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What Was the Molossus Dog? History, Extinction & Heritage

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

statue of Molossian Hound dog extinct

While we like to think that the dog breeds around today are the only dog breeds that ever walked the Earth, that’s simply not the case. One such example of an extinct dog breed is the Molossus. And while the Molossus might not exist today, it still has a very rich and interesting history and significantly impacted human history. But what exactly is a Molossus dog and what happened to them? We’re glad you asked. The Molossus Dog was a breed from ancient Greece, and it was known to be a war-fighting dog. Keep reading and we’ll fill you in on the details.

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What Was the Molossus Dog?

The Molossus Dog was a war-fighting dog that has its roots in regions of northwest ancient Greece and southern Albania. It was an immensely loyal and powerful dog, and they also were very large.

The Molossus stood between 2 and 2.2 feet tall to the shoulders or up to 6 feet tall when standing on its hind legs, and they weighed between 100 and 110 pounds on average, although some weighed up to 200 pounds. It also had a very large head that added to its intimidating demeanor.

Not only did the Molossus dog fight alongside soldiers in war, but they were outstanding hunting and guard dogs. If you wanted an intimidating and loyal dog, you couldn’t have found a better choice than the Molossus at the time.

Does the Molossus Dog Still Exist?

No. While there is a newer “American Molossus” dog, it’s not the same as the original Molossus dog. They simply have different traits and genetics, and there’s no way to get a full-bred Molossus dog today.

However, since the Molossus dog is a genetic relative of so many different breeds you can find signatures of this massive dog breed in many different breeds today.

Molossus (Image Credit by: Buzo kaos, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Why Did the Molossus Dog Go Extinct?

While many breeds go extinct because of overhunting, climate change, or other outside factors, the truth is that the Molossus dog didn’t go extinct in the traditional sense. Instead, you can no longer find the Molossus dog because of crossbreeding with other dog breeds.

This started around the 2nd Century A.D. when the Roman Empire started to collapse, and today, you can’t find any Molossus dogs in the world. However, you can still find dogs that carry on the Molossus lineage, especially larger dog breeds like the St. Bernard and the Mastiff.

What Modern Breeds Are In the Molossus Family?

The Molossus has had a huge impact on modern dogs and today the “Molosser” family includes the:

But while these are all Molossus dogs, they only make up some of the Molosser family. It’s safe to say that while you can’t get a purebred Molossus today, they’re still having quite the impact on the canine world!

What Is the American Molossus Dog?

Today, people are trying to recreate the essence of the Molossus, and currently, their best attempt is the American Molossus. The American Molossus is a cross between Neapolitan and Old English Mastiff.

However, the American Molossus will always be a distinctly different breed than the original Molossus. Furthermore, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other major dog kennel clubs do not recognize the American Molossus as an official breed.

Perhaps as the breed gains more of a footing, a consistent breeding standard, and a more established pedigree, it might gain future acceptance from major kennel clubs.

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Final Thoughts

While you’re not going to spot Molossus dogs roaming the streets today, that doesn’t diminish just how meaningful these dogs were to humans throughout the years. They played a major role in human history, and you can find many records of them.

Many people sought after and loved these dogs, and it’s only because of crossbreeding that you can’t find them today.

Featured Image Credit: Statue of a Molossian hound. Ca. 320 B.C., George E. Koronaios, Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

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