Relatively unknown outside its native Switzerland, the Entlebucher Cattle Dog makes a fantastic pet which can be easily trained to perform a variety of commands and instructions. This is the smallest of the traditional Swiss Sennenhunds, which include breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Great Swiss Mountain Dog. As the name suggests, these were originally bred as working animals, used to herd. They also make excellent guard dogs as well as loyal companions if handled correctly. They are classified as Working Dogs by The Kennel Club.
Entlebuchers are medium sized dogs, normally around 20” at the withers. They have a long, powerful jaw and a solid, powerful presence. Their coat is normally tri-coloured with the best examples of the breed having symmetrical markings. The fur is easy to maintain, with a good brush and occasional bath being all that’s required to keep this animal looking fantastic. Traditionally their tails were docked, but this practice is illegal in many countries so contemporary Entlebuchers sport a long, furry tail.
Entlebucher Cattle Dogs display the typical characteristics of a good working dog; they are intelligent, obedient and loyal but can be wary of strangers and have the potential to be aggressive if not trained and handled correctly. These dogs make excellent companions but it must be made clear from the start of the human/dog relationship that it is the human who is “top dog”. This breed is probably not a good choice as a first dog or for owners that want an undemanding pet. Correctly handled, Entlebuchers thrive in a family home and are friendly animals, valuing human companionship and demonstrating an unexpectedly playful side in the right environment. Potential aggression towards those outside the family can be minimised by plenty of socialising whilst the dog is a puppy.
As a Working Dog, Entlebuchers are energetic and have an enormous amount of stamina. Sustained and frequent exercise is absolutely essential, with two hours or more each day the recommended amount. They make great jogging partners or companions for outdoor workers. Without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation Entlebuchers can become bored, which in turn may lead to aggression, destruction of property and other anti-social behaviour. They require little grooming and can be easily cleaned up should they become muddy or wet from outside exercise. An ideal companion for hikers or keen ramblers, an Entlebucher is best suited to an outdoor orientated lifestyle and needs a home with plenty of room.
Provided the correct dog/handler dynamic is established from the outset, training an Entlebucher is enormously rewarding. Naturally intelligent and keen to pick up new skills, Entlebuchers thrive on a tough training regime which challenges them mentally and gives them welcome stimulation. It is critical that the dog recognises that the trainer is in command, but once this has been established an Entlebucher is capable of carrying out complex commands easily and many do well in competitive obedience and agility events.
The rarity of Entlebucher Cattle Dogs means that inbreeding is a risk, so great care must be taken to establish the pedigree of a dog before purchasing. There are certain congenital diseases to which they are particularly prone, including hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and anaemia. Aside from these (which are being actively eliminated through sensible breeding) Entlebuchers are robust, healthy dogs which can live to be fifteen or so. A great companion for outdoorsy types and owners who want a breed that’s slightly out-of-the-ordinary, an Entlebucher Cattle Dog is a fantastic dog with a lot to offer.