-A +A

In Search of the Gampr, the Armenian Molosser

Will standardizing Armenia’s mountain dog erode its diversity?

Dog breeds are not just about dogs. Most times, they are also about people, and by extension their cultural, national or tribal identity. Logical or not, there is deep emotion attached to a “national” dog.

It is well known among those who are concerned with localized breeds that if the culture of use that created a breed is changed, then the breed changes – so there is merit to the cultural attachment, for much more practical reasons.  

Armenia, with its strategically important location, has struggled to maintain its national identity as it has been fought over, annexed and purged over the decades. Symbolic of the country’s geopolitical bad luck is Mount Ararat: Forming the backdrop to Armenia’s capital city, Yerevan, and considered Armenia’s national symbol, Ararat is located in … Turkey. Similarly, the Van cat, with its chalky white coat and odd-colored eye, is often referred to as the Turkish Van, though Armenians inhabited the area around Lake Van until 1915, when they were subjected to systematic eradication that later inspired the coining of the word “genocide.”  


The Gampr (above) originated in the highlands of Armenia, though genetic traits have naturally been shared with dogs in neighboring areas. Thousands of years of breeding have resulted in a landrace with a few different styles of dogs. Current efforts within Armenia to standardize the breed have focused on the more Molosser-type dogs. Photo: Lala Minasian

The Gampr (above) originated in the highlands of Armenia, though genetic traits have naturally been shared with dogs in neighboring areas. Thousands of years of breeding have resulted in a landrace with a few different styles of dogs. Current efforts within Armenia to standardize the breed have focused on the more Molosser-type dogs. Photo: Lala Minasian

GAMPR Map Armenia


It should be no surprise, then, that a dog said to have evolved on the Armenian highlands would evoke great emotional stirrings.  

In recent years, there has been a movement to promote the Gampr, Armenia’s aboriginal dog, which has been used as a livestock guardian for thousands of years in the south Caucasus Mountains. Ancient cultural references to the Gampr include a variety of pictographs, historical legends and ancient spiritual references beginning at the end of the last ice age, which have been well known among Armenians for millennia, predating their adoption of Christianity by many thousands of years.  

The aboriginal Gampr of the south Caucasus Mountains is really a landrace: Unlike a breed as most modern fanciers understand the term – a standardized family of dogs with a closed gene pool and a degree of consistency in their physical appearance – a landrace is a group of animals that share utilitarian characteristics, are loosely managed on an individual level, bred for function, and are genetically diverse. They generally do not look homogenous, and the genetic variability within their gene pool allows ready adaptation to changes within their associated human culture. The culture frames the breed and retains relevant characteristics, constantly tested by utilization.  

In this respect, there is a great deal of common ground between the Gampr and the Tibetan Mastiff. The latter also had a wide variety of sizes and functions, from the heavily Molosser-influenced guard dogs to the lighter-boned shepherd types known as dokhyi. And the story of that breed, just like the emerging one of the Gampr, is a story of a constant push-me-pull-you tension between the two extremes of the breed in search of one archetype that can represent them all.


  Gampr seatedGampr grey female in shuniks pack












Like the Tibetan Mastiff (below left and right), the Gampr can range from a “palace guardian” type (above left) to a lighter-boned shepherd’s dog (above right).

Tibetan Mastiff study by Sanna Sodergren

Tibetan Mastiff Mary Bloom














Like the Tibetan Mastiff, the Gampr is aboriginal, a term used to describe dogs that have not been relocated, but are naturally occurring within their environment. A landrace is an aboriginal breed if it has begun from local stock and developed naturally throughout history, rather than from relocated animals that originated elsewhere recently and were thrown together to create a breed. An example of a non-aboriginal landrace is the Spanish Mastiff. The breed did not evolve from local populations of proto-dog species; rather, it developed in the last several centuries from dogs brought to Spain.

