The Alaunt and its different, but related types


I have created the following graphic and built-in two maps, one of the Alans and one of the Celts, including their origin & migration, to give a well thought out & unbiased view concerning „the Alaunt“, speaking about both „mastiff-types“, the Shepherds´Mastiff and the Butchers´Mastiff  that was developed by crossing ancestral Alaunt types with dogs that already existed in Europe before the Alani people migrated.


„In 1886, the editor of ‚Stock Keeper‘ Dr Frank, wrote an article comparing French and English Mastiffs as well as French and English Bulldogs. This article had a study on the Dogue de Bordeaux to the English Mastiff; saying how the former had kept more of the temperament and courage of the ancient celtic molosser. This was the first mention of the DDB written in the UK. Six years later, at the ‚Exposition des Tuileries‘ in Paris (1892), a judge from the ‚Stock Keeper‘ saw Sultane win the prix d’Honneur. She was viewed as the ideal DDB. That same year, a reproduction of the photo of Sultane at the Tuileries appeared in the 22 July issue of the Stock Keeper. Accompanying it was a detailed description and praise for the work of Mr Charles Eisler.“

here first of all a few valuable crossposts & opinions to show a wide view, instead of being narrow-minded.
Heather wrote

My first red flag that this author isn’t as knowledgable as he would others believe is that he puts Celtic and Molosser together to describe one dog. Is he describing the Celtic dog or the Molosser? These are two different dogs, one of the celts and the other of Molossia, a Greek dog. Same when people say „Aryan Molosser“. Of which do you speak? Many many people have erroneously linked the term Molosser with Mastiff or any large dog. Being a large dog does not make it a mastiff nor does it make it a Molosser. A Molosser is a mastiff from Epirus, (Molossia), a small region in the north of Greece. Molosser describes the dog of THAT place, not the worlds mastiff breeds.

i agree, this also came to my mind at once. celtic molosser wakes no sense. celtic dogge or celtic mastiff i would have said, maybe i would have even prefered „dogge“ due to the liguistical relation between dogge and the celtic word „togge“.

well we now that people (who ever started this fashion) call any bigger dog „molosser“.
the example with aryan molossus is the same. kohrasani fighting dog would make more sense.

however what he wanted to say is clear to me. he wanted to say that the dogue de bordeaux (and i am sure that it had been true at the time he was saying it) was a tougher working dog and braver than the english mastiff on average and for sure also best vs best.

Heather wrote

….Well, the Celtic dogs were said to have dropped horses in war by taking them by the nose, the same way a baiting bulldog was supposed to do to even be considered a „real“ bulldog. JDJ stuck to this belief and claimed that everyone of his dogs took by the nose the way a bulldog should. It is said of the Alaunts that they took by the ear, the same way our OWE do. BUT. Look at the Irish Wolfhound phenotype. It is more Alaunt in phenotype than the baiting bulldog, the round headed, short-faced, short backed, short legged, small eared dog synonymous with the baiting ring.
I don’t really think that the Celtic dog of the British isles played much, if any, role in the development of the Spanish or French mastiffs. The Alaunt had long been in Spain and France before it ever reached England and well before any British dog could’ve had any influence on the dogs of those two countries. However in England it’s likely that the Celtic dog there was crossed with the alaunts of the Alan´s, French and Spanish.

well i agree, but it leads me to another conclusion, namely to the possibility that celtic dogs played a bigger part in the development of the baiting bulldogs of france and spain, however not the ones of the british isles, but the ones that have „always“ been there or let´s say that have been there since the celts used dogs to hunt large game.
you have said that the alaunt had long been in spain and france before it ever reached england and before any british dog could have had any influence on the dogs of those two countries.
however with celtic dogs it is the same. the celts used to be on the continental europe, before they reached britain.
so i guess many of the „european alaunts“ or dogs that are called alaunts are no „pure“ alaunts at all, or alaunts in the true sense, but crossbred dogs between dogs the alaunts had and brought to europe & celtic „bärenbeisser“ types that always existed in europe to hunt large & dangerous game. with that said it isn´t bad at all that they are no „pure“ dogs of the alans, as i hold old european dogs in high regard.
i also would not say, that catch-dogs are no fighting dogs, as the apbt is based on catch-dogs, with a splash of terrier for the kill-drive. however dogs like kangals & tobets for example also use holding skills when they are used to catch big game, so it simply is an adaption to the task a dog fulfills and they are all mastiff-type dogs that were used for hunting & flock guarding in asia as well as in europe. however celtic dogs were first of all dogs used for hunting large game.

now last, but not least i also add wikipedia to my well thought-out post. my opinion, wich is based on unbiased facts, you can find in short words on my graphic. i disagree with wikipedia in stuff like saying „Butchers´ Mastiff aka Shepherds´Mastiff“ as both types are related for sure, but still are not the same dog, so the „aka“ in the statement makes no sense.
however the combination of a large, powerful „shepherds´ mastiff“ aka flock guardian /LGD & a determined „butchers´mastiff“, is by many knowledgable people considered as ultimate fighter and perfect combination of raw power and determination.
however, beside that wikipedia contains good information.
ok, here the wikipedia article:
„The Alaunt is an extinct breed of dog, its original breed having existed in central Asia and Europe from ancient times through the 17th century. A number of modern dog breeds are believed to directly descended from the Alaunt. The original Alaunt is thought to have resembled a Caucasian Shepherd Dog. They were large, short coated dogs of varying type. The Alaunt was bred by the Alani tribes, the nomads of Indo-European Sarmatian ancestry who spoke an Indo-Iranian language. The Alans were known as superb warriors, herdsmen, and breeders of horses and dogs. The Alans bred their dogs for work and had developed different strains within the breed for specific duties.

