Swiss Mountain Dogs
Appenzell Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Entlebuch Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Swiss Mountain Dogs are a group of multi-purpose draughting and cattle droving dogs probably descended from mastiffs brought to Switzerland by the Romans.
Originally, these dogs were either short or long-haired and tri-colored, although a red-and-white and black-and-tan coloring was also common. It was not until the early 1900s that the Appenzell, the Entlebuch, the Bernese and the Great Swiss Mountain dog breeds were recognized as distinct breeds.
The Appenzell and Entelbuch Mountain dogs are still rarely seen outside Switzerland.
The dogs which were used for working in the Alps were the smaller breed of dogs now known as the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher. The larger breeds, the Bernese and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, were mainly used to assist the farmer in his daily work, and keep strangers off the property. They were also used to pull milk carts to town on market days or assist butchers by droving livestock.
The Swiss mountain dogs probably descend from the ancient warrior and guarding mastiffs who accompanied the Roman legions to Helvetia (Switzerland) in the first century B.C., although another theory states that they arrived many centuries earlier with Phoenician traders.
Appenzell Mountain Dog
Also known as Appenzeller Sennenhund, Appenzeller Cattle dog, the Appenzell Mountain Dog is a versatile herding and companion dog. Its robust body, low voice and great strength make it an impressive guard dog. It is the only Swiss mountain dog with a tail curled over the back, which may indicate some spitz ancestry.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Originally bred to herd livestock and pull carts, the Berner Sennenhund is a fast learner and very obedient dog. Due to the increasing popularity in both Europe and North America and the fact that an always increasing number of dogs have been bred from a small, original genetic stock, some Bernese lines now show shoulder problems and temperamental problems.
Entlebuch Mountain Dog
Also known as Entlebucher or Entlebuch Mountain Dog, this breed is the smallest and rarest of the four Sennenhund breeds. It originated in Entlebuch a valley in the district of the Cantons Lucerne and Berne, Switserland.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
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Bernese Mountain dog pulling a cart
This short-haired cousin of the Bernese Mountain dog is one of the many examples of an ancient, well-documented and established pure breed that was nevertheless never recognized by large kennel clubs around the world.
The Sennenhund breeds were the working dog used for herding, guarding, draughting and cattle droving by Swiss farmers in rural cantons since the Middle Ages. Most of these breeds had nearly disappeared in the late 1800s, but thanks to the work of Franz Schertenlieb, Albert Heim and others, the Swiss Mountain dogs were re-discovered.
The breeds takes its name from the word 'Senn', which is the Alpine herdsman who accompanied his herd of cows, belonging to many different farmers, from the valleys to the mountain pastures in the Alps. The Senn was responsible not only for taking the cows up to the mountains, but also for milking them and producing cheese. The process would take the whole Summer and the Senn would go back down to the valley with his cows only by the end of September. The cows were then returned to their respective owners, and the cheese (or the equivalent in cash) was distributed to the farmers according to the number of cows each contributed.
Entlebucher Sennenhund. Auswahl, Haltung, Erziehung, Beschäftigung.
by Christel Fechler
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs is also the largest and heaviest of the Swiss mountain dogs. They can measure up to 28.5 inches (72 cm) at the withers and weigh up to 135 lb (60 kg). They have a robust, mastiff-like build with strong, well muscled thighs designed for endurance as this dog was originally used to pull carts.
According this theory large dogs accompanied the Phoenicians to their settlements in Spain and from there migrated eastwards to contribute to the development of breeds like the Great Pyrenees, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, and eventually the large Swiss breeds. According to a third theory large breeds of dogs were indigenous to Western and central Europe as far back as the Neolithic period.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The first description of the 'Entlebucherhund', was made by E. Bauer in the "Central Book for Hunting and Dog Lovers" (Zentrallblatt für Jagd und Hundeliebhaber) published around 1889. Until 1913, no difference was made between the Entlebuch and the Appenzell Mountain Dog. Then, in 1913, four specimen of this small herding dog with congenital bobtail were exhibited at a dog show in Langenthal and the breed slowly took off. In 1927, the first Entlebuch Mountain dog breed standard was written. Until 1908 the Great Swiss Mountain Dog was still considered a short-haired version of the Bernese Mountain Dog. Professor Albert Heim pressed for their recognition as a separate breed.
Also known as Swissy, Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund or Large Swiss Mountain dog, the Great Swiss Mountain dog is the oldest among all Swiss breeds. It probably also contributed to the development of the St Bernard and Rottweiler.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog