Appenzell Mountain Dog vs Bisben - Breed Comparison

Appenzell Mountain Dog is originated from Switzerland but Bisben is originated from India. Appenzell Mountain Dog may grow 20 cm / 7 inches shorter than Bisben. Appenzell Mountain Dog may weigh 23 kg / 50 pounds lesser than Bisben. Both Appenzell Mountain Dog and Bisben has almost same life span. Appenzell Mountain Dog may have less litter size than Bisben. Appenzell Mountain Dog requires Moderate maintenance. But Bisben requires Low maintenance

Basic Information

Herding dogs
Working dog
Height Male:
52 - 56 cm
20 - 23 inches
50 - 76 cm
19 - 30 inches
Height Female:
50 - 56 cm
19 - 23 inches
48 - 74 cm
18 - 30 inches
Weight Male:
22 - 32 kg
48 - 71 pounds
18 - 55 kg
39 - 122 pounds
Weight Female:
22 - 32 kg
48 - 71 pounds
16 - 52 kg
35 - 115 pounds
Life Span:
12 - 14 Years
12 - 15 Years
Litter Size:
4 - 6
4 - 10
Medium dog
Giant dog
Other Names:
Appenzeller Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhunde
Bisben Sheepdog, Bisben Shepherd, Himalayan Bisben, Himalayan Bisben Sheepdog, Himalayan Bisben Shepherd, Himalayan Sheepdog, Himalayan Shepherd, Indian Sheepdog, and Indian Shepherd
Colors Available:
Black, white, tan
jet black, either solidly or with white markings on the feet and chest. Other commonly seen colors are tan, tricolor, and “wolf-color,” which probably means grey, brown, black, and/or various shades of sable.
Shortish, straight hair, dense
long, wiry, coarse, harsh
Moderate, Constant
Affectionate, Alert, Cheerful, Courageous, Curious, Energetic, Friendly, Independent, Intelligent, Lively, Loving, Loyal, Outgoing, Playful, Protective, Responsive, Social, Territorial
Aggressive, Courageous, Energetic, Independent, Intelligent, Stubborn
Moderate maintenance
Low maintenance
Kids Friendly:
New Owners Friendly:


Hailing from the Appenzell region of Switzerland and known as the Appenzeller Mountain Dog or the Appenzeller Sennenhunde, this athletic breed of dog has a history which is debatable and which has several theories.

It is believed the dog is descended from Molossus.The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is one of the 4 recognized Swiss Sennenhunds, appearing to have descended from cattle dogs. The first breed club was founded in 1906 by Albert Heim. However, an early reference to the breed's predecessors was made in a book of 1853, where it refers to dogs in the Appenzell region.

In 1898 the Appenzeller Mountain Dog was shown at the first international dog show and was recognized internationally as a separate breed in 1989.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding this large herding dog said to come out of the Himalaya Mountains of Asia. The belief is that sheepdogs were crossed with wolves toward the end of the 18th century, but his origin is basically unknown. They are both herding dogs and guard dogs. Others theorize that rather than a wolf, the breed arose from the Mastif family. Still others claim that the Bisben is not a breed at all but rather a “landrace”. A landrace is an animal group that is only found to exist in the local area or is bred locally for a specific reason, while a breed is developed intentionally and from a select purebred with pedigree. The Bisben may be a landrace since it is very popular in India but hardly known anywhere else. What is known is that the Brisben was in existence at the end of the 1700’s and its job was to protect and herd livestock. There are three main theories about the origin of the Bisben. They are, in no particular order:

1. The Bisben was developed by mixing several different Himalayan and Indian Sheepdogs with wolves. The wolf population in the Himalayas and in India live in very close proximity to dogs and people and this population is quite large. These Tibetan and Indian wolves are known to be smaller, more comfortable with people and less aggressive than wolves from other parts of the world.

2. The Bisben was developed by mixing local sheep herding dogs with the Tibetan Mastiff. This gave the breed its protective nature and its large size according to this theory.

3. The Bisben was developed by mixing local dogs with the ones the British, Portuguese and French imported to the India subcontinent.

