The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is the smallest of the four tri-colored Sennenhunds, or “dogs of the Alpine herdsmen.” The others are the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and the Appenzeller Sennenhunde. This breed gets its name from the Entlebuch valley in the Swiss districts of Lucerne and Berne. All Sennenhunds are thought to descend from larger Molosser, or Mastiff-type dogs that came to Switzerland with the Romans several thousands of years ago. The smaller mountain dogs like Entlebuchers and Appenzellers were used to herd cattle and bring dairy cows in from mountain pastures, while the larger dogs were used as flock guardians and cart-pullers to transport milk and cheese to market. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog was not distinguished from the Appenzeller Sennenhunde until the early 1900s, when four bobtailed Entlebuchers were shown by Professor Albert Heim, a great patron and advocate of all four Swiss mountain dog breeds, at a dog show in Langentahal, Switzerland.
The Entlebucher was accepted into the Swiss Kennel Club Stud Book in 1913. The Swiss Club of Entlebuch Cattle Dogs was founded in August 1926. The breed almost disappeared after World War I. During that period, Entlebuchers were crossed with German Shepherds and other imported dogs, which added genetic diversity but diluted the pureness of the breed. Fortunately, Professor Heim and other mountain dog fanciers in Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere managed to revive this unique breed. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are still relatively uncommon outside of their native land. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog Club of America (EMDCA) was founded in 2000, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the Entlebucher into its Foundation Stock Service that same year. The breed was approved to compete in the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class as of January 2009, with a Herding Group designation. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog became eligible for full AKC registration in January 2011, as a member of the Herding Group. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which adopted the Swiss breed standard. Other purebred dog registries, including the Kennel Club of Great Britain (KC), the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC), also recognize the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, but have developed their own versions of the breed standard. The United Kennel Club places the Entlebucher in its Guardian Dog group.
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are fairly healthy dogs, with an average life span of 10 to 12 years. However, they have been extremely inbred. Breed health concerns include hip dysplasia, hemolytic anemia, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). The National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association (NEMDA), in collaboration with other organizations, is working to eliminate these issues from the breed through responsible breeding, genetic testing and fact dissemination.