Appenzell Cattle Dog

FCI standard Nº 46

Mrs. C. Seidler
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer type Molossoid breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle-Dogs
Section 3 Swiss Cattle Dogs
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Tuesday 27 July 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 25 March 2003
Last update
Monday 05 May 2003
En français, cette race se dit
Bouvier de l’Appenzell
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Appenzeller Sennenhund
En español, esta raza se dice
Perro Boyero de Appenzell
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Appenzeller Sennenhond


Driving-, watch-, guard-, house- and farm dog. Today also a versatile working and family dog.

Brief historical summary

In 1853 an Appenzell Cattle Dog was first described in the book “Tierleben der Alpenwelt” (Animal Life in the Alps) as a “high-pitch barking, short-haired, medium size, multicolour 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 1895, the great promotor of the breed, head-forester Max Siber, asked the SKG (Schweizerische Kynologische Gesellschaft, Swiss Cynological Society) to do something for the breed. 1898 the executive authorities of the Canton St. Gallen put the sum of SFr. 400.- at disposal to support the breeding of the Appenzell Cattle Dog. The SKG then formed a special commission, the characteristic traits of the breed were fixed, and at the fair at Altstätten 9 dogs and 7 bitches appeared; they received prizes between SFr.5. to 10-.
As a result, 8 Appenzell Cattle Dogs were shown at the first international dog show in Winterthur and entered in the newly introduced, separate class “Cattle Dogs”. At the instigation of Prof. Dr. Albert Heim, who commited himself very much to the Swiss Cattle Dogs and with them also to the Appenzell Cattle Dog, the “Appenzeller Sennenhund Club” was founded in 1906. Its purpose was to preserve and promote the breed in its natural state. With the compulsory registration of puppies in the “Appenzeller Dog Stud Book” the aim of selective pure-breeding was begun. In 1914 Prof.Heim set up the first valid breed standard. The original breeding territory was the Appenzell region. Today the breed is distributed all over Switzerland and beyond its borders and bred in many European countries. The notion “Appenzeller Sennenhund” is clearly defined nowadays and the breed, as such, quite distinct from the other Swiss Cattle Dogs. Although the Appenzell Cattle Dog has found many admirers, the breeding stock is still very small. It is only by responsible and careful breeding that it will be possible to establish and consolidate its natural and outstanding hereditary qualities.

General appearance

Tricolour, medium-sized, almost squarely built dog, balanced in all parts. Muscular, very agile and deft, with a cheeky expression.

Important proportions

Height at withers to length of body = 9 : 10. Rather compact than long.
Length of muzzle to length of skull = 4 : 5.

Behaviour / temperament

Lively, high-spirited, self-assured, reliable and fearless. Slightly suspicious of strangers. A watchdog which cannot be bribed, and capable of learning.


Cranial region

Balanced size in relation to body. Slightly wedge-shaped.
Skull fairly flat, broadest between the ears, tapering evenly towards the muzzle. Occiput barely pronounced. Frontal furrow moderately developed. 
Slightly marked.

Facial region

In black dogs black, in havana-brown dogs brown (as dark as possible).
Medium strength, tapering evenly, but not snipy, with strong lower jaw.
Clean and close fitting, with black pigmentation in black dogs or with brown pigmentation (as dark as possible) in havana-brown dog. Corner of the mouth not visible.
Nasal bridge
Nasal bridge straight.
Jaws and teeth
Strong, complete and regular scissor bite. Pincer bite tolerated. One missing PM1 or double PM1 (premolar 1) and missing M3 (molars) tolerated.
Barely pronounced.
Rather small, almond-shaped, not protruding. Set slightly oblique towards the nose. Expression lively. Colour : in black dogs dark brown, brown; in havana brown dogs lighter brown, but as dark as possible. Eye-lids close fitting. Eye-rims black respectively brown (as dark as possible) corresponding to the colour of the coat.
Set on fairly high and broad; in repose hanging down flat and close to cheeks. Triangular shape with tips slightly rounded off. In alertness raised at set-on and turned forward so that the head and ears, seen from above, form a marked triangle.


Rather short, strong and clean.


