Entlebucher Mountain Dog: Facts for Future Owners

Care, Adoption, and Breed Size

A Entlebucher Mountain Dog outdoors

happyborder / Getty Images

The medium-sized Entlebucher mountain dog belongs to the Sennehund family, a group of four herding breeds that hail from the Swiss Alps. They are the smallest of the four Swiss mountain dogs, with stocky legs, a tri-colored coat, and a friendly face that has earned them their unique nickname: der Lach Hunden, which means "laughing dog." Entlebucher mountain dogs are hard-working and enthusiastic companions that easily form close bonds with their owners or families.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 16 to 21 inches

Weight: 50 to 65 pounds (male), 40 to 55 pounds (female)

Coat: Short, dense, and coarse

Coat Color: Tri-colored (brown, black, and white)

Life Span: 11 to 13 years

Temperament: Intelligent, confident, energetic, companionable, loyal, independent

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Switzerland

Characteristics of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Despite their smaller size, these herding dogs are extremely tough, sturdy, and energetic, making them a good pick for active families with older kids. Because Entles were bred as herding dogs, they're very protective of their people. Although they're loyal and loving to their families, Entles can be wary of strangers, so it's important to begin socializing your Entle with strangers and other animals as early as possible.

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

History of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Entles belong to a group of Swiss mountain dogs collectively known as Sennehund, which translates to "the herdsman's dog." Of the four breeds—which also include the Bernese mountain dog, the Appenzeller, and the Greater Swiss mountain dog—the Entlebucher is the smallest.

All four dogs are descendants of a large, Mastiff-like dog that was bred by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. While the Bernese mountain dog and Greater Swiss mountain dog were originally used to protect livestock, the Appenzeller and Entlebucher mountain dog were used to drive cattle. Their smaller, more-compact sizes and endless energy enabled them to run behind livestock for hours.

The first description of a dog from the Entlebuch valley is dated 1889. This description, however, combines the Entlebucher and Appenzeller into one breed; it wasn't until 1913 that the four breeds were given their distinctions.

Unfortunately, crossbreeding with German Shepherds during the 1900s (and the outbreak of World War I) nearly wiped out the Entlebucher breed. A single Entlebucher couldn't be found in Europe in the years following the war.

Thanks to the efforts of several dedicated breeders, breed standards were developed and an Entlebucher club was formed in 1926. These breeders were able to locate 17 Entlebuchers to revitalize the breed, and they were officially recognized as a member of the Herding Group by the American Kennel Club in 2009.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog Care

Entlebuchers have gained a reputation as a high-maintenance breed, so they might not be the ideal dogs for everyone. They require several hours of exercise each day and can be stubborn, making training a challenge. They're a highly intelligent breed that can become bored and rambunctious easily. Still, for the right family, they're more than worth the effort and will repay you with love and endless affection.

Exercise

Entles require both physical and mental stimulation to be satisfied. In addition to running, playing fetch, swimming, or hiking, you can release some of your Entle's energy with agility courses, obedience challenges, or puzzles designed for dogs.

If you're playing with your Entle outside, make sure it's in an enclosed area—their innate herding drive may make them chase (and attempt to herd) other animals or even kids.

Grooming

Entlebucher mountain dogs should be brushed two to three times a week, and more frequently during shedding seasons. Weekly brushing will help keep your dog's coat shiny, healthy, and free of dirt and debris. Depending on how often you brush your Entle, you can expect to bathe it every four weeks. In general, the more often you brush your dog, the less frequently it will need a bath.

Like many breeds, the Entlebucher can be susceptible to periodontal disease if proper dental hygiene isn't maintained. Daily brushing is ideal, but brushing your Entle's teeth at least once a week can offer protection against tooth and gum disease.

Training

Obedience training and early socialization are musts for Entles. Because Entlebuchers are highly intelligent, they can have a mind of their own. Their independence and stubbornness may be frustrating for first-time dog owners, and it can be especially challenging when you're trying to train your dog.

Additionally, Entles can be aggressive towards strangers and other dogs, so it's important to socialize your dog as early as possible. The more you expose your pup to unfamiliar people and animals at an early age, the calmer and more accepting it will be when meeting new faces throughout its life.

A Entlebucher Mountain Dog puppy.

DarmstadtKoeln / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Common Health Problems

Although the Entlebucher mountain dog is a generally healthy breed, it may be susceptible to certain health conditions. There's no guarantee that your dog will (or won't) develop these or other health problems, so talk to your vet about simple steps you can take to ensure a long, happy, healthy life for your dog.

Some health issues seen in Entlebucher mountain dogs include:

  • Canine hip dysplasia: Characterized by weakness in the hip joints, canine hip dysplasia (or CHD) is a genetic disorder that can affect all breeds of dogs. Look for telltale signs like weakness, pain, or lameness when your dog is walking.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: A group of degenerative diseases that affect the retinas, progressive retinal atrophy can lead to blindness. It generally occurs in dogs as they age.
  • Cataracts: Like humans, cataracts can cause cloudiness in your dog's eyes and affect their ability to see clearly. Dogs with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts, so your dog must maintain a healthy weight.

Diet and Nutrition

Your dog's diet depends largely on its age, activity level, and metabolism. Because Entlebucher mountain dogs are extremely active, they should be fed high-quality, high-protein dog food. If you're not sure how much—or how frequently—to feed your dog, talk to your veterinarian about finding the right diet for their needs.

Overfeeding your dog or giving them too many treats can lead to a whole host of health issues, like canine obesity, heart disease, or diabetes. Follow the feeding guide provided by your favorite dog food brand or listen to the advice given to you by your veterinarian.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Entlebucher Mountain Dog

It may be difficult to find an Entlebucher mountain dog in your local shelter, but sites like Petfinder.com can help you locate an adoptable Entle in your area.

If you choose to purchase an Entlebucher from a breeder, it's vital to do your research and ensure it's an ethical, reputable, and moral breeding operation. If possible, visit the breeding location and ask to meet the litter's parents. Look out for signs of backyard breeding, like unhealthy dogs, unsanitary conditions at the breeding site, or very frequent litters.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog Overview

Pros
  • Very loving and loyal to family members

  • Extremely active and loves to run or hike

  • Lower maintenance grooming needs and minimal shedding

Cons
  • Can be aggressive with strangers or other dogs

  • Very stubborn and independent, which can make training a challenge

  • Has a high tendency to bark

More Breeds and Further Research

The Entlebucher mountain dog is a loving, loyal, and fiercely protective dog. If you're considering adding one to your family, make sure to do plenty of research ahead of time and consult other owners about their experience.

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

FAQ
  • Are Entlebucher mountain dogs good apartment dogs?

    No—Entles are extremely active dogs and will not do well in a small space or homes without access to the outdoors. If you do happen to live in an apartment with an Entlebucher mountain dog, make sure you take them out for frequent daily walks, trips to the dog park, and games of fetch.

  • Are Entlebucher mountain dogs good family dogs?

    For the most part, Entles are great family dogs. However, they love to roughhouse and play with their family, so they may be better suited to a home with older children or teenagers.

  • Are Entlebucher mountain dogs aggressive?

    Entlebucher mountain dogs are very protective and wary of strangers, which can sometimes emerge as aggression if the dog is not properly trained and socialized from a young age. Generally though, most Entles will just bark at those they are unsure about.

  • Do Entlebucher mountain dogs bark a lot?

    Because they have been bred to protect livestock (and their human families) from intruders, Entles tend to "sound the alarm" by barking at unfamiliar sounds and sights. They have deep, intimidating barks that may be bothersome to neighbors and particularly startling during the night.