Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Gemma Gaitskell
Dr Gemma Gaitskell (BVetMed MSc MRCVS, Royal Veterinary College, London)
Photo of adult Entlebucher Mountain Dog

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a medium sized breed that originates from Switzerland. It was traditionally used for herding cattle and as a guard dog, but today, it is more commonly kept as a family companion dog and excels at modern dog sports. The breed has a distinctive tricolored coat but differs from other Swiss mountain breeds, as its coat is short, only requiring brushing at home, although the breed can shed heavily.

The Entlebucher is affable and good natured with a loyal and devoted character. They can be a little suspicious of strangers but are good with children and make good guard dogs. They can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety. The breed is eager to please so obedience training and recall are not normally a problem. The Entlebuchar needs plenty of walking so it is a better choice of breed for people who lead an active lifestyle. The breed can suffer from some health conditions but is relatively healthy and has a life expectancy of around 12 years of age.

About & History

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund or Entlebucher Cattle Dog. It is a medium sized dog that is the smallest of the four types of Swiss mountain dog. It belongs to the working group of breeds in the UK Kennel Club. The breed also has the easily recognisable tricolor coat, but with shorter hair and is smaller and quicker than the other Swiss mountain breeds. The breed was originally from the area of the Entlebuch valley in Lucerne.

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog was first recognised as a separate breed from the other Swiss mountain dogs in 1923 and the first breed standard was developed in 1927. The original Swiss mountain dogs are thought to have descended from large mastiff dogs, which were taken to Switzerland by the Romans. Since then, the breed has developed slowly and was almost lost again during World War I. The breed was originally used for driving cattle, guarding and was used as an all round farm dog. In recent years, the breed is more commonly kept as a family companion dog and also excels in modern dog sports, such as agility and flyball.


Entlebucher Mountain Dog Large Photo

The only colour allowed for registration with the UK Kennel Club for the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is tricolor with an intense black covering the majority of the dog and tan and white markings which are ideally symmetrical. The coat should be short and hard with a dense undercoat.

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog should measure between 42 – 50 cm at the withers with an additional 2 cm in height being acceptable. Male dogs are typically larger than female dogs. Dogs should be well proportioned and the height at the withers should be 8/10 the length of the body. The neck should be strong and muscular and of medium length meeting strong, well-angled shoulders that lead to straight front legs with plenty of bone. The chest should be well-developed and broad, with a wide, level but strong back leading to a hind end that slopes slightly downwards. The tail may either be naturally bobtailed or long but should never be curled over.

The head should appear to be in proportion to the body and the muzzle should be 9/10 the length of the skull, with barely any difference in level between the two. The ears should be high set at the broadest part of the skull and are triangular and medium in size, falling down onto the cheeks. Eyes should be dark and medium sized with a lively expression.

The breed should move with an effortless free movement where drive comes from the back end. Their gait should cover plenty of ground and the back should stay level while the dog is moving.

Character & Temperament

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog has a good natured, affable and devoted character, but the breed can be a little unsure around strangers. They are very loyal dogs and develop strong ties with their owners and family. This means that they can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety and should be carefully accustomed from puppyhood to being left alone but never for very long periods of time.

The breed is well-known for being good with children and makes a good family dog, although it is a fairly large and active breed so children should be supervised especially when they are small. The breed also acts as a good guard dog if needed.


Photo of Entlebucher Mountain Dog puppy
Bedlamhotel / Wikipedia.org

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a breed that is relatively easy to train, and recall and house training are not typically an issue. Their devotion to their owner means they are eager to please and they are therefore generally obedient.

They are known as being good natured but should be well socialised from puppyhood with other dogs and people to try and build confidence around strangers.


The Entlebucher Mountain Dog has a life expectancy of around 12 years and is classed as a Category 1 breed by the UK Kennel Club with no specific points of concern or mandatory tests. However, the UK breed club recommends testing for the following conditions and its guidelines prohibit breeding from dogs affected by the conditions or from dogs with unacceptably high scores in the case of Hip Dysplasia:

Hip Dysplasia (HD)

This condition is where one or several different developmental abnormalities in the hips contribute to joint problems, such as arthritis later in life. Dogs older than a year old have x-rays of their hips ‘scored’ by experts. The lower the score the fewer signs of hip dysplasia are present. The maximum score for both hips combined is 106. Hip dysplasia has both genetic and environmental factors that can influence it.


Cataracts occur when the lens loses its normal transparency and becomes increasingly opaque, which in turn affects sight. Although the UK Kennel Club does not require eye testing for this breed the breed club recommends that all dogs undergo regular eye testing and if they are suffering from this condition they should not be used for breeding.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This disease can encompass various inherited conditions that affect the retina – both of a developmental and degenerative nature. Developmental types of PRA progress more rapidly and occur in young dogs, whereas degenerative types progress more slowly and often occur in older dogs.

PRA often becomes evident when night vision is affected and eventually leads to blindness. A DNA test is available to identify dogs carrying the condition and testing is recommended by the breed club.

Heart Murmurs

Abnormal heart sounds cause heart murmurs, which are not a condition in themselves but are indicative of a specific problem in the heart. Murmurs are graded from 1 (least severe) to 4 (most severe) according to their severity. Dogs with heart murmurs should not be used for breeding.

Ectopic Ureter

This condition is congenital and means that the ureter is in an abnormal position in relation to the bladder. In female dogs, this can causes incontinence but this may not be as noticeable in male dogs. This can cause urine scalding amongst other problems.

Treatment for the condition involves surgery to try and relieve any signs of discomfort that the dog may be suffering but dogs may still be incontinent after surgery, which is complicated in this area.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog requires around an hour to an hour and a half of walking a day and some of this time should be spent off the lead. Although this is not an excessively energetic breed it still has plenty of stamina due to their working roots and enjoys being able to run and play freely. With this in mind it is not a breed that is ideal for urban environments unless you can provide dogs with the exercise and active lifestyle that is needed.


The Entlebucher Mountain Dog has a short coat but it is has two distinct layers to it and is therefore very dense. The coat is easy to care for and does not require any specialist grooming, but regularly brushing at home at least once a week can help to prevent shedding around the house. Although the breed is generally very clean at certain times of year seasonal coat changes can cause them to shed heavily.

Famous Entlebucher Mountain Dogs

There are no famous examples of the Entlebucher Mountain Dog in popular culture.


The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is not a very popular breed and there are therefore no common crossbreeds.

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