All three facts help to imagine what kind of the dog evolved there.
First of all – all dogs of middle asia origin have different cranium build to west European dogs – middle Asia dogs have wide flat cranium ,parallel to muzzle .wide located ,small slanting eyes.
West European mastiffs have rounded head.
Steppe is environmental for long distance runners, light shaped dog, with great cardio , weather resistant.
Shepherds and hunters like cooperate with dogs easily distinguish from wolves and wildlife – white coat is desirable.
In history of alano is more unknown periods.
Since alans settlement in Iberia passed over 900 years.Alano were described in the books focused on the hunting. Most important sources edited in XIV century. Spanish ‘Libro de la Montería' (1340) by Alfonso XI and French “livre de chasse” by Gaston Phoebus. Descriptions written by both authors are complete and first time standardized Alano.Alfonso wrote in details about Alano, marked most significant details- evil expression, athletic body , long neck, powerfully flat head with smooth stop and strong jaws ( compared to sea eel), long muzzle, head dry ( tight lips) with small, cropped ears, small eyes, deep chest, well cut up underline and belly. Gaston Phoebus wrote more about the alaunt and his varieties.
On the photo from left top corner – Spanish duke Carlos VII de Borbon with his dog, right top corner – two boys with the dog – photo taken in Spain as well, left bottom corner – Spanish girl with the dog , right bottom corner – German gentleman with the dog
Let's perform a thought experiment how evolved Alano since Alans settlement.
In first period dogs were under strong natural selection because of new environment, viruses. Probably their number strongly decreased . Alans settled in concrete regions and they lived in community therefore that was a type of isolation for dogs. Possibility of inbreeding and established a type of dogs that described Alfonso XI. Significant is that Phoebus wrote so similar description about other strain of Alaunt. He was focused more on his own French experience Alans settled in region of Rhine cross point on it both sides. Their dogs established middle European big game dogs called after centuries as alano aleman or great danes. In XIV century they were alaunts as well. Alans dogs transmitted same features for their descendants in the Spain and Middle Europe.
Original gen sources of alano were not reinforced and it flowed into local dogs. Some of them were changed by modern breeding like great dane and boxers. Some of them selected as working type of dog survived changed by natural ( feral) gene flow – Spanish Alano.
Important for Alano Espanol history is conquest of new world. – Spanish conquistadors bring to America Alano dogs just in beginning of their changing because of Spanish native presa.
alaunt’s head in his descendants –transmitted features are same as origin
In Vizcaya region purpose of catching dogs preservation was by extensive breeding of local cattle monchina. For managing these medium size, agile, mountain cattle a brave, agile dogs with ultimate catching instinct was required.
Dogs of alans became more rare in the course of time. Dogs in this type are on some pictures illustrated of rehalas and monteria hunting taken in early XX century or late XIX century. In second part of XX century , they seemed to extinct. Alano back to live in 80ties of XX century thanks idea of their recuperation powered by group of enthusiast stemming from academics veterinary.
Their study and hard work have enabled to recuperation of the dogs and start to selection. Recuperation happened in regions of settlement of alans – Extremadura and North Spain regions Vizcaya and Navarra.
Dogs were selected to initial breeding group based on two assumptions – origin and function. It was typically “type” selecting based on external type and performance in population isolated to a local area. Founding of initial group was important for development as genetic resources . This kind of animal population that is isolated to a local area, where local culture and physical environment are drive selection is called “landrace” .Cultural , geographic and infrastructural barriers isolated Encartationes region in Vizcaya catching dogs well for their original purposes. In Vizcaya region purpose of catching dogs preservation was by extensive breeding of local cattle monchina. For managing these medium size, agile, mountain cattle a brave, agile dogs with ultimate catching instinct was required.
History of recuperation is well documented . I will not focus on these details. Most important is that this wasn’t team work. People involved in recuperation followed separately in breeding. One line was establish well –alaju godo. Each breeder had a bit other vision of Alano. Founded originally genetic resource was changed by human selection. Most of involved in Alano project not understand that dogs selected in Encartationes were not Alano but foundation group for Alano breeding.
On the picture is conformation of wanted Alano shape. Unfortunately breed standard and so called beauty show highlighted other type, much closer to typically Spanish catching dog -presa.
Breed standard is an essential tool that greatly helps breeders to maintain and manage their animals as a genetic resource. The standard should be a mental picture that drives selection decisions by all breeders. Standard is integral to the overall culture of breeding.
Standard of most breeds are prescriptive , which means they prescribe what the ideal animal should be. This ideal may or may not (as in Alano issue) actually exist – it is target for all breeders to aim for.
Standard should be a guide for breeders selection decision.In contrast to the prescriptive standards ,the best breed standards for landraces are descriptive. These describe rather that prescribe .The goal of this type of standard is to indicate that the animal actually are rather than what they should be .This is subtly different from a prescriptive standard, but understanding of this difference is essential , making descriptive standard is more difficult than a prescriptive one. One problem with descriptive standards is that they do indeed variation. Anyway alanos standard is descriptive and based on fake idea equalized Encarationes dogs to alanos.
On the photo on the right site bottom is presented specimen of the breed called "great dog" -photo taken in May 1863 on dog exibition in Paris. Shape of this dog is very similar to early boxers - recover of middleerupean bullenbeiser and spanish dogs used for cattle managing in late 70ties XX century in Encartationes. For me this dog reminds a lot Txacur used in recuperation of alano( upper photo )
Cimarron and Boliviano -descedants of spanish dogs conquered South America.
Conquer of the New World in XV century is important for Alano history. These dogs were used in combats and their representation in dog squad in Spanish army was significant. Probably because of their high game level. Some of them stay in America evolved as feral breeds - Cimarron and boliviano survived until today. Boliviano isn’t recognized –it is typically feral breed but with well establish character. Perfect ,mute hunters, with flat head, dry, smooth stop, tight lips and small, slanting eyes. Cimarron is bigger but his head has same shape congenitaled from Asian origin alan’s dog. The point is that typically Asian head shape is strongly transmitted for alaunt descedants.