Also referred to as Appenzeller Mountain Dogs, the Appenzeller Sennenhund (pronounced "AP-uh-n-zel-er szen-en-hund") is best known for their industriousness. This is one of the older and rarer working dog breeds that originated in the Appenzell region of Switzerland to be used for herding, guarding, and general farm work. There are two theories regarding the Appenzeller's history: the first claims that they are a native breed dating back to the Bronze Age, while the second holds that they descended from the Molossus, a large breed of dog from Southern Europe, and were brought to the Alps by the ancient Romans. Of the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds that also include the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is the rarest. Today, this cattle dog is found primarily in Switzerland and various European countries.
Like their other Swiss Mountain Dog cousins, the Appenzeller is also well-muscled and powerful for their medium size. With their strength and stamina, they are able to pull small carts and act as an all-purpose farming dog. The breed has a thick, close-fitting, tri-colored double coat with symmetrical tan or rust markings on the head, chest, and legs up to the thighs, while the sides and upper body are black or havana brown with white markings on the head and chest. They have small almond-shaped eyes, broad, dropped, and triangular-shaped ears, and the muzzle of the Appenzeller Sennenhund is medium-sized with a black or brown nose depending on the coat color. The medium-length tail of the breed is carried tightly when moving.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund tends to be tough, brave, and reliable. Although slightly reserved when it comes to strangers, they are welcoming to people they know. These dogs will actively watch over their territory and do not hesitate to bark if they are alerted by unfamiliar sounds. Early socialization is very important for them to avoid suspicious or aggressive behavior towards strangers and new animals. Like most herding dogs, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is a very intelligent breed that can learn tasks quickly and requires an owner who can demonstrate gentle, but firm leadership over an independent thinker. With proper training, these devoted dogs will form an unbreakable bond with their owners and will protect their loved ones at all costs. They are known to be very affectionate and loving towards children and can make a wonderful playmate for them. With a background in herding and livestock guarding, the breed thrives on open farms or in rural environments and does not take well to being indoors for long periods of time or to confinement in kennels. The Appenzeller was bred to work long hours throughout the day and it is essential that they have plenty of outlets for physical exercise and mental stimulation to remain happy, healthy, and out of trouble. Best suited for a family who can handle their high maintenance and high exercise needs, Appenzeller Sennenhunds can make a great watchdog and even better guardian.