The Alpine Mastiff was a unique dog breed that had its origins in antiquity. The roots of the Alpine Mastiff go back centuries, but you won’t find even one of these amazing creatures available for sale anywhere on the planet. There are so many interesting facts about the Alpine Mastiff that is worth telling that we dedicated this list of 20 things you didn’t know about the Alpine Mastiff to the memory of this once great dog breed.
1. The Alpine Mastiff is an extinct dog breed
The Alpine Mastiff was popular in the 19th century, but the breed became extinct during this era. Not one purebred example of this dog breed still exists anywhere in the world. Instead, its genetics continue forward in diluted forms in other dog breeds. The Alpine Mastiff ceased to exist when breeders started experimenting with crossbreeding to develop new breeds of mountain dogs. No pure examples of the Alpine Mastiff were retained, according to Vix. They listed it as a dog breed we would like to see brought back to life. Although this is an unfortunate turn of events that resulted in the complete extinction of the breed, there are multiple descendants that we celebrate.
2. People mistake St. Bernard for an Alpine Mastiff
St. Bernard is a dog breed that is frequently mistaken for an Alpine Mastiff. There are similarities between the two breeds because the Alpine Mastiff is an ancestor of the breed. It’s essential to know that these are two distinctly different dog breeds, although St. Bernard is the result of the crossbreeding that wiped out the Alpine Mastiff.
3. The Alpine Mastiff was known by several names
The Alpine Mastiff originated in the Swiss Alps, hence its name. This dog breed was named the L’Ami. Although commonly called a St. Bernard, this was an error as the two were separate breeds. The breed was also referred to as an Alpine Molosser or an Alpine Spaniel.
4. The Alpine Mastiff is an ancient dog breed
According to Dog Time, The Alpine Mastiff is an old dog breed that is referred to in ancient texts and artifacts found in the northern regions of Europe. Evidence of the breed dates the breed back as far as 500 BC. This would make the breed one of the oldest in the world had it not been eradicated. We were in awe of all the various depictions of the Alpine Mastiff that were found in archaeological records, writings, and decorative items through the centuries. It shows that the dog has been revered and held in high esteem for centuries. There were even relief carvings of this dog found.
5. The story of the Alpine Mastiff teaches us a lesson
During the 1800s there were no conservative measures taken to preserve the purity of the Alpine Mastiff breed. Breeders interested in experimenting with cross-breeding the dog with other large canines to arrive at the perfect mountain dog neglected to maintain purity in the ancestral lines. It’s a shame that this exquisite creature is no longer in existence as it survived for centuries, only to be cross-bred out of existence. Hopefully, we learned a valuable lesson about preserving the integrity of these important breeds instead of sacrificing them through experimentation.
6. The Alpine Mastiff was introduced in England in 1829
The Alpine Mastiff is notable, although extinct dog breed that made history. The first one was brought to England in 1829 and exhibited as the largest dog in the world throughout Liverpool and London. It was a magnificent creature and a sight to behold as it was the largest dog that many people had ever seen. This was the first time that people from England had a chance to see a pure Alpine Mastiff, but it would not be around for long. This dog came from the convent of Great St. Bernard.
7. The Alpine Mastiff is an ancestor of the English Mastiff
If you’re a fan of the English Mastiff dog breed, you have the Alpine Mastiff to thank for it. The breed is a derivative of the Alpine. The English Mastiff bears many of the features of its parent, the Alpine Mastiff, but it is only one of many descendant dog breeds.
8. The Alpine Mastiff is the topic of a book
The history of the Alpine Mastiff has been recorded in the pages of history. M.B. Wynn wrote a book about the Alpine Mastiff that details what is known about it throughout history. He referred to the dog as light and brindle in color. He points out that the Alpine Mastiff is most closely associated with its descendant St. Bernard, which is a composite breed that is the most like the Alpine Mastiff, but he distinguishes the two as being completely separate. The alteration of genetics through crossbreeding was so significant that there is not a plausible way to resurrect the breed. It has been too diluted with mixed with other kinds of dogs.
9. The Alpine Mastiff was a revered breed in antiquity
Known for its large and capable build, the Alpine Mastiff is a dog breed that was highly revered in antiquity. According to the Internet Archive, evidence of the popularity of the Alpine Mastiff has been found in ancient writings, and on pieces of pottery, paintings, carvings, and sculptures from thousands of years ago. Interestingly, the people of ancient times would preserve their memory by making sculptures and paintings of the dog. It’s assumed that the dog was used to help them in various ways.
