What are Molossian dogs and for what characteristics do they look and differ from each other? What you need to know about this dog category.
What is hidden behind this funny name category? The Molossians enclose a family of dog breeds with common characteristics. It is also important to analyze the etymology of the word to better understand the definition. Let’s see what Molossian dogs look like and how they differ and how many types they are divided into. It is also very fascinating to tell the relationship that these dogs have established with humans since ancient times: here is all there is to know about Molossian dogs.
The Molossians: the origins of the breed
Such a particular name can arouse curiosity about these animals so different from the others. It is in fact a very interesting and also very ancient breed and particularly important in human history. The name comes from ‘Molosia’, A city of the Greek tribe in the region of Epirus (today’s southern Albania). The function of these dogs, since ancient times, has been to monitor cattle and escort soldiers in war.
Apparently they have been the Phoenicians to portals in Europe from the ancient East; other scholars instead claim that it was Alexander the Great to bring them from Persia. It also appears that Marco Polo introduced them to Asia, giving rise to the Tibetan Mastiff. Whichever way they arrived in Europe, certainly these dogs have immediately conquered men’s hearts for their physical characteristics and for their ‘usefulness’. They had a very important role in the social life of the men of the time, as well as being protagonists in amphitheatres as reserve substitutes in battle shows.
Characteristics of Molossi dogs
These dogs have common characteristics that can be summarized as:
- rounded skull,
- low ears,
- short jaw,
- powerful and massive muscles.
There are three types of molosses: dogo type, mountain and small size. Let’s see what are the particularities of each type.
Type 1: Molossus of the Dogo type
Indicated as an evolution of the mountain molossoid, these dogs are characterized by a massive physique and an important and resistant musculature, as well as by a big head, evident wrinkles on the face and a short hair. Given their impressive physique, they have always been used for war and battles first, and for hunting and fighting afterwards. To get an idea of this first type of Molossi, here are the breeds to observe: the Corso dog, the Neapolitan Mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux, the Dogo Canario, the Great Dane etc.
Type 2: Mountain Molosses
Unlike the former they have less marked physical characteristics and a long, thick coat. Apparently they hold the primacy of older dogs of the breed, and like the former they are imposing and tall. Their function, however, has almost always been limited to being sheepdogs: this means that they are particularly faithful, reliable and intelligent, also perfect as rescue dogs. We can have examples in the Caucasian Shepherd, the Pyrenean mountain dog, Saint Bernard, Spanish Mastiff, Central Asian Shepherd and Fonnese Shepherd.
Type 3: Molosses of small size
From the name it is easy to guess that these are dogs that have undergone a major physical transformation over the years: they have the more marked characteristics of brachycephalytherefore have very short jaws. These physical qualities made them famous as fighting dogs. In fact, it is no coincidence that these dogs carry the weight of a ‘reputation for bad dogs’, a feature that obviously was the man to develop. They have a remarkable muscle strengthdespite their ‘small’ (but concentrated) dimensions. The specimens that meet these characteristics are precisely: the Pug and the two types of English Bulldog and French Bulldog.
There are some dogs that ‘come out’ of these types just listed, such as the PitBull or the Boerboel. Others are extinct dogs such as the Mastiff of the Alps and the Cordovese fighting dog.
Molossi dogs: friends of young and old
With their particular physical characteristics and the role of protagonists they have always had in human life, the Molossians have always been highly appreciated by adults and children. Their imposing and massive appearance makes them suitable for workto struggles and activities where strength and courage are needed. But behind this “tough” aspect hides a tender and playful heart. For this reason they are also highly appreciated as companion dogs by children.
They are not born violent but, as always, it is man who makes them aggressive getting them used to the struggles between like and forcing them to live in extreme situations. Trauma, bad habits and violence of various kinds can absolutely affect a dog’s personality. But if raised with love and dedication they will certainly be great four-legged friends. Let’s not be fooled by their minute but massive appearance: these specimens are very delicate and require a lot of care and attention!