As far as is known, the Alaunt’s primary ancestors are working dogs such as the Armenian Gampr dog, the Sarmatian Mastiff from the Caucasus and the Alabai from Central Asia, but also the shorthaired hounds of South Asia, Persia, and Europe. However, the Ayran Flock Guardian or Sage Koochi steppe type that descends from the steppes of Asia, brought by the steppe nomads, used to domesticate the horse, control and defend large livestock far predates these breeds in working type, giving evidence of the genetic template of the Alaunt. The steppe nomads, including the Kurgan culture, introduced the use of the horse and chariot, as well as the Mastiff/Alaunt dogs of war.
In the 370s AD, Hun invasions divided the Alani into the Eastern and Western Alans. The Eastern Alani tribes merged with the Ossetians and other nations, introducing their dogs into the bloodlines of many Balkan breeds, such as the Shar Mountain Dog, Metchkar, Qen Ghedje, Hellenikos Poimenikos and other Molossers of the region. Some believe that the white-coloured Alaunts were the direct ancestors of Balkan breeds, which in turn influenced all other white dogs in the Balkans. The Western Alans joined the Vandals on their raids through Europe and by the 410s AD, their fierce dogs were influencing many breeds in France, Spain, Portugal, England and other countries, spreading the use of the „alaunt“ name, which became synonymous with a type of a working dog, rather than a specific breed. Through breeding with various scenthounds and sighthounds, some alaunts became valued large game hunting dogs, existing in a variety of types, dictated by regional preferences. In 1500 AD, Spain was known for breeding the best Alaunts and used them to conquer the New World.

In France, Alaunts were separated into three main categories, based on physical appearance and the duties they performed. The lightest type was the Alaunt Gentil, a greyhound-like dog, which eventually became assimilated into the local hunting breeds with the Alaunt Veantre. The original mastiff variety, known as the Alaunt de Boucherie, was crucial in the development of the fighting and baiting dogs of France. The Alaunt de Boucherie in France was known as the Alaunt Butchers in England and the Alano in Spain and Italy and were termed the original Bulldogs as they were used to control and defend herds of cattle. In Spain, the three categories were the Mastins, Alanos, and Lebrels further separated as the ayuda (defense types) and the presa (offense types) known as the Presa, Fila, and Cuban Bloodhound.
The long, broad, flat head of the Alaunt should never be confused with the modified brachycephalic breeds. The brachycephalic head type is wide in base, but short in length.. While the preferred bite is reverse scissor, like the Mastiff and may have been a trait introduced by the Mongolian breeds at some remote time in history, skull type and bite type are separate subjects of genetic traits. The dolichocephalic skull is narrow at base yet long in length, so the Alaunt could be referred to as a modified dolichocephalic breed, as mesocephalic is a balance of base to length. Moreover, the Alaunt or Mastiff must be separated from the Molossoides in head study, as this term does not separate the Mastiff from the Mountain Dogs or even the Pug.
The original type Alaunt was a Butchers Dog aka Shepherd Dog of nomadic pastoralists of cattle that fought in battle from the grasslands north and west of the Caucasus. A number of Alans are still accounted for and are known today as the Ossetians. There is no plausible reason for the Alans/Ossetians to have stopped breeding the Alaunt, though the breed may be known today by other names. For example, in the area of Georgia of the Caucasus a Shepherd dog known as the White Kazbegi still assists cattle on cattle drives. In any case, the original Alaunt/Alano type is still found working in the obscurity of function as LGDs of cattle and farms including Spain’s New World.
North of the Caucasus was a country known as Caucasian Iberia, as was Spain before the Celts arrived to form the Celtiberians. Iberians describe the people of both Caucasian Iberia, as well as those of the Iberian Peninsula When the Western Alans arrived in France and Spain in 406 AD, they were perhaps either returning to an early outpost or simply returning home. Theories are supported by archaeological, anthropological and genetic evidence that the Iberians of Spain have origins in Caucasian Iberia. Interestingly, this theory has been around since at least 1050 AD and was a popular belief of Medieval Georgian Nobles, who referred to the Spanish or Western Iberians, as „Georgians of the West“.
The Alans, like their relatives, the Sarmatians, Scythians, and Thracians were the warring nomadic pastoralists of the grasslands north and west of the Caucasus, that introduced the Mastiff proto-type that eventually became known as the Alaunt.“


I will now use bold letters for my own words & thoughts and normal letters or cursive script for quoted parts. So the bold letters don´t mean I consider my own words as more important, It is just to make it easier. I still don´t know how to quote correctly here, it works differently than on other boards.