Compact, strong.
Moderately long, firm and straight.
Short and well muscled.
Relatively short, running in flat continuation of the topline.
Broad, deep, reaching to the elbows, with definite forechest. Sternum reaching sufficiently far back. Ribcage round-oval in diameter.
Underline and belly
Only slight tuck up.


Set on high, strong, of medium length, densely coated. Hair slightly longer on underside. In movement carried tightly curled over the croup, carried sideways or in centre. In repose pendent tail in various shapes tolerated.



Strong and dry bone. Well muscled; seen from front forelegs straight and parallel; standing not too close.
Shoulder blade long and sloping.
Upper arm
Same length or only slightly shorter than shoulder blade. Angle with shoulder blade not too blunt.
Close fitting.
Straight, lean.
Seen from front in straight continuation of the forearm. Seen from the side, set at a very light angle.


Strong and dry bone. Well muscled. Seen from rear, hindlegs straight and parallel, standing not too close. The typical angulations result in relatively “steep” hindquarters.
Upper thigh
Fairly long, forming a relatively small angle to the hip-bone (coxo-femoral joint).
Lower thigh
Equally long or only slightly shorter than the upper thigh. Lean and well muscled.
Set vertical and parallel, slightly longer than the front pastern, turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws must be removed, except in those countries where their removal is prohibited by law.
Set relatively high.


Short, arched, tight toes; solid pads.

Gait and movement

Good rear drive, well reaching stride in front. Seen from either front or rear, limbs move in a straight line when trotting.


Double coat (Stockhaar) ; firm and fitting. Topcoat thick and shiny. Undercoat thick, black, brown or grey. It is undesirable for the undercoat to be visible through the topcoat. Slightly wavy coat only on withers and back just tolerated, but not desirable.
Basic colour black or havana brown with reddish-brown and white markings as symmetrical as possible. Small reddish-brown spots over eyes. Reddish-brown markings on cheeks, chest (left and right in the region of the shoulder-joint) and on legs. The reddish-brown on the latter must invariably be located between the black, resp.havana brown and the white.
White markings :
• Distinct white blaze which runs from the skull without break over the bridge of the nose and can reach totally or partially round the muzzle.
• White from chin, covering throat without break at chest.
• White on all four feet.
• White on tip of tail.
• White spot on nape of neck or half collar tolerated.
• Thin white ring all around neck tolerated but not desirable.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Dogs 52 – 56 cm, bitches 50 – 54 cm, tolerance of plus or minus 2 cm.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Lack of typical sex-specific appearance.
 To long or unbalanced in body.
 Bone fine or too coarse.
 Insufficient musculature.
 Very heavy or very light in head.
 Skull round.
 Stop too defined.
 Muzzle too long, too short, narrow or pointed; nasal bridge not straight.
 Lips too developed.
 Absence of teeth other than 2 PM1 (premolars 1).
 Cheeks too prominent.
 Eyes round, protruding or light.
 Ears too small, too large, standing off; set on too high or too low.
 Swayback, roach back.
 Croup overbuilt or falling away.
 Belly tucked up.
 Chest flat or barrel-shaped; lack of forechest; sternum too short.
 Loosely rolled tail, its tip reaching at least the base of the tail.
 Insufficient angulation of fore-and hindquarters.
 Out at elbows.
 Down on pastern.
 Cow hocks.
 Feet longish-oval (harefeet), splay feet.
 Incorrect movement, short, stilted gait, close movement coming and going, crossing etc.
 Undercoat visible through topcoat.
 Over- or undersize regarding tolerance.
 Insecure behaviour, absence of liveliness, slight sharpness.
Faults in marking :
 Black ticks on white.
 Broken blaze.
 Broad white collar around the hole neck.
 Divided white on chest.
 White reaching distinctly above pastern (“boots”).
 Absence of white on feet and tip of tail.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 Overshot or undershot mouth.
 Entropion, ectropion.
 Wall eye.
 Sickle tail (its tip not reaching the base of the tail), definitely pendent tail; kink tail.
 Other than double coat (Stockhaar).
 Other than tricoloured coat.
 Other than black or havana-brown main colour.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

The Bouvier d'Appenzell, also called Bouvier des Alpes, takes its name from the canton of north-eastern Switzerland where it was not discovered but methodically raised from the late nineteenth century. Mountainous country with many and rich mountain pastures, Switzerland has long been a dairy exporting region, in the economy of which cattle play a role of prime importance, which has always encouraged cowbirds to use brave and resistant dogs to keep and lead the herds in the best possible conditions. If this need is common to all Swiss breeders, the Bouviers they have chosen for auxiliaries are not the same, the breeds have been formed differently over the centuries depending on the valley in which they worked. This geographical peculiarity, quite normal in the mountainous regions and which some call "continental insularity", thus proved to be the best guarantor of the purity of the races, the isolation preventing any contribution of foreign blood.