10. The Alpine Mastiff is an ancestor that was valued for its large genetics
Breeders in the 19th century were impressed with the size of the Alpine Mastiff. They used it as a basis for creating designer crossbreds to arrive at large and capable dog breeds. They experimented with Great Danes and Newfoundlands to crate the St. bernard dog breed. Other names for the descendant breed are Patua and Cane Garouf. St. Bernard or Cane Garouf in its pure form is also considered to be a rare dog breed.
11. Some breeders tried to bring the Alpine Mastiff back
When it was discovered that the Alpine Mastiff had become an extinct breed, conscientious dog breeders realized that an injustice had been served to the breed. They made efforts to try to resurrect the Alpine Mastiff. They experimented with a crossbreed of Great Pyrenees, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, but their efforts were unsuccessful. There was no way to bring back what was lost. It is a dog breed that is now a part of history and we’ll never see it again.
12. Alpine Mastiffs came in just two colors
The Alpine Mastiff was not hard to identify. They were born with coats that were either brown or brindle. There were no other known variations in the colors of these dogs.
13. The Alpine Mastiff was one of the biggest dogs in the world
Alpine Mastiffs were tall dogs and they were heavy. Records that talk about the size of the Alpine Mastiff record their height at somewhere between 35 to 40 inches at the shoulder. The males were usually larger than the females, as is the case with most dog breeds. They reached an adult weight that was between 340 to 350 pounds. These were massive dogs that were strong and capable.
14. It wouldn’t have been hard to grow the Alpine Mastiff population again
If breeders would have realized how close the Alpine Mastiff breed was to extinction, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to bring them back from the precipice. The average Alpine Mastiff mother would give birth to large litters of puppies. The litter sizes ranged between four to twelve puppies. Had they taken the time to maintain the purity of the breed, they could have easily repopulated the Alpine Mastiff within a few decades. Breeders realized what was happening a little too late as the last known purebreds had already been crossbred with no remaining pure examples left.
15. The Alpine Mastiff is the ancestor of all Mastiffs
The Alpine Mastiff is known as the first true Mastiff with a large body. When you see other large mastiff breeds, now you know that they all originated from the Alpine Mastiff through crossbreeding programs that were executives wherever an Alpine Mastiff was known to exist. Some of the unique traits and characteristics of the Alpine Mastiff still appear in these large-bodied dogs, but none can boast the greatness of the original ancestor that started it all.
16. They were gentle giants
We were interested in knowing more about Alpine Mastiff’s personality. Our research confirmed that they knew the Alpine Mastiff as a gentle giant. They had a calm nature, and they were friendly dogs. They widely believed that they would make wonderful family dogs had the breed survived its systematic extermination. Their loving nature made them good with children as they showed a lot of affection for their owners and these dogs had a truly kind nature.
17. They bred the Alpine Mastiff to work
The Alpine Mastiff made an exceptional addition to any working farm. These dogs were massive. They had strong rippling muscles that made them excellent helpers around farms and mountainous areas. They bred them for helping their owners around the place by pulling loads and doing other types of manual labor.
18. Alpine Mastiffs were proficient hunters
They also bred alpine Mastiffs for hunting. These dogs, when properly trained, were big and strong enough to take down large animals. They helped to feed the families that they belonged to. Their large size made them the ideal hunting companions, as they were strong enough to help pull the carcasses of large prey back to the house where the hunters could cut them up into more manageable sizes. The Alpine Mastiff helped to make life easier for people in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were strong and capable hunters.
19. They also used alpine Mastiffs in war
Another little-known fact about the Alpine Mastiff is that some owners also bred them for their skills during wartime. Although valued for their friendly and calm nature, they also had other talents to offer. These dogs possessed the capability to help during times of war. Their large bodies, along with tremendous weight, gave them lethal striking abilities when battling enemies. They could take a rider off his horse with little effort. The Alpine Mastiff was a versatile dog breed that could be a wonderful affectionate companion for its owner, but it could also be a formidable opponent in war. This data suggests that they were working dogs in their hearts. Alpines were loyal to their owners. They did what they required to please them. Whether it was tending to the children or taking their enemy. These dogs were known to form strong attachments and bonds with their human families. Alpine Mastiffs had a strong desire to please their masters. From what we’ve read, there isn’t much they would not do for their families when asked.
20. The Alpine Mastiff was also a good guard dog
Could you imagine coming face to face with a dog of this size? Alpine Mastiffs may have been affectionate dogs, but they were also protective of their families and the premises where they lived. The only humans they sought to please were their owners and the families they belonged to. They record Alpine Mastiffs in history as being used as guard dogs. These intelligent creatures would defend the home and businesses. When a potential threat arose, they would take whatever action was necessary. We can safely assume that their enormous bodies were a deterrent to would-be thieves or vandals. These dogs were not prone to barking, but they would take swift and decisive action to repel all threats from their families