Entlebucher Mountain Dog
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If the term "mountain dog" conjures up images of large, long-haired, slobbery breeds, the Entlebucher (pronounced "Ent-lee-boo-ker" or "Entel-boo-ker") mountain dog will change your mind. These are medium-sized dogs that stand just 16–21 inches tall, weigh between 40–65 pounds, and have short, smooth coats.
Entlebucher mountain dogs are still used as working dogs in Switzerland and thrive in homes where there are jobs to do, so Entle owners should expect to devote significant amounts of time to exercise and companionship. But Entles can be hard to find; the dogs are rare and breeders are few and far between, says Rebecca Hahn, DVM, and breeder of champion Entles at Brunswick Entlebuchers.
Entlebucher mountain dogs are a working breed with compact, muscular frames. The males stand 17–21 inches tall, while females stand 16–20 inches. Their weights range from 40–65 pounds.
The dogs are known for their short and smooth double coat. Their undercoat is dense and topped with shiny black fur that has tan and white accents. Entlebucher mountain dogs typically have symmetrical markings (making them oh-so-beautiful), with tan markings on their eyes, cheeks, muzzle, on either side of the chest, under the tail, and on their legs; white markings include a small blaze on their muzzles.
The Entlebucher has a wide, flat head framed by floppy, triangular ears. Their faces are always alert and friendly, looking up at their owner as if to say, "What are we doing today?"
When it comes to the typical Entlebucher mountain dog temperament, their nickname "the laughing dog" tells you everything you need to know.
Hahn says Entles are great companions that form close bonds with their owners. They're best described as "biddable" and eager to be trained. The breed has a high drive to work, especially if it means ample one-on-one time with their pet parents. This makes them star athletes in dog sports like freestyle, rally, and obedience.
"These are the perfect performance dogs," Hahn says.
The intense dog-owner bond that Entles desire is great for those eager to spend a lot of time with their dogs. But, Hahn admits, it also means Entlebucher mountain dogs are not the right fit for everyone.
"They need a lot of attention," she says. "The mental stimulation with these dogs is just as important as getting exercise … just [playing fetch] is not enough. They need to be challenged with other things to do, and I think they suffer without it."
Outside of their family, these dogs can also be wary of strangers at first, so Entlebucher mountain dog puppies need early socialization when young.
"I've had some that are super friendly, some are super standoffish, and some are somewhere in the middle," Hahn says. "The breed as a whole is not going to be like a Golden [retriever] that will make friends with everybody."
The best spot for an Entlebucher mountain dog? In the center of the action. A fenced yard is nice, but don't expect Entles to entertain themselves; Hahn notes that "they basically want to be with you all the time."
These dogs love to be on the go—hiking, running, swimming, learning new tricks, or racking up medals in competitive dog sports. In fact, Hahn first became interested in the breed because she wanted a running partner; "They need to be in a pretty busy home," she says.
The happy Entlebucher mountain dog gets along well with other pups, but because he demands so much attention, he might be too much for busy families—especially those with small kiddos to care for. Entles are willing to snuggle on the couch, but only after they are sufficiently tired from the day's activities.
With the right amount of physical and mental activity, Entlebucher mountain dogs can be great in an apartment—as long as it's not in a place like Miami or Phoenix. Hahn notes that these are mountain dogs who prefer colder climates, adding, "[They're] a black, heavyset dog; they don't do hot."
We'll say it again: Exercise and mental stimulation are essential for Entlebucher mountain dogs to thrive. Expect to provide at least an hour of intense activity that challenges their bodies and their minds—think challenging hikes, long runs, and puzzle toys on a daily basis.
Training also counts as a form of exercise and mental stimulation. Entles are intelligent dogs that love to learn new things, whether it's navigating a new agility course or mastering the steps to a freestyle dance routine—and don't forget to reward them with treats for their hard work!
But there is one thing about Entlebucher mountain dogs that's low maintenance: their grooming routine. The breed does shed and will need regular brushing but, overall, their short coats are a cinch to maintain. Routine veterinary care, including monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventives, plus dental care and nail trims, will help keep your Entlebucher mountain dog looking (and feeling!) great.
The Entlebucher mountain dog has a lifespan of 11–13 years. Hahn calls the breed "fairly healthy dogs," but notes that there are some health conditions that affect the dogs.
While it tends to be more common in smaller breeds, Entlebucher mountain dogs can have a luxating patella. It's a condition that causes the kneecap (patella) to move out of its normal location (luxate) and it makes it painful for Entles to put weight on the affected leg. In severe causes, it can lead to chronic dislocation and increase the risk of injuries that require surgery to correct.
Hip dysplasia is common in many breeds, including Entlebucher mountain dogs, and is a result of a mis-fit between the hip joint and socket. Instead of smooth movements, the joints grind, causing pain. There is no cure for hip dysplasia, but it can be treated with a combination of physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.
Entlebucher Urinary Syndrome (EUS) is a genetic condition that causes the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder) to develop in the wrong place. Affected dogs experience symptoms like bladder infections and chronic urine dribbles or leakage. Mild cases can be treated with medication; surgery to remove the affected kidney may be necessary to address more serious cases of UES. The disease may also lead to renal failure and death. It affects less than 3 percent of dogs, Hahn says.
There are four dog breeds bred to work on farms in the alpine regions of Switzerland: the Bernese mountain dog, the Greater Swiss mountain dog, the Appenzeller sennenhund, and the Entlebucher mountain dog. The Entlebucher is the smallest and fastest of them all.
According to the National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association (NEMDA), the pups' roles ranged from driving herds across mountain pastures and guarding cattle to ratting, hunting, and pulling carts. The agile tri-colored dogs earned their name for the region of Entlebuch, Switzerland, where the breed originated. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2011.
- The Entlebucher mountain dog is also known as the Entlebucher sennenhund and the Entlebucher cattle dog.
- Newsweek named the Entlebucher mountain dog one of the "Least Popular Dog Breeds in America" in 2020.