The origins of the Bouvier d'Appenzell, like those of all Swiss Bouviers, are remote and therefore ill-established. For some cynologists, it would have for ancestors the Mastiffs of Tibet which would have been imported in Europe by the Phoenicians and the Greeks, then introduced in Switzerland by the Roman armies a few centuries later. The Mastiffs of Tibet would then have mingled with native dogs, and, being themselves of various sizes, would have given birth, according to the Swiss regions, to the Bouviers of light type (Bouvier d'Appenzell, Bouvier of the Entlebuch) or heavy type (Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Swiss Mountain Dog).

Other cynologists refute this version. Supporting their thesis on the discovery of dissimilar dog bones dating undoubtedly from before the Roman conquest, they are inclined, they, to think that the Appenzell Bouvier could very well not owe his current look to ancestors authentically Swiss.

In any case, until the end of the 19th century, the Appenzellois, used only by local cowboys, was not considered a race in its own right, and no cynologist really cared to study it. in a scientific way. It was not until 1890, after Max Siber, a water and forestry inspector, had encouraged many specialists to work on these dogs and then to publish their work, that people began to take an interest in the Appenzellois. . This research culminated a few years later in the drafting of a first standard, and in 1898 some thirty relatively conforming subjects were presented at the Alstâtten fair; exhibition which was a great popular success.

Many cattle breeders in the other cantons began to recognize the Appenzell workers' working qualities, at a time when the usefulness of dogs was more important than their character as pets.

After the death of Max Siber, it is the eminent professor Heim, whose cynological work in his country can be compared to those of Paul Mégnin in France or those of von Stephanitz in Germany, who undertook to give the Bouvier from Appenzell his noble titles. He was at the origin of the foundation of the first Club of the race, as well as the opening of the Book of origins of the Appenzellois in 1906.

Even though the final standard only dates from 1982, the Appenzellois has not been less appreciated in his country for a long time. As a herdsman, he is also used today as an avalanche dog, a disaster dog (he proved particularly effective during the Friuli earthquake in 1976) or a defender. In 1986, 33 Appenzellois were presented for work competitions in Switzerland. In France, however, the breed remains almost unknown, since there are only about fifteen subjects.

When you see a Appenzell Bouvier, you are sometimes surprised by its total lack of sophistication. Nothing in its appearance or behavior makes it a dog likely to adapt to urban life, as is often the case in other working races. At the end of the twentieth century, the Bouvier des Alpes has remained an authentic farm dog, a characteristic that many peasants and mountaineers still appreciate when looking for auxiliaries who are familiar with the most rugged terrain.

Very strong and well balanced, he gives his master and the whole family a loyalty to any test, and its rustic appearance does not exclude the vital need to feel loved and share pleasant moments with his people. He also gets on well with the children.

Like all Swiss Bouviers, his mistrust of foreigners is legendary, without being a "bad dog". Intractable guardian of the house, he will not let anyone in if his master did not give him permission. This attitude is natural at home: a specialized training is not necessary, even if some subjects pass tests of "dog of defense", thus proving the great possibilities of the race.

An exceptional herdsman, the Bouvier d'Appenzell is as sure of himself in front of a herd of bulls as in the presence of several hundred sheep. The person who wishes to acquire such a dog to make a pet must have in mind that his companion will be truly balanced if he feels useful.

Smaller than its cousin the Bernese Mountain Dog, it does not require less space and can not be satisfied with a life in an apartment. Very lively, always on the move, he is truly happy only in the country. It is only on this condition that he will be easygoing and that his adoptive family will have no blame for it. The Bouvier d'Appenzell will then devote the greatest love to his master, the same feeling that his ancestors once had with regard to the Swiss cowherds who, for all the gold in the world, would never have separated from their companion.

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