Entlebucher Mountain Dog: Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A Entlebucher Mountain Dog outdoors

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Often referred to as the "Laughing Dog," the Entlebucher Mountain dog belongs to the Sennehund family, a group of four herding breeds that hail from the Swiss Alps. Of the four breeds—which also includes the Bernese Mountain dog, the Appenzeller, and the Greater Swiss Mountain dog—the Entlebucher (or Entle) is the smallest.

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 or even aggressive towards strangers. Entles can also be aggressive towards other dogs, so it's important to begin socializing your Entle with strangers and other animals as early as possible.

It's important to note that Entles might not be the ideal dog for everyone. They require several hours of exercise each day; they can be stubborn, making training a challenge; and they're highly intelligent, so they can become bored—and rambunctious—easily. Because they need a lot of exercise—and space to run around—Entles are not recommended for people living in very small spaces or apartments.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding Group

Height: 17 to 21 inches (male) and 16 to 20 inches (female)

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

Coat: Short, dense, and coarse

Coat Color: Comes in tri-colors (brown, black, and white)

Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

Characteristics of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog

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

History of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog

As previously mentioned, the Entle Mountain dog belongs to a group of Swiss Mountain dogs collectively known as Sennehund, which translates to "the herdsman's dog." 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 distinctions.

Unfortunately, crossbreeding with German Shepherds during the 1900s and the outbreak of World War I nearly wiped out the Entlebucher breed. In fact, a single Entlebucher couldn't be found in Europe in the years following the war. Thanks to the efforts of several breeders, breed standards were developed and a Entlebucher club formed in 1926. These breeders were able to locate 17 Entlebuchers to re-propagate the breed. It was officially recognized as a member of the Herding Group by the American Kennel Club in 2009.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog Care

In terms of exercise and training, Entlebuchers are high maintenance dogs. Not only do they require several hours of exercise each day, but they need activities or training to challenge their minds, too. 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. Due to their high energy levels, Entlebuchers may not thrive in apartments or houses with small or no outdoor space. And remember: 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.

Obedience training and early socialization are musts for Entles. Because Entlebuchers are highly intelligent, they can be stubborn—and 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. As previously mentioned, Entles can be aggressive towards strangers and other dogs, so it's important to socialize your dog as early as possible.

Entlebucher Mountain dogs should be brushed two to three times each week, and more frequently during shedding seasons. Weekly brushing will keep her coat shiny, healthy, and free of dirt and debris. Depending on how often you brush your Entle, you can expect to give her a bath every four weeks. In general, the more often you brush your dog, the less frequently he or she will need a bath.

Be sure to examine your Entlebucher's ears every week, looking for debris or signs of infection. If there's wax build-up or debris in your dog's ears, gently clean them with a soft, cotton cloth. Avoid using cottons swabs, as they can damage the delicate inner-ear structures and push wax or debris deeper into the ear canal. If your dog's ears are very red, inflamed, or smell funny, see your veterinarian immediately—these may be signs of an ear infection.

Like all 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 some protection against tooth and gum disease.

A Entlebucher Mountain Dog puppy.
DarmstadtKoeln/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Common Health Problems

Although the Entlebucher Mountain dog is generally healthy, they 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. Look for 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 his or her ability to see clearly. Dogs with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts, so it's important to maintain his or her healthy weight.

If you're concerned about these health conditions—or anything else related to your pet's health—make an appointment with your vet. She'll be able to recommend preventative measures you can take to protect your dog's health.

Diet and Nutrition

Your dog's diet depends largely on its sex, age, activity levels, and metabolism. Because Entlebucher Mountain dogs are extremely active, it's important to feed them 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 the right diet for him or her.

Overfeeding—and too many treats—can lead to a whole host of health issues, like canine obesity, heart disease, or diabetes. It's important to follow the feeding guide provided by your favorite dog food brand, or listen to the advice given by your veterinarian.

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

Where to Adopt or Buy a Entlebucher Mountain Dog

It may be difficult to find a 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 site 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.

More Breeds and Further Research

The Entlebucher Mountain dog is loving, loyal, and fiercely protective of her family. They love to roughhouse, so Entles may be better for families with older children. They can also be aggressive towards strangers and other dogs, so early socialization is an absolute must.

If you're interested in learning about breeds similar to the Entlebucher Mountain dog, check out: