The Appenzeller Mountain Dog: A Complete Guide

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is one of the four native Swiss herding dogs, and also happens to be the rarest.

They are hard to find in the United States, as they are most commonly bred in Switzerland. However, if you can get your hands on one of these dogs, then you won’t be disappointed.

These dogs are fearless, courageous, and are also very affectionate creatures.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog, natively called the Appenzeller Sennenhund, has likely lived in the Appenzeller region of Switzerland for over a thousand years but was first recorded in the 1853 book, Animal Life in the Alps.

It was commonly used by shepherds and farmers as a herding dog. Their natural intelligence meant that they could pick up new skills without much effort.

They also have a great sense of direction which meant that they could lead livestock through the snowy hills in which they would usually get lost in by themselves.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog was a fearless survivor and had no problem dealing with wolves that would try to prey on the flocks at night.

For this reason, they also became popular guard dogs in Switzerland.

In more modern days, these dogs are often trained for search and rescue. Avalanches are common in the area, and every year people get buried under several feet of ice and snow.

It’s up to these dogs to sniff them out and dig them up to safety. Every year, these dogs are responsible for saving lives.

Appenzeller Mountain Dog staring
The Appenzeller Mountain Dog can be a great addition to your home.

Appenzeller Mountain Dog Puppies – Before You Buy…

If you’re starting to fall in love with this breed already, then be prepared to look hard for it.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is rarely found in the rest of the world, so you may have to be willing to travel.

These dogs are also more suited to colder climates and don’t get along well in hot and humid areas.

However, if you live in a cold, mountain environment and you want a dog who will serve as a great working dog and companion over the years, then the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is a great choice for you.

Before you make your final decision, however, let’s take a look at some basic information that you should know.

What Price are Appenzeller Mountain Dog Puppies?

The good news is that these dogs are relatively inexpensive when compared to other large dogs of their caliber. You can bring home an Appenzeller Mountain Dog puppy for around $800.

You may even be able to find a deal on a puppy for as low as $600.

Their low price is mainly because they’re known as a working dog and don’t commonly appear as show dogs. This is great for the overall health and purity of the breed.

Their litter sizes also tend to be on the larger size as well, which means that breeders often have extra puppies that they are trying to give away for cheap.

How to Find Reputable Appenzeller Mountain Dog Breeders?

Most Appenzeller Mountain Dog breeders that you find will be reputable. You’re main struggle will be finding them in the first place.

These dogs are primarily bred in Switzerland and other small countries surrounding the Alps. They are mountain working dogs which means that they aren’t very useful for other applications.

You may have to make a trip to Europe to purchase one of these puppies if you are unable to find one for sale in the United States.

If you look hard enough, you may find a breeder who is willing to ship you a puppy directly, but you will have to pay extra transportation fees, so be ready for that.

3 Little-known facts about Appenzeller Mountain Dog puppies

  1. Appenzeller Mountain Dog puppies are very independent. As soon as they can see and walk, they will be trying to explore their new environment.
  2. Due to their history as a shepherding dog, these dogs will grow to be very protective of the family who they bond to during puppyhood.
  3. These puppies are barkers. They are very communicative animals, and this is their way of talking to their human owners.

Physical Traits of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

Appenzeller Mountain Dog playing fetch
The Appenzeller Mountain Dogs are loyal, intelligent, and easy to train.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is a medium to large-sized mountain dog. It has some of the features of a molosser dog which are evident in its body shape and stance.

These dogs can become quite muscular when they are exercised properly. They have relatively short legs and a wide stance.

Combined with their large paws, these traits allow them to easily maneuver across the ice and snow without becoming stuck.

They have a distinctive tri-colored coat that is unique to certain Swiss mountain breeds. The majority of their fur is jet black.

They have chestnut-colored eyebrows, neck, and legs, with white making up their underbelly, paws, lower jaw, and forehead.

Their fur is usually short but can grow thicker in the cold Winters to keep them warm.

They are very easy to groom for the most part, and brushing them once every week or two will keep their fur clean and free of debris.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog has a wedge-shaped head. Their snout is long and squared, with a wide jaw at the base. Their eyes are set wide apart which gives them a good peripheral vision.

Their head is wide and flat at the top with their large triangular ears hanging lightly over their forehead.

How Big is a Full-Grown Appenzeller Mountain Dog?

Appenzeller Mountain Dogs can grow to be up to 70 pounds. However, this is at the larger end of the scale, and a weight of 60 to 65 is more common for males.

