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Q. Where can we see more of Dave’s art?

A.Since this column is supposed to be about American Bulldogs and a typical sculpture of mine will be something like a 35 foot tall dinosaur, I decided to draw a pictorial essay which gives the history of the Mastiff family of dogs up until the first dogs appeared that resembled the modern American Bulldog.

#1- First dog, 50,000 BC, North Africa. The original dog was built like a powerful Jackal and was used to catch large game. The primary difference between primitive dogs and Jackals was that the former had more courage and gameness.

first dogCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#2- Proto-Mastiff catch dog, 20,000 BC, Central Asia. Some strains of domestic dog specialized in catching large/dangerous game and developed more muscular builds, slightly shorter muzzles and heavier jaws.

proto - mastiffCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#3- Proto-Mastiff catch dogs in action. Ice age hunters were able to tackle the most fearsome animals with their primitive catch dogs due tremendous gameness and athleticism.

proto - mastiffCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#4- Proto-Mastiffs become true Mastiffs, 10,000 BC. Larger, more powerful and 100% dead game, the first true Mastiffs paid a price for their superior fighting ability. They were slower over long distances and had less endurance than the lupine hounds they hunted with. Their shorter muzzles also limited their scenting ability. The abilities that the Mastiffs lost the hounds gained. Primitive hounds had superb noses and incredible endurance. Once the hounds bayed bison or wild boar, the Mastiffs would move in to catch and control the animal before human hunters administered the coup de grace.

true - mastiffCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#5- Assyrian Mastiffs were used to catch wild horses and hunt lions in North Africa and Southwest Asia, 5,000 BC. Catching wild horses was a precursor to Mastiffs being used in war against enemy cavalry. Not only were Mastiffs also used as guard dogs by the ancient Assyrians, clay figures of Mastiffs were buried under the threshold of a house’s door so that the spirits of deceased Mastiffs would act as perpetual guards.

assyrian mastiffCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#6- Mastiffs were first used as war dogs in Southwest Asia roughly 4,000 BC. In 1800 BC the first large scale assault using huge packs of Mastiff war dogs occurred when a group of warlike Asian Tribes collectively known as the Hyksos invaded Egypt. Egyptian soldiers were so terrified of the fierce war Mastiffs that they fled the battlefield in terror. Shortly after the Hyksos wars the Persian would develop great armies of Mastiff war dogs.

south east asiaCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#7- A specific breed of Mastiff, the Greek Molossus, slowly became the ancient world’s premier breed of war dog. Some Molossus had the appearance of a heavy boned wolf. The Molossus was periodically crossed to the Spartan war dog, which resembled a modern Belgian Malinois in both temperament and looks. The result of a Molossus/Spartan cross was called a Grecian war dog. These dogs were in turn crossed back to their parent breeds when the need arose. For instance, if a strain of Molossus was getting to big, slow and heavy jowled, a lithe lupine Grecian war dog would be crossed into the overly typey Molossus to reduce size, gain speed and endurance.

greek molossusCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#8- Some Molossus war dogs had an appearance closer to a modern Mastiff. These overly typey dogs were valuable as a cross for a too lightly built lupine war dog. The result was a dog that was built like a large Pit Bull or a Performance AB. This was the ideal physique for combating horses, armed men and other war dogs. Breeding two different types within one Mastiff breed to create an intermediate type is a technique newly rediscovered by the American Bulldog community.

war dogCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

#9- Around 100 AD the Romans began exporting British Mastiff/Bulldogs off the island and into the gladiatorial games. Roman writers were amazed at the fighting ability of the British import. They were declared superior to the venerable Molossus or any other breed of fighting dog. The Romans called these dogs the British Pugnaces and claimed that they were enflamed with the spirit of Mars, the God of war.

british importCopyright Dave Putnam 2000

Copyright 1999 by Dave Putnam
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