  Gamprs with Armenian woman

The Gampr has been bred in three for four varieties though the millennia. Today we have the hovashoon, or shepherd’s dog, which guards the sheep from wolves and other predators, as well as the larger “Armenian wolfhound,” currently known for actually killing the numerous wolves that come nightly down from the mountains. But the connection with the local Caucasian wolf is much deeper. In fact, it is commonly known that Gamprs have occasionally bred with local wolves intermittently over the last 4,000 years. At the oldest metallurgical site in the world, Metsamor in western Armenia, there is evidence of a religion that for 2,000 years before Christ consistently bred a special breed of dog, crossed with wolf. These dogs were ritually buried with their owners, adorned with metal ornaments on their forelegs, as guides to the underworld.


Armenian Gampr on a stamp and, top, in a snowy Armenian village. Armenian Gampr in a snowy Armenian village (top) and on a stamp (bottom).


We can see traces of the wolf’s temperament, structure, coloring and coat type in the modern Gampr. These characteristics and other subtle differences are what set it apart from other landraces of the Caucasus. Any one characteristic can be found in neighboring landraces, through natural admixture, but as a total package, the Gampr is recognizably distinct.  

The coat of the Gampr has more variation in length between undercoat and the guard hairs than most other landrace dogs of the adjoined regions. It is usually downy-soft underneath, like rabbit’s wool. The colors often mimic a wolf’s coat, with red, brown and gray sables occurring frequently.  

The Gampr’s physique is built for a low-calorie environment and endurance. Long, flat muscles stretch over flat bone, not overly heavy and no excess muscle or fleshiness. They are streamlined, usually longer in the body than the legs, and move smoothly at a trot or fast run. The head structure of the hovashoon, or shepherd’s Gampr, more closely resembles a wolf than in other neighboring landraces.  

Hired shepherds who do not own the Gamprs guarding the sheep will not force the Gampr to accept them – they cohabitate and work together, but the Gampr only actually submits to his owners. Gamprs have a social order in their pack, but work together as a team regardless of social position.  

Today, there is a push to have the Gampr recognized as a formal breed. Anytime a breed becomes codified, decisions must be made: Which style or flavor of this family of dogs will come to represent it when the gene pool closes and the “breed” is defined? The largest, tallest, most eye-catching Gamprs are being registered and considered representative of Armenian dogs, but almost every older villager can remember a wide variety of Gamprs from their childhood – often but not always bred separately to keep each variety consistent. The rougher livestock guardians, or hovashoon, are just one type; there have been many bred for rescuing lost people in the snow (potorkashoon), hunting bears (archashoon) and hunting wolves or guarding homes and villages from wolves (gelkheght).


The heavier built gelkheght, or “wolf-choker,” type is being promoted by the Gampr club in Armenia. Photos Hamlik Parsanian (top) and Lala Minasian (above)

The heavier built gelkheght, or “wolf-choker,” type is being promoted by the Gampr club in Armenia. Photos: Hamlik Parsanian (top) and Lala Minasian (below)

Gampr heavier type 2


These gelkheght – literally, “wolf-choker” – are what is generally being promoted as the “true Gampr” by the Armenian club. In the United States, the Gampr Club of America focuses on the hovashoon. But all varieties have historical merit and significance.  

The breeding of gelkheght (now also called “Wolfhound”) has historically been more cosmopolitan, with greater connection to both old lines from Western Armenia (now eastern Turkey) and trade with neighboring countries. Most of the trade for the last century has been outward: For instance, in the 1950s, Samvel Karabakhtian, a manager of a Soviet communal breeding barn in Turkmenistan, took 200 Gamprs from Armenia to protect the livestock there. Also, when the Azeri people (the Turkic-speakers living in Azerbaijan Republic and northwest Iran) were on better terms with the Armenians, under Soviet rule, they brought their sheep to graze on the pastures of eastern Armenia and purchased tens or hundreds of Gamprs every summer to take home. This history has opened some breeders to the concept of “importing back” to Armenia, and breeding larger males back to the native hovashoon, or shepherd’s dogs, adding these to their kennels. Figuring out which are purebred and which are mixed takes very detailed unraveling.  

