Pack HuntingWhere does this large French scent hound with an English-sounding name come from, and when was it developed? To understand pack hunting in France, a brief survey of its development may be necessary.The history of pack hunting is more than 10,000 years old. In the Lascaux caves, in the French Dordogne, can still be seen drawings of a man hunting deer with his hounds. The drawings date from about 15000 years BC. When conquering Gaul around 50 BC, the Romans noticed that the Celtic Gauls hunted with their dogs. In medieval Gaul, only kings, noblemen, and high clergy could participate in the hunt. In France, as in many other Western European countries, the best hunting grounds and vast forests were reserved for the aristocracy.
Molassian DogsThe most likely theory about the origin of the Sennenhunde (mountaindogs) in Switzerland is that they descended from dogs that traveled from the ancient Far East via Epirus and Greece to Italy. During the Roman conquests of large parts of Europe, these Molossian dogs traveled withthe Romans over the Alps into Switzerland, where they mingled with local farm dogs. Again… it’s a theory. Books about along with depictions of dogs – mostly guard dogs, gun dogs, and herding dogs – dating from the early Middle Ages, were kept in monasteries, and with noble families, etc
Mastiffs and MolossersMostdogwritersstartthehistoryoftheBoerboelataround1000BC. TheyrefertoAssurbanipal,KingoftheIronAgeNeo-AssyrianEmpire from668BCtoca.627BC.Oneofthefewkingsinantiquitywhocould readandwrite,hebecameknownfortheLibraryofAssurbanipal,a collectionofthousandsofclaytabletsdatingfrom7thcenturyBC,that is now in the British Museum in London. These tablets includedepictionsofalionhuntwithdogs.Thesestrong-headed,strongly muscled,huntingmastiffsareoftenincorrectlyidentifiedasthe forefathersofdogsthatinsteaddescendedfromtheMolossianDog– theTibetanMastiff,GreatDane,andSpanishMastiff,forexample.The Assyrianhuntingmastiffswerebredtogripandhold.TheMolossian dogswereflockguardiansandhoundsofthechase(TheMastiffs.The BigGameHunters.Col.DavidHancock,CharwynneDogFeatures, 2005).TheancientRomanpoetGrattius(orGratiusFaliscus,63BCto AD14)wroteofBritishmastiffs,describingthemassuperiortothe ancientGreekMolossus.“Whatifyouchoosetopenetrateeven amongtheBritons?Howgreatyourreward,howgreatyourgain beyondanyoutlays!Ifyouarenotbentonlooksanddeceptivegraces (thisistheonedefectoftheBritishwhelps),atanyratewhenserious workhascome,whenbraverymustbeshown,andtheimpetuous War-godcallsintheutmosthazard,thenyoucouldnotadmirethe renownedMolossianssomuch.”Whatabouttheword“molosser”?In dogliterature,theterms“molosser”and“mastiff”areoftenused interchangeably.Sometimes,“molosser”issimplytranslatedas “mastiff.”Dogwritersfromthepastwronglylinkedanylarge,heavy dogstotheMolossiandogsandlabeledthemmolossers.Breedssuch astheDoguedeBordeaux,Mastiff,Bullmastiff,Fila,Brasileiro, Broholmer,etc.,thatarecurrentlylistedbytheFCIunderMolossoid Breeds,arenotdescendantsoftheMolossiandogs.English BullmastiffsandBulldogswereimportedduringthesecondBoerWar in1902.Thesedogswerecrossedwiththelocaldogsandtheresult was the so-called Boel, a forerunner of today’s Boerboel.
The Dog of the BarbariansSome historians speculate that the Chow Chow, known in China for 2,000 years, was developed in Arctic Asia about 3,000 years ago. The dog did not look exactly like the present-day Chow Chow, but was a square-built animal that resembled a lion. The Complete Dog Book published by the American Kennel Club in 1935, speculated that the Chow originated in northern Siberia. As the property of nomads, these dogs would have arrived in China via Mongolia. It seemed that they were used as war dogs. People named the breed man kou, meaning “dog of the Barbarians.” It has been a long road, from war dog via gun dog, to guard dog and sled dog, later cloister dog and farm dog. For thousands of years, they served the people of China, and were regarded as valuable companions.