Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

Appenzeller Sennenhund Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

Appenzeller sennenhund_Vincent Scherer_Shutterstock

When you see the name Appenzeller Sennenhund you may be wondering, is that really the name of a dog breed? Yes, it is! Although the Appenzeller Sennenhund is a less common breed in this country, they have a long history in Europe.

Breed Overview


19 – 22 inches


48 – 70 pounds


12 – 15 years


Black, brown, and white

Suitable for

Experienced dog owners with active lifestyles, looking for an intelligent dog who needs a job to do


Agile, versatile, lively, intelligent, hard-working, watchful

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a hard-working, very energetic herding breed that loves to join in long hikes or run across acres of farmland as a working dog. While not always a good fit for every lifestyle, the Appenzeller Sennenhund can be a friendly, protective member of the family with proper training and plenty of exercise. Unsure if the Appenzeller Sennenhund is the breed for you? Keep reading to learn more about this active breed and find out if one is a good choice for your family!

Appenzeller Sennenhund Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Appenzeller Sennenhund Puppies

Appenzeller Mountain Sennen Dog puppy
Image Credit: Leoniek van der Vliet, Shutterstock

Appenzeller Sennenhunds is still a somewhat rare breed in the United States. This can make it both difficult and expensive to find a puppy. With a limited amount of Appenzeller Sennenhunds to be found in the US, it’s possible you will need to expand your search to international breeders. Keep in mind that purchasing from a breeder in another country will add extra costs including health certifications and shipping. Because there are so few Appenzellers around, your chances of finding one to adopt rather than purchase are pretty slim. However, if you are patient and committed to rescuing a dog, you can certainly try to go this route.

When you have an Appenzeller Sennenhund with you, you can expect to have an energetic furry friend running around your home, wanting to be with their owners. They love to play and are easily trainable dogs.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Appenzeller Sennenhund

Appenzeller Sennenhunds are very intelligent dogs. They are also extremely active and prone to being stubborn which can make them challenging to train. Appenzellers bond very closely with their families and take on the role of a protective guardian with ease. Their protective nature makes them suspicious of people they don’t know, a tendency that makes for a good watchdog but also requires diligent socialization.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Appenzeller Sennenhunds are a good choice for active families who share their high-energy personalities. They do well with children, although they should be socialized with kids at a young age. As with many herding breeds, Appenzellers may be tempted to try and “herd” running children as they were bred to do with farm animals. Herding cattle involved a certain amount of nipping at heels, behavior that will be neither welcomed nor tolerated when it comes to children!

Because they bond so tightly with their families, Appenzellers will want to be included in family life. Because their energy levels are so high, families who prefer to stay active will be the best match for these dogs. Appenzellers are a breed best left to experienced, rather than first-time dog owners since they can be a challenge to train and to keep busy and out of trouble. Families looking for a more “hands-off” dog-owning experience should not consider an Appenzeller Sennenhund.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Appenzeller Sennenhund
Image Credit: Pixabay

Bred as working farm dogs, Appenzeller Sennenhunds usually get along well with a variety of other animals. They do well with other dogs and cats although they should be socialized with them early for the most harmonious relationships. And should you happen to actually live on a farm, Appenzellers will fit right in with cows, goats, sheep, and other livestock. They will likely try to follow their instincts and herd the livestock, which may not be appreciated by the cows!

divider-dog paw

Things to Know When Owning an Appenzeller Sennenhund:

If you are intrigued by what you’ve read so far about the Appenzeller Sennenhund, you might be considering making one a part of your family. If so, you will want to find out as much as you can about how to properly care for this breed. Here is some information you may find helpful when deciding whether an Appenzeller Sennenhund would be a good fit for your lifestyle.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Appenzeller Sennenhunds don’t usually require specialized diets. They should do well on any high-quality dog food whether you choose to buy a commercial diet or prefer to cook homemade meals for your dog. If you prepare homemade food for your dog, be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure it contains all the essential nutrients and is properly balanced.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund breed is prone to getting overweight. For this reason, you will want to monitor your dog’s weight and food intake to make sure they stay in a healthy weight range. One way you can do this is to make sure your dog gets the proper food for their developmental stage. Puppy, adult, and senior dogs all have different nutritional requirements, and feeding the right food will help ensure they stay healthy.

Appenzeller Sennenhund playing with a stick
Image Credit: MyImages – Micha, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is an extremely energetic breed. They were originally bred to work and run on farms all day and their exercise requirements reflect that heritage. If you live in an apartment or a crowded city, it may be tough to get the Appenzeller as much exercise as they need. An effort must be made to get the Appenzeller Sennenhund vigorous daily exercise unless you live somewhere with a lot of space for them to roam and run. Another thing to keep in mind is that Appenzellers will not do well if they spend a lot of time kenneled or crated due to their energy level and desire to be included in family life.