Because of the popularity of fighting dogs from Turkmenistan, the North Caucasus and Russia, many breeders are less discriminatory in their breeding practices – fighting dogs is the main force driving puppy sales, and all breeders are in competition with each other. Buyers are often oblivious to what mixes look like or don’t care, so all are sold as whatever is popular. This can make them all “Central Asian” regardless of parentage, or all Gampr, or mixed, depending on what buyers are looking for rather than truth.  

Among these are also people who understand what is or isn’t Gampr, and do breed true to Armenian historical accuracy, but they are fewer than the ones who mix.  


A hovashoon Gampr doing his job. Photo: Hamlik Parsanian

A hovashoon Gampr doing his job. Photo: Hamlik Parsanian


The danger here is that both types of breeders use the local females, or hovashoon, to breed to their best males. Extra puppies are traded back to shepherds, or sold randomly, including at Vernissage, an open market in Yerevan. The local hovashoon have always been the basis for all other types, but are now being bred out. It is very difficult to find people who breed just these – they are less dramatic looking, often smaller, and less recognizable.  

Historically, it used to be that shepherd’s Gamprs, the hovashoon type, were easily found in summer pastures or in winter villages. Now, less than 10 percent of the dogs “employed” in this capacity appear to be the real thing, and the shepherds often accept whatever dog will do the job. In winter, when they are in villages, occasionally a street dog will breed their females, or a fighting dog might be intentionally bred to a female.  

The future of these Gamprs is looking difficult, to say the least.  


Mistaken – and Taken – Identity

 An aboriginal livestock guardian dog in the south Caucasus Mountains, the Armenian Gampr has a counterpart to the north – the North Caucasus volkodav, or “aboriginal Caucasian.” Both appear to be endemic in their respective regions. At first glance, the Gampr and the north Caucasus dogs appear very similar, and there is also a strong similarity between many Gamprs and the dogs of Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey.  


Male Gampr next to a pile of wool that will be sold to villagers for making mattresses and blankets. Photo: Rohana Mayer

Male Gampr next to a pile of wool that will be sold to villagers for making mattresses and blankets. Photo: Rohana Mayer


Armenian Gamprs of the hovashoon variety have more prevalence of recent crosses with local wolves than most of the other varieties of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Perhaps for this reason, or for other physical requirements related to calories and terrain, the Gampr tends to have a lighter build, with flatter muscle groups and a more streamlined appearance.  

By contrast, the North Caucasus dogs generally have a wider, more muscled appearance with thicker, more rounded bones. They have been bred into both the Gampr and other breeds, adding heft and impressiveness. Additionally, they make excellent fighting dogs, with most of the renowned champions from the 1990s in their group. Well-known fighting dogs like Goroch, Hoda, Khoda and Khopur all have been fought in the North Caucasus, and their offspring are still bred and sold widely among all the countries who currently fight dogs.  


North Caucasus dogs are more Molosser in type. Photo: Tigran Nazaryan

North Caucasus dogs are more Molosser in type. Photo: Tigran Nazaryan


Both the Gampr and the north Caucasus dogs were used to create the Caucasian Ovcharka. While many fanciers recognize this imposing and impressive breed, not many know that it was essentially the designer dog of its day: Neither aboriginal nor a landrace, the very hairy Caucasian Ovcharka was created by the Soviets in the early 1900s as a utility dog, combining the guard drive and toughness of local breeds into a more standardized and recognizable package. They are still used as prison guards, compound guardians and personal guard dogs. Now a modern breed that is recognized by the FCI, the Caucasian Ovcharka has a very tight gene pool, is standardized and would not exist in a natural situation due to some exaggerated features.  

Similarly, the Central Asian Ovcharka was also created by the Soviets from various landrace dogs of Central Asia, plus a little from the north Caucasus. The Central Asian Ovcharkas are heavier than the landrace Central Asians, the latter of which are built for speed and endurance, and tend to have a long, lean physique, with low-calorie needs. As with the Caucasian Ovcharka, the Central Asian Ovcharka is a standardized breed created from landraces.  


