A Snippet of Appenzeller Sennenhund History

The Appenzeller Sennenhund is probably the least common, the least well-known, and, in the views of its fans, the most distinctive of the Swiss Mountain Dogs.
Sennenhunds are old, and reports of them can be found for as long as written records have been kept in what is now Switzerland. Without written records, however, there are differences of opinion as to their origins. Most believe that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was the original breed of the Swiss Mountain dogs, and that the other three were descended from it, but others believe the Appenzeller Sennenhund is just as old or even older. Evidence on that point, however, is scarce.
Certainly by the 1800s, the Appenzell Cattle Dog was well-established and part of daily life in the Alps. The earliest published description of the breed comes to us from the book “Tierleben der Alpenwelt” (Animal Life in the Alps) published in 1853; it described the breed this way: “a clearly barking, short haired, medium size, multicolor cattle dog of a quite even “Spitz type”, which can be found in certain regions and is used partly to guard the homestead, partly to herd cattle.”
In the late 1800s, Max Siber, a forester from the Appenzeller region saw the necessity of both a breeding program and a standard to preserve these special dogs. In 1898, he took the breed to its first international dog show debut, eight years later, the Appenzeller Sennenhund Club was organized by Professor Dr. Albert Heim, a committed fancier of Swiss Cattle Dogs. Dr. Heim set up the first valid breed standard in 1914 and with that, the compulsory registration of puppies in the Appenzeller Dog Stud Book in an effort to promote and protect the breed in its “natural state.”
Today, the breed can be seen all over Switzerland and in other parts of Europe. Despite it having been the most numerous of all the Swiss Mountain Dogs for a time in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it is now likely the rarest of the Swiss Mountain Dogs. Still, breed numbers are slowly increasing in North America. The Appenzeller was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1993, and is currently registered in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service. The breed is a marvelous companion, and excels in agility/flyball competitions, obedience competitions, and even Schutzhund.
Image: Appenzeller Mountain Dog lying on maple leaves/DepositPhotos

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