Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Entlebucher Mountain Dog

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The Entlebucher Mountain Dog, also known as the Entlebucher Cattle Dog, the Entlebucher Sennenhund, the Entlebuch Mountain Dog or simply the Entlebucher, is the smallest of the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, which also include the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Appenzeller Sennenhunde. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog can also be distinguished from its cousins by the absence of a tail, which traditionally is surgically docked at birth. Sennenhund means "dog of the Alpine herdsman." Entlebuchers were originally bred and used to drive cattle to market. They have tremendous stamina and will work willingly and tirelessly for days and weeks on end. This is a dog that thrives when it has a job to do. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog was accepted for full registration by the American Kennel Club in 2011, as a member of its Herding Group. It still is an uncommon breed and is rarely seen outside of Switzerland, even today.

History & Health

History & Origin

During the 1800s, this breed and the Greater Swiss, the Bernese and the Appenzeller Mountain Dogs were not recognized as distinct breeds. There was a real blend of physical and mental traits between all of these so-called "Swiss Mountain Dogs." In 1908, two Swiss dog experts, Professor Albert Heim and Dr. B. Kobler, set about standardizing and clarifying the differences between these dogs, based in part on where they had been developed geographically. They worked in cooperation with the Swiss Kennel Club on this project. The Entlebucher was bred primarily in valleys to the west of Lucerne, in central Switzerland; the breed gets its name from the river that flows through those valleys. The Entlebucher shares its beautiful black, tan and white tri-colored coat with its close cousins but has shorter legs and a smaller, more compact body type.
The Entlebucher historically was used to help Lucernese herdsmen drive their cattle to the high pastures for the summertime. These dogs stayed with the herd to guard them throughout the long summer months, after which they would assist their owners in bringing the cattle back down to the sheltered valleys for the harsh winter. Entlebuchers also helped drive cattle to market and served as general farm and watch dogs, as well as family companions.
The Swiss Club of Entlebuch Cattle Dogs was formed in 1926. The breed has a modest following in its country of origin, where it is still valued for its companionship and solid work ethic. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs were accepted for full registration by the American Kennel Club in 2011, as a member of the Herding Group.

Health Predispositions

The average life span of Entlebucher Mountain Dogs is 10 to 12 years. Breed health predispositions may include hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. Entlebuchers need regular vigorous exercise to counteract their tendency toward pudginess.

Temperament & Personality


The Entlebucher is a very self-confident, cheerful dog that is neither shy nor aggressive. He is lively, self-assured and somewhat independent. Prized for his agreeable nature, ease of training and devotion to family, the Entlebucher has an excellent work ethic and has the ability to work alone or in harmony with his owner. This is a highly intelligent, versatile and adaptable breed. Entlebuchers are quite protective of their human families and can be standoffish, aloof or indifferent around strangers. Entlebuchers make excellent family dogs; they are loyal, friendly and affectionate, and they love people. They also get along well with other companion animals.

Activity Requirements

Entlebuchers are powerful, active, athletic animals that enjoy working. They have tremendous stamina and will work willingly for hours on end. They excel at pulling carts and competing in all sorts of active dog sports. They are enthusiastic partners in any athletic canine activity chosen by their owner. Given a job, the Entlebucher transforms from a lively, high-spirited playmate into a serious, tireless dog with a focused and commanding presence. Entlebuchers love taking long hikes through the countryside. They also enjoy strolling through the city. This breed simply adores spending time with its people, especially in the great out-of-doors. Entlebuchers have higher than average exercise requirements, and they are not the dog for a casual owner.


The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a lively, intelligent breed that is highly trainable. These dogs excel in competitive canine sporting activities, such as agility, utility and flyball, among others. However, they do have an independent streak, which means that their owners must be good leaders and provide consistent, firm, kind training throughout their lives. Positive reinforcement is always the best approach when training an Entlebucher Mountain Dog.

Behavioral Traits

Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are good natured, fairly easy-going animals. They do have an independent streak, which keeps them from being overly clingy. They are strong, stout dogs and can be quite physical. Entlebuchers tend to bond extremely closely with their owners. However, the Entlebucher should not be considered a breed for the new dog owner. He will remain an active, powerful and highly energetic animal for his entire lifetime. Because of the instinctive guardian traits of this breed, thorough socialization is essential starting in early puppyhood. Most Entlebuchers enjoy their food and are enthusiastic eaters. Unfortunately, because of this, they have a tendency to become pudgy. They should be fed a top-quality diet to support their high energy requirements, but portions should be carefully managed to prevent obesity. Owners of this breed should pay attention to their dog's weight, to be sure that they stay lean, happy and healthy.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Entlebucher Mountain Dog (Shepherd Dog from Entlebuch, or Dog of the Alpine Herdsman) is a native of Switzerland, and the smallest of the four tri-colored Swiss Sennenhund breeds. Swiss farmers have historically used the Entlebucher to move cows from pasture to pasture in the Alps. Their keen intelligence, speed and agility also made them useful for the management of other large animals such as horses and hogs.
The Entlebucher is a medium-sized, compact, strongly muscled, elongated drover with ample bone. He has a short, hard and shiny coat, bright black with symmetrical markings of pure white on blaze, muzzle, chest, and feet; shades of rich fawn to mahogany are present on the eyebrows and between the black and white markings.
Prized for his agreeable nature, ease of training, and devotion to family, the Entlebucher possesses an excellent work ethic, and the ability to work alone or in harmony with his master. Given a job, he transforms from a lively, high-spirited playmate, to a serious, tireless, self assured dog of commanding presence. Although primarily a drover, Entles excel at competitive sports and are willing and enthusiastic partners in any athletic canine activity chosen by their master.
Purpose and heritage have resulted in an unusually intense bonding between the Entlebucher and his master; however the Entlebucher should not be considered a breed for the casual owner. He will remain an active, highly energetic dog for his entire lifetime. Because of the guardian traits of this breed, thorough socialization is required during puppyhood; typically Entles are indifferent to, or somewhat aloof with strangers.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Dogs – 17 to 21 inches, Bitches – 16 to 20 inches. Ratio of height at withers to length of body: 8:10 - length to height ratio 10 to 8 measured from point of shoulder to point of rump and ground to withers. Strongly muscled, agile, balanced dog with ample bone; but never overdone. Size alone should never take precedence over type, balance, soundness and temperament. Note that too small a dog generally lacks the power required and too large a dog may lack the agility and mobility desired in a herding dog.