Caucasian Ovcharka (above) and Central Asian Ovcharka (below): Neither are landraces, but were created from landraces, including the Gampr. Photos: Dreamstime

Caucasian Ovcharka (above) and Central Asian Ovcharka (below): Neither are landraces, but were created from landraces, including the Gampr. Photos: Dreamstime

Central Asian Ovcharka


Both the Central Asian Ovcharka and the Caucasian Ovcharka borrowed from the North Caucasus dogs to gain bulk, which is why both breeds have a more beefed-up appearance than the landraces from which they originate.  

Certain characteristics of the Armenian Gampr helped make the Caucasian Ovcharka what it is today, but the Caucasian Ovcharka is not a Gampr any more than the Central Asia Ovcharka is a native Tajik Shepherd Dog of Central Asia. As is the nature of a landrace, whose borders are somewhat porous, the Gampr and its neighbors have always benefited from occasional fresh inclusions of neighboring aboriginal dog genetics. This is normal for a landrace where the culture is seasonally nomadic. It is not appropriate nor helpful to include modern breeds such as the Caucasian Ovcharka or Central Asian Ovcharka, as selection criteria and breed development have not been consistent with the natural pressures that created the landraces. Change the selection criteria, and you change the breed.  


What Breed Is It?

There are many subtle characteristics we can see in dogs from the north Caucasus, Armenia and Central Asia that indicate what breed or breeds they actually are.  

Take coat, for instance. The length of the Caucasian Ovcharka’s coat comes from the Gampr, but the density of the coat comes from the North Caucasus dogs. A Gampr coat consists of a very soft undercoat, like rabbit fur, with a long outer coat of guard hairs. The guard hairs are often twice the length of the undercoat, or more. The undercoat sheds easily on a Gampr, sliding out between the guard hairs in thick mats. On longer-coated dogs, the soft undercoat behind the ears sometimes creates a very small mat that does not shed until the dog scratches at it, but the rest of the coat sheds cleanly. There are short-coated and long-coated Gamprs, but still the looseness and the length difference are present.  

The density of the coat of the Caucasian Ovcharka is from the North Caucasus dogs. The northern dogs have a much denser undercoat that is more even in length over the whole body, and less differentiation in length between areas of the body, as well as between the undercoat and outercoat. Shedding is often in smaller tufts, but follows the same shedding pattern as the Gampr – from the bottom line up, and from the front of the flanks to the back, head and tail last.


Gampr female rear viewGampr female rear view













Above: Two long-coated Armenian Gamprs. Gampr photos: Hamlik Parsanian  Below: These neighbors of the Gampr are the North Caucasus short-hair type. Their coats are much more dense and even throughout.

Gampr Kaplan1Northern Caucus Dog 2














Skull shape is a metric by which scientists often determine species and their relationships. In studying evolution of species, relationships between populations and how to identify any individual skull, the shape of areas such as eye sockets is accepted as a reliable indicator of species. If peer-reviewed scientific publications accept this, we should as well. As can be seen in the two photos above, the North Caucasus dogs have a slightly more level placement of their eyes, and more cheek muscle. The Armenian dogs have a more streamlined head structure, eyes slightly angled upward and mouth less prominent. These characteristics can only be present if the skull is shaped to make them this way – and a different shape to the skull that is consistent throughout indicates a difference in genetics. Therefore, separate breeds.


  north caucasian faceNorth Caucasus kaplan











Above: North Caucasus dogs have eyes that are angled slightly lower, and more muscular cheeks. Head shot: Rohana Mayer  Below: These two hovashoon show the prevalent eye angle among Armenian Gamprs. Photos: Hamlik Parsanian


Eye GamprGampr shunik head side













In Armenia, dogs from Central Asia and from the North Caucasus are often called “Aziat,” which means “Asian,” even though the North Caucasus dogs are not actually central Asian. The Central Asian Ovcharka borrowed heavily from the North Caucasus. Both the Central Asian Ovcharka and North Caucasus dogs have a more level eye. The placement of the eyes and angle of the corners are a recognizable difference between Gamprs and other regional dogs. Additionally, many of the northern dogs and crosses of these have a more rounded skull. The Alabai, a type of Central Asian, usually has less rounded cheek muscle than the northern Caucasus dogs. The photos below show the more prominent cheekbone below the eye on most Turkmen Alabai dogs.  


