~ a little more history ~
by Randall C. Todd
Whenever someone refers to "the Mastiff", I have to
ask the question, "But WHICH Mastiff?"...
There are more breeds called "Mastiff" than the "Old
English"! And if the Mastiff breeds are all
"molossers"-- descendants of the ancient, now extinct, giant Roman Molossus- and if we were to choose the mastiff most closely related to the old Roman Molossus to be tagged with the name "THE Mastiff", it would most certainly be the Mastino Neapolitano or
"Neapolitan Mastiff" of Italy. Also known as the
"Italian Mastiff" and commonly referred to as "the
Neo", the Neapolitan's closest relative is another
Italian breed called the Cane Corso (formerly known
in the southern-most part of Italy as Branchiero
The CANE CORSO ~
Nice dog!!! My all time favorite!
The similarity to the Boxer & other mastiff types
(large square head & jaw and very muscular build)
comes from their common molosser background- their
relationship to the giant (now extinct) Roman
Molossus- war-dog of ancient Rome, from which sprang
the various, now living mastiff breeds of Europe--
- the Neapolitan or "Italian Mastiff", also referred to as the "Neo" -the
oldest living and probably the most pure European
mastiff. This is the one most closely related to the
ancient Roman Molossus. I've noticed a common error perpetuated on the websites of some of the Cane Corso breeders as they copy one another: some of them have erroniously referred to the Cane Corso as "the Italian Mastiff". Not so. The "Italian Mastiff" is unquestionably the Neapolitan Mastiff...
- the Italian Cane Corso which stems directly from the Roman Molossus. It is assumed that the Cane Corso was purposely developed in ancient times by injecting some large coursing hound genetics into a line of the ancient and now extinct Roman Molossus to add some of the speed of a courser to the sheer brute strength, power, and size of the great Molossus...
- the Dogue de Bordeaux or "French Mastiff"
(as in the movie Turner & Hooch)...
- the "Old English" Mastiff -from which was
developed the more recent molosser of Britain- the Bullmastiff. The Old English Mastiff is the one so often erroneously thought of as being "THE" Mastiff...
- the German Boxer...
The similarity of the Boxer and Cane Corso end with
the similarities in head type, temperment, and athleticism though, the biggest difference being the difference in size: male Boxers averaging 60-80 lbs. verses the average male Corso's weight of 125-140 lbs. A couple of other differences are the shorter more 'pug' muzzle of the Boxer and the Boxer's undershot (protruding) lower jaw... Although the Corso has a short muzzle, it isn't as 'pug' as a Boxer's is. And many lines of Cane Corso have a more scissor bite rather than undershot. A couple of other breeds with roots going back to the war-dog of the
ancient Roman Empire are the Rottweiler, St.
Bernard, and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog of Europe,
and the Anotolian Shepherd of Turkey (these breeds
resulted from the crossing of the Roman Molossus with the local shepherd types of each particular region as the Roman Armies- and their Molossus- moved west
across Europe, and east into Asia, conquering &
occupying the world around them. There are many
breeds of this type of cross found throughout Europe
and Western Asia). Those Romans sure got around!...
When they went out and conquered the world, they
brought their "big dog" along to help. They decked
him out in armor and turned him loose on the opposing army. I'm glad I wasn't there... on the wrong side. I like to think that if it wasn't for the strength and
ability of my dog's ancestors -that if the Romans
had had only the strength of their man-made weapons
and the men that wielded them -had there been no
dog-- no great Molossus to fight beside them -they
might not have gotten out of Italy and the world
wouldn't have been as 'Roman' as it was then (-:
...Actually, when they injected the Molossus with a bit of coursing hound to come up with the Cane Corso, it became a much less 'serious' dog. Generally speaking, they are very much like a Boxer in these areas of their temperament: energetic, friendly, & happy-go-lucky.
But they are still very discriminating & capable
guardians of the Todd Family Empire!
___________________________©1996 Randall C. Todd___________________________
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED