Molosser


Molosser

Molosser is a category of large, solidly-built dog that includes several breeds, probably all descended from the same root stock. The name derives from Molossia,[1] a subregion of ancient Epirus,[2] ancient Greece, where the large shepherd dog was known as the Molossus.[3]

The proper noun "Mastiff", however, is used to refer to the English Mastiff, a breed that originated from Celtic dogs in England over two thousand years ago. Other terms include "Mastín" (Spanish), "Dogge" (Germanic), and "dogue" or "dogo" (Romance languages).

A Fila Brasileiro, showing the typical molosser build.

Breeds such as the Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Fila Brasileiro, Pyrenean Mastiff (Mastín del Pirineo), Spanish Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Tibetan Mastiff, and many others fall into the larger category of "Molossers", but are not "Mastiffs". Each is a separate and distinct breed.[4] The Boxer breed is also included, as it is a creation from other Molossers including the Old English Bulldog.

Molossers typically have heavy bones, pendant ears, a relatively short and well-muscled neck, and a short muzzle. Although some Molossers are used for search and rescue, such as the Newfoundland and the Saint Bernard, most are used as guard dogs, due to their deep voices and natural guarding instincts, or livestock guardian dogs for protection against large predators as well as poachers. Some breeds like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog have also been used as cart dogs.

Contents

Origins

The first known record of a molosser-type dog was in 1121 BC, when a Tibetan mastiff trained for hunting was given to a Chinese emperor. The mastiffs would later be exported to Mongolia, Mesopotamia and Central Asia where they would mix with local dogs, resulting in a loss of long hair and colour uniformity. The main features, such as height and a massive head with a big short muzzle were kept. The dogs were considered valuable in Babylon, and are mentioned in cuneiform in the 4th century BC. A large mastiff-like dog is shown on the ancient terra cotta by Birs Nimrud. The dog is rather tall: 90 centimetres (35 in) at the withers, has a stocky head and powerful hind quarters. The dogs were used for hunting in ancient Assyria. Archeological digs of the Ashurbanipal palace (7th century BC) revealed pictures of dogs felling wild horses and donkeys. Assyrian mastiffs were also used for military purposes and for protection.

Jennings Dog, generally assumed to be a Molosser hound

The ancient mastiffs would later be imported from Assyria and Babylon to Egypt and Asia Minor. Xerxes I of Persia led predatory wars to enlarge the borders of his empire, taking with him large war dogs in his Army. After his army's defeat by the Greeks, his mastiffs were kept as trophies of war. The mastiffs would be bred in Molossia and from there, spread all over the Mediterranean under the name of "epirian" dogs or molosses. Mastiffs were used to fight in the Roman amphitheater against lions and may have been used in lion hunting. They are said to be at the root of many Mountain dog breeds.

The Alans kept mastiff-like dogs taken from Eastern Europe which acted as retrievers, guard dogs, and fighting dogs. The name associated with these dogs is Alaunt, or in Spanish Alano. The mastiffs were used in unison with sighthounds to hunt wisent, aurochs and bear. Groups of Alanian tribes came to Europe during the Migration Period, fighting on the territory of modern France, Spain, Portugal and Northern Africa, taking with them their dogs. The Alanian mastiffs then spread to the British Isles.[5] The mastiff of the Alps, the Alpine Mastiff, was a progenitor of the St. Bernard and contributed to the modern English Mastiff.

A Female British Bulldog.

The Newfoundland dog is the only Canadian molosser type dog breed. Portuguese fishermen have fished off the shores of Newfoundland for centuries, and the Newfoundland breed was likely a result of Portuguese mastiffs breeding with the native St. John's Water Dog.

The Bulldog breeds split from the Molossers in England and spread to the New World with colonization as well as Western Europe and, though smaller, are considered by some still to be Molosser breeds.

Canine Taxonomy

Nineteenth-century army veterinarian and entomologist Jean Pierre Mégnin theorized there were four basic canine races, based on his observation of their different skull structures: Lupoides (Spitz), Braccoides (scenthounds), Graioides (sighthounds), and Molossoides (mountain dogs, mastiff breeds and even Pugs).[6] Although study of the canine genome is causing the revision of phenotype-based taxonomies such as Mégnin's, the four categories are still used in some traditional contexts.