tara by fence2













This Alabai, which is a Central Asian shepherd from Turkmenistan, shows the prominent cheekbones common to this type. Photos: Wade McKenzie and Rohana Mayer


Blending Mode

 As these examples show, the various regional types of dogs from the Caucasus and Central Asia have characteristics, from coat length and texture to eye placement and shape, that clearly differentiate them. But there has always been, as is appropriate for landraces, genetic exchange among the regions. This leads to some blending of characteristics.  

A little blending is historically correct. Shepherds move their animals frequently during summer grazing, and sheep and dogs are sold and traded seasonally. This prevents genetic bottleneck and ensures variety, which helps a landrace adapt to changes.  

There have been many examples of this with Gamprs over the centuries: Before the current animosity between Armenians and Azeris, the latter brought their sheep to graze in the summer pastures of eastern Armenia. At that time during the mid-1900s, they bought many dogs to take home. There are historic sheep routes from the south Caucasus (Armenia and Azerbaijan) to the North Caucasus during which puppies and breedings were exchanged. Iran has been a consistent, heavy buyer of sheep, and consequently many Gamprs went south as well.  

And the largest cluster of dogs “leaving Armenia” were the dogs of what is now eastern Turkey. Historically Armenian for many thousands of years – what is now included in Anatolia, Kars, the slopes of Mount Ararat and Van – these areas included thousands of Armenian dogs who were left behind during the genocide.  

This lends credence to the concept often touted by breeders of fighting dogs, that the dogs of the surrounding countries were all Armenian originally, so why not use them?  


Gampr puppies. The breed is at a crossroads in defining type. Photo: Rohana Mayer

Gampr puppies. The breed is at a crossroads in defining type. Photo: Rohana Mayer


But currently, the amount of genetic exchange between areas has been on overdrive, largely driven by the demand for fighting dogs. Breeding for fighting is competitive, and people import and trade all types, trying to create something better than all the rest. The influx of other types into Armenia has made it very difficult to find the historically accurate shepherd’s dog. Many of the shepherds themselves either inbreed in a closed pack to avoid contamination, outcross to fighting types to get away from the inbreeding, or carelessly let their Gamprs cross with random village dogs in the winter. Only a few shepherds actually manage their Gampr packs carefully. Also, the breeders of fighting dogs buy out many female puppies as mates for their large gladiator dogs, depriving the Gampr gene pool of many pure females, and adding back the mixed dogs.  

Because this is a landrace, perhaps this is just the next stage for the Gampr. The historical boundaries are blurred now, travel is easier and quicker between areas, and the desires of buyers are more focused on might over utility.  

If left to unravel and re-establish without interference, the Armenian Gampr would likely, eventually, settle into a type very similar to its historic version. The terrain is rugged and dog breeding fads change so rapidly that each passing preference in breeding and selection has limited time to make its mark before the next fad arrives. But the historic genome, and the last few dogs that have not joined the homogenization in progress, are a genetic artifact and a beautiful reflection of the history of the Armenian culture and landscape from which they originated. They do not need to be perfected; they have been molded to the rigors of physical and mental demands of a complex job. They have no extraneous characteristics needing to be stripped away down to the bare necessities for their survival under harsh conditions. They are the epitome of their function, derived from thousands of years of adaptation. To lose this work of art would be tragic.  

Separate efforts underway in the United States and Armenia have the common goal of preserving the Gampr. As the very definition of the Gampr is complex, it may be difficult for these groups from opposite sides of the world to learn how to best support each other’s efforts. The Armenian club is primarily working with the Gelkheght, or wolfhound, variety, while the club in the United States is aiming to import and support breeding of hovashoon, shepherd’s dogs. The disparity among types has led to some confusion, but both groups are opposed to inclusions of more external genetics - Armenia has been flooded with them enough already.   Both groups have a passion to protect the remaining gene pool, in different ways. This common goal and love for the breed will continue to help protect what is left. And hopefully the original Armenian Gampr will continue to be a resource for centuries to come.  

