Molossian Dog – Breed Features and Facts You Need To Know

Molossian dogs belong to the category of extinct dog breeds that have been sparking rumors of resurgence for decades. However, all the speculations about the survival of the breed seem to be false as no one has seen a real-life Molossus to date. What does the Molossian dog look like? Find out here.

Origin Of The Molossian Dog Breed

The Molossus canines first thrived in the ancient Greek tribe, as well as the Molossians kingdom which populated the region of Epirus. The ferocity and size of the Molossus made the breed popular throughout the ancient world as they earned notable mentions in ancient writings and literature. Ancient writers who mentioned the breed include Aristophanes, Aristotle, Horace, Grattius, Lucan, Lucretius, Nemesianus, Martial, Oppian of Apamea, Plautus, Statius, Seneca, Ovid, and Virgil. The emblem on the Molossian silver coinage happens to be an image of the Molossus.

According to some North American and Continental European books and magazines, all mastiff-type canines are direct descendants of the Molossian dog. Going by the postulations of this theory, the progenitors of the breed moved from Asia to Molossia and eventually, the Romans who guarded the Roman army with an extensive number of guards discovered them. This theory also speculates that the mastiff breeds scattered throughout Europe descended from the dogs the Romans left behind. Some experts have questioned this theory for its lack of historical evidence, dismissing it as guesswork.

Another version exists which states that Alexander the Great on his military conquests was impressed by the giant dogs he came across in Asia, so much that he decided to import some into his home country. Alexander being an offspring of a Molossi princess, the pops became associated with the people of his maternal home and the Mastiff breed descended from them.

From what is perceivable, the Molossi tribe reared two distinct types of canines – there is a hunting dog sporting a broad muzzle, resembling a cross between a heavily built Saluki, a Great Dane, and a huge livestock guardian dog. In Aristotle’s History of Animals, he distinguished between the Molossian race of canines used in hunting that vary in no respect from others while the dogs used in herding livestock are larger and fiercer in attacking wild beasts. According to Aristotle, crossbreeding the Laconian and Molossian dogs give rise to dogs that are considered to be remarkable for their courage, as well as endurance of hard labor.

Polycrates of Samos were responsible for importing Laconian and Molossian dogs to the island. Going by findings from Greek Mythology, Procris was gifted with a dog from the goddess Artemis; the dog which never failed in capturing its prey is the progenitor of the Laconian and Molossian hounds.

Important Things To Know About the Molossian Dog

  • The Molossian dog was an outdoor canine mainly used by farmers, soldiers, and hunters
  • It was said to be a highly energetic dog that needed a lot of exercise to thrive
  • The Mastiff breed is speculated to have descended from the Molossian dog
  • The breed was said to be very large in size, in fact, its stature has been described as larger than life


The physical appearance of the Molossian dog has remained unclear to date. Many believe the dog to be very huge with a brawny body, sporting a wide chest and thick limbs. Others believe the breed to look more like a sighthound with long ears and straight, tall limbs.

There is yet another description of the Molossus canines that said they are medium-sized generic-looking pups with varying appearances. With that said, Molossus’ real looks have remained unknown.


Temperament-wise, Molossus canines are said to be ferocious, fierce, and characterized by unflinching loyalty to their owners. As war dogs, the breed was trained to fight and are known to fight to finish. They also function as guard and hunting dogs, indicating that they may have been easy to train. Since they were not reared as companion dogs, the Molossus canines are outdoor pups.


Molossian dogs’ health issues were never documented by any source but that is not to say that they didn’t suffer from any. The breed is now extinct and further research cannot be done on them.

Exercise and Training

There are indications that the Molossian dog was easy to train since they were used as herding, guard, and war dogs. The pup was an outdoor dog, meaning that it had too much stamina which calls for vigorous exercise sessions on a daily basis.

Read Also: 10 Chinese Dog Breeds – From Shar Pei To Chow Chow

Do They Make Good Family Pets?

The Molossian dogs were never kept as companion dogs and there is no way they would be recommended as household dogs.

Are Molossus Dogs Extinct?

Officially, the Molossian breed is considered to be extinct and its resurgence has given rise to heated debates. However, all the written evidence with claims of the Molossus’ survival never deemed it necessary to detail the dog’s physical attributes nor did they provide the public with sketches of it. The only available guesses come from second-hand art.

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