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The origin and history of the Entlebucher

The Entlebucher is believed to have descended from the Mollossoids, ancient, large, mastiff-type dogs of the Roman Empire.  It is the smallest of the four Swiss Mountain Dogs, which include the Greater Swiss, the Bernese, the Appenzeller and the Entlebucher.  All of them have the tri-colour coat, unlike the other Swiss dogs, St. Bernards and Swiss Shepherds.

The Entlebucher breed was first described in 1989 but for many years, it was not distinguished from the Appenzeller.  In  1913 four bobtail Entlebucher Sennenhund (Entlebucher Cattle Dog) were shown to Albert Heim and the breed was entered into the Swiss Kennel Club stud book.  

War disrupted life in Europe.  In 1926 the first breed club was formed with just 16 dogs.  Originally a guardian and herding dog, most Entlebuchers are now kept as loyal family pets.  Today, Entlebuchers are found around the world, but still only in small numbers, in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Chech Republic as well as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Where is Switzerland?

Switzerland is a mountain nation located in central Europe.  With France on the west, Italy to the south, Germany to the north and Lichtenstein and Austria to the east, Switzerland is a multi-cultural country.  There are four official languages, French, Italian, German and Romansh.

Switzerland has maintained a neutral position politically through two world wars.  Living between the high alps, fortification and security of the citizens was achieved by road blocks including tank barricades on the few access points.

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog originates from Switzerland, where its traditional job was to assist the herdsmen (Senn).  Each spring, an elaborate celebration is held to announce the departure of the herds of Swiss milk cows from the valley villages in the areas of Entlebuch and Grindewald.  A full day's walk up the steep mountain paths, with Senn, cows, dogs and cheese making supplies makes quite the spectacle, the cows sporting their huge, clanging bells so that none go astray.  Although today's farmers are government subsidized in order to retain this way of life, it continues much as it has for hundreds of years.

Once in the Alps, the bells are hung in the eves, the Senn settle into their summer hut and the cattle enjoy grazing high mountain pastures for the summer.  Each day, the cattle are milked near daybreak and then sent out to graze with the dogs.  Each evening, the cows and dogs return for milking.  During the day, the herdsmen make cheese in large rounds, preserved in wax.  These will be sold in the village in the fall upon their return.

Where is Entlebuch?

Entlebuch is a village in the Swiss canton of Lucerne.  It is adjacent to the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere, between the cities of Bern and  Lucerne, and close to the tourist areas of Interlaken and Grindelwald.  This is the German speaking area of Switzerland, within sight of the alps called the Berner Oberland. 

In this area, you find the real life versions of tourist images of Swiss countryside, the massive alps, the valleys, rivers and lakes and the traditional Swiss architecture featuring roofs that shed snow and flower filled balcony boxes to savour the view.

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