Appenzeller Sennenhund: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Adult Appenzeller Sennenhund running on path

 Vincent Scherer / Getty Images

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium-size herding dog breed from Switzerland with a short but dense tricolor double coat. Overall, the dog has a square, well-balanced, and muscular build. Its head is somewhat wedge-shaped with almond-shaped eyes and triangular, downward-hanging ears. The breed is quite versatile, having been used for various jobs around farms and serving as a beloved family companion. 

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 19 to 22 inches

Weight: 48 to 70 pounds 

Coat: Short, smooth double coat

Coat Color: Black, brown, and white

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Bright, loyal, lively

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Switzerland

Characteristics of the Appenzeller Sennenhund

The Appenzeller Sennenhund generally has a lively and alert temperament. It typically bonds closely with its family, though it can be somewhat wary of strangers. High energy and intelligence also help to shape the breed’s personality. 

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Appenzeller Sennenhund

The exact origin of the Appenzeller Sennenhund is unknown. But it’s closely related to other Swiss breeds, including the Greater Swiss mountain dog, Bernese mountain dog, and Entlebucher mountain dog.

In the mid-1800s, dogs resembling the Appenzeller Sennenhund were used in Switzerland to guard properties, herd livestock, pull carts, and more. In fact, a loose translation for Sennenhund is “dairy farmer’s dog.” The breed is known to be fearless in nipping at the heels of cows that stray out of line. 

The first official breed standard for the Appenzeller Sennenhund came about in 1914. But its numbers are still small around the world. It’s part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, which helps to monitor breeding.

Appenzeller Sennenhund Care

The Appenzeller Sennenhund prefers an active lifestyle with lots of daily exercise. It also needs regular grooming. Begin its training and socialization at an early age.


Plan to spend at least a couple hours per day exercising this active breed. This dog likes keeping its mind engaged and having a job to do. Long walks, hikes, running, cycling, and swimming all are ideal activities. Dog sports, such as agility and herding trials, also can provide mental stimulation on top of physical exercise. Puzzle toys can offer mental challenges, as well. 

It’s best that this dog lives in a home with a secure yard where it can run freely. It’s not ideal for apartment living or for spending long periods kenneled every day.


Brush your dog at least once a week to remove loose fur and prevent tangles and mats. Expect periods of higher shedding, often seasonally in the spring and fall, during which you’ll likely have to brush more frequently. 

Bathe your dog roughly once a month, depending on how dirty it gets. But be sure to check its ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Trim its nails every month on average, and brush its teeth with a canine toothpaste every day.


Start training and socialization ideally when your dog is a puppy to prevent bad habits from forming. This intelligent dog can pick up on commands quickly, but it also can have a stubborn streak. Plus, it doesn’t respond well to harsh corrections. So always use positive-reinforcement training methods, such as treats and praise. And keep training sessions fun and varied to hold your dog’s attention. 

Moreover, expose your dog to different people, other dogs, and various locations to boost its comfort and confidence around strangers. This can help to quell its protective instincts.

Appenzeller Sennenhund lying on grass

Michaklootwijk/iStock / Getty Images 

Appenzeller Sennenhund puppy lying down

 Sandra Dombrovsky / Getty Images

Appenzeller Sennenhund in mid-air to catch a Frisbee

Vikarus / Getty Images 

Appenzeller Sennenhund carrying stick

 Michaklootwijk/iStock / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is generally a healthy and long-lived dog breed. It has no known hereditary health issues, though it may be affected by common canine issues that come with aging, such as arthritis

Diet and Nutrition

Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water. Feed it a high-quality canine diet in two measured meals per day to ensure that your dog is getting the proper nutrition. But be sure to discuss both the amount and the type of food with your vet. Some dogs need specialized diets based on factors, such as age and activity level. 

Where to Adopt or Buy an Appenzeller Sennenhund

The Appenzeller Sennenhund can be difficult to find at both rescue organizations and responsible breeders. But it’s still worth contacting your area rescues and getting your name on a breed wait list if possible. For a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $1,800 to $2,200 on average.

For more information to help connect you with an Appenzeller Sennenhund, check out:

Appenzeller Sennenhund Overview

  • Highly intelligent and a quick learner

  • Few health concerns

  • Easily adaptable to new tasks for work or play

  • Can be wary of strangers

  • Difficult breed to find

  • Needs lots of activity and mental stimulation

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any dog breed, do thorough research on the Appenzeller Sennenhund before bringing one home to make sure it's right for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, rescues, reputable breeds, and veterinary professionals. Try to spend some time around the breed, too, if you can.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Appenzeller Sennenhunds good family dogs?

    The Appenzeller Sennenhund can be good for families with respectful older children, as long as it has proper training and socialization. However, it’s not always tolerant of rough handling, so it might not be a good fit for young kids.

  • Are Appenzeller Sennenhunds aggressive?

    This breed has a protective streak and can be somewhat wary of strangers. However, with proper training and socialization this typically does not turn into aggression.

  • Are Appenzeller Sennenhunds rare?

    The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a rare breed, especially outside of Switzerland. Its breeding stock is relatively small to ensure responsible breeding, so there isn’t a high number of purebred dogs being added each year.

Article Sources
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  1. Appenzeller Sennenhund. Dog Breeds List.