Molossers are a class of large dog breeds with a strong and solid built. Their lineage can be traced back to the shepherd dogs known as Molossus in the Molossia region of ancient Epirus, a southeastern region of Europe which is in modern-day Greece and Albania.

The term mastiff is sometimes, incorrectly, used to refer to the breed category; however, even though mastiffs fall under the Molosser category of dog breeds, the term ‘mastiff’ by itself refers to the English Mastiff breed.

The Molossers typically have a strong and thick body supported by supported by heavy skeleton. The muzzle is usually short on a rounded head, resting on a short yet muscular neck.

The history of the Molosser breeds goes back to ancient times. In fact, the name Molosser is derived from King Molossus, who was the grandson of Achilles, and ruled his people, the Molossians, in the ancient lands that is now occupied by Greece and Albania. The breed spread far and wide through Asia and North Africa, and as it interbred with local breeds it contributed clear physical characteristics such as large size, large square head, and a short muzzle. Selective breeding modified the breed for local suitability and new functions. Molosser dogs have had an illustrious past, and have been used throughout history. Archeological excavations have revealed pictorial representations of such dogs hunting wild horses and donkeys, as far back as the 7th century BC. Molossers have been protectors, and fought in wars since ancient times, and were even used to stage fights against lions in the Roman amphitheater.

Originally, the Molossers were hunters and protectors but their role in the modern world is broader and includes search and rescue, guard dog, and sheepdog (used for protection against large predators, as opposed to herding).

Well Know Molosser Breeds

Since this category of dog is possibly the most ancient of dog breeds, there are a large list of molosser; however, not all of them all well-known of officially recognized by a world body. The most recognizable molosser breeds are:

  • Dogo Argentino (Argentina)
  • Newfoundland (Canada)
  • Shar Pei (China)
  • Great Pyrenees (France)
  • Boxer (Germany)
  • Great Dane (Germany)
  • Rottweiler (Germany)
  • Bulldog (Great Britain)
  • English Mastiff (Great Britain)
  • Bernese Mountain Dog (Switzerland)
  • Saint Bernard (Switzerland)
  • Tibetan Mastiff (Tibet)
  • American Bulldog (United States)
  • American Pit Bull Terrier (United States)

This is, of course, not a comprehensive list; however, it provides a basic idea of the type of dog that falls in this category.