There is a fourth theory as well and it combines all three of these, supposing that the Bisben is a product of crossing local dogs with wolves, Tibetan Mastiffs and European dogs.

Regardless of their origins, the Bisben grew into one of the most respected animals in the Southern Himalayas. Their assistance to the shepherds of the area was unquestioned and irreplaceable. They were touch enough to herd flocks of goats or sheep across several treacherous and unstable mountain passes. The environment in which these dogs worked when herding is one of the harshest environments on the face of the earth. Temperatures were dangerously cold, altitudes dangerously high and the terrain just plain dangerous. Many deadly large predators live there as well. This included tigers, Asiatic black bears, golden eagles, Himalayan brown bears, snow leopards, fox, dholes, wolves, and small cats. The Bisben had to be able to fight off all of these predators. In addition to these herding and protecting duties, the Bisben was also known throughout the region as an excellent hunting dog. They are capable to this day of hunting large prey such as antelope or deer. They are equally comfortable hunting alone or in a pack. He has grown into one of the most popular hunting dogs in all of India.

The Himalayas, being so rugged and treacherous, were inaccessible to most of India for many centuries and the Brisben was unknown as well. Through the British imperialist expansion across all of the Indian subcontinent, the lowlands people were connected to the highlands and mountain people for the first time. This also meant that the Brisben was no longer unknown. The entire country began to appreciate the dog for its protection and herding of livestock, as well as a companion animal who would protect its owner and family as well. As India continues to grow the popularity of the Brisben grows as well and its numbers increase regularly. The breed, if it is a breed, remains an Indian secret. They have migrated to the countries around India, but their number are small. It is only in India that they are revered and prosper. They are not present in any great numbers in Europe, North America, Japan, or most of Asia.

Whether or not the Bisben becomes a recognized breed depends upon those who own and fancy them. Most Bisbens are bred to only other Bisbens in an effort to purify the breed. However, few dogs have pedigrees and the practice of breeding the Brisben to other breeds and mixed breed to acquire specific characteristics continues to this day. It is unlikely that the Bisben will ever be a purebred dog. It is quite variable in how it looks depending upon what the breeding line of the individual dog actually is. Does it look like a wolf? Does it look like a larger version of a local or European dog? There will always be these questions around the Bisben. Is it a breed or a landrace?


The Appenzell Mountain Dog is a medium-sized dog standing at between 47–58cm at the withers and weighing in at 22–32kg.

He is a heavy-built dog and sports a tri-color coat – black, tan and white. He has a double coat with the topcoat being shortish, thick and straight. He sheds throughout the year and isn’t hypoallergenic. He has small ears which are high set and which are floppy. The tail is long and curls when held high.


The Appenzell is an active breed who has been used to herding, fetching and working. Because of his energy levels, he won’t fit in well in a small home where his energy needs can’t be met. However wherever he is, he bonds closely with his human family and thrives on attention from them.

He isn’t known as an aggressive dog, but if as a working breed, he felt that the livestock he was guarding was under threat, he could exhibit some aggressiveness.

He gets on well with children in the home and other pets but is inclined to be wary of strangers. Just as with any other dog, training and socialization does wonders for him, making him relaxed and obedient around people and dogs.

As mentioned in the previous section the appearance of the Brisban can vary greatly from one dog to another based on the individual dogs’ ancestry. Breed or landrace, the Brisban breeding line is not very pure. Therefore, appearance can vary greatly from what is described here and there is no standard by which to measure the Brisban. Most are distinctly large animals, being as tall as the European mountain dogs – the Newfoundland or the Bernese Mountain Dog, Swiss Mountain Dog. St. Bernard and Great Pyrenees. Reports are that it is perhaps the largest dog in India. At least it is one of the largest dogs in India. The Bisben is said by some to be a large, bulky, husky dog while others claim it to be tall and athletic, leaner than the Mastiff bred. Again, there is disagreement on the size and shape of the Bisben’s head with some claiming it is massively square like a Mastiff while others say the head is long and like that of a wolf not a Mastiff. The long hair of the Bisben and its confusing heritage may be the cause. They are most often black but might also be found to be tricolor, tan and “wolf-color” or brown, grey, shades of sable and black. No matter how it looks, this is a dog that was designed to work in the harshest conditions known and their physical appearance should make that abundantly clear.

