The title “Sennenhund” encompasses four different dog breeds that are native to the Swiss Alps, with the name meaning “dogs of the Senn people,” with “Senn” being herding people in the Swiss Alps.
The four Sennenhund breeds as a whole are thought to have descended from the large Molosser dogs that were brought to Switzerland in the first century B.C. by the Romans, which ultimately led to the formation of four separate breeds in their own right.
All of the Sennenhunds are classed as mountain dog breeds, which share a reasonable amount of commonality with other mountain dog breeds from across the world. In this article, we will provide an introduction to the four Sennenhund dog breeds. Read on to learn more!
The Entlebucher Sennenhund is the smallest of the four breeds, and one of the smallest breeds of any mountain dog type. They stand up to 20” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 30kg.
There are several differences between the conformation of the male and female dogs of the breed, with males being longer in the body than females, which should have a slightly squarer appearance.
They have short, smooth coats coloured in black, white and tan, and are relatively low maintenance in terms of their coat care requirements.
The Entlebucher Sennenhund is a bold, active working dog breed, which should be good natured and very loving with their families, but retain a slight reserve and suspicion of strangers.
They are lively, intelligent dogs that need plenty of exercise, and firm, unambiguous training as well as plenty of socialisation.
The Greater Swiss mountain dog shares the tricolour black, tan and white coat of the Entlebucher Sennenhund, but is significantly larger, being the biggest of the four breeds over all. They can stand up to 28.5” tall at the shoulder, and weigh up to 70kg, with the body length being just a touch longer than the dog’s height.
Despite their large size and build, the dog should still be agile enough to be active and work effectively, making them both muscular and lively in nature.
The temperament of the Greater Swiss mountain dog should be active and watchful, but also calm and sensible as well as dignified. They tend to assess and think things through before acting, and this makes them rather predictable in terms of their temperament.
They are particularly noted for their affinity with children, and get on well within a family situation. They should be calm and well behaved within the home, and when outside or working, are designed for endurance rather than a particularly high speed.
As a large dog breed, they do need plenty of room, and a relatively large home as well as plenty of access to the outdoors to run and stretch their legs. They can be stubborn and rather one track minded, and sometimes seem to consider every command carefully before they choose to comply!
The breed as a whole is loyal and faithful, and very much enjoys the company of their families, and they benefit greatly from firm boundaries and positive reinforcement training.
The Bernese mountain dog is probably the best known of all of the Sennenhund breeds, and as such, is the breed most likely to be seen within the UK. They are large and heavily built, and again, have a black, white and tan colour that is expressed within a medium to long coat. They can stand up to 27.5” tall at the withers, and weigh up to 57kg, with the greater part of their weight coming from their highly muscular conformation.
The Bernese mountain dog is a calm, self-assured breed that is generally quiet and docile, and not prone to fits of excitement! They are slow moving and love outdoor activities, although they do not have a particularly fast turn of speed! Again, they are generally considered to be excellent with children, and are a highly affectionate breed that loves their families and will put up with a lot of noise and fuss from small children without batting an eyelid! They tend to be quiet and well behaved within the home, making them an excellent choice of dog for families with a relatively large house and garden.
The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a medium sized dog that stands up to 23” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 32kg. They share the tricolour coat of the other three breeds, which should be short and very glossy on the Appenzeller.
They are notably one of the healthiest of all pedigree breeds, and have an average longevity of 13-17 years, which is significantly higher than most full pedigree dogs. They are first and foremost working dogs, and like to keep very active and have plenty to do, and so do not suit small homes or families with a very sedentary lifestyle.
They form close bonds with their families and like to be involved in every aspect of family life, and love fuss and attention. They also like to play and stay entertained, and make a good fit for active families that have a large garden and like to spend plenty of time outside.