Rohana Mayer is president of the Armenian Gampr Club of America.


Armenia’s Pride

By Aleksandr Molodkin

The Gampr is a dog with a strong instinct for self-preservation. Protective of his home, protective of his cattle, he is able to fight the wolf alone, and even a cheetah, and anyone who would encroach on the protected object. At the same time, he is a true friend of man, exhibiting absolute friendliness toward him.  

The Gampr has a large, well-developed head, with no prominent cheekbones. It is very impressive and I can even say beautiful, with a broad skull and a smooth transition from forehead to muzzle, powerful jaws, and beautiful smooth forehead, almost parallel to the bridge of the nose. The eyes are rather small, almond-shaped, slightly slanting and deep set. The serious expression in the eyes is immediately apparent, even in young puppies. The teeth are strong, large and white, located close to each other, in a scissors bite. Ears are cropped.


  Gampr adult


The neck is of medium length, strong, muscular and powerful. The chest is deep and wide. The back is straight. The tail is raised over the back when walking, is not docked and has a crescent or ring shape.  

The length of the Gampr’s coat varies from two to six centimeters, depending on climatic conditions. Preference is given to fawn, sable and a dark mask, and offal and brown are not acceptable. Movement is straight and free, with front and rear legs moving parallel.

  Gampr trio of teenage puppies


The Gampr is a multi-functional, working dog – he’s a wolfhound, he’s a warrior, he is a hunter, a watchman and a guardian. And, if necessary, he is even a lifesaver in snowdrifts. Very independent, intelligent and strong-willed, he is affectionate toward people and considers himself a member of the family.  

The Armenian Gampr Wolfhound was recognized by the International Kennel Union in February 2011. This was due to the long and laborious 15-year work headed by Violetta Gabrielyan, president of Kennel Union of Armenia, which has registered about 1,500 Gampr dogs. I think there are at least as many more who live in remote villages, tied up in backyards behind houses.  


Gampr Standard

Kennel and Kennel-Sports Union of Armenia,
 Chairperson of the Commission K. Petrosyan, 
Secretary L. Kamsaryan

The modern Gampr has changed little in the history of its existence in Armenian Highlands. It is one of few natural breeds not subjected to hard selection by phenotype. They preserved the genetic variation that other dog breeds had initially. This genetic variation was promoted by spontaneous and, in some cases, intentional periodic matings with locally indigenous wolves (still present). Gamprs differ by their vital capacity, independence, mind, strong self-preservation instinct, ability of the trustworthy defense and protection of livestock, and exclusive friendliness to humans.  

Gampr duoThis mountain dog’s head is large, well outlined and well-developed but lacks prominent cheekbones. The back is wide, straight, muscular and strong. At the withers, the height in male dogs is 67 centimeters (27 inches) or more, and in female dogs is 63 centimeters (25 inches) or more. Weight corresponds to the total size of the dog, and usually varies from 45-50 to 70-75 kilograms (118- to 165 lb).  

The Armenian Gampr has a well-developed undercoat, in order to protect it under harsh conditions. Depending upon the coat length, there are two types: long-haired, with long top hairs, and short-haired, with dense, relatively short hair. A brown or piebald coat is undesirable according to the breed standard.  



Head: The head is relatively large and impressive with extremely powerful jaws. Skull is more than 50% of the head’s length. The flews are thick, tight and dry. The top of the skull slopes gently to the nearly-parallel muzzle with no marked stop.

Ears: Top of ears set slightly above the eye level. Not so close as to give a ‘pinched’ look. If uncropped, ears should be hanging, triangular, not overly long.

Eyes: Almond shaped, not bulging or recessed very deeply. The gaze is intelligent, confident and serious. Even young puppies demonstrate a serious and stern gaze typical of the breed. Pigment of skin around eyes is black.
 Fault: white or pink pigment of eyelids. Entropian eyelid. Blue eyes.
 Minor fault: excessive whites of eyes showing.