I think both terms Molosser and Alaunt are overused. With that said and this is no criticism concerning the name of you board Gary! It is the same with my board. It´s name is “” but still not all breeds we discuss are Alaunt types. However I would disagree about the first statement made in the profile here “The legendary Alaunt is one of the most important Molosser breeds” because concerning its origin the Alaunt is neither a Molosser, nor is “the Alaunt” a breed, but a type.


Let´s have a look at LGDs. Not all LGDs are Molossers! Some for sure are Molossers, while others for sure are Alaunts. 

I go by origin when I use the word Molosser or Alaunt, however there are for sure crosses between all kinds of dogs. Today every bigger dog is called a Molosser and this I consider to be nonsense. No matter if Dobermann or Tosa Inu etc. they are all incorrectly called Molossers. Then there are authors like Hancock who have tried to be more precise, but in my opinion contradict themselves:

Just have a look here:


Hancock for example makes a lot of strange & wrong conclusions, after first stating some correct things, He seems to be focused on continuing the Victorian era stuff.

Here his words…..
Hanthingy about Mastiffs:
„They were the seizing dogs, the big game hunters; guarding sheep was not their forte, eating them was much more their style! As Betteloni wrote in 1800: ‚…mastiffs from Tartary, molossians from Epirus, hounds from Flanders…“

He simply shall look where Tartary was located (the whole area) and what kind of Mastiffs the nomadic people who lived there used. They had Shepherds´ Mastiffs that protected their flocks! So how can he on one side correctly state „Mastiffs from Tartary“ and then incorrectly state „guarding sheep was not their forte, eating them was much more their style.“ while they used them to guard their flocks?


„Tartary (Latin: Tartaria) or Great Tartary (Latin: Tartaria Magna) was a name used by Europeans from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century to designate the Great Steppe, that is the great tract of northern and central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean inhabited mostly by Turkic, Mongol peoples and also by some Cossacks of Russian origin, citizens of the Mongol Empire who were generically referred to as „Tartars“, i.e. Tatars. It incorporated the current areas of Pontic-Caspian steppe, Volga-Urals, Caucasus, Siberia, Turkestan, Mongolia, and Manchuria.“

He also states that catch dogs are no Molossers, but somewhere else calls the Great Dane a Molosser. Again strange! The Great Dane/Deutsche Dogge was used to catch wild boars, so it was the typical catch dog by function. Maybe a bit more „killing orientated“ than some catch dogs with less hound blood, but still a catch dog. 


From the Molosserdogs profile:

„In reality, the original Alaunt looked much more like a Central Asian Ovcharka or the Armenian Gampr than the Alano Espanol or the Great Dane. A number of modern breeds are considered to be either the same thing or the direct descendants of the Alan Dogge, but in order to understand the true origin of this great dog, we need to trace it back to the its Caucasian and Central Asian roots and the people responsible for its creation and introduction to the western world.“


Here I absolutely agree with your profile and it can be said it is a documented fact, as the Alani settled in Caucasus and came from the area that now is know as Iran. You can find one type of dog everywhere the Alani tribes settled and later in Europe they were crossbred with other types at most places. With that said I also totally agree that the Alano is much less and Alaunt than for example a North Caucasian Volkodav or Tushetian Nagazi aka Georgian Mountain Dog is an Alaunt. The Alano Espanol obviously was bred with dogs of “Beisser type”, very similar in type and function to the original German Boxer!

Here some “pure” original alaunt-types:

Watch this puppy of typical alaunt-type. A bit like a pit bull terrier only 4 times larger in size when fully grown. I like him a lot! Especially the edged and blocky head.

Original alaunt-types that are still around:

And here an alaunt-type Flock Guardian (aka Shepherd´s Mastiff) from Caucasus

But also in Europe dogs of the ancient Alaunt type, we could call them true Alaunt breeds remained. Dogs like the Cão de Gado Transmontano aka Portuguese Mastiff also has a very similar phenotype, while originally being used as both, big game hunter and flock guardian.

About the other Alaunt types, the sighthound types etc. I will write next time, however I agree there anyway with what the breed profile says. The BK I consider to be an Alaunt Veantre in type, influenced by Sighthounds, Bull&Terr crosses and ancient LGD-types, but in type more leaning towards a big game hunter.

P.S. I would say the more Celtic influence, the more the dogs were used for hunting & catching compared to pure Alaunts, that´s why I consider the Alano Espanol more to be a catch dog type similar to a Boxer (so with heavier Beisser influence), than a real Alaunt type. However I like the old agile Beisser types used for hunting a lot too. Add a proper muzzle to a German Boxer and you still have this type of dog. (Some Boxer x English Bull Terrier crosses are exactly this type.)

I have posted my thoughts on different boards and summarized them here in wordpress, just watch the links below.




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