Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Alaunt

Ready for a history lesson? Alaunt is the name given to a now-extinct breed of dog that lived for hundreds, if not thousands of years before vanishing during the 17th century.

The Alaunt originated in Central Asia, being bred by the Alani tribes that were nomadic and spoke an Indo-Iranian language. These people used the large working dogs for many purposes-- hunting, herding, and livestock protection among them.

In the 4th century AD, the Alani tribes were split following a Hun invasion, and they moved in two separate directions. The eastern group eventually merged with the Ossetians, while the western group went with the Vandals who raided Western Europe over time. The Alaunt diverged at this point as well, and interbred with breeds throughout Europe and central Asia, and continued to vary in purpose.

After several hundred years, the name Alaunt referred less to a specific breed, and more to a general working type of dog. Some where lighter, like modern sight-hounds, while others were bigger and more Mastiff-like. By the 17th century the Alaunt as an actual breed was no more, though they helped to influence the creation of several modern dogs, including the Bulldogs. Various Central Asian breeds, like the Caucasian Ovcharka, also share ancestry with the ancient Alaunt, which probably originally looked very similar to a shorter-haired version of the Ovcharka.

Status : Domesticated, currently Extinct
Location : Europe and Asia
Size : Varied
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Canidae -- Genus : Canis -- Species : C. lupus -- Subspecies : C. l. familiaris

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