Teeth: White, strong, well developed, closely set, meeting in a scissor bite.
Note: individual dogs with a lighter, narrower jaw shall be bred to dogs with a heavier lower jaw.

Muzzle: Muzzle is less than 50% of the length of the head. Lips and nose have black/dark skin pigment. Muzzle should be set on skull so that entire shape is smooth and relatively continuous. A triangular top view is preferred.
Neck: Strong, well-muscled, moderately arched preferred over straight, no shorter than the length of the head.  




Body: Long, the index is 108-112%. The longish shape is mostly made up by the chest, and not the loin.

Chest: Broad and deep, slightly rounded, should descend below the elbow. The correct placement of the elbow is at the level of the soft cartilage where the rib bones curve downward, but not below the rib cage. Ideal elbow placement is on soft portion of ribs.
 Fault – elbow above or below the softer rib cage section.

Flank: Continues the chest line, tucked-up.

Withers: Moderately pronounced.

Back: Broad, straight, muscled and powerful. Level preferred in adults. Young dogs may be higher in hips than withers.

Loin: Wide and muscular. Narrower-loined dogs shall only be mated with stronger-loined dogs.

Croup: Long, broad and level, or just slightly sloped.

Tail: Set high, carried low in repose. When agitated or showing interest, the tail is carried high, in a curve or scythe-like. 
Note: A dog with a tightly curled tail should not be bred to the same.  

Forequarters: Straight and parallel. The shoulder blades are long and oblique, angulated at 108-110 degrees. The forearms are straight, powerful and parallel. The pasterns are long and well angulated.

Hindquarters: The thighs are long, thick and muscled. The upper thigh is the same length as the lower thigh, the stifle is well bent. The hock joint is well defined. The hock is strong and perpendicular to the ground when viewed from the rear.

Fault: straight stifle, sickle hocks, straight knee/’peg-leg’ when walking.

Paws: Round, strong, compact, with elastic and soft pads.
 PLUS: extra consideration shall be given to dogs who show longer tufts of hair between paws, especially with downy undercoat-type fur between toes.

Gait: Agile, smooth and balanced. The forearms and hind legs move in parallel.  


Gampr puppy with toy


Color: Any color is permissible; however skin of the nose and eye lids is black, except liverwurst.

Coat: Shorter on the muzzle, face, flat portion on sides of shoulder blades and hindquarters. Some feathering on legs and thighs. Double coat. Outer coat is longer on the neck, chest, and over the withers and down the line of the back, by a visibly noticeable amount. The undercoat in winter should be well developed to protect the dog from the elements. Coats should shed cleanly at least once/year, and be able to be pulled smoothly from the remaining coat without excessive matting or struggle in grooming. Undercoat is softer and finer than outercoat.
 Fault: inability to shed cleanly, matting up and needing assistance for shedding.  

Size: Minimum 27 inches (67 cm) at the withers for males and 25(63 cm) inches for females. The weight should be according to the size, at least 106lbs( 45kg) for females and at least 165lbs( 70 kg) for males by three years of age. Average weight is 118 lbs (51 kg) females, 177 lbs males.(75kg), (when proportioned parameters may be higher).   Faults in addition to above: Any significant deviation from minimum size parameters quoted in this standard.
Light-colored eye lids, lips or nose. 
Excessively long, short or narrow muzzle.
 Yellow teeth.
 Missing teeth.
 Protruding or bulging eyes. 
Lacking sufficient angulation at hindquarters and in hock.
Straight stifle. 
Sway or roach back, long loin, short croup.
 Any other bite but scissors.
(feet not aligned parallel to body.  

Disqualifying features
: Markedly timid or aggressive behavior.
 "Bulldog” type. 
Lack of double coat, lack of undercoat December-May.
 Bilateral or unilateral cryptorchidism.
 Blindness or deafness.
 Lack of difference in coat length over withers, neck and chest.



© Modern Molosser Magazine. This article may not be reposted, reprinted, rewritten, excerpted or otherwise duplicated in any medium without the express written permission of the publisher.