The Appenzeller Sennenhund is descended from the general Sennenhund type which may have existed in antiquity, or descended from "cattle dogs left there by the Romans", but the first breed club for the breed was founded and the stud book for the breed started in 1906 by Albert Heim and others, who wrote the first breed standard in 1916. An early reference to the breed's predecessors was made in an 1853 book, "Tierleben der Alpenwelt" (Animal Life in the Alps), referring to dogs in the Appenzell region. The Appenzeller Sennenhund was only recognised internationally as a separate breed in 1989. The dogs are called blass in Switzerland in reference to the white color on the forehead. The American Kennel Club added the breed to its Foundation Stock Service in 2007. The breed will be listed under the Herding Group upon full recognition by the club.
Appenzeller Sennenhund is also known as Appenzell Cattle Dog, and Appenzeller Mountain Dog. They originated in Switzerland and are classified as a working dog. The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium-sized mountain dog, 18.5-23 ins (47–58 cm) at the withers and weighing 49-71 lbs (22–32 kg). Like the other Sennenhunds, the Appenzeller Sennenhund has a heavy, molosser-like build and a distinctive tricolour coat. The breed's ears are small and triangular, set high and hanging down against the dog's cheeks, similar to a button ear. Faults in the breed's appearance include wall eye, kinked tail, a single coat, and a coat that is not tricolour.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund was originally kept primarily as a cattle herding dog, and a flock guardian. It was also used as a draft dog, and general farm dog. The breed also was known for its affinity to both herd and guard with such devotion that they would give their life to protect their charge. Today the breed is primarily kept as a companion, and excels in agility/flyball competitions, obedience competitions and Schutzhund. They are also still used in many places as working cattle dogs even now. They are highly intelligent, and learn quickly. They are not lap dogs and can develop destructive behaviors without mental and physical exercise. Barking is common for Appenzells, and they may try to corral or nip at people or other animals because of their herding instincts.
As with all medium to large, very active working dogs, the Appenzeller Sennenhund should be well socialized early in life with other dogs and people and provided with regular activity and training. Appenzells are affectionate, intelligent and fearless. They are good with other animals and livestock, provided they are properly socialized. They are wary of strangers — their natural instinct is to guard and protect. They can also be independent and strong-willed. For all these reasons, training and socialization are musts. If trained properly, they bond closely with their owners and like to seek for attention.
As a result of careful regulated breeding, the Appenzeller breed, as a whole, though individual genetic lines vary, is an extremely healthy breed. Especially for a dog of its size and weight. According to the breed standard, the Appenzeller Sennenhund are lively, high spirited, athletic and suspicious of strangers.
Due to his size and high energy levels, the Appenzeller Sennenhund is not recommended as an apartment dog. They prefer to live outdoors and should have acreage where they can run free, such as a farm. Appenzellers that do not have acreage need extra attention to their mental and physical exercise needs. They like to bark, so they are not suited for areas with close neighbors, however giving them the proper amount of leadership and exercise can lessen their urge to bark.
The dogs are good with kids but may knock over young children because of their boundless energy.
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