Training 🎾

Although they are very intelligent, Appenzeller Sennenhunds can be a challenge to train. Getting an early start with puppy training and socialization is very important for these dogs. As already discussed, Appenzellers are protective and suspicious of strangers by nature. Early socialization helps them learn to balance these instincts and behave appropriately around unfamiliar people and animals.

Appenzellers need firmness and consistency in their training. They can be stubborn but do not tolerate harsh training methods, which are never recommended for any dog anyway. Appenzellers will respond best to respectful, strong leadership. When trained and socialized properly, they are reliable and loving pets, even if they don’t slow down long enough to show it!

Because of their intelligence and athleticism, Appenzellers are capable of participating in dog sports like agility and obedience competitions.  Obviously, they are also excellent herders and can be trained to pull carts as well.

Grooming ✂️

Appenzeller Sennenhunds are a double-coated breed, meaning they have both a thick topcoat and a dense undercoat which they shed regularly. If you are looking for a non-shedding breed, Appenzellers are not the dogs for you. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep their coats healthy and help control the shedding.

Besides the weekly brushing, Appenzellers don’t require much special grooming. Like all dogs, they should have their nails trimmed and their teeth brushed regularly. If your Appenzeller spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure to check them over routinely for ticks and burrs and keep their ears clean.

Appenzeller Sennenhund_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

Health and Conditions 🏥


Perhaps because they are a less common breed, Appenzeller Sennenhunds are generally healthy dogs overall with a longer than usual average lifespan for their size.

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia

Serious Conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia: Like numerous other breeds, Appenzeller Sennenhunds can suffer from hip dysplasia. This is an inherited bone condition where the hip joint doesn’t properly fit into the hip socket. Hip dysplasia can be very painful especially as the dog ages. Severe cases sometimes require surgery to correct. Responsible breeders will have their dogs’ hips checked for this condition before breeding them.

Minor Conditions:

  • Obesity: Appenzeller Sennenhunds are fond of their food, making them at risk for becoming overweight. Obesity can lead to several health issues in dogs. Keep a close eye on your Appenzellerʻs weight and adjust their food and treat intake as needed to help them avoid obesity.

Male vs Female

Now you’ve done your research and you think the Appenzeller Sennenhund may be the right breed for you. Now should you get a male or a female dog? Is there a difference between them? Well, male Appenzeller Sennenhunds tend to be a bit larger than females. Otherwise, there are not a lot of reported breed-specific differences between the sexes.

As a general rule, male dogs tend to be a bit more energetic and dominant than female dogs. Then, of course, there is the issue of marking, which male dogs are more prone to do. Neutering the male dog can help with both marking and dominant behavior. With female dogs, you will have to deal with them going into heat every 6 months or so, although, having your female spayed will also eliminate this issue.

In the end, the decision of whether to get a male or female Appenzeller will likely come down to your own personal preference for one versus the other.

divider-dog paw

3 Little-Known Facts About the Appenzeller Sennenhund

1. The Name “Sennenhund” Means “Dairy Farmer’s Dog”

This breed was developed as a herding and working dog, making this the perfect name for them. Even today, Appenzeller Sennenhunds are still used as working farm dogs and excel at this job.

2. They Are Just  One of The (Swiss) Family

Appenzeller Sennenhunds are part of a group of breeds dubbed the Swiss Mountain Dogs. They are the smallest of the breeds in this group. The other breeds in the group are the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and the Bernese Mountain Dog.

3. They Are Used As Rescue Dogs In The Swiss Alps

Most of us think of giant Saint Bernards with barrels around their necks when picturing Alpine rescue dogs but they aren’t the only breed on mountain rescue duty. Reliable, hard-working Appenzeller Sennenhunds can be found on rescue patrol as well.

Appenzeller Sennenhund jumping over an obstacle
Image Credit: Makarova Viktoria, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an energetic companion, the Appenzeller Sennenhund may just be the breed to fill that role. Make sure you are prepared for some of the more challenging aspects of their personality and are ready to devote plenty of time to training and socialization. You may also have to spend a bit more time finding a reputable Appenzeller breeder due to their relative scarcity in this country. If you really feel this is the breed for you, however, the time and effort will certainly be worth it in the end!

Find out more about other popular dog breeds:

Featured Image Credit: Vincent Scherer, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets