is not a breed for an inexperienced or first -time dog owner;
  • Highly intelligent and willing to learn, and possessing amazing perceptive faculties;
  • Reserved with strangers, but completely loyal to his person;
  • Needs lots of activities, exercise, and space;
  • Incredibly quick and almost unrestrainable in its eagerness to work;
  • Friendly with children and other animals if they grew up with them.


From left to right: GSMD, Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhund, Entlebucher Mountain Dog
From left to right: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhund, Entlebucher Mountain Dog




Origin &
Dog of the Alpine Herdsman; is a native of Switzerland; the smallest of the four tri-colored Swiss Sennenhund breeds. Historically used to move cows from pasture to pasture in the Alps. Their speed, intelligence, and agility made them useful for managing other large animals. Spitz-type cattle dog originally used partly to guard the homestead and partly to herd cattle; the quintessential drover’s dog. They are robust, little prone to illness, and long-lived. The only one of the four Sennenhund breeds with a long coat; used primarily as a farm dog, and occasionally used as a draft dog and drover. An easy-going dog, they are a faithful companion to their people. Oldest and largest of the Sennenhund breeds, descended from mastiffs; used to assist the farmer and butcher by guarding, driving livestock, and
pulling carts.
Med-sized, compact, strongly muscled, elongated drover with distinct tri-colour markings; a short, hard, and bright black, shiny coat. Tri-color, (either black of Havana Brown) Med-sized and almost squarely built, and balanced. Muscular, agile, and very deft. Characteristic is its short, curled, ring tail, the so-called post horn. Large-boned, squarely built and heavily coated; dogs are very masculine in appearance, while bitches are quite feminine. Slightly longer in body than they are tall. Strong of bone and
very sturdy in appearance. Males and
females are quite distinct in appearance.
Quiet and easy going, confident, and often reserved with strangers. Intelligent & versatile, highly energetic, not for the casual owner. They have strong guardian tendencies and require early socialization, and they thrive with a job to do. Despite their keenness and independence, they like to be near their people. Lively, high-spirited, self-assured, and reliable; they are not a breed for the casual or first-time dog owner. They have strong guardian tendencies, and early socialization is required for this highly intelligent dog; they can be aloof with strangers and require consistent and intelligent training. The Bernese temperament is one of the breed’s strongest assets. Consistent and dependable, with a strong desire to please. Self-confident, alert, good-natured. Attached and loyal to human family; may be aloof or suspicious with strangers. Easygoing and obedient, with an even disposition; both bold and faithful. Alert and vigilant; energetic, eager to work. Self-confident, watchful, fearless in everyday situations; devoted towards people familiar to him. Self-assured with strangers.
SIZE Height at withers is between 15.5 & 19.5 in. Weight is 55-66 lbs. Height at withers is between 19 & 22.5 in. Weight is 60-77 lbs. Males are 25-27.5 in. at withers and can weigh between 66-88 lbs. Females are 23 to 26 in. and weigh 48.5-66 lbs. Males are 25.5 to 28.5 in. at withers; weight is between 132 & 154 lbs. Females are 23.5 to 24 in. and weigh between 110 and 132 lbs.
Tri-color. Basic color must be black with tan (fawn to mahogany) and white markings, which should be as symmetric as possible. An inverted cross on the chest is desirable. Most are born with long tails, which are often docked. Tri-color. Basic color is black or Havana Brown, with reddish-brown and white markings as symmetrical as possible. Coat is thick, mid-length, and can be wavy or straight. Jet-black ground color. Rich, russet markings (dark reddish-brown is most favored) appear on the cheeks, in a spot over each eye, in a patch above each foreleg, and on all four legs between the black of the upper leg and the white of the feet. The coat is the typical Swiss tri-color – deep, lustrous black with white and tan trim on the feet, face, chest, and tail. Markings and other cosmetic factors should be considered of lesser importance than other aspects of type that directly affect working ability of
the GSMD.



Appenzeller Sennenhund



Are you looking for an Appenzeller Sennenhund puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.


Want to help rescue and re-home an Appenzeller Sennenhund dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.


Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the versatile Appenzeller Sennenhund breed with articles and information in our Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog Breed Magazine.


Appenzeller Sennenhund Breed Magazine - Showsight


  • Paula Webber lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and two Appenzellers, Hektor and Bri. Her love affair with this amazing breed began 20 years ago when the couple lived in a small community in northern Canada. They acquired their first Appenzeller as a companion to their Bernese Mountain Dog. Paula quickly discovered the Appenzeller was nothing like their placid and gentle Berner. This tenacious and driven little Appenzeller introduced her to the world of competitive dog sports. Since that time, it has been Paula’s mission to make this rare breed more widely known in North America. Her current male is the first Appenzeller Sennenhund to earn an AKC Certificate of Merit. Both of her dogs have earned numerous performance titles in both Canada and the US. Paula has been involved with the Appenzell Mountain Dog Club of America for a number of years and is a member of the current Executive Board.

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