Russian Mastiff, known in Russia as Medelyan or Mordash, is an old Russian dog breed that is close to Molossus. The first mention of this dog dates back to the 15th century, to the times of Vasily II of Moscow. Until the middle of the 19th century, the Russian Mastiff was one of the favorite dog breeds of the Russian nobility and was used for baiting and hunting bears.
At that time, the Medelyan dog was one of the largest and strongest dogs in the world - up to 35 inches (90 cm) tall and up to 240 lbs. (110 kg) in weight, with a huge head and powerful jaws. The force that he possessed allowed him to overwhelm a bull and fight one-on-one with a bear. Of course, only the largest representatives of Russian Mastiffs were able to do that, and the medium-sized dogs attacked a bear in a group of three.
** Today, when people speak of the Russian Mastiff, they often mean the Caucasian Shepherd (Caucasian Mountain dog) that is called in the U.S. the Russian Bear Dog.
The name of the Medelyan dog comes from the name of the Italian city of Mediolana, now known as Milan because these dogs had Italian Molossians among their ancestors.
Russian Mastiff bear dogs were present at the kennels of many Russian tsars. The purebred mastiffs were 5-6 times more expensive than other hunting dogs and were comparable in price to the noble horses. Medelyans were often gifted to foreign rulers and exported to other countries in exchange for weapons, horses, and textiles.
These now-extinct dogs were appreciated by European breeders and were used to improve and maintain the local dog breeds, for example, the English Mastiff.
M.B.Wynn from England, the founder of the UK's first Mastiff club (1874) and the author of The History of the Mastiff (1886) has described the Russian Mastiff as follows:
"He was a low-standing animal, being not more than 29 inches at the shoulder with round barrel, short stout limbs, and one of the most typical mastiff heads I have ever seen, eves remarkably small, and grey in colour, the muzzle short, blunt and very deep, lips extremely pendulous, ears very small, coat short, very dense and somewhat woolly, colour a deep red chestnut, with blue or slate coloured points and a white streak up the face, white on breast and paws, stern somewhat thick and brush-like.
He had a split nose, and the skin instead of being black, was a bluish colour. That this was a true mastiff colour I was aware from having seen an English mastiff bitch of exactly the same colour and markin gs at Lord Stanley’s of Alderley."
The reason for the extinction of this wonderful breed of dogs in Russia was a ban on baiting bears, introduced in the 1860s. In the second half of the 19th century, the number of Medelyans began to decline rapidly, and by the beginning of the 20th century, they remained only in Gatchina, the place of the imperial hunt. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russian Mastiff dogs have practically disappeared.
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Today, some enthusiasts in Russia are trying to revive the old bear mastiff breed but the modern Medelyan is still too far from the extinct dog.
The internet ads offering “Russian Mastiff puppies” or “Russian Mastiff for sale” are usually posted by the modern Medelyan dog’s breeders. Otherwise, the authors of these ads are selling the puppies of Caucasian Shepherd.
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Read about another extinct dog - the Russian Newfoundland
Comments ( 2 )
“Medelyans were often gifted to foreign rulers and exported to other countries in exchange for weapons, horses, and textiles. https://www.russiandog.net”
Who knows, they might be hidden away on some estate for only the most well connected.
Why not :)