In harmonious proportion to the body, slightly wedged-shaped; clean. Head planes of muzzle and skull more or less parallel. Ratio of muzzle to skull 9:10.
Expression: Alert, attentive, and friendly.
Eyes: Must be brown, darker eye preferred. Slightly small, almond shaped, with well fitted, black pigmented rims. Disqualifying fault: Blue eyes or yellow hawk eyes.
Ears: Not too big, set on high and wide. When alert, are slightly raised at set-on, turned forward; in repose lay flat and close to head and form a nearly level plane with topskull. Firm, well developed ear-cartilage. Flaps pendulous, triangular, rounded at tips.
Skull: Flat on top, broadest between set-on of ears, slightly tapering towards muzzle. Occipital bone barely visible. Frontal furrow barely pronounced with minimal stop.
Muzzle: Strong, well chiseled, clearly set off from slightly pronounced cheeks, tapering but not pointed or snipey. Bridge of nose is straight. Whiskers to be left natural.
Nose: Black
Lips: Close fitting to jaw, with complete black pigmentation.
Bite: Scissor bite preferred, even bite tolerated. Disqualifying faults: Overshot or undershot jaw; Wry mouth.

Neck, Topline, Body
Pleasing smooth merge of neck into topline. Neck: Medium length, strong and clean, merging smoothly with the body. Top line: Sturdy and level. Body: Strong, slightly elongated, length to be in rib cage and not in loin; length to height ratio 10 to 8 measured from point of shoulder to point of rump and ground to withers. Chest: Capacious, broad, deep, and reaching to the elbows; well sprung ribs. Underline: Slightly tucked up. Back: Straight, firm, broad. Loins: Strong, flexible. Croup: Slightly sloping, relatively long. Tail: Natural tail or docked tail is equally acceptable. Natural tail set-on in continuation of the gently sloping croup. In motion can be elevated but never curled over back. Ring-tails highly discouraged.

Strongly muscled but not too heavy. Shoulders are laid back, flat lying, well muscled and never loose. Upper arm length equal or slightly shorter than shoulder blade. Angle of shoulder blade forming as nearly as possible a right angle. Elbows lying well onto the body, turning neither in nor out. Forelegs are short, sturdy, straight and parallel; neither too wide nor too close together. Seen from side placed well under the body. Pastern seen from front in straight continuation of the forearm; seen from side slightly angulated and relatively short. Paws point straight forward; compact, slightly rounded with well-arched toes. Pads coarse and robust. Dewclaws: May be removed on the front legs. Nails: Short, strong; any combination of black or white.

Well-muscled. Hind legs not too close together; from behind, straight and parallel. Upper thigh: Fairly long, broad and strong. Lower thigh: Approximately equal length to upper thigh; clean. Stifle: Well angulated. Hock joint: Strong; turns neither in nor out. Hock: Relatively short, perpendicular to the ground when dog is standing naturally; from the rear, parallel to each other. Rear dewclaws: Must be removed. Rear feet: Overall description same as front.

Double coat. Topcoat short, close fitting, harsh and shiny. Undercoat dense; of varying color. Wavy or soft coat tolerated but not preferred.
Disqualifying fault: Single coat.

Tricolor. Basic color must be black with tan (fawn to mahogany) and white markings, which should be as symmetric as possible. The tan markings are placed above the eyes, on cheeks, muzzle, either side of the chest, under the tail, and on all four legs. On legs, the tan is situated between the black and the white. Small tan oval islands on cheeks are desired. White markings include a distinct small blaze, which runs without interruption from top of head over bridge of nose, and can wholly or partially cover the muzzle. White from chin to chest without interruption. An inverted cross on chest desirable. In full-length tail, tip of tail is normally white. White on all four feet.

Undesirable but tolerated – small white patch on the nape of the neck (not more than 2 inches), high boot, socks and bib.

Color and markings should not take precedence over overall soundness, balance and temperament.

Ground covering, free, fluid movement with good reach and strong drive from rear. As the speed of the gait increases, legs converge – the rear more pronounced.

The Entlebucher is a confident cattle dog, neither shy nor vicious; may be reserved with strangers. He is lively, active, persistent, self-assured and determined. Cheerful and capable of learning, he is loyal and protective of family, herd and property. He is highly intelligent, versatile and adaptable with a strong willingness to work; is quick and responsive to commands from his owner making him especially suited as a companion, herding and general all-purpose dog.

Any departure from the foregoing points must be considered as a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Absence of under-coat
Blue eyes or yellow hawk eyes
Overshot or undershot jaw
Wry mouth

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