Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Unusual Breed: Appenzeller Sennenhund

An Appenzeller Sennenhund in Poland. It is also known as the Appenzeller mountain dog and Appenzell cattle dog.
A "Havannah brown" Appenzeller
This breed is one of the four Swiss breeds known as Sennenhunde. The other three are the greater Swiss mountain dog (Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund), Bernese mountain dog (Berner Sennenhund), and Entlebuch cattle dog (Entlebucher Sennenhund). All four of the breeds are characterized by a distinctive tricolor appearance with fairly moderate white markings. However, occasionally other colorings are seen. The Appenzeller, for instance, also comes in a "Havannah brown" tricolor, with a liver base instead of black. It is the only one of the four breeds with a curled tail, and it is also medium in size, with a desired height of 50-56 cm.

The Appenzeller Sennenhund originally comes from what is believed to be either a cross of local herding dogs and Roman mastiff-types or from native stock that predated more modern dog breeds. It was not bred for type, but instead for their abilities to herd, act as livestock guardians, and also as watchdogs. The dogs were meant to be very utilitarian, and had to be fast and alert, and able to do their work well on small portions of food. Selective breeding using the herding dogs in the region of Appenzell really began after 1914, when the first breed standard was written. This is when the dogs that would become the Appenzeller Sennenhund were isolated from the other Swiss dogs, and the many-colored, high-pitched barker began to become what the breed is today.

An Appenzeller puppy
Overall, the breed is fairly health, with hip dysplasia being the biggest issue in the breed. They can also have epilepsy, thyroid or eye issues, and are prone to bloat. A more commonly quoted problem with the breed is personality problems coming from a lack of exercise or training. They can become obsessive barkers, probably partly due to the fact that barking was a trait selected for in the past.

Sources are the Appenzeller Sennenhund Club, American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and the Appenzeller Sennenhund: Home of the Swiss Alps dog breed. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under creative commons licenses: one, two, three.

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