Health Problems

There are some health problems with dogs which are inherited. It is why some people insist on getting certificates from breeders to show that the parents were cleared of certain diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

Certainly, it’s a known fact that many health problems can be prevented by the way you feed your dog and the way you raise him.

If you suspect your pet is suffering with an ailment that is making him lethargic and run-down, get him to the vet immediately.

Because he is not a purebred and is probably a land range, there have not been a lot of health studies done and written up on the Brisban. It is believed that the Bisben is for all practical purposes a healthy working dog. As long as the breeding practices are not compromised it should remain a healthy line. It is bred for temperament and work not for appearance and showmanship. Some problems that plague large dogs have been noted in the Bisben. These conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia; optical issues such as Entropion, Ectropion and cataracts; ear infections; and Demadex and Demodectic mange. Most of these conditions can be tested for either in DNA or early in a pup’s life and should be tested for by the breeder before a puppy is sold

Caring The Pet


You want your Appenzell Mountain Dog to maintain his thick shiny coat, and because he sheds throughout the year, a good brushing twice a week will benefit him.

Dogs with hanging ears, such as this dog, are always more prone to ear infections, requiring more attention to the inside of the ears. Clean, dry ears resist ear infections.

The nails of the dog should also be trimmed when they become too long.


The Appenzeller is a working dog, used to being active all day, so he will require a lot of exercise. He just loves being outdoors, and while he adapts to city- and country life, he will prefer living in the country. Take him for walks, play ball with him and allow him to run with you when you go jogging or cycling.


A young adult Appenzeller Sennenhunde will require a different calorie intake compared to a dog that has been spayed or neutered or a puppy that is still growing. You need to watch your dog’s age, his size and the particular season of his life he is in and adjust his food intake.

Kibble is good and well, and there are excellent brands packed with nutrients, but your furry friend will require brown rice, vegetables and cooked chicken mixed into his kibble from time to time as well as raw meat added in when possible.

An excellent diet is important for the wellbeing of your pet, and always ensure that fresh, cool water is available.

The Bisben is a large working dog that needs a lot of calories if you are keeping him busy. Do not let him get overweight. The Bisben should not be free fed but rather given two controlled portion meals per day.

Health issues

As previously mentioned, the Bison was developed with the harshest of conditions in mind and long hours of hard work. It is a healthy breed that is however prone to any of the issues that any large dog is prone to including dysplasia and mange and well as optical issues.

Exercise and games

The Bisben needs a lot of exercise as the breed is developed for hard work. Walks are essential but if you have more than one dog, pack walks are even better and pack time at the dog park or in a fenced yard is great. The Bison was bred to hunt in packs as well as alone and they love to play in packs. In any respect they need at least an hour of strong exercise daily. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can become aggressive, destructive and fearful. This could result in destructive activity, barking and excess excitability. They are not very happy in the city and thrive in the countryside.


Herding dogs tend to be independent and somewhat reserved but the Appenzell Mountain Dog is social, outgoing and loving with his human family. When trained and socialized he gets on well with other pets as well as children in the home.

He is a working dog, and thrives on being active, so a good amount of exercise will be necessary. He is a courageous, affectionate dog and when you give him the right upbringing and treat him as he deserves to be treated, he becomes a splendid pet.

The Bisben was so important to the people of the Indian subcontinent because of her temperament. He is a loyal, productive and courageous worker who took care of her flocks, her family and her pack. They are devoted to their family and if raised with children will care for them as well. He is suspicious of strangers. They are territorial and great watchdogs. They can take on any large challenger if need be to protect what they consider to be theirs. They can be highly dog aggressive and must be socialized as a puppy. Do not mix them with strange, unknown animals as the Bisben might attempt to kill them. If he sees them as his “pack” he will love and protect them, but not if he does not know them. Take as much time as you need to introduce him to a new animal and do not leave them unsupervised. They are not easy to train as they are stubborn, intelligent, want to be dominant and is a problem solver. If he doesn’t want to learn something forget it – he won’t. You can still train them. It just takes time and patience.

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