Molossian (dog)

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Molosser is a generic term in cynology for massive and muscular types of dogs . In the FCI system , molossoid breeds are also referred to as “mastiff-like dogs” and are divided into group 2, section 2.1. Also common is the term "Mastiff-type dogs". Small mastiff-like dogs are listed separately under this name in group 9, section 11 (see list of FCI dog breeds ).


Marble statue of a molosser, height approx. 1 m, Roman copy of a Greek bronze statue, called Jennings Dog ; in the British Museum

The Molossians were a people in Epirus . Their sheepdogs were later referred to as Molossians. Representations from the time of the Molossians show large, erect-eared dogs. It is believed that the guard dogs were black while the shepherd dogs were white. The widespread use of the Molossians is explained by the fact that the holy oak was at Dodona in Epirus and that its visitors also took the dogs with them for breeding. Aristotle describes the Epirotian shepherd dog in his Historia animalium :

"In Molottia, the breed of dog that accompanies the herds is distinguished by its size and courage against wild animals from those of others."

Alexander the Great took these dogs with him on his campaigns . - Giovanni Maria Visconti kept a discipline to which he accused unpopular fellow men to eat.


The Fédération Cynologique Internationale , the largest international cynological umbrella organization, brings together different breeds of dogs to form the Molossoid section. This is classified as Section 2 in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoids - Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds) and divided into 2.1 Great Dane-like dogs and 2.2 Mountain dogs. Small mastiff-like dogs are kept separately in group 9, section 11. An overview of the breeds in this group can be found in category FCI group 2 and the list of FCI dog breeds .


The Jennings Dog is seen as a portrayal of a historical Molossian. It is a sculpture that was commercially available in Italy in the 18th century. The sculptor and restorer Bartolomeo Cavaceppi had offered them for sale in a catalog. There Cavaceppi titled the sculpture "Molosso" and attributed it to the Greek sculptor Phidias . The ancient sculpture was acquired by the English art collector Henry Constantine Jennings.

There are other sculptures that differ only in their upright ears and that are set up as a pair. Two marble sculptures “guard” the entrance from the “Cortile Ottagono” to the “Animal Hall” (Sala degli Animale) of the Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican. Two other sculptures can be seen in the vestibule of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence . Two cast sculptures decorate the entrance of the Granitz hunting lodge . They probably date from the middle of the 19th century and were made by the Royal Prussian Iron Foundry . Individual sculptures are on the east side of the building of the former Prussian Geological State Institute , which is used by the Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure , and in Hundisburg S.A. .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Hans-Joachim Swarovsky: BI-Lexicon dog breeds . 2nd, unchanged edition. VEB Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1985, p. 251-252 .
  2. See the Storia di Milano by Bernardino Corio , compiling Minonzio, Franco (ed.): Paolo Giovio. Elogi degli uomini illustri, Einaudi, Turin 2006, p. 553.
  3. Bartolomeo Cavaceppi: Molosso . In: Raccolta d'antiche statue busti bassirilievi ed altre sculture restaurate da Bartolomeo Cavaceppi scultore romano . Volume primo, 1768, pp. 38 ( ).
  4. see caption Bartolomeo Cavaceppi
  5. Catherine Johns: Dogs. History, Myth, Art . Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 2008, ISBN 978-0-674-03093-0 , pp. 48 . online .
  6. ^ Two dogs , in Wolfgang Helbig: Guide through the public collections of classical antiquities in Rome , 1st volume, 3rd edition, Teubner, Leipzig 1912, pp. 93–94, digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D~IA%3Dbub_gb_AUc_AQAAIAAJ~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3Dn105~ double-sided%3D~LT%3D~PUR%3D

Web links

Commons : Molosser  - collection of images, videos and audio files