Females will weigh between 55 and 60 pounds and are generally a little bit smaller. Looking at their height, these dogs are usually 21 to 22 inches tall when fully grown.

What is the Life Expectancy of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog?

For a large dog, this breed has a great life expectancy. They commonly live to be up to 17 years old, although 15 is the average.

This is due to their hardy nature, and the fact that they haven’t been bred as show dogs.

In the Swiss Alps, only the strong survive, which helped to ensure that the Appenzeller Mountain Dog remained a strong, healthy breed that could live long and father the next generation.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog

The Appenzeller Dog sitting in mountains
The Appenzeller Mountain Dogs are fearless, courageous, and very affectionate.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is very intelligent. They have a natural cunning and intuition that allows them to easily pick up new habits and learn new tricks.

This is what makes them great working dogs and why they are commonly used for seemingly hopeless search and rescue operations on the Swiss mountainside.

They learn quickly during their puppyhood, and this is the best time to train them. However, unlike many other dogs, they can also learn a lot when they are older.

This is one case in which you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Their temperament is generally very calm. However, as they are instinctively guard dogs, they can get defensive if they sense somebody being aggressive towards their human family.

They are fearless and will do anything to protect their owners. However, this is only in rare cases, and they are usually very affectionate and friendly dogs.

They have a naturally curious nature, and as soon as they can walk and see, then they will want to explore everywhere that they can.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog loves to have fun as well. They have naturally high energy levels and are always down for a game of fetch or just to go on a run.

These dogs get along great with kids and can take some of the abuse that rambunctious children are known to give out accidentally.

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog’s Diet

These dogs have very fast metabolisms, so you will need to make sure that they are properly fed. Most Appenzeller Mountain Dogs need around 3.5 to 4 cups of food per day to keep them satisfied.

You can adjust this according to their current activity levels, of course. There will be some seasons when they are more sedentary, and some when they prefer to be more active.

How Much Exercise Does the Appenzeller Mountain Dog Need?

This breed needs a lot of exercise. They are descended from wild mountain dogs and have never been fully domesticated for indoor house living.

While they enjoy being indoors to sleep at night and to spend time with their family, they usually prefer to be in the outdoors. They are best suited to homes with a large backyard.

If you own an Appenzeller Mountain Dog, then you should make sure that they are getting at least 45 minutes of exercise every day.

Anything less will cause them to become restless and build up negative energy.

Appenzeller Mountain Dog Health and Conditions

Due to their history of surviving the harsh mountain climates, this dog is remarkably healthy. They have no serious genetic health disorders.

In their old age, they can become slow or develop joint pain, but this is common for every dog.

Can it travel by car?

Every dog’s an individual, and some tend to prefer the car over others – with some dogs outright fearing what seems to them to be a big mechanical monster.

However, the intelligence and even-minded personality of the Appenzeller Mountain Dog means these pets tend to be a little more open-minded than most, and that includes doing well in car journeys.

Because this is a work dog breed with a history of herding and working alongside their human masters, these dogs have complete trust in you.

If you say it’s time to get in the car and pat the seat so he or she will jump up, this dog’s likely to obey.

It’s a good idea to get your dog used to your car as early in his or her life as possible, so it’s seen as just another part of life with the family, rather than a big ordeal for everyone involved.

While many dogs can be skittish and unruly in cars, bouncing around and yapping at other vehicles – proving severely distracting for the driver – the Appenzeller Mountain Dog is more inclined to lie down quietly and relax, or just watch the scenery idly.

You can enhance how well your dog travels by car by bringing some of his or her most beloved things along for the ride, such as chew toys, a plush toy companion you know they’re fond of, or the blanket from their bed or basket – which also helps to stop any stray fur getting on your car seats.

As a medium-sized dog, this breed can be a little clumsy when entering or exiting a vehicle or trying to move around inside it. This is especially true of small cars too.

Just be patient, kind and supportive – getting annoyed at your dog will only make them more flustered and likely to mess up.

Final Thoughts on the Appenzeller Mountain DogAppenzeller Mountain Dog smiling

If you live in a cold climate with open access to the great outdoors, then the Appenzeller Mountain Dog can be a great addition to your home.

They are loyal, intelligent, and easy to train.

They will make a good companion to the individual or the large family.

If you are willing to travel and spend some time looking for this breed, then you will be satisfied.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Info Sources: 1, 2, 3