Molossers: The Many Faces of Mastiffs (and more)

January 19th, 2008 by Dan

As the owner of a Dogue De Bordeaux (a French Mastiff), I am commonly approached with the comment, “That is a strange color for a Mastiff!”. Most people don’t know that there are an enormous variety of breeds within the group known as Molossers. There is a misconception that a Mastiff is, well- a Mastiff! When you use the word “Mastiff”, you are actually referring to the breed the English Mastiff, so if you’d like to reference this vast group of large, powerful canines, you can use the term Molossers.
Dogue De Bordeaux

Photo by karlerikbrondbo

While many of these breeds serve different purposes, it is believed that they all descended from the same background and then were strategically bred to create separate breeds. While all these dogs fall into the category of Molossers, not all of them are mastiffs (though you can see a similarity in the physical structure of most of these breeds).

Some of the more common Molossers are the American Bulldog, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Great Dane, English Mastiff, Bulldog, Newfoundland, Rottweiler and Saint Bernard. However there are a ton of other breeds that fall into this catagory!

Have you ever heard of a Caucasian Ovtcharka? This thick coated Russian breed is a livestock guardian who has a bearlike appearance. The males of this breed weigh-in at over 120 lbs and the females at over 97 lbs. This is an exceptionally old breed whose descendants were used by nomadic tribes that herded sheep in the mountain regions. Ovtrcharka is a Russian word meaning Shepard or Sheepdog. These dogs are known to be “one family” dogs, meaning they may be a bit aloof with strangers. As guardians, you can be sure that they will alert you to the smallest changes in their environment.

Photo by donnikowski

How about a South African Boerboel? The word Boerboel translates to mean “Farmer’s Dog” in Afrikaans. Bred specifically to guard families and property, this large dog has an imposing appearance. They range in weight from 150-200 lbs and are incredibly faithful companions who will protect with their lives. However, the Boerboel can be quite headstrong and is absolutely *not* a dog for the novice owner. They are energetic and need a great deal of activity or else they can become destructive.

South African Boerboel

Photo by StigV

These are just 2 examples of the lesser known Molossers. I’ll be highlighting a few more in upcoming blogs, as I have a soft spot for these big, drooly pups!

For more info on other rare breeds, check out this article on 5 lesser known breeds.

15 Responses to “Molossers: The Many Faces of Mastiffs (and more)”

  1. 10 of the Strangest Looking Dogs! | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Mastiff: This giant Molosser breed looks something like a mini-Rhino! The Neapolitan Mastiff stands out as “strange” due [...]

  2. Introducing the Tibetan Mastiff! The 2nd of the 4 New Westminster Additions! | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Tibetan Mastiff is physically the largest addition to the Westminster 4! This furry molosser is what some experts consider to be the foundation stock of most large modern working breeds [...]

  3. Happy First Birthday! What do “Dog Years” really mean? | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] of dog you own. At this age, your pooch could still be filling out and gaining more muscle mass. Giant breeds often continue this process until they are about 30 months of age. However, small breeds usually [...]

  4. Crufts Photo of The Day: Neapolitan Mastiff | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] love mastiffs! So here is a shot of a distinguished Neo hanging out at Crufts! (I wonder how he did?!) Photo by [...]

  5. Ask The Dog Guide: How To Pronounce Dogue De Bordeaux | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Since I own one of these amazing molossers, I am used to repeating this breeds name all the time! When you pronounce “Dogue” it [...]

  6. The Bullmastiff SO LARGE He Was Picked Up By Google Earth! | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] seems like this is a week of molosser news! Boris the 3 year old Bullmastiff is quite a hefty example of his breed – weighing in at 196 [...]

  7. Cane Corso Photo Gallery - Pictures Of Cane Corsos! | Dog Picture Gallery Says:

    [...] all of the giant breeds, Cane Corsos mature slowly. Puppyhood often continues until they are 3 years of [...]

  8. Dog Photo Of The Day: Canoe Dog | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] dog (a Danish Broholmer – a rare molosser breed from Denmark) looks like she is enjoying a comfortable and scenic canoe [...]

  9. Classic Dog Article: Interview With A Cane Corso Breeder | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] to interview Virginia Dunn of Bella Rosa Cane Corsos. She is an expert on this particular molosser and provided The Dog Guide with a wealth of information about this fascinating breed. If you [...]

  10. Ask The Dog Guide: Question about South African Boerboels | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] interesting site with a lot of useful information. However, I couldn’t find anything on the Boerboel. I find plenty of good comments on this breed but always from breeders, who aren’t unpartial. [...]

  11. Neapolitan Mastiff Blog Says:

    Modern Molosser – New Magazine…

    A new magazine hits the market this Summer, MODERN MOLOSSER, debut issue featuring the DOGUE DE BORDEAUX.
    “This 100-page issue is filled with authoritative stories and features on those imposing breeds known throughout antiquity as the Molosser…

  12. Barks From The Past – 10 Extinct Dog Breeds | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Cubano: The Dogo Cubano was a Mastiff-type breed that was used in Cuba to guard against runaway slaves and for dog fighting. It is believed that the [...]

  13. Meet the New Westminster Breeds for 2011: The Cane Corso | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] “kahn-ay corso”, not like sugar cane!) is a member of the Working Group. This large molosser (ranging from 23.5-27 inches) originated in ancient Italy and was only imported to the United [...]

  14. Brian lloyd Says:

    Please can you tell me which (given your experience) is the most athletic of the following breeds, Cane Corso Boerboel or Presa Canario? I’m in the market for one. I’ve had DDBs in the past that covered 15-20 miles per day and I often look after my kids Akita whose used to covering that sort of milage (and he’s nearly 12 years old). He’d be an out doorsey type dog, bought primarly for exercise, security and companionship.I appreciate each dog is an individual and its down to the owner, I’m just wondering which is more likely to be able to keep up….Thanks Brian

  15. Dan Says:

    Hey Brian,
    I’d personally look at Cane Corsos – they have some amazing stamina and love any and every kind of activity you can think of. Check out this interview with Virginia Dunn of Bella Rosa Cane Corsos to get an expert’s view of the breed.

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