List of breeds

See also

References

  1. ^ Dogue De Bordeaux: A Comprehensive Owner's Guide by Joseph Janish,ISBN 1593782152,2003,Page 10,"... THE DOGUE DE BORDEAUX The Dogue de Bordeaux falls into a group of dogs classified as molossers, descendants of the Molossus, a dog that lived around the time of 700 BC. Based on ancient carvings and paintings, it appears that Molossus ..."
  2. ^ The Mini-Atlas of Dog Breeds by Andrew De Prisco,ISBN 0866220917,1990,page 136,"... Mastiff prototypes , such as the Molossus of Epirus and Babylonian Mastiff, were used as flock guards against wolves and other predators. ..."
  3. ^ The Mammals of the Southern African Sub-region by J. D. Skinner,ISBN 0521844185,2006,page 277, "... XXII. F<u11ily MOLOSSIDAE Gervais, 1856 Free-tailed bats The name of the family is derived from the Greek molossus, a kind of dog used by Greek shepherds in ancient times. The head of a molossid is reminiscent of a ..."
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Volkodav info-Aboriginal dogs of the Caucasus and Asia
  6. ^ Mastiffs, The Big Game Hunters, by David Hancock. pg. 24, 'Classification of canine types', 2000. ISBN 0 9527 80127
  • Dogue De Bordeaux: A Comprehensive Owner's Guide by Joseph Janish,ISBN 1593782152,2003,Page 10,"... THE DOGUE DE BORDEAUX The Dogue de Bordeaux falls into a group of dogs classified as molossers, descendants of the Molossus, a dog that lived around the time of 700 BC. Based on ancient carvings and paintings, it appears that Molossus ..."
  • ^ The Mini-Atlas of Dog Breeds by Andrew De Prisco,ISBN 0866220917,1990,page 136,"... Mastiff prototypes , such as the Molossus of Epirus and Babylonian Mastiff, were used as flock guards against wolves and other predators. ..."
  • ^ The Mammals of the Southern African Sub-region by J. D. Skinner,ISBN 0521844185,2006,page 277, "... XXII. F<u11ily MOLOSSIDAE Gervais, 1856 Free-tailed bats The name of the family is derived from the Greek molossus, a kind of dog used by Greek shepherds in ancient times. The head of a molossid is reminiscent of a ..."
  • ^ [1]
  • ^ Volkodav info-Aboriginal dogs of the Caucasus and Asia
  • ^Mastiffs, The Big Game Hunters, by David Hancock. pg. 24, 'Classification of canine types', 2000. ISBN 0 9527 80127
  • ^Fighting Dog Breeds, by Dr. Deiter Flieg. TFH Publications, 1996. TS-271

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Molosser — bezeichnet einen Volksstamm, siehe: Molosser (Volk) eine Hunderasse aus Molossis (Epirus), siehe Molosser (Hund) Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichneter Be …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Molosser — (Molotter, lat. Molossi), der Sage nach Volk hellenischen Stammes, das von Pyrrhos, dem Sohn des Achilleus, aus Thessalien nach Epirus geführt wurde, wo es sich nördlich vom Ambrakischen Meerbusen in der nach ihm benannten Landschaft Molossis… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Molosser — Molosser, Hauptstamm im Innern des alten Epirus, der durch seine Fürsten aus dem Hause der Äakiden und Pyrrhiden bis über die Mitte des 3. Jahrh. v. Chr. das Land beherrschte. Berühmt waren die molossischen Hunde …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Molosser — Molosser, s. Epirus …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Molosser — I Molọsser,   griechisch Molossoi, lateinisch Molọssi, einer der Hauptstämme in der alten Landschaft Epirus im Gebiet des heutigen Ioannina mit dem Orakelheiligtum des Zeus von Dodona. Im epirotischen Bundesstaat hatten Könige der Molosser die… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Molosser — Mo|los|ser der; s, <über lat. (canis) Molossus aus gr. (kýōn) Molossós »Molosserhund«, nach dem alten illyrischen Volksstamm> griech. Hunderasse des Altertums …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Molosser (Hund) — Bullmastiff Molosser ist ein Oberbegriff für viele sehr große und massige Hundetypen. Für diese wird häufig auch vom Mastiff Typ gesprochen. Außerdem ist es der Name für eine später als Rasse bezeichnete Gruppe von Hunden des Altertums.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Molosser (Volk) — Die Molosser waren, neben den Chaoniern und den Thesprotern, der dritte große epirotische Stamm,[1] [2] aus denen sich in antiker Zeit die Bevölkerung von Epirus zusammensetzte. Epirus in der Antike …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Molosser dog — /məˈlɒsə dɒg/ (say muh losuh dog) noun any large, heavy boned dog descended from ancient dogs of war, as the mastiff, bull terrier, etc. {from Molossia, a district of the ancient country Epirus in NW Greece, where such dogs were bred in classical …   Australian English dictionary

  • Epirotischer Bund — Satellitenbild der Region Pindos Gebirge Epirus (griechisch Ípiros Ήπειρος Festland, albanisch: Epir) ist eine historisch geographische Region im Südwes …   Deutsch Wikipedia