Entlebucher Mountain Dog happy in field.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog in grass
Entlebucher Mountain Dog in field standing.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog in field.
The athletic and physical Entle makes an excellent family dog; he is known for his extreme devotion to his family. He is a great watchdog, as he is aloof with strangers and has a big bark for his size. Self-assured and determined, he is intelligent and thrives on being with his people.

The smallest of the four Swiss mountain dogs, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog has a work ethic that won't quit and is known for his extreme devotion to his people. The Entlebucher, or Entle, is very protective of his family.  Don't let the phrase "smallest of the four" fool you – he's physically powerful and was originally used to herd cattle and other livestock in Switzerland. 

The Entle plays hard too. He is a physical dog and may approach people by throwing himself at them. He's best suited to a family with older children who can stand up to him.

His greatest happiness is being part of an active family that loves him and considers him worthy of doing a job, whether that is practicing his training every day, competing in agility, helping parents watch the kids, or being a therapy dog. Any type of job will do, but he has to have one.

Being a watchdog is one way the confident and determined Entle contributes to his family’s well being. Typically he barks only when he has reason to, and not just for the sake of hearing himself. He's wary of strangers, and territorial, making him an excellent watchdog. His bark is pretty big for a dog his size, which adds to his prowess at this job. Because of his protective nature, he should be socialized to many people and places when he is quite young.

The Entlebucher needs a lot of exercise. He was bred to herd cattle, and in his current role as companion, he gets by with hours of playing hard with balls or running around. Whatever is chosen as his activity, he needs a lot of it.

Other Quick Facts

  • There are two common pronunciations for Entlebucher: Ent’-lee-boo-ker or Entel-boo-ker. He is also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund (which means dog of the Alpine herdsman) and Entlebucher Cattle Dog.
  • The Entlebucher is a medium-size dog with a compact but muscular body. Dark-brown eyes have an alert, attentive, friendly expression. Triangular ears, rounded at the tips, hang down, raising up slightly when the dog is alert. The tricolor coat is black with symmetrical white markings on the face, chest and feet and rich fawn to mahogany markings on the eyebrows and between the black and white markings.

The History of the Entlebucher

All of the Swiss mountain dogs, including the Entlebucher, descend from mastiff-type dogs brought by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. The dogs that became the Entlebucher was used to herd cattle to and from mountain pastures.

The dogs were first called Entlebucherhund in 1889. They were little known and generally considered the same breed as the Appenzell Cattle dog until 1913. That year, four of the dogs were exhibited at a Swiss dog show. Based on the judges’ reports, they were classified in the Swiss Canine Stud Book as a fourth Mountain and Cattle Dog breed. Even so, it wasn’t until 1927 that a standard was written for them, after the founding of the Swiss Club of Entlebuch Cattle Dogs in 1926. The breed developed slowly but was eventually recognized for his lively, tireless nature and excellent qualities as both a working and family dog. The American Kennel Club recognized the Entlebucher in 2011

Entlebucher Temperament and Personality

This hard-working herding dog is protective, territorial and confident. He loves his family but is somewhat suspicious of strangers. That suspicion, combined with a deep bark that is not sounded without good reason, makes him an excellent watchdog. He doesn’t make friends with just anyone and takes his time getting to know people.

The Entlebucher thrives in a home where he is involved in everything that is going on and receives plenty of attention and exercise. He likes to climb on top of things, perhaps so he can keep a better eye on his human “flock.” Other dogs and cats in the family will also receive his protection, but stray cats, rabbits, squirrels and other critters will incite his chase instinct.

With older children who want a dog that can play fetch, be an outfielder in a sandlot game, learn tricks and more, the Entlebucher can be an exuberant and endlessly active playmate. He is far too rambunctious, especially as a puppy, for a home with toddlers, however. This is a strong dog who plays rough. Unless you have the time and the inclination to provide the supervision and extensive training that this smart, willful dog needs to become a good family member who is gentle with youngsters, wait to get an Entlebucher until your kids are big enough to hold their ground when he hurls his body against them. The Entlebucher will look to the adults in the home for leadership and won’t accept it from children.

Across all breeds, the same saying holds true: “A tired dog is a good dog.” The Entlebucher enjoys long walks and hikes and does well in dog sports such as agility, herding, rally, obedience and tracking. He is smart and highly trainable if you provide him with firm, fair, consistent rules. He will test you to see if you really mean them, so don’t give in, not even once, if there are things you don’t want him to do. Because he is tough and has a high tolerance for pain, positive reinforcement techniques — praise, play and treats — work much better  than harsh physical or verbal corrections for getting his attention and teaching him what you like.

Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.

Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Entlebuchers, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.

What You Need To Know About Entlebucher Health

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. Problems that have been seen in the Entlebucher are progressive retinal atrophy, a hereditary eye disease that causes blindness, and cataracts, in which the lens of the eye becomes opaque.

The National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association has a strong code of ethics that requires breeders to obtain certain health clearances before breeding dogs. Entlebuchers that will be bred should have hip evaluations of excellent, good or fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or hip scores from the University of Pennsylvania (PennHIP) and certification that their eyes are disease-free from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. Don’t buy a puppy from a breeder who can’t show you these health clearances.

The NEMDA recommends that breeders use the Optigen DNA test for PRA to identify dogs that are normal, carriers or affected and plan breedings accordingly. The availability of this test means Entlebucher breeders can eliminate PRA from the gene pool.

The dogs can also develop Entlebucher urinary syndrome (EUS). This condition occurs when the ureter – the tube through which urine leaves the kidneys – does not connect with the urinary bladder in the normal location. It varies in severity. Sometimes it’s not much of a problem at all; other times it causes renal failure. Researchers are looking for a screening test.

Entlebuchers are mountain dogs and prefer cool temperatures. It’s important not to let them get too hot. If your Entlebucher stays outside in summertime, make sure he has access to shade and cool water throughout the day.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Entles love to eat and can easily pack on the pounds if you aren’t careful. Keeping an Entlebucher at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.

The Basics of Entlebucher Grooming

The Entlebucher has a short, thick, double coat. The coat is easy to care for, but it sheds. Brush the dog weekly with a rubber curry brush to remove dead hair. The Entle sheds a little more heavily in spring, so you may need to brush a little more often for a few weeks until he has lost all of his winter coat.

The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.

Finding an Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.

Choosing an Entlebucher Breeder

Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.

Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.

Look for more information about the Entlebucher and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the NEMDA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and requires the breeder to obtain health clearances on dogs before breeding them.

Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.

Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies. 

The cost of an Entlebucher puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.

Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Entlebucher might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.

Adopting a Dog from an Entlebucher Rescue or a Shelter

There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.

1. Use the Web

Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for an Entlebucher in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Entlebuchers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.

Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.

2. Reach Out to Local Experts

Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for an Entlebucher. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.

3. Talk to Breed Rescue

Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Entlebuchers love all Entlebuchers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Entlebucher rescues in your area.

The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring an Entlebucher home with you to see what the experience is like.

4. Key Questions to Ask

You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:

  • What is his energy level?
  • How is he around other animals?
  • How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
  • What is his personality like?
  • What is his age?
  • Is he housetrained?
  • Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
  • Are there any known health issues?

Wherever you acquire your Entlebucher, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Puppy or adult, take your Entlebucherto your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.